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Title: Life of Sir Henry Parkes
Author: Charles E. Lyne
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Title: Life of Sir Henry Parkes
Author: Charles E. Lyne


Australian Statesman
(Formerly of the _Sydney Morning Herald_)




THE following pages have been written in the belief that a biography of
Sir Henry Parkes is called for, and that it will prove interesting and
instructive to all who appreciate important public services and admire
great careers.

For nearly half a century Sir Henry Parkes was a conspicuous figure in
Australian public life, and, for much of that period, by far the most
prominent. By very many people he was regarded as Australia's greatest

Primarily the labours of his long career were for the advancement of New
South Wales, the colony in which his lot was more directly cast; but
many of his public acts have had a beneficial influence upon the
Australasian colonies as a whole, and, in benefiting Australasia, he
assisted the progress of the British Empire. Throughout his life he was
loyal to the mother land. While faithful to the country of his adoption,
he ever remembered that "the crimson thread of kinship runs through us
all", and, foremost in the movement for Australian federation, the
union he sought was a "union under the Crown."

In many respects he was a remarkable man, with an eventful history, full
of incidents attractive to the ordinary reader, and of lessons useful
to the student.

C. E. L.
11_th November_, 1896.






THE boyhood of Sir Henry Parkes was spent in the Parish of Stoneleigh,
Warwickshire, England, where he was born in the year 1815. The son of an
English farmer, the most dearly remembered pleasures of his childhood,
he once told a country audience, were enjoyed in an old English
farmhouse, situated "in the centre of England, only a few miles from the
birthplace of Shakespeare, and within sight of the historical spires of

From a boy he was a hard worker. Misfortune befalling his parents in his
young life, at eight years of age he was compelled to earn his own
living, and from that period to the end of his days, he was, either with
his hands or his brains, one of the world's toilers.

This obligation to labour during his childhood and his early manhood,
was an insuperable obstacle to his obtaining a suitable education; but
he did what other remarkable men have done in their youth: he read every
book within his reach, and reflected upon what he read, and he strove
generally to so inform himself that his mind should be familiar with
everything going on around him. To the full extent of his power he
cultivated habits of constant and careful reading and thinking, and with
such success that though, at times, a want of educational polish was
noticeable in his public utterances, they were remarkable for the wide
range of information over which they extended, for their strong grasp of
principles, and generally for the intelligent and convincing method
employed in dealing with the subject under consideration. In respect of
his being essentially a self-taught man, able to supply the deficiencies
resulting from the want of proper educational training, so that he might
with personal success and public advantage use his natural ability, he
stood alone among the public men of New South Wales, and probably of

Men who were prominent in the early public life of New South Wales are,
in comparison with those of the present day, sometimes regarded as
giants. The comparison is extreme but not extravagant. Parkes,
Wentworth, Lang, Cowper, Martin, Robertson and Dalley, are names which
in the history of the colony will always stand high above those of their
fellows. Others have been as much before the public, but none have
planted themselves as firmly in the estimation of the community, or are
so distinctly inscribed upon the roll of famous Australians. A nation
had been born only a few years before these great colonists appeared in
the country, and it fell largely to them to secure its welfare and
progress both in its youth and in its maturity.

Sir Henry Parkes landed in Sydney in the capacity of an ordinary British
workman, healthy and strong in mind and body, but poor in pocket. He
sometimes told a public assembly of how useful to him was the finding of
a sixpence in one of the streets of Sydney soon after he set foot for
the first time on Australian soil. Previous to his coming to New South
Wales he followed the occupation of a Birmingham mechanic,--a worker in
ivory; and a glimpse of his life in the great English manufacturing
town may be caught in the picture presented by some lines entitled,
"Home of a Birmingham Artisan, twenty years ago", which appear in a small
volume of poems he published in 1857:-

"One of a brick-built row in street retired,
A lowly dwelling, so for comfort plann'd,
No foot of room was lost; in nothing grand;
Yet wanting nought which humble heart desired.
Parlour,--with creeping plants the window wired,
The furniture soilless kept by woman's hand,--
In summer like some nook of fairyland,
For winter nights, well hearth-rugg'd and coal-fired.
Snug kitchen in the rear, with childhood's sports
Gracing the threshold, and the home-cured flitch
Within--fair picture 'gainst the poor man's wall!--
Ope to a garden-plot, not crowded courts.
Such our mechanic's home; nor wanted stitch
His decent clothing; and content blessed all."

He arrived in the colony in 1839, an immigrant, with little to bind him
to the land he had left but the ties of birthplace and kindred, and with
nothing to temper the discouragements surrounding a stranger in a
strange land but the hope of being able to find a more comfortable
livelihood in a young and necessarily progressive community than seemed
possible in England. He was what was called a "bounty immigrant". In
those days two classes of immigrants came to New South Wales: Government
immigrants and bounty immigrants. The former were brought to Sydney at
the expense of the Government; the latter came at the instance of the
captains or agents of the ships which carried them, a bounty being paid
the ships' representatives for each person whose qualifications were in
accord with the Government regulations. The Government immigrants, on
arrival, were provided with quarters in the Immigration Barracks, which
were situated on the site of the present Government Printing Office, and
there they were allowed to remain for a fortnight during which they were
available for hire. The bounty immigrants were not so fortunate. No
quarters were provided for them at the Immigration Barracks, and their
only provision against discomfort, or, it might be, want, was the chance
of immediate employment or the possession of a little money. Thus it was
that on July 27th, 1839, the day after the barque Strathfieldsaye
entered Port Jackson with 203 immigrants on board, including Henry
Parkes and his wife, and one child born off Cape Howe, this paragraph
appeared in the _Sydney Herald_:-

"IMMIGRATION. The following is an abstract of the immigrants by the
ship Strathfieldsaye, which arrived on Thursday, and is now lying off
Walker's Wharf: 29 married and 54 single farm labourers and shepherds;
one married and 4 single carpenters; one single printer; 3 single
gardeners; and one lawyer, one shoemaker, ONE TURNER, one painter, one
whitesmith, one saddler, and one mason--all married; 21 dairymaids and
female farm servants; 9 house servants and 2 needlewomen--singlewomen.
These people having arrived by a bounty ship are not allowed by the
Governor to enter the building erected for the use of immigrants, and
therefore we earnestly recommend those persons who are in want of
servants to engage them as early as possible in order to prevent them
from falling into that distress which is inevitable if they remain long

The young immigrant--he was but 24 years of age--suffered many hardships
during the first few years after his arrival in Sydney. It was not easy
for him to obtain permanent and suitable employment, and he followed
two or three occupations before he was, in colonial parlance, able to
settle down. After wandering about Sydney for several days he engaged
himself as a labourer on the estate of the late Sir John Jamison, at
Regentville, near Penrith, where he obtained the experience he was
sometimes heard to say he possessed of washing sheep. Then he obtained
employment in an ironmongery store, and afterwards in an iron foundry;
and for a short period he was a tidewaiter in the Department of the
Customs. The last-named position he relinquished in consequence of the
results of his drawing prominent attention to what he regarded as
malpractices or improprieties in some of the proceedings connected with
the work of the Department.

Subsequently he betook himself to the trade he had acquired in England.
Having apprenticed himself in Birmingham to an ivory and bone turner, he
had learned to use the lathe with skill and effectiveness; and now with
a little money he had saved during the time he had been in the colony he
opened a small turner's shop, first in Kent-street, and afterwards in
Hunter-street, Sydney.

In an old Directory--the _City of Sydney Directory_ for 1844-45--there
is the name of "Henry Parkes, Ivory and Bone Turner, Kent-street." In a
second edition of the same publication, issued in 1847, but dealing with
matters as they were in the year previous, there is, among a list of
fourteen persons of similar occupation, the name of "Henry Parkes,
Ivory and Bone Turner, 25 Hunter-street", and in another part of the
Directory an advertisement of "Henry Parkes, Ivory and Toy
Manufacturer, No. 25 Hunter-street", informing the public that he
always had on hand a long list of fancy and useful little articles made
from ivory or bone.

Few people now know where in Hunter-street this little shop was
situated, for not many are alive who can remember the little shop-window
showing a lathe, and a tall, strongly built young man, with a remarkable
head and thoughtful countenance, hard at work behind it, and a
stall-board in front of him containing the articles which were the
products of his labour. It stood one door from Hamilton Lane, close to
Pitt-street, and until very recently a building of the same kind, which
adjoined it, was still in existence, unaltered from what it was fifty
years ago. Small in size, quaint in appearance, and encroaching upon
the footpath, this relic of the old days was very different from what is
usual in the modern style of business architecture; and with an
assortment of goods in the window somewhat varied from the curiosities
it contained, the shop of the turner of 1846 could easily have been

From this place of business Henry Parkes removed to a shop built for
him, and still standing, on the opposite side of Hunter-street, and near
to the George-street corner, where he continued the manufacture and sale
of fancy goods until journalism bent his energies in another and more
important direction.

But while in the modest structure near Hamilton Lane, and long before a
journalistic career was decided upon, it was a common thing to see the
young turner hard at work at his lathe, with, more frequently than not,
by his side or on the bench in front of him, the newspaper, which as his
work would allow, he intently perused. In those days newspapers were
neither so plentiful nor so easily obtained as they are now, and the
future statesman was obliged to borrow the journal and read it as he
worked. Even at the present time this habit of reading in the
opportunities afforded by his work is spoken of in terms of admiration
by some who observed him at that struggling period. Round about him in
his little establishment, displayed for sale, was the collection of
useful and fancy articles, most of which his handiness at the lathe had
produced--billiard and bagatelle balls, chess and backgammon men,
card-counters and whist-markers, ivory and bone whistles, paper knives,
ladies' needle-cases, egg-cups, knitting-pins, children's rattles,
humming-tops, cups and balls, studs, buttons,--all kinds of little things
which a turner in ivory and bone manufactures; and in the production of
such articles he was occupied day after day.

He was, however, no ordinary man, and those who were most intimate with
him at that date, have asserted this most emphatically. One who knew him
well, and can describe the interesting circumstances of the purchase by
him of two whale's teeth, which he afterwards turned into bagatelle
balls, declares that at all times he was in appearance and in manner
superior to the usual type of men. His dress was better than that
generally met with, and his bearing reserved and thoughtful. A story is
told of him which is typical of his whole career. In the early lives of
most distinguished men there have been incidents which have indicated
their future prominence, and such are to be found in the early history
of Sir Henry Parkes. Having assisted at the first election of Aldermen
in the City Council, the part he had taken in the proceedings led a
neighbouring tradesman to remark to him, in a conversation upon the
result of the election--"Well, Mr. Parkes, we must put you up for
Councillor." "Mr. Smith," said the future Prime Minister, drawing
himself erect, and speaking in a lofty and, as subsequent events proved,
prophetic tone, "if ever I put up for anything it will be for something
higher than Councillor;" and Mr. Smith's well meant intention came
summarily to an end.

This apparent consciousness of future high position in the colony, which
in various circumstances would assert itself, combined with a manner
that stamped him as superior to most of his fellows, prevented him from
being generally liked. He was respected,--he compelled respect, as he did
throughout his life; but for a time he did not make many friends.

When he left England that country was in the midst of the Chartist
agitation, the English laboring classes clamouring for reform with a
view to improve their means of existence, and threatening A revolution
if they were not granted what they asked; and it was somewhat singular,
and, as events proved, appropriate, that he should land in New South
Wales amongst a people who not long afterwards were agitating
vigorously for the redress of their grievances and not altogether averse
to resorting to physical force if their demands were not satisfied.

No better opportunity for the employment of a strong mind of pronounced
liberal tendency than that apparent at the period of Henry Parkes'
arrival in the colony, could have presented itself to the young

New South Wales was in its early youth, almost its infancy. It had
passed through the worst of the experiences which attended the
transportation system, and was commencing the struggle to free itself
from any further taint of convictism. There was manifesting itself a
deep desire for the purification of society, and for the introduction
of free institutions. It was beginning to be felt that the time had
arrived when the community should cast off the fetters with which
Imperial policy and officialism had bound it, and assert its ability and
its right to go on in its own way regardless of all but that which
conduced to its prosperity. The cry for self-government was heard. Years
had yet to pass before the darkness of the system which then oppressed
the colony was to give way to the light of better things, but signs of
the approaching dawn were beginning to appear.

The general picture presented by the community at this period was not
pleasing. There was a Legislative Council in existence, but the Governor
was paramount in it, and possessed powers that made him virtually an
autocrat. Transported felons were to be seen at work in the streets, and
at the prison barracks, which the present generation of colonists know
as the Court of Bankruptcy and formerly as the Immigration Barracks, the
type of convict depicted in the vivid pages of "His Natural Life"
might easily have been found. The gaol fronted George-street, in the
neighbourhood of Essex-street, and the populace were in the habit of
congregating above Essex-street, on what was called Gallows Hill, to
witness the public execution of condemned criminals.

Society was in a very unsatisfactory state. In Sydney there was an
unpleasant distinction of classes, unavoidable perhaps in the
circumstances of the population being small and the convict element
extensive, but excessively irritating to the respectable immigrant
unconnected with officialdom and untainted by the committal of any
offence against the law.

Bushranging was very prevalent. "The arm of Justice has not been
stayed," said the Governor, Sir George Gipps, at the meeting of the
Legislative Council on June 11th, 1839, "for during the last Session the
last sentence of the Law was passed upon eleven unfortunate beings, and
acting under the advice of the Executive Council only two of these have
been spared. Five have been executed, and four have been respited,
because they asserted they could prove an alibi, but that having failed
they are destined to meet the same fate as the others." The burden of
the Governor's address on this occasion was crime and it, punishment.
"I believe", he declared, "it is too true that many deeds of rapine,
blood, and villainy have lately been committed, and that there are now
more armed depredators roaming about the colony than there have been
for some months." Not very long before Dr. Wardell, a prominent
colonist, was shot dead in an encounter with bushrangers on his private
grounds in what is now the populous suburb of Petersham.

The City of Sydney and its environs were in a very primitive condition.
There was no Circular Quay in existence. What is now a long line of
well-appointed wharfs was, for most of its extent, a beach or muddy
shore with the creek or watercourse known as the Tank Stream flowing
into it. Pinchgut (Fort Denison of today) was a rocky barren islet.
Sydney Cove, the site of the present Circular Quay, contained on the
western side a wharf known as the Queen's Wharf, and another called
Campbell's Wharf, and there were a few other wharfs scattered around
Miller's Point and Darling Harbour. At the rear of Upper Fort-street was
Walker's Wharf where Henry Parkes first landed on Australian soil.

The English and Foreign commerce of the Port for the most part was
carried on in vessels so small that at the present day they would be
considered as almost too insignificant for trading between the colonies.

Where the Town Hall and St. Andrew's Cathedral now raise their stately
towers the old burial place of the colony stood, closed from further
interments but intact, with quaint-looking weatherworn gravestones
crowding the ground, and a brick wall which surrounded the cemetery
projecting far into the street. This locality, in fact, so limited in
extent was Sydney then, might be regarded as at that period quite out of
town. St. Philip's Church crested the summit of Church Hill as it does
now, and as the gaol and the principal military barracks were in close
proximity, both prisoners and soldiers were in the habit of attending
divine worship there. Charlotte Place was the chief official quarter of
the town, and between Jamieson-street and Barrack-street, and facing
George-street for almost the whole of that distance, the military
barracks were situated.

The Church generally in the colony had begun to exert itself by the
formation of religious organisations, but its efforts for the good of
society were as yet very feeble. State aid to religion was in existence,
and "Church and State, and may they never be separated", was a standard
sentiment with Churchmen.

Newspapers were in their infancy, and though they displayed no small
degree of ability, were outspoken, and exercised a certain influence,
they had not at that period entered upon a career of continuous and
solid advantage to the community.

Education had not been brought under a general and beneficial system,
and schools were few, and for the most part inefficient. The Irish
National System, which was subsequently introduced and retained until
the present Public Schools came into existence, was being talked about,
but some years had to pass before it was brought into operation. The
future author of the Public Schools Act could see before him a clear
field for the efforts which in 1866 were to lay for his name the
foundation of an immortality.

The Drama, so far as it had been introduced into the colony, was in its
earliest days. "The Theatre," said a newspaper notice of the period,
"re-opens this evening, and if we may judge from the piece that is to be
played the same description of trash that was brought out last season
will be repeated." "If", it went on to say, "the 'Tempter', and such
pieces are kept up through the season it will have the effect of driving
the few respectable people who still go to the theatre entirely away."
And, proceeding to allude to the manner in which the performances were
conducted, the notice remarked,--"Generally speaking the tragedy or
comedy is presented to the public without any care having been taken
either as to the dresses or scenery, and the whole of the 'business' is
managed in the most slovenly manner."

The railway, the telegraph wire, rapid and safe communication between
one place and another, were dreams of the future. The country was in a
large measure little better than a wilderness, but presenting
opportunities of the highest kind for the guiding hand of the future
Member of the Legislature and Minister of the Crown.


IN 1842 Sir Henry Parkes published his first volume of Poems under the
title "Stolen Moments", with the quotation from Coleridge

From anxious Self, life's cruel taskmaster,"

and dedicated to Lieutenant-Colonel Gibbes "as a faint token of
gratitude for services rendered". Colonel Gibbes was a friend of Henry
Parkes. At the time of his employment in the Customs Department Colonel
Gibbes was its head, and after the honest but perhaps indiscreet
tidewaiter had left the service his chief, not forgetful of his merits,
gave him high testimonials which he spoke of with satisfaction to his
last day.

The book is interesting because it gives an insight into the writer's
character, and some representation of his circumstances at the time
when the poems appeared in this collected form. Most of them, the author
tells us, in the preface to the little book, had seen the light
previously in periodical publications in Australia or in England. Of
those which had been published in New South Wales all but one had filled
a place in the columns of the _Australasian Chronicle_, a newspaper at
that time under the editorship of the late Mr. W. A. Duncan, and the one
exception had appeared in the _Sydney_ (now the _Sydney Morning
Herald_). The expense of printing the little volume would seem to have
been defrayed by subscription, for the book contains a long list of
subscribers. As it appeared in 1842, the date of its publication was
just three years after the author had arrived in the colony, and his
ability to obtain the support of such a large number of persons as the
list of subscribers represents, some of them men occupying positions
among the highest in the land, indicates that in spite of adverse
circumstances he had contrived to make himself both known and respected
in the community.

In his preface he expressed the hope that his modest efforts to court
the Muse might be of some little service to the cause of Australian
Literature, by encouraging "some Australian bard to seize in earnest
the unstrung lyre of his beautiful country", but though the desire to
assist any legitimate literary enterprise may have been the incentive
which elicited the support of some of the subscribers, most of them must
have had a personal knowledge of, and some regard for, the writer.
Evidently he had begun to make his way, and to prepare for the bolder
movements and the higher flights in which his progressive mind and his
strong will were to be engaged in the future. His subsequent success as
a journalist with the _Empire_ newspaper undoubtedly owed something to
his efforts in writing verse, for these efforts, and the occasional
production of prose articles, were perseveringly carried on for many

Some of the poems in "Stolen Moments" were written in Birmingham in
1834, when the age of the writer could not have been more than nineteen.
Others were written in London in 1838. Nearly all, he said, were put
together "in moments literally stolen from the time occupied by the
ordinary duties of a not over-happy life", and a study of some of them
will show how true this statement was.

In some "Retrospective Lines, written on the passage from England to
Australia in the year 1839", we get a picture of an emigrant ship such
as he journeyed in to Australia. "To complete the wretchedness of the
crowded hole," he says, in a note, alluding to the 'tween deck
experiences on board the vessel, "in which three or four hundred human
beings are pent together for the space of four months, the ear is
incessantly assailed by the coarse expressions and blasphemies of the
profligate; and the eye, let it turn where it will, is offended by some
malignity or unnecessary unpleasantness in the conduct of those

We learn from the same "Lines" something of his habits in early
manhood. As already mentioned, he was an ardent pursuer of knowledge.
Whilst working hard for a livelihood as a mechanic:

"I mingled with the blessed few
Of Nature's children whom I ever knew,
Who strove with poverty, in bold pursuit
Of knowledge, and of freedom its best fruit.
. . . . .

I have watched the children of the poor,
Like Hunger's victims at the rich man's door,
Who turn not from denial, jeer, or threat,
But knock the louder till some bread they get,--
Yes! watched them oft to wisdom's waters come,
From toils ungenial, trials wearisome,
Press through all obstacles, to gain the brink,
Thirsting for knowledge, and resolved to drink.
. . . . .

"Though 'gainst them their country's schools were barred,
Not all unblest were they with lot so hard,
They had--enough to make your boasters mute--
Their own self-reared Mechanics' Institute."

His verses breathe a deep love for England. He possessed to the full
that veneration for the mother country as "home" which is
characteristic of most emigrants from her shores, and some of his poems
manifest an intense longing to return.

"It may come mine when future years are gone,
Yet in beloved England to possess
A home of peace, and think of all I've done,
Even with a keener tranquil happiness
Than if I could have passed through life with suffering less"

And again:

"It may be here that Britons find
Scenes brighter than they leave behind;
But, oh! the counter-charm for home
Is found not yet, where'er I roam
O'er sea or land."

Equally strong with his love for England in these "Stolen Moments" was
his loyalty to the Throne, and it is rather remarkable that an ode to
the young Queen Victoria, published in this unpretending volume, should
appear as a prominent feature, used to considerable advantage, in an
eloquent speech delivered by the author of the poem in the Legislative
Assembly of New South Wales, on the occasion of his moving an address of
congratulation to the Queen in the jubilee year of her reign, nearly
fifty years after the poem was written. The lines are worth quoting for
they are harmonious, picturesque, and forcible.

"High-destined daughter of our country, thou
Who sitt'st on England's throne in beauty's morning!
God pour His richest blessings round thee now;
And may the eyes that watch thy glory's dawning
With hearts right glad and loyal, proudly scorning
All that dare hostile to Victoria be,
Daily behold new light thy name adorning!
So may'st thou trust thy people's love for thee,
Queen of this mighty land, Protectress of the Free!"

"Stolen Moments" was published at five shillings. In 1892 in Sydney, at
auction, copies of it were sold at from £5 to £7 each.


SIR Henry Parkes was always a man of strong political opinions, in close
sympathy with the people, and an earnest and active worker in all
matters for the progress and development of the country.

The hard lot of the working population of England which, as a very young
man, he had to share, and the longing for that improvement which would
make the enjoyments of life less unequally distributed amongst the
people, will be found depicted in his earlier poems; and coming to New
South Wales at a time when the social as well as the political condition
of the colony was in some respects worse than anything of the kind in
the parent land, it was natural that his early impressions should
deepen, and that he should set himself to reflect how things might be
altered for the better. With the wrongs in his native land, which the
Chartists were struggling against just before his departure as a
penniless emigrant, fresh in his memory, a consciousness that the evils
which he had left need not under wise government be allowed to exist in
this newly peopled country, and the mental and physical vigour requisite
for the work of reform and progress, he wanted only the means through
which he might do useful public service; and almost from his arrival in
Sydney he seems to have seen those means in a well conducted liberal
newspaper press.

Arriving in New South Wales friendless and without money, it was not to
be expected that he should be able to at once engage in this high
occupation. It was necessary that he should first establish himself in
the community and make himself generally known. This he very quickly
did. The respect and confidence, which the list of subscribers to the
book of poems published in 1842 shows he had won since his landing in
Sydney, were not long in extending. Gradually these feelings towards him
became more pronounced and widespread, and though at this early period
of his life he was not without enemies, he made some warm friends. As
opportunity offered he took part in public movements, and he wrote
occasional articles for the press, his contributions appearing in the
_Atlas_, or in the _People's Advocate_. All this attracted attention. He
became known as a clever public speaker and a capable writer. Public
meetings offered facilities for the exercise and display of his
oratorical powers; in journalism he saw the way to literary success.
Friends with the means which were necessary to establish a newspaper did
not hesitate to come to his assistance, and in December, 1849, in
premises adjoining the shop in Hunter-street, on the south side of the
street, the _Empire_ was first published.

A year before this he was a prominent figure in the proceedings
connected with an election of members to the Legislative Council. Mr.
Robert Lowe, afterwards Lord Sherbrooke, was a candidate for the City of
Sydney, and Henry Parkes, attaching himself to Mr. Lowe's committee,
became one of the joint secretaries. Subsequently he interested himself
in the agitations which were taking place for the discontinuance of
transportation to the colony, and for the introduction of

At an open-air meeting, known afterwards as "The Great Protest Meeting",
attended by 4,000 persons, and held on vacant land near the Circular
Quay, and in front of the old Colonial Secretary's Office, Henry Parkes
was one of the principal speakers. Transportation, which for a time had
ceased, had been resumed in a modified form, and the arrival of the
first convict vessel under the new system was the cause of the meeting.
This vessel--the _Hashemy_--entered the Heads on June 8th, 1849, and on the
following day, in consequence of the arrival about the same date of
several vessels with free immigrants on board, there was to be seen the
singular and exasperating spectacle of a shipload of convicts in the
midst of 1,400 or 1,500 newly-arrived free people. Popular feeling was
deeply stirred, and a vigorously worded protest was adopted at the great
public meeting. That protest, which, while expressing due loyalty to the
British Crown, set forth in unmistakably plain terms the grievance of
the colonists, was written by Mr. Parkes.

He was very earnest in the part he took in this anti-transportation
movement. Regarding the will of the majority of the colonists in the
matter as entitled to the highest respect and consideration of the
British Secretary of State, he denounced the indifference manifested by
the resumption of transportation as a deep insult to the free community
of New South Wales, and a serious obstacle to the progress of the
country. "We wanted", he said in one of his speeches, in allusion to
the qualifications necessary in a Government dealing with this colony,
"men practically acquainted with every impulse, every transition and
phase of our existence as a people", not those who were simply "raised
to power or precipitated from office by the cumulative force of a series
of accidents."

In the midst of this great movement for the total cessation of
transportation to the colony, and for the right of the people to govern
themselves through "Ministers chosen from and responsible to the
colonists", this second demand springing naturally from the injustice
which had prompted the other, the first number of the _Empire_ appeared.

There were some who had not hesitated to charge Mr. Parkes and the
others who were prominent in denouncing the indifference of the British
Cabinet to the interests of the colony with disloyalty, and with
endeavouring to bring about a "reign of terror". The same charge, for
the circumstances were unaltered, might have been made in the early
days of the _Empire_. But no foundation existed for it in either case. "I
will yield to no man in feelings of loyalty to the British Crown," Mr.
Parkes declared in a speech delivered at one of the anti-transportation
meetings in 1849; "but my loyalty does not teach me to shut my eyes to
the faults of Government. It rather constrains me--and the stronger it
grows the more it constrains me--to seek a reform of public abuses, that
the Government may be established firmly and permanently in the
affections of a free people."

This declaration might have formed a statement of the principles of the
new journal, for it accurately describes the paper's policy. It may even
be regarded as a declaration of the policy of the speaker's whole life,
for loyalty to the Throne and an earnest ever-present desire to benefit
the people were the chief characteristics of Sir Henry Parkes' career
throughout the long period of his public services.

At first the _Empire_ was published as a broad-sheet weekly. Very soon it
began to appear as a daily; not of large size, but containing a fair
quantity of news and with it a couple of vigorously-written leading
articles. The leading articles very quickly became the great feature of
the paper. Regardless of whom it might offend, so long as the complaint
or censure were merited, abuse, wherever it existed, or by whomsoever it
might be committed, was unsparingly exposed, and the perpetrator
scarified by an able and caustic pen. Independence, honesty, and the
public interest were the journal's watchwords. "Clearly impressed with
our duty," the editor announced, "we shall never allow our minds to
waver in its performance. It will be no part of our business to study
who may be gratified or who displeased by our line of conduct. Persons
or parties may disown or assent to our opinions; we shall maintain them
with the same boldness and singleness of purpose, so long as we believe
them to be correct." At once the paper attracted attention, and won
public favour.

The field for its operations was very wide. Political affairs at the
time were conducted in a manner of little benefit to the colony; social
matters were in a condition far from satisfactory. The Governor, Sir
Charles Fitzroy, who, in those days, virtually ruled the politics of the
country, as well as filled the position of leader of society, was, by a
large proportion of the colonists, neither liked nor respected.
Complaints, censure, ridicule, condemnation, even insult, directed at
Government House, were, in some of the public journals of the period,
almost as common as news. The _Empire_ was an uncompromising opponent
of Sir Charles Fitzroy, and never lost an opportunity to criticise or
condemn his conduct or that of some of those by whom he was surrounded
in the administration of government. Many of its contemporaries were
prompt and warm in its praise. "The _Empire_ promises to become a highly
useful paper; in fact it appears to be just the sort of paper which has
long been required", said one. "We are glad to be able to admire the
tone and spirit of its arguments", said another. "Its numerous leading
articles are well and vigorously written", was the opinion of a third;
and others were equally complimentary.

While the _Empire_ was passing through the first few months of its career,
gold was discovered in New South Wales, and the impetus which this
immediately gave to business was not without its effect upon the
fortunes of the new journal. Six months after its first issue it was
enlarged to a double-demy broadsheet, the size of the _Sydney Morning
Herald_, and its circulation and influence progressed rapidly.

Mr. Parkes became a man of considerable importance. The guiding spirit
of a great newspaper necessarily occupies a high position in a British
community, and Mr. Parkes as proprietor and editor of the _Empire_
speedily became a prominent and well recognised figure. The journalistic
instinct he possessed in a marked degree, and while he made his paper
interesting he took care that its opinions should be felt. News, at that
time, was not so available as it became some years later, but what there
was to be had the _Empire_ columns obtained; and the strength and
independence of the leading articles, combined with the fact that they
were written in the public interest, caused the paper not only to be
read but to be talked about.

Many stories are told of the editor's industry and smartness at this
period of his life. At that time the greatest effort of the newspapers
was to obtain at the earliest moment possible the latest news from
England, which was brought by sailing vessel, the voyage occupying three
or four months. The electric telegraph not being in existence it was
necessary to meet the ship having the news on board, immediately she
arrived within convenient distance of Sydney, and to do this the leading
papers, the _Herald_ and the _Empire_, were each obliged to have at hand a
fast sea-going boat, like a whale-boat, with a competent crew. There was
no working together, no mutual assistance, on the part of the two boats.
Competition was the order of the day with them as it was with the
papers, and every effort was made by each to be the first to secure the
all important information. For miles outside Sydney Heads the boats
would go at racing speed, each eager to be the first to reach the
approaching vessel. Often the chief in the office of the _Empire_,
determined to perform his share of the duty of giving the public the
earliest intelligence, would remain at the office all night, awake and
on the alert, for the "copy", which, if too late for the ordinary
morning issue of the paper, would be most attractive matter for a second
edition published towards the middle of the day. No labour was too
arduous, no effort too great, so long as there w r as a prospect of the
news columns being more, than ordinarily interesting.

Naturally this close attention to his duties in the _Empire_ office
occupied the whole of his time, but his admirers believing him to be as
well fitted for the Legislative Chamber as for the editor's chair, urged
him to enter Parliament, to add the active life of the politician to the
never-ceasing labours of the journalist, and ill-matched as the duties
of the two positions seemed to be, eventually he consented.


THE early portion of the parliamentary career of Sir Henry Parkes was
passed in one of the most interesting and momentous periods of
Australasian history, the period of the close of the struggle for the
introduction of responsible government and its establishment.

Until 1843, when the Constitution Act which first introduced the
representative principle in the Parliament of New South Wales came into
force, the Legislature of the colony was a purely nominee body
consisting of officials appointed to positions in the country by the
Imperial Government, and nominated to the Legislature by the Governor
for the time being. The Act of 1843 accorded the privilege of electing
representatives to certain portions of the colony, and this was
recognised as an important step towards full representation, but it was
thirteen years from that time before representative government as it now
exists in New South Wales became an established fact.

From 1843 to 1856 an incessant agitation for responsible government was
carried on. Satisfactory as was in some respects the representation
afforded the people by the Act of 1843, the nominee element in
Parliament, whenever it cared to exercise its numerical strength, was
successful in division, and this led the representative members and
others of similar opinions outside the Legislature to do all in their
power to bring about a change. In the Legislature there were William
Charles Wentworth, Dr. Bland, George Robert Nichols, Charles Cowper,
Terence Aubrey Murray, William Henry Suttor, and Edward Flood; and these
formed the first advance guard of Liberalism. Later on Sir James Martin
was elected to the Legislative Council, and he joined the party of
Liberals, though with the liberal tendency of his opinions there was
combined a conservative instinct which prevented him from going as far
as the others in the advocacy of liberal measures.

Sir Henry Parkes entered Parliament for the first time in 1854, two
years before the introduction of the system of government for which he,
with the Liberal party in the colony, had been vigorously and
persistently fighting. In later life he often alluded to the slow
development of his parliamentary career towards the position of
Minister of the Crown, as exemplifying the patience with which he
performed the duties of a private member of Parliament before he
thought of filling any office in the Government. He was similarly
patient in awaiting the time when he could fittingly enter Parliament.
Fifteen years had passed after his arrival in the colony before he took
a seat in the Legislature, and for most of that period he had in one way
or another, largely as the conductor of the _Empire_, done useful service
in the public interest. Unremittingly he had worked, always for the good
of the country, with no definite intention of taking a special part in
politics, but at the same time, by the very nature of his everyday
duties, steadily qualifying himself for the important part he was
destined to perform in Parliament.

Very quickly he attracted notice as a public speaker. The
anti-transportation movement was a suitable means for the encouragement
and growth of public oratory, and as a member of the Anti-Transportation
League he made some thoughtful and vigorous speeches, in which
indications of the eloquence for which in later years he became
remarkable are plainly to be seen. Then came the question of responsible
government, and with that, in due course, the subject of a new

The latter question was brought prominently before the public mind by
what was known as Wentworth's Constitution Bill. This measure,
afterwards greatly altered and now with those alterations the law under
which New South Wales enjoys self-government, contained in its original
form a number of very objectionable provisions which aroused a feeling
of indignation and protest from one end of the country to the other. The
creation of a colonial nobility with hereditary privileges, the
establishment of a nominee Upper House of Legislature, the giving of
undue representation in the Lower House to the country and squatting
interests at, it was considered, the expense of Sydney, and the
infliction upon the people of a heavy pension list in the interests of
those officers of the Government who on the introduction of a new
Constitution would be expected to retire from their offices, were among
its proposals. Mr. Wentworth, liberal-minded as he was in most matters
concerning the colony and its progress, framed portions of his great
measure in a manner which met with almost universal disapproval, and
from being a very popular man he became very unpopular. Eventually the
proposal for a colonial peerage was abandoned, but the nominee Upper
House exists now, and the pension list also.

The bill was powerfully assailed by Mr. Parkes on the public platform,
and in the columns of the _Empire_; and as vigorously did he denounce the
proceedings of the Imperial Government of the day on the transportation
question. Inevitably he came to be regarded as a prominent man in the
community,--an unflinching advocate of all that appeared for the
advantage of the people, an uncompromising opponent of everything
detrimental to their interests, and withal possessed of the power to
express his opinions effectively. While a capable journalist associated
with a well-conducted journal is a person of position and influence in
whatever part of the world his work may be performed, when, in addition
to his public services by means of his journal, he exerts himself
unselfishly and in pure patriotism as a speaker on the popular side, he
becomes, particularly in a young and progressive country like New South
Wales, a leader among his fellow-men, respected, trusted, and honoured.

So it came to pass in the circumstances surrounding the position which
Mr. Parkes had by this time acquired in the community that he was urged
to allow himself to be nominated to a seat in the Legislature vacated by
Mr. W. C. Wentworth with the intention of visiting England in support of
the Constitution Bill; and on the 2nd May, 1854, he was triumphantly
elected Member for the City of Sydney.

The election was a more than ordinarily important one. Mr. Wentworth's
Constitution Bill, and the squatting system, by which appellation was
known a system in operation in the colony beneficial to the squatting
class, and of little or no advantage to anybody else, were the immediate
questions of the hour, and those upon which the election was fought.
"There never was an election in this colony," said the _Empire_ in its
leading article on the day the result of the polling was published, "in
which political principles were so plainly the gauge of the contest as
in that which has just terminated. There never probably was an election
before, in which political principles so important to the future career
of the colony were brought to the issue of a contest."

There was some excuse for the tone of self-laudation in which the writer
of the article had indulged. The contest had been severe; the victory
was unmistakable; the total number of votes polled by the successful
candidate was larger by over a hundred than on any previous occasion in
the colony had been recorded for a representative, and in every ward in
the city Mr. Parkes had obtained a majority. He had been opposed in the
election by Mr. Charles Kemp, a journalist like himself but not so
clearly identified with the popular cause, and he defeated Mr. Kemp by
1,427 votes as against 779.

Mr. Parkes' speech at the nomination of candidates is interesting, for
it outlines the course of conduct which marked his political life from
that time to the end.

"I am not one of those," he said, "who look out for persons of leisure
to fill important public offices, for I believe that every one created
in God's image must do what he conceives to be his duty, whether he have
leisure or not; and whatever the sacrifices he may be called upon to
make, a man must not shrink from discharging that duty."

He considered the power of the people should be paramount in a country
such as New South Wales. "I believe that the danger here will be in
limiting, not in extending, the power of the people. . . . . that the
only danger which can accrue to the country will and must result from
withholding that political power and those full privileges, to which
the people are entitled as free-born Britons."

On the question of education, he said,--"I have already declared myself,
as systems at present stand, in favour of the National system. But so
much importance do I attach to the work of mental training as the
foundation of every social virtue, that I should be prepared to support
any modification or alteration of that system which would more adapt it
to the peculiar wants of the remote, thinly-populated, and scattered
districts of the colony." Railways, he was of opinion, should, on a
gigantic scale, be at once commenced, whatever the present cost, or
whatever debt, within reasonable bounds, might result to posterity. "We
must, however," he explained, "see first that the work is based upon
sound principles, which, if carried out, will render the railways
permanently useful." Of the vast importance to the country of public
works of all descriptions he was very conscious.

He earnestly hoped he might prove "a valued member of the Legislature".
"If it should be my fortune to be elected," he went on to say, "and I
should find myself an uninfluential member of the House, my pride would
not allow me to remain, whether you asked me to resign or not. That
pride would compel me to retreat from a position for which I found
myself unqualified, as much for my own sake as for the character of the

And with regard to his position in relation to the wealthy, as well as
the poorer classes of the people, in the event of his election: "I
would support the rights of the richest among you, but at the same time,
with the same vigour, the same determination, the same energy, I would
support the rights of the humblest and poorest. . . . I have ever set
myself against class legislation of every kind. I would no more truckle
to the working classes than to the highest; and at the same time I
believe that among the lowest classes there is often to be found the
largest share of those energies which are most valuable to a young
country, and on which every institution of the country must depend."

There is much in these extracts from the nomination speech that marks
the lines upon which the subsequent career of Sir Henry Parkes in
Parliament was conducted, as there was much in the incidents of the
election resembling the features of later contests when the triumph was
equally pronounced. Shoulder high the future Premier was raised by his
supporters at the close of the proceedings after the declaration of the
poll; and, followed by an enthusiastic crowd, he was carried amidst
vociferous cheering through the streets. It would almost seem from the
manner of the crowd, the large support accorded in the voting, and the
satisfaction expressed on all sides at the result of the contest, that
there was abroad in the city a presentiment, if not a conviction, of the
great public services which the successful candidate was destined to
perform in Parliament, and of the high political position he was to
attain. "This election," said the writer of the _Empire_'s leading article
in his concluding paragraph, "so full of strong and spontaneous support
to the popular cause, so crushing to the faction of an old and corrupt
misrule, we trust is the opening of a new era of progress for the

In his speech at the declaration of the poll, Mr. Parkes alluded to the
circumstance of his having been elected the successor of Mr. Wentworth,
whom he styled the greatest man who ever trod this country. "In
assuming the position which he has vacated," he said, "I shall
endeavour to copy all that was great in his political career, and avoid
his errors." Great as Wentworth undoubtedly was in his services to the
colony, not many years were to pass before the man who succeeded to his
place in the Legislature would be acknowledged universally to be
greater, and in important public services and statesmanship to have no
superior in Australasia.

Mr. Parkes was sworn in a Member of the Legislative Council on 9th May,
1854, and for a few days he was silent.

The period was critical, for it was the eve of the Crimean War, and
there was a feeling of alarm in Sydney at the unpreparedness of the city
and of the port to resist attack. But Mr. Parkes, probably seeing that
as a new member among a number of old and experienced legislators, his
opinion expressed in the House might for the time have little or no
effect, contented himself with saying what he had to say in the leading
columns of his journal. So, for a time, though he was a regular
attendant in the House, and took an active interest in everything, his
voice was not often heard. He sat with the small band of elected members
who were generally opposed to the official members or nominees, among
them being Charles Cowper, James Martin, Terence Aubrey Murray, J. B.
Darvall, G. R. Nichols, Robert Campbell, W. Thurlow, Daniel Cooper, and
Stuart Alexander Donaldson.

Cowper, active, adroit, and generally capable, aimed at securing the
leadership of the Liberal Party; and, by the time the new Constitution
of 1856 had been brought into existence, he had attained this position.
Martin was a rising solicitor, young in years, slim in appearance, with
considerable power of speech in which invective was frequently
prominent, and generally recognised as a young man of very good ability.
From his first election he had taken a very active part in the Council,
and had shown indications of future prominence in legislative work.
Murray (afterwards Sir Terence Aubrey Murray), though of pronounced
liberal views, was aristocratic in appearance and in manner, and was not
popular. The sharp lines by which society in the colony had been divided
up to this time had thrown the gentlemen of the country together, and as
a class they were very exclusive. G. R. Nichols, a solicitor, was a
very able man and a very advanced radical; and Donaldson was a man of
large financial knowledge combined with liberal views, the latter being
tempered by a moderate conservatism.

John Robertson had not yet appeared as a public man, but he and Henry
Parkes had met. One day a young man, with something of the rough
appearance of the bush about him, entered the editor's room in the
_Empire_ office, and immediately set about introducing himself. Extending
his hand he grasped that of the editor, and saying how glad he was to
see him and how he had long looked forward to the meeting, announced
himself as "John Robertson of Yurundi". Not long afterwards young
Robertson was a witness before a select committee of Members of the
Legislative Council, of which Mr. Parkes was chairman, on the state of
agriculture in the colony; and from that time until Sir John
Robertson's death a more or less close acquaintance existed between the
two statesmen.

Henry Parkes' acquaintance with William Bede Dalley commenced about the
same time. Then a very young man, Mr. Dalley was in the habit of
watching the proceedings in the Legislative Council from the Strangers'
Gallery, in the company of two or three companions about the same age as
himself, and it was in the Strangers' Gallery that Mr. Parkes first saw
him. Introduced to each other, they were at once intimate friends. Mr.
Dalley became a contributor to the _Empire_, writing frequently; and
subsequently was appointed with Mr. Parkes to visit England with a view
to promote emigration to New South Wales.

The first subject upon which Mr. Parkes addressed the Legislative
Council was the lighthouse at Gabo Island; not a very great matter
though undoubtedly important, for it had been alleged that through a
want of supplies the men on the island had been reduced to a condition
of starvation, and there was danger of the light being extinguished. It
was not long before he took in hand a much larger question. A little
more than a month after he was sworn in, he gave notice of a series of
resolutions for the establishment of a system of immigration from Great
Britain and the countries of continental Europe, "based on sound
economical principles, and having for its primary object a broad
identity of interest between the individual immigrant and his adopted
country"; and from that time, until the Legislative Council to which he
had been elected was about to give way to the Parliament under the
Constitution of 1856, he was among the most energetic of members.


THE year 1856 saw the fulfilment of the desires of the colonists in the
direction of responsible government, and early in that year a general
election took place under the new Constitution. Henry Parkes was elected
one of four members for Sydney.

Previously to this he had made a determined effort to retire from
political life, and devote himself, at least for a period, exclusively
to the _Empire_. At the close of the session of the Legislative Council in
1855 he addressed to his constituents a letter, in which he informed
them that as in the course of a week the Legislature to which he had
been elected would virtually terminate its existence, the time had
arrived when he ought to inform them of his intention not to present
himself again as a candidate for their suffrages. The announcement took
the citizens by surprise, and aroused widespread regret.

"During the two laborious sessions of my service as your
representative," he wrote, "I have felt the conviction gaining strength,
in despite, as I freely own, of some feeling of ambition, that neither
my time nor whatever humble ability I might possess, would be
sufficiently subjected to my will to enable me to discharge the high and
responsible trust reposed in me, with that uniform devotion to the
public interest which is implied in its acceptance. Though I have
generally been in my place, I have attended the sitting by wrenching
myself, as it were, away from other duties of an equally serious nature,
which often left me wholly unprepared for the business of the Council;
and in the part I have taken there, I have never felt conscious of my
success to satisfy my sense of what is due from the representative to
his constituents. . . . .

"In making up my mind to stay outside I have had to conquer a strong
feeling which my better judgment has told me ought not to be gratified;
but the self-denial has been sweetened by the knowledge that I have
before me another field, fairly won by my own efforts, for future
usefulness. I leave the Legislature, as I entered it, from a sense of
duty alone. You opened the door for me against singular obstacles; I
cheerfully close it with my own hand.

"If I am too poor to make the sacrifices incumbent on a representative
of the people, I am, at least, too proud to accept the honour and
neglect the duties of that noble office."

This letter was written in December, 1855. A month later, at an
important meeting of citizens, held in the Royal Victoria Theatre, he
was chosen one of four candidates in the Liberal interest to represent
the City of Sydney in the first Parliament under the new Constitution,
by which action on the part of the people, he became committed to a
Parliamentary career for life.

A weekly journal of the period, describing the proceedings at a public
meeting which was held in the Royal Hotel a few days after the meeting
in the Victoria Theatre, stated that there was nothing like general
silence and attention until Mr. Parkes rose, that all the discordant
elements of which the meeting, attended by the friends of various
candidates, consisted, seemed to melt into harmony on his rising to
speak; and "he was not only well received, but welcomed with a perfect
wildness of enthusiasm."

"His pale excited earnestness would probably have conquered the
prejudices of any audience, and won a respectful attention. But his
manifest conscientiousness and straightforward honesty were seconded in
this case by a strong sympathy with his political principles, and the
demonstration in his favour was genuine and emphatic."

Deeply moved by the earnest desire of the electors that he should go
into the Legislative Assembly, he placed himself unreservedly in their
hands. His own interests, he explained, and his wish to stand by for a
season and "search his own heart and conscience to see how far he had
been correct" in his public career, would have kept him aloof from this
political conflict, but if the electors forbade him the interval of
comparative seclusion he would consult their wishes rather than his own

"He knew," he said, "that if he went into the next Legislature he
should be for ever doomed to one tremendous struggle in behalf of this
country. But if it were the wish of the city which had conferred upon
him in former times distinctions, far above any merit he possessed, that
he should go to the poll, he would do so, and if he were again elected
as the representative of the city of Sydney, he would discharge the
duties which would devolve upon him to the utmost extent of his power.
One thing at all events he would promise--that he would never be absent
when their liberties were at stake; he would never be absent when their
money was to be voted away; he would never be absent when new laws might
need his advocacy for the advancement of the welfare of their common
country. He would promise more--he would never be absent at all so long
as he had health to attend. He knew very well the sacrifice he should
make--and he confessed that he desired to avoid that for a short time--
the discharge of the public duties incumbent upon him would render him
comparatively a stranger in his own family. That would be the extent of
his sacrifice, but that sacrifice he was prepared to make rather than
forfeit the good opinion of the citizens of Sydney, and shrink from a
public duty if he was called upon to discharge it."

As was to be expected there were some who charged him with
inconsistency, but his intention to retire from politics in the
Legislature had been earnest and genuine, and it was only in consequence
of repeated solicitations from influential sections of the electors, and
unequivocal expressions of approval of his candidature from the citizens
generally, that he consented to be nominated for election to the
Legislative Assembly. To use his own words, it appeared to him that "he
would be flying in the face of the constituency if he were to refuse."
He was confident of being elected, but he was equal to either fortune.
If defeated he would feel at all events that "the gates of Parliament
were constitutionally closed against him"; he could do as he pleased
with his time, and enjoy the pleasures of association with his
children. But his position in the estimation of the electors was too
good for defeat to be possible. At the close of his speech at the Royal
Hotel he called upon the meeting, if they really wished that he should
throw himself into the contest to tell him so by a show of hands. The
appeal was instantly responded to, apparently by the whole meeting,
amidst general applause, and Mr. Parkes acknowledged the demonstration
by declaring he was at the service of the city.

The contest, long and severe, ended triumphantly. Six candidates entered
the field, and Mr. Parkes, as one of a "bunch" of four, the number to
be elected, was returned second on the poll, Mr. Charles Cowper being
first, 18 votes ahead, Mr. Robert Campbell third, and Mr. J. R. Wilshire
fourth. Mr. J. H. Plunkett, who at the time was Attorney-General of the
colony, and another candidate, were defeated. Mr. Plunkett was a strong
man, and in the election a dangerous opponent. His position in the
community, and the fact that he stood alone in the contest as the
representative of what had been the ruling class, were circumstances
that indicated a great probability of his success, but he was defeated
by over a hundred votes below the number recorded for the fourth
candidate on the poll.

The nomination proceedings took place on the 12th, and the polling on
the 13th March. On the night previous to the nomination a banquet was
given to Mr. Charles Gavan Duffy (afterwards knighted, and now Sir
Charles Gavan Duffy) in the Prince of Wales Theatre, and Mr. Parkes, a
prominent figure on the occasion, delivered a speech in reply to the
toast of "The land of our adoption", in which he declared that, under
circumstances similar to those in which the Young Ireland party had
acted, he would have been a rebel like Mr. Duffy. The declaration has
often been quoted against him, and it is as well that his actual words
should be given.

Mr. Duffy had recently arrived in Australia to make the country his
home, and he had come here with the romantic patriotism of the Young
Ireland party and the _Nation_ newspaper surrounding him like a halo.
Admirers flocked to him from all sides, and people of almost all shades
of opinion sought to do him honour. In Sydney the feeling of the
community led to the banquet in the Prince of Wales Theatre, the
proceedings of which were marked with much enthusiasm. At such a time
and in such company the wrongs of Ireland naturally became one of the
topics of the speeches.

"Although, like our chairman," said Mr. Parkes, "I do not profess to
enter into the spirit of Mr. Duffy's public life in his native country,
I yet know this of Irish history and Irish wrongs, that had I been
myself an Irishman, with Mr. Duffy's temperament and his principles, I
believe I should have been a rebel like him. We all know," he continued,
"that during Mr. Duffy's illustrious career one of the most terrible
famines that ever passed over any fruitful country desolated Ireland,
and that Mr. Duffy, with his fine imagination, his deep feeling of
patriotism, must have seen in this famine terrible calls, terrible
appeals to him to advocate the cause of his suffering country at every
risk and every possible peril. And I only utter in public what I have
often said in private, that if I had been born and reared as Mr. Duffy
has been, and had been a witness of grinding want and poverty in a land
which was intended by Providence to be one of plenty, I should have
taken precisely the same course that he has taken."

These words are very plain and clear, but, to do the speaker justice in
regard to them, they must be read with a recognition of the popular
feeling concerning Mr. Duffy's arrival in the country, of the
circumstance that Australia was not without experience of Imperial
misgovernment and oppression, and in view of the undeniable loyalty that
characterised the public life of Sir Henry Parkes throughout his long

The nomination and the polling for the City of Sydney were signal events
in the history of the colony. Excitement was general; the attendance at
the hustings, which were in Hyde Park, then known as the Racecourse, was
large; and the proceedings were marked with much enthusiasm. Mr.
Parkes' nomination speech contained some remarks of special interest,
viewed in the light of events which have occurred since that time.

"I may say without affectation, without any parade of false feeling,
that from the circumstances of my early life I have felt the want of
education too painfully not to be well alive to its great importance,
and I shall steadily labour, and use every energy, to promote education
among the people upon a comprehensive and catholic basis". . "I can
assure you whether I am tomorrow night your representative or not, my
great object throughout my life will be so to impress my name and my
character and my influence on this country, that I may be remembered
when I am dead and in my grave."

The chief interest in the election centred in the declaration of the
poll. This was in favour of "the Bunch", but it was thought necessary,
on the demand of Mr. Plunkett, to have a special examination of the
votes, and the final declaration of the poll was not made till some days
after the voting had taken place. The scene was very striking. For some
reason, said to be the fear to a magistrate that the excitement of the
populace would lead to the burning down of the structure, the hustings,
which had been the centre of the triumphant proceedings of a few days
previously, had been removed, and in its place a cart with an improvised
handrail had been obtained. Offended by this, or professing so to be,
the victorious "Bunch" refused to mount the cart either to hear the
announcement by the Sheriff or to address the electors. They stood
amongst the crowd, and the Sheriff, deeply mortified, was obliged to
proceed with his duties, having only Mr. Plunkett, the defeated
candidate, and one or two others to support him. The Sheriff was a
courageous and zealous officer, with a keen sense of his dignity; but
the position he was occupying at the time was new to him, and the
occasion was marked by an importance such as he had never before
experienced. The new-born power of the people ruffled the feathers of
the officialism which had hitherto been the governing principle in the
colony, and the old-time privileges of the ruling class were receiving
some rude rebuffs. He did his best to induce the four elected candidates
to ascend the nondescript hustings. He sought them in the crowd;
requested, persuaded, entreated, apologised, almost implored them to
come; but they, strong in their success and their popularity, refused
point blank, and were inexorable.

They stood together, a little group, not far from the cart, in the midst
of a throng of their admirers. We can easily imagine them and their
surroundings. Mr. Cowper, eminently respectable in appearance, dignified
and condescending in manner; Mr. Parkes, with the determination and
general force of his character expressed indelibly on his strangely
powerful features; Mr. Robert Campbell, with the quiet sternness of the
successful man of business; Mr. Wilshire, with a face in which
satisfaction at the result of the election was curiously blended with
indignation at certain charges which had been made against him by
opponents in the election;--four striking figures, with a dense and
excited crowd around them stirred to the depths by the new sensations of
power and importance arising from the exercise of the great privileges
attending the choice of their own representatives in Parliament. Hyde
Park has witnessed since that time many important elections,
accompanied by great excitement and much enthusiasm, but none more
important or more striking than this. Despairing at last of getting the
"Bunch" to do as he wished, the Sheriff ascended the cart with Mr.
Plunkett, and commenced to address the people. But the crowd refusing
to listen to any speech, wanted the result of the election in a definite
statement of the polling. "Poll! Poll!" they shouted. "We want to know
the state of the poll!" And the Sheriff was obliged to submit. The
state of the poll, as it appeared after the special examination which
had been made of the voting, was declared; the victorious "Bunch", were
shown to be in a more triumphant position than they were a week
previously when the polling took place; and the jubilation of the crowd
was unbounded.

Messrs. Cowper, Parkes, and Campbell, arm-in-arm, and Mr. Wilshire, who
was suffering from lameness, in his gig, left the ground at the head of
a large number of electors, and passing into Market-street, and thence
down George-street, went to their committee rooms at the Exchange Hotel,
from a window of which they addressed the electors.

"The main feature of the contest," said Mr. Parkes, "the primary and
leading idea of it throughout has been Australian," and he expressed the
hope that "all present, little boy and white-headed old man, would from
that day forth be Australian in their feelings and their aims."

This satisfaction at Australians being the chief actors in all that is
important to Australia was a prominent feature in Sir Henry Parkes'
life. At the election of Sir J. P. Abbott to the office of Speaker of
the Legislative Assembly of New South Wales, thirty-four years after the
event of 1856, he gave expression to his satisfaction as an Englishman
at the gratifying fact that Sir Joseph Abbot was a native-born
Australian. "The time is coming," he said, "when we must all be
Australians, and it is a gratifying circumstance to see the men born in
the country aspiring to, and fitly qualified for, the highest offices in
the State."


THE first Legislative Assembly in New South Wales was opened on 22nd
May, 1856, and was dissolved on 19th December, 1857. Its life was short,
for it was found difficult in the early days of the new order of
politics, and in the desire to have the system of self-government
proceed with the greatest public advantage, for Ministries to remain
long in office. In the nineteen months during which the first Assembly
was in existence four Ministries were in power, a dissolution of
Parliament taking place three months after the fourth Ministry was

The instability of Governments at this period cannot be said to have
been due to an unseemly scramble for office, though party feeling was
very prominent. Discouraging as were many of the circumstances connected
with the political life of the time, a high political morality pervaded
the first Assembly. There were a sense of honour and an uprightness of
conduct among most of the members which placed the public interest above
personal advantage. The foundation of self-government having been
successfully laid, there was a very general feeling that the edifice to
be built upon it should be symmetrical and lasting, and there was a
desire to make no false step, but to go forward in the right direction
from the outset.

Henry Parkes sat among a body of men many of whom would have done honour
to any political assembly in the world. Cowper, Arnold, Darvall,
Donaldson, Forster, Hay, Jones, Macleay, Manning, Martin, Murray,
Nichols, Parker, Piddington, Robertson, Dalley, Deniehy, and Plunkett,
are names that, in the history of New South Wales, will ever be
conspicuous among those of the men who were the founders of the
liberties which Australians enjoy and of their wonderful advancement.

But the want of a stable ministry during the period of the first
Legislative Assembly made the progress of the colony under responsible
government, for the time, very slow. The rapid succession of
Governments unsettled matters somewhat seriously. The Donaldson
Ministry, the head of which was in all respects an English gentleman,
resigned after being in office only two months; "in a fit of petulance"
those annoyed at the resignation described it, but largely because the
high-mindedness of an honourable man declined to submit to attacks
prompted, he considered, in some quarters, by little more than party
spirit. He was succeeded by Mr. Cowper, but no sooner had the Cowper
Government taken office than they were met by a motion of want of
confidence, and the motion was carried. No time was allowed the hapless
ministers to either announce or initiate a public policy. The Parker
Ministry who next came into power were almost equally unfortunate.
Attempting land legislation and electoral reform, they failed in both;
and the rejection of their Electoral Bill brought their existence to a
termination. Mr. Cowper, reappearing as the head of an Administration,
and having with him Mr. James Martin, Mr. Terence Aubrey Murray, and Mr.
Richard Jones, again found it impossible to proceed effectively with
public business, but he managed to remain in office until he could
secure a dissolution. Introducing a Land Bill, the Government succeeded
in passing its second reading by a majority of 36 in a House of 44; but
so persistently was the measure attacked, both in and out of Parliament,
that ultimately it had to be withdrawn. Then appeared a Judges
Appointment Bill, which was rejected on the motion for leave to
introduce it; and, following this, a bill to provide for the assessment
of stock on squatting runs, which, on the motion for the second reading,
was defeated by a majority of one. This, and the difficulty on the land
question, brought about a dissolution, and the Parliament went to the
country in the hope that a general election would remove the obstacles
to progress by sending back one party or the other with the majority
necessary to enable them to rule.

Class jealousies and class interests were greatly at variance, the old
squatting coterie being strongly opposed to the popular party which the
new Constitution had sent into Parliament.

It was at this time that John Robertson was beginning to impress both
the Legislature and the people with his scheme for dealing with the
public lands of the colony on the principle of free selection before
survey. Young and ardent, he lost no opportunity for putting forward his
views upon this important question; and much of the difficulty
experienced by the second Cowper Government, in their attempt at land
legislation, was due to his persistent action. Sensible of the
importance of such an opponent, Mr. Cowper considered how best he could
be dealt with, and, before the meeting of the new Parliament, decided to
accept his land scheme, and to offer him the position of Minister for
Lands, which Mr. Robertson accepted. Land legislation on a popular basis
became then the chief question of the hour, and the stability of the
Cowper Government was assured.

Mr. Parkes sat in Parliament during the first few months of the session
of 1856, an attentive observer of its proceedings. When he considered it
necessary he was not backward in expressing his views upon the subject
under discussion or on any matter claiming his attention; and he and his
opinions were held in high respect; but he was not a frequent speaker.

He had been offered office in the Government, and had declined it. Mr.
Donaldson, in the desire to secure a satisfactory position for his
Administration, saw much to be gained by breaking up the party following
Mr. Cowper, and this he thought could be done by including some of the
best of them in his Government. In pursuance of this idea, when forming
his Ministry, he offered office to Mr. Cowper, and failing in that, he
sought the assistance of Mr. Parkes, the medium of communication between
the two being Sir Charles Nicholson. That gentleman seeing Mr. Parkes on
the subject, submitted to him a list of names representing those it was
desirable to have in the Government; and the list included the names of
Mr. Parkes and Mr. Edward Flood. "A Government of that kind", Sir
Charles Nicholson remarked, "will last twenty years." Mr. Parkes,
however, explained that it was impossible for him to leave his friends,
and that he did not approve of the coalition proposed; and Mr.
Donaldson's Government existed for only a few weeks.

During this session Mr. Parkes was chairman of a select committee
appointed to report upon the introduction of the electric telegraph into
New South Wales. The colony of Victoria had done much in introducing and
extending this means of communication through its own territory, and had
proposed to run a line to connect Melbourne with Albury, on condition
that New South Wales should connect Albury with Sydney. The committee
regarded the matter as a question "of practical bearing and immediate
necessity", calling for active measures to preserve the position of the
colony in its various relations with the other Australian colonies, and
recommended that the proposed connection between Sydney and Melbourne
should be carried out, and also that Bathurst "as the industrial and
commercial centre of an important rising district", should be connected
by telegraph with Sydney.

Throughout this period of Sir Henry Parkes' life, earnest and zealous as
he endeavoured to be in all he undertook, there could be seen very
plainly the struggle between his ambition to excel as a politician and
his desire to establish himself in a sound position in the community
commercially. Between the demands upon his time and attention at the
newspaper office, and those which made it indispensable that he should
be regular in his attendance in the Assembly, and, if he desired to
rise, take an active and intelligent part in the proceedings of
Parliament, he was in a serious dilemma. Each being incompatible with
the other, to satisfactorily perform the duties of both positions seemed
impossible. The sacrifice of one or the other appeared inevitable, and
yet to abandon either was as if to commit self-destruction. His
position as a newspaper proprietor was essential to his means of
livelihood; his seat in Parliament was necessary to his success as a
politician. Conscious of his capacity to excel in either, and yet
impressed with the difficulties of adhering to both, he was tormented by
the thought that one must be given up. Had he been possessed of a
private income, or had the newspaper attained a position in which losses
had given way to satisfactory profits, his mind would have been at ease.
But it was still an uphill fight with the _Empire_, for though eminently
successful as a literary production it had not yet succeeded
financially, and close and undivided attention was the only means
likely to make it profitable.

Outside Parliament, among the people, his worth as a public man and
ultimate success as a politician were settled convictions. To them he
was the champion from their own ranks specially fitted to do great
public service in protecting their interests and extending their
liberties. His courage and capacity to attack abuses, and to advocate
whatever appeared for the public good, represented him as just the kind
of man wanted to drive the remnants of the old official regime into
permanent obscurity, and to encourage the growth of the new order of
things which had brought constitutional government and its attendant
advantages into existence. He himself was well aware of his abilities.
He had not up to this time done very much in Parliament, but he had been
a very useful member, and had given much indication of what he might yet
do. He knew his strength, and was conscious of the services he might
perform in the future. He knew also that when brought forward by the
electors of East Sydney, as one of their candidates for the Assembly, he
had declared that, if elected, he should consider himself bound to a
life-long service in Parliament. But with all the desire to remain in
the Legislature, and the capacity to perform good work, the absolute
necessity to give something like proper attention to his business
affairs was so plain that an early retirement from Parliament very
quickly appeared impossible to avoid. It therefore came about that his
seat in the first Assembly was not held for much more than a third of
the period during which the Parliament existed.


BEFORE the first session of the Parliament of 1856 had closed, between
six and seven months, in fact, after the session had opened, Mr. Parkes
wrote a letter to the Speaker resigning his seat. The worry and anxiety
attending his duties in the office of the _Empire_ were now interfering
greatly with his legislative duties, and, to his mind, an incomplete
service in Parliament was inconsistent with a proper sense of public

"A year ago," he wrote, to his constituents, "when the business of the
late Legislative Council was about to close, I addressed a letter to
you, informing you that it was not my intention to offer myself as a
candidate for your representation in the new Parliament. In taking that
step I was chiefly influenced by the conviction that my other
engagements would not allow me to attend to the business of the
Legislature so as to satisfy my sense of public duty, and that you had a
right to expect from your representative a course of devoted service to
the country unhampered by the pressure of his personal affairs. The
strong expressions of feeling in my favour, and considerations urged
upon me of a purely political nature, induced me subsequently to forego
my purpose; and on the day of election I was returned to the Legislative
Assembly as one of your members. Highly as I deemed the distinction thus
conferred upon me, I could not even in the hour of triumph conceal from
myself the difficulties that would surround a proper discharge of the
duties I had undertaken, though I hoped they would not be greater than
my power to overcome them. Since then, however, the circumstances which
presented to my mind the desirability of my retirement have grown of
greater rather than of diminished force; and after the experience of
another year, and an anxious reexamination of the reasons for and
against the course I first proposed to pursue, I have come to the
conclusion it is clearly my duty to return into your hands the trust
you have twice confided to my keeping."

"Leaving the Legislature," the letter proceeded "it may be well that I
should say, to save my conduct hereafter from misconstruction, that it
is my purpose also, for some years to come, to disconnect myself
entirely from public life. But while I live I shall not forget that I
have been honoured by receiving your confidence; and neither time nor
circumstance shall render the links that have united us in higher
relations, of less binding effect on my ability to serve you as a
private citizen. In return for the first distinction I have enjoyed, I
have contributed little to the advancement of your interests; but at
least I have not weakened the position of your representative by seeking
to build up power to myself. Henceforth, I hope it will be my happiness
to see others serve you who shall prove themselves worthy of the

The excellent tone of this letter at once attracted attention, and there
was an almost unanimous expression of admiration and regret. People
recognised in the man a sterling honesty,--a sense of duty of the highest
kind; and this, coupled with the ability which he was known to possess,
led them to regard his retirement from the Legislature as something like
a public calamity.

Mr. J. H. Plunkett, a bitter opponent of Mr. Parkes during the election
of 1856, and up to the time of the latter's retirement from the Assembly
not on speaking terms with him, "was happy," he said in a public
speech, "to bear testimony to the services Mr. Parkes had rendered. It
would be difficult indeed for them to find a member so able, useful, and
assiduous as he had been; one who would throw, as Mr. Parkes had done,
his whole heart and soul into the business of the country, or who would
bring with him into the Legislature so much might and influence of

"I confess", wrote Sir Charles Cowper, in allusion to the resignation,
and a letter he had received from Mr. Parkes on the subject at the time
the letter announcing the resignation was written to the Speaker,--"I
confess I read it with feelings of emotion, and I soon after went home
with a heavy heart. The step which you have taken will deprive the
Assembly of one of its most useful members, but I have hopes that good
may come out of evil. I feel assured that many who have been the
foremost in maligning you hitherto will deeply regret your absence from
Parliament; they will now give you credit for motives, which, under
feelings of party spirit, they have refused to acknowledge were guiding
your actions."

"I trust your means of influencing the public mind," he also wrote,
"will be increased rather than diminished, by your retirement. You wield
(alluding to the _Empire_) a powerful engine, and by having more time to
devote to this all but omnipotent instrument, I indulge the expectation
that your usefulness will be felt, and acknowledged by the generous
support of that public whom you have served so faithfully."

Dr. Lang regarded the resignation as a public calamity. "In common with
all the right-minded portion of our community," he said, "I regret
exceedingly your retirement from Parliament. We have so few men of the
right stamp that to lose even one, and especially one of your weight and
influence in the Legislature, is a public calamity. But I was not
surprised at your procedure, from the overwhelming nature of your
private avocations, as the head of so extensive an establishment."

Charles Gavan Duffy, at that time a member of the Victorian Parliament,
told Mr. Parkes that the retirement could not and must not be more than
temporary. "More than ever," he declared, with remarkable foresight,
"I see no one else in New South Wales to hope anything from for

In the Assembly there was a general feeling of regret, even among Mr.
Parkes' political opponents; and by the party with whom he had been
associated the step was regarded with much concern. By some it was
described as an "utter smashing of the Opposition;" and Mr. Cowper and
his followers waited with no little disquiet for further developments.
"Much will depend upon your successor," he said, in his letter to Mr.
Parkes, "and I wait with no little anxiety the announcement of his name.
The malignity with which those are assailed who adhere faithfully to the
cause of good government, is likely to deter many from venturing into
public life. It often disheartens even me, and I doubt whether, if I
were to begin a new career, I should face all the obloquy and calumny
which I have been subjected to in acting up to my own sense of duty."

But the estimate in which Mr. Parkes had been held in Parliament was
best expressed in a letter from the Speaker of the Assembly, Mr.
(afterwards Sir) Daniel Cooper. "I cannot", he wrote, "allow you to
relinquish your seat in the Legislative Assembly, as one of the
representatives of the City of Sydney, without briefly expressing to you
the high opinion I entertain of your conduct as a member of the House,
since I have had the honour to occupy the Speaker's Chair. Your
industry, zeal for the public weal, manly independence, fairness,
candour, and temper in debate, and unvarying respect for the Chair and
forms of the House, have been on all occasions most exemplary; and it
affords me additional pleasure to be able to add that I have frequently
heard members of all shades of political opinion give expression to a no
less flattering estimate of your Parliamentary career."

Equally complimentary were the references to the retirement in the
press. "His untiring industry, unceasing watchfulness, and manly
independence as a representative", said one journal, "will make his
loss deeply felt, and his like hard to be found. At this stage of our
affairs his retirement must be deplored, but he may rest assured that
the memory of his past services will be cherished by the people with
reverence and gratitude." "Beyond all doubt," said another, "he has
been one of the most valuable members in the House, and we believe one
of the most thoroughly honest and single-hearted. Few men, indeed, in it
give promise of higher usefulness and greater eminence than he has done;
for to our mind his is one of the improving spirits, and he will be a
better statesman five years hence than he is now." In a lengthy notice
of the subject, a third journal declared that "the country owes more to
Mr. Parkes than many will be inclined to acknowledge." "He has", it
went on to say, "the great merit of having been the first to organise
here a consistent political party. Before his entrance into public life
our politicians were remarkable for anything but their consistency,
voting merely as their inclinations or interests led them, without any
regard to principles. . . . We know of no one in the House whose
opinions on all subjects were delivered with greater earnestness or
commanded more respect and attention from all parties. . . .
His industry and perseverance are above all praise. He is an example
of what may be done by a man of talent and energy, relying solely upon
his own exertions. Mr. Parkes has, perhaps, had less assistance from
others in his career though, life, than most men, yet he occupies a
position in this rapidly advancing country second to none. It is to his
honour that he has attained his position without sacrificing his
independence or cringing to any class or person."

Another paper, similarly pronounced in its praise, said, that "short as
had been Mr. Parkes' career in the Legislature it had stamped him as a
consistent, honest, straightforward man, with a strict regard to
political principle. But", the article continued, "Mr. Parkes is not
merely an honest and consistent man--he is endowed by nature with a force
of character and general ability which placed him among the foremost men
in the House. There was a sincerity of purpose and earnestness of
conviction, aided by intellectual power of no mean order, which would
make themselves felt and respected in any deliberative assembly in the
British Empire. Even his bitterest political opponents have faith in
his integrity, and the attention with which he was invariably listened
to, both in the Legislature and out of it, affords the strongest proof
of the estimation in which his parts and character are held by all
classes. . . .Men of Mr. Parkes' stamp can be ill spared by the country,
and whatever the circumstances which have rendered his withdrawal from
public life inevitable, we hope that the day is not far distant when he
will again be enabled to take his place among the legislators of his
adopted country."

Many other such notices of the retirement appeared, all breathing a
feeling of deep regret at the step which Mr. Parkes had found it
necessary to take, and of high appreciation of the public services he
had performed. But the actual words of only one other need be quoted.
The paper was the _Freeman's Journal_, and it said, "Much as we are
opposed to, and hard as we have often hit, Mr. Parkes, we regret his
resignation extremely. He was the 'noblest Roman of them all' on the
Opposition benches."

One outcome of this almost universal expression of regret and goodwill
was a strongly supported proposal to raise and present to Mr. Parkes a
great public testimonial. On all sides it was admitted that, if ever
circumstances justified such a proceeding, they did in his case, and the
desire was to so arrange that the testimonial, whatever might be its
form, should come from the people of the colony generally,--"some form
of testimonial," it was remarked at the time, "in which the people can
all take part, in which thousands can have a share, and which Mr.
Parkes' children can one day point to with honourable pride."

A preliminary meeting was held at the Royal Hotel, George-street, for
the purpose of forming a committee, and making other arrangements
preparatory to the calling of a public meeting. Complimentary speeches
were made, and resolutions in accordance with the object of the meeting
were passed. Very quickly matters were so complete that ultimate success
was certain. But before the public meeting could be held, a letter was
received by the committee from Mr. Parkes declining the testimonial, and
therefore putting an end to the movement. The letter was addressed to
the hon. secretary of the committee, and was as follows:

"SYDNEY, _January 21st, 1857_.


"Until I saw the report of the meeting held yesterday, at the Royal
Hotel, I did not know who were interesting themselves on my behalf in
getting up this proposed testimonial, and I did not see my way to
interfere in the business. I think it is right, however, that I should
now communicate to you, in order that you may explain to the committee
that has been appointed, my feelings on the subject.

In the first place, I think the public should be slow to stamp the
services of any man with a special mark of their approval, for honours
of this kind can only retain their value by reason of the just claims of
the persons on whom they are bestowed. Entertaining this opinion, I
cannot persuade myself that I have any merits to entitle me to a
distinction so altogether personal. If I have been fortunate enough to
effect any amount of good in the share I have taken in public life, I
would rather have it entirely lost sight of than over-estimated by my
fellow-citizens. In either case the good could not in reality be made
greater or less; but it would be more grateful to one's self-respect to
rest upon something that remained for ever unacknowledged than to feel
conscious of having accepted a distinction undeserved. On the broadest
ground that can be assumed, I think my friends would best consult the
public interest and my individual reputation by abandoning their
intention in regard to me.

In the second place, even if I could believe that my claims to public
consideration were greater than my warmest friends can possibly make
them out to be, I have a kind of horror of testimonials. My sense of
justice, I am bound to say, is against them. Merit, wherever it exists,
will work out its own most fitting reward. If men cannot achieve
something to stand as a memorial of their own lives, it is best that
they should pass away without any attempt of friendly hands to magnify
their littleness. I am quite content to submit myself to that inexorable
trier of men's actions, Time; and to take my chance of being swept away.

Moreover, I desire above all things, just now, to be allowed to work in
quiet. The duties that lie nearest to me require this for their
performance. I am gratefully sensible of the kindness of my friends,
which I shall ever remember; but that kindness will manifest itself in
the form most desired by yielding to the wishes expressed in this

I am, my dear Sir,

"Yours very truly,


"MR. C. G. REID, Secretary to Committee
appointed at the Royal Hotel."

This letter stopped the testimonial, but it raised the writer higher
than ever in public esteem. Such a true sense of duty, such an unselfish
estimate of the value of important services, was new in a community
where personal advantage had, in most instances, been the principal
object in public life. The letter was read with admiration, and though
no one denied the justness of the sentiments it expressed, it seemed to
many to be of that character which should assist in pushing forward the
movement that had been commenced rather than in bringing it to a

Dr. Woolley, Principal of the University of Sydney, writing to Mr.
Parkes at the time, said it was only natural there should be a wish on
the part of the people to express their sense of his past public
services, and their earnest and cordial anticipations of a long
future, which should secure him in the hearts of all generations of
Australians "_monumentum ære perennius_." "I cannot help adding," Dr.
Woolley wrote, "that I am delighted, and not surprised, at the manly and
generous sentiments contained in your letter to Mr. Reid: they come
like the fresh breeze from a free mountain side. It does one good to
think that we have some _real men_ amongst us. God grant, my dear sir,
that you may be spared to take that part in the development of the moral
and material interests of this country, which I know you desire, and
which, I am confident, will make your name as familiar to our children
as that of Hampden and Cromwell."

It is not one of the least remarkable features in Sir Henry Parkes'
career that, at this early period, when he had done comparatively little
in the public interest, the promise of future great services was
universally recognised.

In a spirit similar to that in which Dr. Woolley penned his letter, a
large number of prominent men attended another meeting at the Royal
Hotel to determine whether, in deference to the wish of Mr. Parkes, the
proposed testimonial should be abandoned, or whether, notwithstanding
that wish, the movement should be allowed to proceed. Eventually it was
abandoned, but not at this meeting, nor until a determined effort had
been made to push it forward regardless of Mr. Parkes' objections.

At the instance of Mr. John Robertson the meeting resolved,--

"That while this meeting desires to express its unfeigned sense of
admiration of the noble and patriotic motives by which Mr. Parkes has
been actuated in writing the letter just read, and in sensitively
shrinking from any acknowledgment of his public services, it is of
opinion that those services have been such as to demand the public
recognition which it was determined at the preliminary meeting of Mr.
Parkes' friends should be given to them."

The speeches on the occasion could not have been more eulogistic. In
fact, read today in the light of a comparison of what the subject of
the eulogy had up to that time done, with the public services he
afterwards rendered, they seem little short of extravagant. But they
were evidently the honest sentiments of the speakers. Mr. Richard Jones,
Mr. Charles Cowper, Mr. John Robertson, and Mr. William Forster, joined
in these complimentary utterances. The peculiarities of public life
brought about, in after years, a change in the relations between at
least two of these well-known men and Mr. Parkes, but at this time there
was scarcely any limit to their admiration. In common 'with the people
generally, there seemed to be no compliment too great to pay the man
whom everybody was disposed to honour.

His services in the Legislature had been of a kind in which all his
efforts had been directed towards the public good, and no vestige of
self-interest appeared. He had been regular in attendance, fairly
active in debate, watchful in voting, and industrious in instituting
inquiries into several subjects important to the public welfare. He had
not accomplished much, if what he had done were judged by actual record,
but he had been conscientious, painstaking, and self-sacrificing, and
these were qualities which met with public approval, for they were
wanted in a Legislature where the principles of self-government had just
come into operation.

On the Press his services had been longer than his services in
Parliament, and undoubtedly they had been important. His work on the
_Empire_ had given a prominence to public questions which, before, was not
imparted to them; and by a system of independent and able criticism, he
had never lost an opportunity of safeguarding and promoting the public
interest. Added to this was the fact that he had improved the tone and
stimulated the enterprise of the Press of the colony generally. In this
way he had done great public good, and the people were grateful.

The result of the resolution to proceed with the movement for raising
the testimonial was a public meeting in the Lyceum Theatre, York-street.
Mr. Charles Cowper presided, and the principal speakers were Mr. W. B.
Dalley, Mr. Richard Jones, Dr. Woolley, Mr. John Robertson, Mr. John
Campbell, and Mr. W. C. Windeyer (now His Honor, Sir William Windeyer).
The same feeling was apparent as at the previous meetings. Everyone was
eager to praise the proposed recipient of the testimonial, and
determined to make the testimonial one worthy of acceptance. It had been
arranged that the following resolutions should be submitted to the

1. That this meeting is unanimously of opinion that the public services
   of Henry Parkes, Esq., in the patriotic efforts which he has made for
   many years past to advance civil liberty, social progress, and good
   government, demand the sincere and grateful acknowledgment of every
   Australian colonist.

2. That upon Mr. Parkes' retirement, probably for a long period, from
   public life, this meeting desires that a suitable and permanent memorial
   should be established of the high estimation of his public virtues by
   his fellow-colonists, and that a subscription be opened for the purpose
   of raising funds for the purchase of an estate, to be vested in trustees
   for the benefit of Mr. Parkes' family.

3. That the earnest co-operation of the Australian colonists, in
   promoting the objects of this meeting, be solicited, and that gentlemen
   favourable thereto be invited to aid in forming local committees, and in
   soliciting subscriptions in aid of the proposed testimonial."

These resolutions would have been carried, and the movement pressed on
with every prospect of success; but the proceedings were again checked
by a protest from Mr. Parkes. The chairman of the meeting, Mr. Cowper,
was obliged to announce, on taking the chair, that though it had been
hoped after what had taken place at the meetings at the Royal Hotel,
that Mr. Parkes would have consented to waive his objections to what was
being done, it was found not only that he had not done so, but that he
had stated to most of his friends his objections with greater force than
before, and in a manner that almost compelled them to defer to his

The proceedings, therefore, came to an end. Mr. Dalley expressed his
deep regret that the intended "great public distinction" had been
declined, but consoled himself with the reflection that "at all events
when the curtain fell between him (Mr. Parkes) and the public--that
curtain which for a time concealed him from them as a public man--it was
rung down with the universal applause of the country." Mr. Richard
Jones, while agreeing with the course taken by Mr. Parkes in declining
the testimonial, said "it would be difficult indeed for them to make an
adequate return for the many and important services which he had
rendered to the community." Dr. Woolley spoke of the glorious career
which would one day unite Mr. Parkes' name "with those of the guardians
of liberty in America and elsewhere." Mr. Robertson declared that in
"every hamlet, village, and town" in the country the most popular man was
Mr. Parkes; and Mr. W. C. Windeyer, this occasion being his first
appearance in public, urged that, as the proposal for a testimonial was
to be abandoned, they should at least present an address, signed by all,
"to bear testimony to the love, admiration, and respect which they felt
towards Henry Parkes." A resolution was adopted,

"That an address be presented to Henry Parkes, Esq., late
representative of the city, on his retirement from Parliament,
expressing the feelings of the citizens of Sydney and the colonists at
large in reference to his eminent public services";

and the meeting terminated.


NOT long after his retirement from the Legislative Assembly in 1856, Mr.
Parkes published a second volume of poems, entitled, "Murmurs of the
Stream", with the following dedication:--

         TO THE
        TO THE
     MARCH 13th, 1856.

The little book--it contained 107 pages--showed no particular advance
upon the previous volume in poetic conception or skilfulness of
versification, but it revealed the yearnings of a soul impelled to
utterance by the same deep love and reverence for England, and
passionate desire for the well-being of Australia. It opened with a poem
on "Fatherland:"

"The brave old laud of deed and song,
Of gentle hearts and spirits strong,
Of queenly maids and heroes grand,
Of equal laws,--our Fatherland!"

And, after recounting some of the splendid characteristics of England,
it proceeds:

"Shall Cromwell's memory, Milton's lyre,
Not kindle 'mong us souls of fire,
Not raise in us a spirit strong--
High scorn of shams--quick hate of wrong?

"Shall we not learn, Australians born!
To smile on tinselled power our scorn,--
At least, a freeman's pride to try,
When tinselled power would bend or buy?

"The brave old land of deed and song,
We ne'er will do her memories wrong!
For freedom here we'll firmly stand,
As stood our sires for Fatherland!"

Politics in the days when some of these poems were written did not, in
all respects, commend itself to the writer, and the Donaldson Cabinet,
the first Administration under the new Constitution Act of 1856, did not
please him. Especially did he view with disfavour the appointment of the
late Mr. Thomas Holt to the position of Colonial Treasurer. And he

"Here men leap forth, the statesmen of an hour,
   With one untutored bound to highest place,
Who yesterday had never dreamt of power,
   Whom none had named for mad ambition's race.

"Here men are called to rule,--ah, self-deceived!
   Because, if for a cause the thing can be--
They have neglected most and least achieved,
   To found a State or set a people free."

Not inapplicable are these verses to what has been the case in some
Ministries since 1856, and must continue to be so until sufficient time
shall have passed for a race of politicians to exist in the colony,
natives of the soil, and trained in politics and parliamentary procedure
from their youth upwards.

"Poor land!" he exclaimed in some lines "suggested by political
changes in men and power and men out of power in 1856",--

"Poor land! of what avail for thee
   Thy summer wilds and skies resplendent,
If all this light still lifeless be,
   And man grow here a thing dependent."

And in a poem entitled "The Australian Maiden to her Brother", in which
he deplores the debasing effect of much that, at this period, marked the
institutions connected with the government of the country, he says,
alluding to the condition of lands possessed of the blessings of
freedom, and urging that every effort be made to raise Australia to the
same level,--

"Hast thou forgot our evening, morning,
   And midday dreams, of isles less fair,
Where Freedom dwelt, the world adorning,
   And Truth made man her gifted heir!

"And how our loved Australia yet
   Might rise among those names of light,
Brighter than star e'er rose, which set
   Within the old world's troubled night?

"Did we not dream how thou should'st stand,
   Though even alone, a patriot true,
And late and early, for our land
   Toil on as patriots only do?

"And art thou worn with nights of thought,
   For her so steeped in crime and fear?
Hast thou all means of justice sought
   To raise her up--our country dear?

"In manhood's dawn--in sport of fame,
   Thou, with the poet's skill, did'st twine
A garland round her sullied name,
   As proud to call such country thine.

"But is this all?--and can'st thou brother
   Australia's abject suffering see?
And live one hour for any other
   Than the great purpose--her to free?

"Go--through her sun-bright forests gaze--
   Go, and determine which shall share--
A people free for better days,
   Or lord or serf--God's bounty, there.

"Ask not what sorrow wears my breast,
   Seek not again to comfort me,
While still our country sinks oppressed,
   Without a helping hand from thee."

There are other verses in the book expressing similar sentiments to
these, but at the same time full of hope of the glorious future which
the author saw clearly from the first awaited this land.

"We live in hope--we have no past--
   Our glory's to be won!
And come it will, in spite of ill,
   Sure as to-morrow's sun."

In some lines called "The Strength of Life" we have a picture of the
poet himself, drawn with such clearness that the portrait cannot be

"The dreams of boyhood all were passed,
   The gorgeous light that shone through all
Had faded from life's track at last,
   Like sunshine from a prison wall:
He stood alone, and faced the world--
   The wide, bleak world without a star;
And every scorner's lip was curled;
   And heart was faint; and hope was far.

"But--faint with disappointment's pang,
   And trust deceived, and efforts foiled,--
And bleeding now from misery's fang,--
   That heart yet firmly beat and toiled.
He gazed upon the desert way,
   And drew fresh life from resolute will;
For hope still smiled, though pale her ray,
   And Heaven was bending o'er him still.

"And never failed that trustful heart,
   In conflict dark and suffering long,--
Still striving for the higher part,--
   By every struggle waxing strong.
The grim realities of life
   He met, with front as fixed and grim;
But well he cherished, through the strife,
   All gentle thoughts that came to him.

"And when, far up the sunny mount,
   He rested like a traveller tired,
His dearest joy was to recount
   The dreams that first his spirit fired.
The glory of those dreams returned,
   All pure and tranquil, bright and free,--
Not one rich hue that early burned
   Tinged by the trail of misery."

No truer or better description of Mr. Parkes' life, up to the time when
these verses were written, could be given than is set forth in these
lines. His friendlessness when he came here, his struggles to improve
his position, the sneers of the envious or the unfriendly, the pangs of
disappointment or of failure, the pleasures of hope, the faith in the
future, the determination to go on: all are depicted with strength and

The book contains also a rather lengthy poem addressed "To an
Australian Child", and the verses have a deeply pathetic tone. The child
who had inspired the poet to pen the lines, was his first born son; they
were written in the warmth of a father's affection, and the brightness
of his anticipation of the boy's future; and, alas! the boy's life was a
disappointment. He lived a commonplace existence; he died in early
manhood; and the father's cherished hopes were unfulfilled. The poem is
too long to quote _in extenso_, but a few verses are sufficient to show
with what fond expectation the future of "my own blue-eyed boy" was

"How bright is the morning, young creature of mirth,
   As 'twere the fresh dawn on a paradise wild,
Out-bursting in smiles o'er the land of thy birth!
   But the beauty of Eden had ne'er reconciled
Thy sire to his exile, if never those eyes
   Had pleaded in innocent love for its claim!
For, oh! these are not the green woods and blue skies
   Which my childhood rejoiced, nor these wild flow'rs the same.
. . . . .

"But the sun in his rising, benignly resplendent,
   Thy land, little Southerner! flooding with smiles,
Ever wakes fresher feelings--pure, proud, independent,
   That link us anew to this fairest of isles!
And right regally She, in the morning's rich light--
   My boy's native city--now looketh the Queen,
With the sea at her feet lying tranquil and bright,
   Skirted still by her forests of dark evergreen!

"And grandly her future, my fair-fortuned boy!
   Shall unfold o'er Australia's wild mountains and glens,
With effulgence of mind, and pervasion of joy!
   That shall startle the world from its pomp of old sins.
Yes! Freedom her prime more august shall renew,
   With the spirit of Sparta, the sway of first Rome,
Where now the green desert lies shut from man's view;
   Or the desert's dark tribes, in sole mastery, roam.

"And high is thy birthright, entitling to share
   In her patriot's labours--the work yet unplanned
Of some Hampden, perchance, now by mother's fond care
   Cradled safe 'mong the mountains afar in the land;--
To claim when thy country shall rank with the nations,
   An honour-marked place by the side of her chiefs,
With a soul that has fed on her proud aspirations,
   And pined 'neath the weight of her national griefs!"

The boy might have risen to manhood's estate high in the Government
service, had his father so chosen, but it was one of the principles of
Sir Henry Parkes' life not to appoint his relatives to positions under
the Government, and his sons had to make their way in the world
independently of this aid, and by their own efforts. The eldest,
following in the footsteps of his father when he was conducting the
_Empire_, became a printer. He died at the age of 37, and was buried at
Faulconbridge, Sir Henry Parkes' mountain home, his grave being the
first that was made there.

On the day before the funeral the present writer received the following
letter, dated from Faulconbridge, which contains some interesting
references to the verses just quoted, and some touching observations
regarding him to whom the lines had been addressed.


"January 4, 1880.
"My dear Mr. Lyne,

"At page 75 of the accompanying little volume you will find some verses
which more than 34 years ago I addressed to my poor dead son, then a
child 2 1/2 years old. At that time I was myself an unknown young man
with no thought of entering upon a public career. The verses were
written in 1846. I took part in public proceedings for the first time
in 1848, at the election of Mr. Robert Lowe for Sydney.

"Looked at from the present day, through the changes of the intervening
years, the political character of the verses has a curious interest for
myself, and in this sense and in connection with my loss they might be
of interest to the public. I am too much absorbed in my own little world
to be a judge of this.

"Throughout my poor boy's boyhood I had great hopes of his future. All
this ended in sad disappointment, but he was one of the kindest and
gentlest creatures that ever lived.

"Faithfully yours,


There was a touching simplicity, and yet a picturesqueness, about the
funeral. The remains of the deceased were conveyed to Faulconbridge by
train, and on arriving at the railway platform there the coffin was
taken from the train, and carried to the grave by six of the workpeople
employed by Sir Henry Parkes and the late Sir James Martin, then Chief
Justice, on their mountain estates, the men being dressed in spotlessly
white attire, and wearing a band of crape around the left arm and
another around the hat. Preceding the coffin was the clergyman, an old
friend of the family, and following it were Sir Henry Parkes, his son
Mr. Varney Parkes, Mr. James Watson, then Colonial Treasurer, Mr. G. A.
Lloyd, Mr. W. Neill, and a few others. On reaching the grave, which had
been dug in a spot shaded by a wild nutmeg tree, about a quarter of a
mile from the Faulconbridge railway platform, though but a very short
distance from the railway line, a beautiful cross of flowers composed of
rare white roses and maiden hair fern, some equally beautiful floral
wreaths, and some wild flowers were laid upon the coffin; and bearing
these tributes of regard and affection, the body was lowered into its
last resting place. The floral cross and wreaths were sent by the
Governor, Lord Augustus Loftus; the wild flowers were gathered by hands
prompted by loving hearts, about the rocks and dells of Faulconbridge.

"Murmurs of the Stream", closes with some

        A LINK

They are not unsuccessful, and the little book generally, though it
exhibits some crudities of expression and rhyme, is musical,
thought-inspiring, and pleasing. Writing in 1878 with reference to some
books he was sending me, one of them being this volume of poems, Sir
Henry Parkes said:-

"I shall feel gratified if you will accept the accompanying volumes in
remembrance of a very pleasant journey we performed together last month.

"The speeches were published chiefly as a record of opinion extending
over some 25 years. The book has had a value attached to it by others,
both here and in England, which I can say most sincerely I do not attach
to it myself.

"The smaller volume ("Murmurs of the Stream") has been severely
condemned by the critics, but that too has had a good word said of it by
a great poet, the late W. C. Bryant.

"I offer the books to you, good or bad, as part of myself."

But the book, and more recent volumes of poems, have had a "good word"
said for them by a greater poet than W. C. Bryant. Lord Tennyson spoke
well of them, and another authority, famous for his genius with the
sculptor's chisel rather than the poet's pen, but recognised as a poet
of considerable talent, Mr. Thomas Woolner, R.A., also alluded to some
of them in terms of praise. Not very long before Mr. Woolner's decease
Sir Henry Parkes received from him, in acknowledgment of a copy of
"Fragmentary Thoughts", a letter in which he said--"The poems give a most
interesting glimpse of your inner aspirations, and, above all, the warm
and passionate desire you have always felt to improve the hard fate of
the poor, and bestow upon them your sympathy, which, in some respects,
is by them even more highly valued."


A FEW months after the events which followed Mr. Parkes' resignation
from the Legislative Assembly in 1856, the _Empire_ was in difficulties.
The commercial department of the paper had not been successful. Its
literary character had been excellent throughout, and it had exercised
an important and beneficial influence upon the community; but from one
cause and another the journal, from a pecuniary point of view, had not
been carried on profitably.

Probably Mr. Parkes' election to the Legislature had so drawn him away
from his duties at the _Empire_ office that he was prevented from giving
to the office that supervision which, in any such case, to be of use
must be unremitting. His work on the _Empire_ was that not only of an
editor but also of a proprietor, and it needed constant attention. Not
being a practical printer he was open to the many evils, attended by
loss of money or business, which a man trained to the printing trade
can, in most instances, with little difficulty avoid. His only chance of
escaping them was by regular attendance in his office, and active
personal acquaintance with everything going on there. Even then he must
have been to a large extent at the mercy of others directly charged with
departments of work which he could not well understand.

He had received some assistance in money from friends when the paper was
started, and almost from the first the business columns of the journal
obtained a fair share of advertisements. The paper steadily advanced in
circulation, and the price of it was fourpence. But through most of its
career the cost of production was very great--for a considerable period
as much as £100 a day--and there was a constantly increasing amount of
book debts. Money owing to the office did not come in as it ought to
have done. The general public regarded the paper with high approval,
but, as is frequently the case, many of those with whom it had business
relations showed little concern as to its means of existence.
Consequently, instead of progressing satisfactorily in this most
material part of a great newspaper enterprise, it went backward. At
different times it was found indispensable to seek pecuniary assistance
from persons willing to lend money to enable the paper to overcome its
difficulties, and these appeals had met with a prompt response. The
great good the paper was doing was recognised, and there was seen no
reason why, when it had surmounted the obstacles never absent from the
first years of a large newspaper business, it should not return a
satisfactory profit.

But as time went on it was found from certain circumstances, unforeseen,
that the hope of the ultimate pecuniary success of the journal was
delusive. Where there are a number of creditors in an estate it is not
always that they act in unison. It is not unusual to find one or two
whose opinions as to a proposed course regarding the property concerned
are opposed to the opinions of the rest; that, while a large majority
are disposed to assist to the fullest extent of their power, the small
minority are doggedly determined to do the very opposite. So it turned
out to be in this case.

At the time when Mr. Parkes retired from the Legislative Assembly in
1856 the liabilities of the paper amounted to fully £50,000, a very large
sum to ordinary eyes, but not so to the eyes of those who know what the
liabilities of great newspapers sometimes are. This £50,000 included a
mortgage for £11,000, and the mortgagee pressing for payment, the matter
went into the Supreme Court. Very soon possession was taken of the
property for the mortgagee, and the paper was advertised for sale.

In this condition of affairs Mr. Parkes called a meeting of his
creditors, and explained the situation to them. To a certain extent the
result was satisfactory. It showed that most of the creditors were
satisfied of the integrity and the ability of the proprietor of the
paper, and of the ultimate success of the journal. They were willing to
agree to Mr. Parkes' proposals, and to wait. But this general decision
on the part of most of those to whom the paper was indebted was made
abortive by the one or two creditors who had taken up an antagonistic
position, and who had declined to give away.

At this point the whole staff of the paper abandoned their work; and for
a few days the very appearance of the paper was jeopardised. A new staff
could not be obtained, and for a time the situation seemed a hopeless
one. But in his extremity there were a few persons who came to the aid
of the editor, and with their assistance the paper appeared day by day,--
not, certainly, in its usual complete form, but sufficiently complete to
pass current; and in that way this new difficulty was surmounted. The
staff did not leave from hostility to Mr. Parkes. They were careful to
explain that their relations with him, up to the period of the present
embarrassments, had always been cordial and satisfactory; but as at this
time some arrears of wages were due to them, and as it had been
explained to them that inasmuch as the mortgagee had taken possession of
the property they must look to him for payment of what was due to them,
and he had declined to pay them, they left the office.

The condition of affairs now became very critical. The prospect of being
able to go on under such a load of difficulties as had accumulated was
very slight; yet every consideration urged that a strong effort should
be made to prevent complete disaster. The six years of incessant labour
in the establishment and the conduct of the paper had been too great,
and in their effect upon the community too beneficial, to be lightly
set aside. The paper had done signal service under the old order of
government; it was doing equally good service under the new. Meetings
were held by persons interested, chiefly from patriotic motives, in the
well-being of the journal, to consider what was best to be done; and it
was determined to take steps to to pay off the mortgage. The money was
raised by subscription; the mortgage was redeemed; and the pressing
trouble which had threatened the existence of the paper under Mr.
Parkes' management was removed.

So far this was satisfactory, especially to the paper's many friends;
but the relief of the journal from the mortgage debt does not appear to
have been brought about with Mr. Parkes' consent. In 1868 he alluded to
the matter in a speech in the Legislative Assembly. "There was a
mortgage on the paper," he explained, "of some £11,000, to Sir Daniel
Cooper, and a number of persons proposed to take it up from that
gentleman, but in a manner to which I objected. I stated my objections
in writing, and was never a consenting party to the transaction, except
in endeavouring to work it out after it was done. I wished to be left
alone to deal with my estate as other people do with theirs." Though
requested to name persons who might assist in the movement he had
declined to name anyone, not believing that any good could result from
the course that was being taken. He did not approve of w r hat was being
done, and declined to be a party to it. An explanation, similar to
this, he also made when, as far as he was concerned, the publication of
the paper came to an end in 1858.

A letter written at the time by Mr. Parkes to one of the most earnest
and active of the friends who brought assistance to the embarrassed
journal, indicates very forcibly his feelings on the subject. The letter
bore date "Saturday afternoon, March 21, 1857", and was as follows:

My dear Mr. Montefiore,

After I saw you yesterday I again had much trouble with parties
connected with the office, which occupied my attention nearly the whole
afternoon. In the evening I saw Mr. Jones, and had a long conversation
with him on the subject of my unfortunate affairs. Thus, much of my time
was consumed, and I was left in a frame of mind little fitted to think
of what you desired me to think of. I cannot but feel that the _Empire_
has few friends who would render the extraordinary assistance required,
and I cannot think of any I should, be justified in naming.

Since Mr. Jones left me I have spent some anxious hours endeavouring to
realise the future, in case your arrangements with Mr. Cooper were to be
completed. It is clear I should live in a new world of thought and
feeling--my relations with men entirely changed--the public men of the
country all standing in an altered light, some whom I have hitherto
regarded as opponents or with indifference now assuming the character of
benevolent protectors--my very existence depending on the wealth of a
gentleman who a few weeks ago told me to my face that he would rather
'crush' the _Empire_ than suffer personal annoyance from his connection
with it.

It were unwise not to ask myself calmly and searchingly am I strong
enough to bear all this--to outlive the moral imprisonment to which I
should be consigned--my judgment and my integrity alike distrusted and
myself suspecting everyone.

In ordinary cases this might be borne,--if the ends in view were only the
accumulation of money. But I should be expected to maintain a high
ground of independence, to infuse fire and vigour into the political
life of the country, to appear at the door of my own dungeon every
morning as a spirited defender of freedom.

I am not seeking to conjure up gloom and difficulty, but to ascertain by
the severe light of reason what would in reality be my future position,
and what would be my prospect of surmounting my difficulties with a new
burden of so irksome a nature placed upon my back, and with only one
motive to action--the hope of paying my debts--in the place of all those
warm and stirring ones which animated me in my past struggles.

The obstacles that stood before me on the first of January appear to me
now of tenfold greater magnitude; the spirit that sustained me then I
feel is now half extinguished. The public canvass of my affairs which
has taken place will sit upon my energies like a hideous nightmare; and
I know too well the natural action of the public mind not to foresee
that the idle sympathy which has been created will be transient and will
dissipate itself in a chilling mist of pity and suspicion.

This kind of public support of a public journal, believe me, will prove
as perilous as the clasp of those shrubs which in most cases destroy the
tree to which they cling. The public--that monster of a thousand
conflicting passions--ought to be compelled to respect a public journal,
not asked to look upon it with commiseration.

Looking at the frightful extent to which my difficulties have been
aggravated and complicated by recent occurrences, and the deadly blow
which has been struck at the prestige of the _Empire_ throughout the
world, my confidence for the first time forsakes me, and I feel I ought
to let you know the state of almost despair in which I find myself.

I have sent for Mr. Wilshire with the view of making a last appeal to
him to take the thing into his own hands. That is the only way which I
can see t carry the paper through its troubles. The help which you and
other friends, by your great kindness and the great waste of your time
which it has caused, have succeeded in raising, would be just
sufficient to drag me to the dust--to affix to the _Empire_ the stigma of
dependence on eleemosynary aid, but, I seriously apprehend, as it would
be rendered on conditions subversive of my self-respect, it would be
utterly insufficient to save me from destruction.

I reveal to you these apprehensions because it is right that you should
know them. I do not wish them to be interpreted as my final decision in
a matter of such high moral concern to me, and in which I feel myself
in such a fearful state of doubt and difficulty. But I beg that you will
do nothing without letting me know the distinct conditions to which I am
to be subject, as I am most anxious not to deceive you by undertaking
what would be too much for my strength hereafter.

With a thousand thanks for the trouble you and all have taken,

Believe me,

Yours truly,


The haunting fear so well expressed in this letter, that in the new
circumstances of its existence the paper could never again be what it
had been, was far from being groundless. The _Empire_ did not long survive
the period of its fallen fortunes. The mortgage being paid off, the man
in possession departed, and for a time the paper went on in most
respects as formerly. Expenses were curtailed where it was practicable
to do so, and the business arrangements generally were improved, largely
with the object of obtaining money, the total amount of which was very
considerable, from persons indebted to the office as subscribers or
advertisers. But these efforts did not meet with success, 'the money did
not come in as it ought to have done; the expenses of the paper were
beyond its income; liabilities pressing upon it could not be materially
reduced. The publication of the journal was henceforth, until it ended,
a continuous struggle; the great burden of the paper's difficulties
causing it to rapidly lose, with no prospect of ever regaining it, its
old familiar garb of high literary ability, far-reaching criticism,
comprehensive information, and public usefulness.


EARLY in 1858 Mr. Parkes re-entered Parliament, being returned at the
general election in this year for a constituency known as the North
Riding of Cumberland.

His retirement from Parliamentary life at the close of 1856 had not been
as prolonged as he had anticipated. He had made a determined effort to
free himself, for at least some years, from the obligations attending
the possession of a seat in the Legislature. Twice he had voluntarily
returned the trust confided to his care by the electors of the City of
Sydney, and each resignation had been followed by a closer attention to
his duties in the office of the _Empire_. With his great newspaper
established on firm foundations, and enjoying a prosperous career,
Parliamentary labour would have been a delight; with the journal
struggling to free itself from its load of indebtedness it was
unsatisfactory and burdensome. But his efforts to keep out of the
Legislature until he should be able to command more leisure proved
futile. Important as unremitting attention to the interests of the
_Empire_ was acknowledged to be, there were those among his friends, who,
recognising his peculiar fitness for political life were always urging
him to seize the earliest occasion for re-entering the Legislative
Assembly. These importunities naturally had some effect, though of
themselves they were not sufficient to draw him from the course he had
resolved to take. But when his efforts to reorganise the _Empire_ office,
and make some satisfactory arrangement with the creditors of the paper,
had failed, and permanent success in his newspaper enterprise was seen
to be, under the circumstances, very doubtful, if not impossible, there
seemed to be no reason why he should remain away from Parliament a
moment after the opportunity for his return presented itself. So it came
about that he re-entered the Legislative Assembly as one of two members
for the North Riding of Cumberland.

He might have stood for Sydney, the electorate which had previously
returned him, or for two or three other constituencies, but there were
weighty reasons why he should present himself for election in the North
Riding. At this time he was living at Ryde, an important part of this
constituency, and he had many friends there. Some of these friends,
without making proper preparations to ensure success, injudiciously
nominated him as a candidate for the electorate at a bye-election which
took place a few months before the general election at which he was
afterwards returned. The result was that he was defeated. This was
unpleasant, but as the causes of the defeat were not such as to show
that the constituency as a whole was adverse to his representing it, he
determined to submit himself to the electors of the North Riding a
second time rather than become a candidate for any other electorate.

His determination was supported by a requisition from the electors,
numerously and influentially signed. "I may fairly claim", he said in
his reply to this requisition, "a place among our oldest public men who
are still before the country, and therefore my character, to some
extent, may be tried by the test of time. My votes recorded in nearly
every division of two Legislatures, and my expressed sentiments on
nearly every subject that could be submitted for debate, are open to the
severest review, and I am content to stand or fall by such examination."

At this period he had been actively engaged in public life for ten
years, and the nature of the political situation at this general
election was such as to justify a claim on the electors based upon long
and valuable service in the public interest. Responsible government, so
far as it had been tried, had not produced the good results which at its
introduction had been anticipated. It had been in operation for twenty
months; and during that time four Ministries had been in office, parties
in Parliament had become disorganized, and legislation was at a
standstill. The first popular Parliament in the country had ended in
"nothing effectual, nothing real, nothing tangible", and there was a
general feeling of disappointment. In the appeal to the constituencies
which followed, this feeling was apparent by a disinclination on the
part of prominent colonists for public life. It was a time when men who,
like Mr. Parkes, could point to several years of labour in behalf of the
people, were wanted.

Parliament had been dissolved at the instance of Mr. Cowper, on the land
question, though the matter on which the Government had sustained actual
defeat was the Assessment Bill, a measure which sought to continue a
charge upon the squatters of the country by an assessment upon the stock
depasturing on the runs. The principal feature in the programme for the
new Parliament was electoral reform, by which there would be a larger
number of members in the Assembly, an equalization of the electoral
districts,--representation being based upon population,--and an extension
of the franchise. With an amended electoral system, it was believed
there would be much better means available for dealing successfully not
only with the land question, but with such questions as the abolition of
State aid to religion, the improvement of the means of education, prison
reform, the better management of asylums for lunatics, and of Government
charitable institutions, railway and road construction, and an equitable
system of finance.

Mr. Cowper and his colleagues were not in high favour, and there was
some danger of their meeting with disaster in the elections. They
strengthened their position by admitting Mr. Robertson to the Cabinet as
Secretary for Lands arid Public Works, but they had more difficulties to
meet than those connected with the land question. So insecure did the
position of the Government appear that Mr. Dalley, then young and
ardent, implored the electors of Sydney, where he with the Premier and
two others formed the Government bunch of candidates, to return Mr.
Cowper whatever else they might do. Mr. Cowper was elected, but he was
fourth on the poll; and Mr. Dalley and another of the Government bunch,
and Mr. J. K. Wilshire, were rejected.

Mr. Parkes, not being one of those who professed to approve of
everything the Government had done, or one who had been accustomed in
his public career to refrain from expressing his disapproval of that
which merited condemnation, was charged by some with being an advocate
of violent measures, a Radical of the extremest type. But he appealed to
the facts of his public life in repudiation of the charge.

"I have ever been opposed," he said, in his address to the electors of
the North Riding, "to experimental legislation, and believe that the
Parliament of a new country has no graver duty to perform than guarding
against the accumulation of special enactments which, introduced upon
paltry grounds to meet particular cases, are often at variance with the
maxims of common law; and, while they encumber the statute book with
unintelligible complications, are calculated to impede the healthful
working of the great natural laws so clearly laid down for the moral
government of society. Acting upon this conviction, if elected by you, I
shall subject all measures, from whatever quarter they may proceed, to
those indisputable principles established by a long course of political
reasoning, and those great practical truths deduced from legislative
experience, which the statesmen of England and America accept as their
common landmarks. The liberalism I have ever professed, and ever acted
upon, is in reality the true conservatism of mind and intelligence in
our institutions--of justice and equity in our laws."

Sir Charles Gavan Duffy, not then knighted, writing from Melbourne at
this time to Mr. Edward Butler, the well-known barrister of a few years
ago, referred to Mr. Parkes as a man who had won general confidence
by public services performed in the interests of the entire people. The
letter is remarkable for its recognition of the important position in
politics which, at this period, Mr. Parkes had attained, and for its
expressed belief in his future eminence.

"I wish I knew how, without impropriety," Sir Charles wrote, "I could
aid you in securing the election of Mr. Parkes for North Cumberland. I
would gladly go to Sydney with that object, if my interference was not
liable to be considered unwarrantable. And I am the more anxious
because some of our countrymen, you tell me, hesitate to support him. I
should be sorry to see the Irish citizens of these colonies separate
themselves in any respect from the general muster of Australians; but
such a separation would be painful and humiliating, if it were directed
against a man who has won general confidence, by public services
performed in the interest of the entire people. Mr. Parkes is
pre-eminently such a man, and his labours obliterate from all generous
minds the recollection of such casual mistakes or misunderstandings as
cloud the life of every public man.

"Our friends were angry with him for resisting the election of Mr.
Plunkett, for Sydney, in March, 1856. So was I. But the day after that
event, or any day since, if I were living in Sydney, I would have felt
it my duty to aid, abet, and co-operate with him in politics, as one of
the wisest and most disinterested public men that Australia can boast. I
am not much in the habit of accepting opinions readymade from any man;
but if I were to select the man on your side of the border, with whom I
hold most principles in common, I would name him. And to the right
opinions he adds that subtile moral force (combined of genius and
integrity) which turns opinions into facts. I am confident that ten
years hence, and I do not doubt that ten generations hence, the name
which will best personify the national spirit of New South Wales in
this era will be the name of Henry Parkes.

"At this distance your contemporary annals fall into the perspective of
history to us, as those of England do to you; and the shame and regret
which the exclusion of Bright and Cobden from the English Parliament
must have created in Sydney, would be felt by some of the best men here
at the exclusion of Henry Parkes from your Legislature. I cannot doubt
that there are many constituencies which would be rejoiced to have him;
but the difficulty of the contest which he has undertaken is a touching
evidence to me of a generous and lofty character. He is conscious of
public integrity, and he scorns to select a friendly jury to pronounce
on his career."

And the letter concluded:

"If there be among the constituency any political or personal friends of
mine, entreat them to range themselves on the side of Parkes. In all the
elections throughout these colonies, there is not one contest in which I
would have less difficulty in taking my side, whoever stood on the
other, for there is no man entitled to exclude him. And I would hear
with the intensest pain and humiliation, that those in whom I have the
interest of a common origin, ranked themselves against a man for whom I
have not only the highest esteem as a personal friend, but the
completest confidence as a legislator and a statesman."

Mr. Parkes was elected for the North Riding of Cumberland, with Mr.
Thomas Whistler Smith. He was returned second on the poll, by a small
majority; but the contest was severe, and he had many difficulties to
contend against. The features of his success lay in the facts that the
election cost him nothing, he was not required to make any pledges, and
he proved to the community generally that his previous defeat in the
constituency was not a correct representation of the feelings of the
majority of the electors.

"If Mr. Smith", said Mr. Parkes at the official declaration of the poll,
"can feel a sentiment of just pride in being returned for the North
Riding of Cumberland, how much more may I, who have been before the
country some ten years, who, by the--course I have taken, have created
large numbers of hostile opponents, who having taken a most active
course in public life, cannot have failed, by the very fact of my having
taken so decided a course, to have raised up a large and powerful
opposition against me--how much more, under such circumstances, may I
feel justly proud of being returned by the constituency which may be
considered least favorable to my election."

"The principles on which I have acted," he also said, "are the
principles which some of the most enlightened and best men are seeking
to carry out in the Government of our fatherland. Those principles I
shall not swerve from. I shall to the best of my ability, with whatever
energies I possess, seek to carry them out. Though I do not profess to
be altogether indifferent to party, believing as I do that responsible
government must be carried on by something like constitutional parties,
still I will not do violence to my judgment--violence to what I
conscientiously believe to be right--for the sake of any party whatever."

In this spirit was he determined to pursue his parliamentary career.


THE second Parliament under responsible government sat for little more
than twelve months, its principal work being the passing of a new
electoral law.

Not more than half of this short period had gone by when Mr. Parkes
again resigned his seat in the Assembly, this time in consequence of the
difficulties of the _Empire_ having reached a point which forced the
property into the Insolvency Court.

For the short period during which he sat in this second Assembly he took
a prominent part in its work, and in various ways showed his ability and
usefulness as a legislator.

Early in the session he was instrumental in saving the Cowper Government
from a necessity to resign on a motion which was virtually one of
censure. By an indiscretion on the part of the Governor, Sir William
Denison, the House had been offended in its dignity, and Mr. Cowper,
accepting responsibility in the matter, ran great risk of being sent out
of office.

The incident is interesting as it is the first instance, under
responsible government in New South Wales, of a Governor coming into
conflict with Parliament.

The Indian Mutiny had just broken out, and the Governor-General of India
was looking in all directions for troops. A regiment of infantry and a
company of artillery were, at the time, stationed in Sydney, and Lord
Canning thought the colony might easily spare them for the urgent
service of assisting to quell the rebellion in India. Sir William
Denison thought so too, and sending a message to the Assembly, covering
a despatch from Lord Canning, he asked the Assembly to consent to the
immediate despatch of the troops to Calcutta, and at the same time to
make provision for the purchase of the horses necessary to enable the
artillery upon landing to take the field. The colony was paying for the
services of these Imperial troops, for it was then considered essential
that a properly trained and disciplined force should be maintained in
Sydney for the purpose of its defence. The infantry consisted of the
77th Regiment, and the Assembly was willing that it should go to India;
but objection was raised to the artillery leaving the colony, and the
proposed expenditure in the purchase of horses, £3,640, was refused the
moment it came before the House in definite form. Regarding the proposal
as one to assist the East India Company, a wealthy corporation, well
able to bear the cost of these horses, the majority of members declined
to sanction the expenditure, and the Government were of course bound to
acquiesce. The decision of the House was annoying. It was a rebuff to
the Government for bringing forward the proposal, and it was not
complimentary to the Governor. But there was no intention to show
disloyalty to the Crown. At the very time the Assembly refused the money
for the purchase of the artillery horses, a movement was in progress in
Sydney for relieving the distress of sufferers in India from the effects
of the Mutiny, and there was every reason to believe that, in the
aggregate, the contributions would be very large, and, when forwarded to
India, very beneficial.

Mr. Parkes, on this occasion, was with the opponents of the proposal,
and it was withdrawn.

Sir William Denison, angry at what had taken place, for he had committed
himself in the matter so far as to have informed Lord Canning that the
troops would be despatched with the horses required for the artillery,
sent to the House a message of remonstrance in terms which were
considered to be unjustifiable and insulting; and the House, resenting
the Governor's conduct, referred the message to a select committee, and
then adopted a report from the committee in which the message was
strongly condemned. Very properly, the Government assumed all
responsibility in the matter as between the Assembly and the Governor,
and, regarding the course taken by the House as a vote of censure, were
obliged to consider their position, and would have resigned if Mr.
Parkes had not come to their assistance with a motion of confidence.
This was passed by a majority of nearly two to one, for, though the
Government were not in great favour, there was no general desire for a
change, and the position of Mr. Cowper and his colleagues was, for the
time, materially strengthened.

One important result of these proceedings was that they served to
establish definitely in the eyes of Parliament and the public, the
responsibility of Ministers in all proceedings between the Governor and
the Assembly. For all time it was placed beyond question that, in all
his acts in his relations with Parliament, the Governor should proceed
with the advice of his Ministers, and that for the consequences of
those acts Ministers are fully responsible. The incident was also an
important assertion of the independence of Parliament. The old order of
politics and the domination of Government House, it was shown had passed
away, and the rule of the Governor had given place to the will of the
people expressed through their representatives in the Legislature.

Mr. Cowper rose in public estimation by his announcement of ministerial
responsibility, though many persons regarded the admission as
unnecessarily exposing the Government to the risk of disaster; and, on
the whole, it resulted to him in considerable advantage. To Sir William
Denison the proceedings were a cause of much discomfort, for the course
taken by the Assembly had the appearance of a rude rebuke. Unfortunately
for him, he had not become properly conscious of the great change which
the Constitution of 1856, and the election of the first popular
Assembly, had brought about; and, although on the whole he endeavoured
to conform to the new order of things, his actions at times indicated
something of the old system of arbitrariness and almost absolute power.

One of the measures introduced by Mr. Cowper at this period, was a bill
to restrict Chinese immigration, and in the debate on the motion for
the second reading Mr. Parkes expressed, for the first time, his views
on the subject. They were very similar to what they were thirty years
later, when he carried through Parliament the Act which virtually
prohibits Chinese immigration into New South Wales. Very few in number
as the Chinese in the colony in those days were, compared with the
number here now, they had begun to make themselves obnoxious, and an
impression was abroad that unless their influx were in some way checked
they might very soon overrun the country. Mr. Cowper proposed a poll
tax of £3 on each Chinese arriving in the colony, and the proposal
received the sanction of the Assembly, but the bill was defeated in the
Council. Mr. Parkes was of opinion that the measure should be
prohibitory, and consistently with that opinion he managed to pass such
a measure thirty years afterwards.

Throughout the period during which he sat in the second Parliament, Mr.
Parkes was constant in his attendance in the House, and very active in
the performance of the duties of his position. The difficulty of the
"unemployed" made its appearance in Sydney; and while the _Empire_
advocated sending as many persons as possible into the country, in order
that they might be judiciously distributed through the districts where
employment was probably to be found, its conductor endeavoured as far as
he was able to bring about in the Assembly a reduction in the general
public expenditure. He thought retrenchment possible, and, in view of
the condition of the country at the time, desirable. He did not contend
that the officers employed in the public service were too numerous, or
the salaries paid them too high, but he considered that a very desirable
saving might be effected by a reorganization of the departments. There
were, for instance, at the time, two ministers attached to the Crown Law
Offices, and yet not at the head of a department. Another minister had
the management of the public lands and the public works of the country.

In moving resolutions on the subject, Mr. Parkes argued that, since the
time when the salaries then paid were fixed, rents had fallen 50 per
cent., the prices of provisions and clothing, which had risen very
largely during the excitement attending the discovery of gold, had
decreased so much that the market was glutted and sales were being
effected at a positive loss; and, in view of the general depression, as
much economy in the Government expenditure as was possible should be
exercised. Ministers of the Crown, as well as officers of the Civil
Service, he proposed, should come under the general revision. He did not
think any salary the country could pay could be sufficient remuneration
to a minister who properly discharged his duty. Ministerial salaries, he
contended, could only be considered as "some kind of nominal
recognition of the minister's services". But he was alive to the danger
of a growing extravagance in the public expenditure, and he thought that
ministers should be paid an equal salary, and that the salary should not
amount to more than £1,200 a year. His resolutions were:-

"(1.) That a reorganization of the departments, which shall place the
duties of public employment more equally under the control of ministers,
and secure their more economical performance, is urgently required and
ought not to be delayed."

"(2.) That the estimates of expenditure for the ensuing year ought to be
framed upon the basis of reduction, according to amount in each case,
considered in reference to the nature of the service proposed."

"(3.) That the salaries paid to the responsible Ministers of the Crown
ought to be equal in amount, and not higher than £1,200 per annum."

The resolutions were not passed by the House. They were opposed by the
Government, who suggested that the matter might be referred to a select
committee; and this course was adopted. Mr. Parkes was careful to
explain that, while he believed the expenditure had unnecessarily
increased, he regarded it as impolitic that public service should be
underpaid. What he desired was to restrict the Government to the
expenditure which was absolutely necessary for the public service; and
he followed up his resolutions by moving for a return of the annual
expenditure of the Civil Service of the colony for the seven years
1850-1858, showing the separate cost of each department, and the proportion
of the total to each head of the population, with an accompanying
explanation of the cause of increase or decrease in any department.

About this time the country became interested in a dispute between the
Government and Mr. J. H. Plunkett, which led to his dismissal from the
office of Chairman of the Board of National Education, and his
resignation from the position of President of the Legislative Council.
Originating in a difference of opinion as to the powers of the Board of
Education in relation to the issue by the Board of certain rules and
regulations in connection with non-vested schools, the dispute led to a
sharp correspondence between the President of the Board and the Colonial
Secretary, Mr. Cowper, in which Mr. Plunkett used expressions such as
the Government considered it impossible to overlook, and steps w r ere
taken to bring about his removal.

In common with other prominent public men Mr. Parkes endeavoured to
effect a reconciliation.

Mr. Plunkett was an old colonist who had done good public service, and
was very generally esteemed. Coming to New South Wales in 1832 as
Solicitor-General, and afterwards filling the office of Attorney-General
for nearly twenty years, he had become conspicuous in the public life of
the country; and his appointment to the position of President of the
Board of National Education had given general satisfaction. He was a
Roman Catholic, but he was a man of liberal mind, and he enjoyed the
respect and confidence of a large proportion of the Protestant
community. For ten years he had sat at the head of the Board of
Education, and in that office his labours had undoubtedly been
beneficial. It was therefore with something like universal regret that
it was learned that he had left the post where he had been so useful.

The matter came before the Assembly in a series of resolutions moved by
Mr. James Macarthur, and after a debate extending over several days,
during which excitement in and out of the House ran high, the difficulty
was brought to an end by a compromise. Sympathy was expressed with Mr.
Plunkett, and the Government was not directly censured; but, in an
amendment moved by Mr. Parkes, and adopted, it was hoped that such steps
would be taken as would enable the Government to restore Mr. Plunkett
to the position from which he had been removed.

In putting forward this amendment, its author was actuated by the double
motive of acting fairly with Mr. Plunkett and defending the Government
in a case the merits of which he considered were in their favour. He
could not close his eyes to the circumstance that some of those who were
loud in the support of Mr. Plunkett, were moved less by a wish to
befriend him than by a desire to injure Mr. Cowper and his Government;
and; while he recognised Mr. Plunkett's distinguished services, and the
desirableness of bringing him and the Government together again on
friendly terms, he declined to admit that the Government had done wrong.
A reconciliation, however, would be in the interest of society, and for
the benefit of the cause of education; and this he was able to bring
about. The country could not afford, he said, to deal carelessly or
lightly with its public men, who were one of the greatest elements of
its moral worth; and it was equally undesirable to censure a Government
that had taken in this matter the only course a proper sense of its
dignity would allow.

Mr. Plunkett did not return to the Board of National Education, but he
publicly expressed his regret for that portion of his correspondence
with the Government which had led to his dismissal.

A few months previous to this George Robert Nichols had passed away. For
something like a quarter of a century he had been a prominent figure in
politics. In various ways he had rendered important public service, and
had exercised considerable influence. He had been a Minister of the
Crown. Several of the most prominent lawyers in the community owed to
him much of their advancement One who was well able to speak of him
said "Scarcely any member of the Legislature had laboured so zealously,
so devotedly, and so continuously as he." Especially useful were his
services in committee, his great legal knowledge and acumen being
employed to much advantage in the criticism and amendment of bills. He
had some of the virtues and some of the failings of Goldsmith. A story
is told of how a distressed friend called upon him on one occasion for
relief, a bailiff having been put in the friend's house in consequence
of a debt of £60. Curiously enough there were bailiffs in Nichols' house
at the time, consequent upon a debt which Nichols had not been able to
pay of £120, but he had been able to get together a sum of £60 towards
meeting the liability. With the appearance of the friend, however, his
intentions with regard to the £60 changed; and, handing the money to his
fellow sufferer, he said: "Take it! it is of no use to me in the
circumstances, and it is just the sum you want." He died almost in
poverty, leaving a little property, but with heavy mortgages hampering
it; and a public meeting was held to collect subscriptions for his widow
and younger children.

Many years afterwards, at the instance of Mr. Parkes, the name of George
Robert Nichols was inscribed with those of other prominent politicians
of the early days, in the vestibule of the Legislative Assembly, where
it is to be seen at this day.


ON the 6th May, 1858, Mr. Cowper introduced in the Legislative Assembly
his Electoral Law Amendment Bill, which contained among its chief
provisions the principles of representation on the basis of population,
manhood suffrage, and vote by ballot.

The bill was strongly opposed by the old conservative party, in whose
eyes it threatened to bring about something like anarchy and ruin; and
the fact that this settlement of the land question, on the basis of the
principles advocated by Mr. Robertson, was to be the chief measure to
come before the reformed Parliament increased the bitterness felt by the
squatters. Mr. Donaldson opposed the Electoral Bill as a revolution and
not a reform, a measure utterly ruinous to property. So offensive did it
appear to him that he declared, if it passed r he would immediately pack
up his things and leave the country. To Mr. (afterwards Sir John) Hay it
was a bill likely to lead to great mischief. It left the good old
English path, he said, and was an indication that the government of the
country was on a downward course towards democracy and the tyranny of an
unthinking majority. Yet in reality the colony was simply passing from a
system of restriction and stagnation to a condition of freedom and

Mr. Parkes regarded the measure as in spirit a thoroughly English one.
The democratic power proposed to be given by the bill was not, he
argued, so great as that which at the time existed in the House of
Commons, and if the inclination towards popular rule was so great in
England, how much greater ought it to be in New South Wales, where the
very nature of society and the genius of our institutions were
essentially democratic. In his opinion danger could only arise from
placing too great a restraint upon the democratic tendencies of the

The second reading of the measure was carried by 36 votes to 14, and not
long afterwards the great principles of the bill were brought into

Looking back over the period that has since passed, it is interesting to
note that the increased power given to the people has, on the whole,
been accompanied by the progress of the country. The fears respecting
manhood suffrage still exist. There are many persons in the colony who
regard this privilege with disapproval. But in a country where class
distinctions now exist more in name than in reality, where men are more
equal than in any other part of the globe, it would not be possible to
have any other voting qualification. From the time of the introduction
of self-government under the Constitution of 1856 the colony has been
marching towards an absolute democracy, and, with the rule of the
people, the inseparable evils of the popular system of government have
had to be, and must still be, borne. The wonder is that in such a free
and vigorous community these evils have not been much greater than they
are. Undesirable persons appear as candidates at elections for
Parliament, and sometimes are elected; the educated and wealthy men of
the country, as a rule, hold themselves aloof from politics; and the
waste of time in the performance of Parliamentary work is sometimes
lamentable. But in spite of this the country has been constantly moving
ahead. Population has greatly increased; trade has largely extended;
industries have grown; wealth has accumulated enormously. Mr Donaldson's
alarm has not been realised; and the "good old English path", so
admirable in the eyes of Mr. Hay, instead of being widely divergent from
the broader Australian road, has itself gradually changed in accordance
with the Australian example until it has become virtually identical.

While Mr. Cowper, as head of the Government, was pushing forward the
work of reforming the Legislative Assembly, Mr. Parkes did something
towards altering the nature of the Legislative Council from that of a
nominee, to that of an elective, chamber. Mr. Robertson had already
moved in this direction, and at his instance the Assembly, in 1857, had
passed a resolution affirming "that all deliberative bodies entrusted
with legislative functions ought to be elected by the people in their
primary assemblies." Furthermore, the resolution had been recognised by
two Governments as referring to the Legislative Council, and had been
twice alluded to in vice-regal speeches as a matter to which the
attention of the Government would be directed, with a view to the
principle which it advocated being carried into effect. But as no
further action was taken, though Mr. Robertson had become a member of
the Government, Mr. Parkes brought the subject forward in the first
session of 1858, in order that Mr. Robertson's resolution might be

Doubts had existed in the mind of Mr. Parkes as to the desirableness of
having a Legislature composed of two Houses, but this feeling had
arisen more from the operation of the Constitution up to that time than
from any positive dislike of the dual system of legislation. Reflection
showed him that what was regarded as unsatisfactory in the working of
the Legislative Council might be traced to a specific cause, and that
cause removed. That which, in his opinion, was most desirable, was to
bring the second chamber into closer association with the people; not to
make it a mere reflex of the Assembly, or, in its alteration, to
introduce in any extreme degree the principles of democracy, but to
place it on such an elective basis as would bring into the House "that
class of persons whose length of service, great ability, and private
virtue, constitute them the moral aristocracy of the country."

On many occasions since he expressed the same idea. At various times in
his later career he had occasion to complain of the Council taking, with
regard to measures sent there by the Assembly, a course which probably
would not have been followed if the House had been directly responsible
to the people; and twice he brought forward a bill to make the Council
elective. Yet it cannot be denied that notwithstanding the obstacles
which, by the action of the Upper Chamber, have been placed in the way
of some proposals having the support of a majority in the Assembly, the
Legislative Council has done good service to the country. Frequently it
has checked or improved legislation hurriedly passed by the Lower House;
it has originated valuable measures; and in all its proceedings it has
displayed an extensive knowledge of political questions, and a clear
view of the necessities of the case in the matter under discussion,
with, on most occasions, a patriotic desire to do the best thing
possible under the circumstances.

The course taken by Mr. Parkes in 1858, in seeking to have Mr.
Robertson's resolution re-affirmed, was approved by the Assembly; and it
was decided that, in the opinion of the House, "the Legislature of the
colony ought to be composed of two Houses, both elected by the people."

In some quarters at the time an impression existed that this decision of
the Assembly was intended as a hint to the Council of the course that
might be taken if that House should prove hostile to the new Electoral
Bill,--that it was in reality a threat intended to coerce the Upper
Chamber in the consideration and passing of the measure. But, as far as
Mr. Parkes was concerned, there is nothing to show that it was anything
more than consistent action on a subject with reference to which he had
been of one opinion all his life.

Railway construction in the colony was attracting attention at this
period, and the Government were casting about for the best method of
having the work carried out with stability and economy. Ten years
previously there was not a mile of railway in New South Wales. Now
Campbelltown had been reached on the Great Southern line, Parramatta on
the Western, and West Maitland on the Northern. Crossing the mountain
ranges, and penetrating far into the distant interior, were dreams of
the future. The mail coach, built for strength rather than comfort,
lumbered along the rough bush roads of the colony, spending many nights
and days on journeys which now occupy less than twenty-four hours, and
not infrequently having the monotony of its movements rudely interrupted
by the appearance of a gang of bushrangers who rifled the mailbags and
robbed the passengers. Everyone favoured the pushing on of the railways.
Mr. Cowper, desirous of doing as much as possible in the matter, sought
the authority of Parliament to carry on their construction under
special agreement, instead of by contracts entered into after public
competition for the work. Railway contractors were not then as numerous
or as capable of carrying out their contracts as they are now, and Mr.
Cowper's desire was to have the railways constructed by men like Sir
Morton Peto, who was willing, if sufficient inducement offered, to send
out the necessary plant and skill from England. Parliament gave Mr.
Cowper the authority he asked for, but, at the instance of Mr. Parkes,
with the understanding that any special agreement entered into should be
laid before both Houses, if in session, fourteen days before the
agreement was ratified.

While the Government were giving their attention to opening up the
interior of the country by means of railways, Mr. Parkes took in hand
the question of adequate communication with Europe and America by the
establishment of a satisfactory mail and passenger service _via_ Panama. A
service by way of India was in existence, but in several respects it had
not been satisfactory, and, by the adoption of the Panama route, Mr.
Parkes saw prospects of regular and rapid communication with England and
Europe, a considerable extension of trade, particularly with America,
and probably the introduction of large numbers of desirable immigrants.
In relation to the last subject he was one of those who thought that
immigration to the country would be what it ought to be "just in
proportion as it embodied in its volume a due proportion of capital and
labour to carry on the operations of a civilized country." For that
reason, believing at the same time it was only by means of a large
population the colony could be benefitted, and its people enjoy
permanent prosperity, he thought immigration should be entirely
voluntary and spontaneous. Some years afterwards it was found wise to
adopt a system of assisted immigration, but the "voluntary and
spontaneous" method, so far as it has operated, has undoubtedly been
the more beneficial.

It was argued by Mr. Parkes that the Panama service would bring to the
colony a large population of the best class; and that it would infuse a
new spirit into the commerce of the country, by which its resources
would be developed, its reputation increased, and a position gained for
it that would be the first in this part of the world. The Cowper
Government agreed with the proposal, and the resolutions were passed by
a large majority; but it was seven years later before what they
recommended was carried into effect. Then the Pacific Ocean was
"bridged" by a fleet of steamers equal to any at the time afloat, under
a joint subsidy from the Governments of New South Wales and New Zealand;
and, though the service was not successful to the extent anticipated, it
placed Australia and New Zealand in close and regular communication with
America, and has been followed by many good results.

The Parliament of 1858 had the further privilege of moving in the
direction of the establishment of a naval station at Sydney. The
question had been raised as long before as 1851, when Mr. James Martin
advocated the maintenance of a force of two frigates. It was now brought
forward by Mr. Donaldson, who proposed that there should be a naval
squadron stationed in New South Wales waters, consisting of one
fifty-gun frigate and three corvettes. But the proposal did not meet
with general favour. It was thought that, if the Imperial Government
could be induced to send the vessels, the colony would have to pay for
their maintenance; and this it was believed would amount to perhaps
£50,000 a year, an expense which New South Wales was not then prepared to
incur. The Legislative Assembly, therefore, when the matter was under
consideration, disposed of the subject by carrying the previous

The Electoral Bill was still before Parliament, and Mr. Parkes was
assisting to the best of his ability in the debates upon its important
provisions, when there appeared in the _Empire_ an announcement
forcibly indicating the embarrassments which, in connection with that
journal, were troubling him at this period.

"The state of suspense", the notice stated, "in which this journal has
for the last three weeks been issued, will be brought to a termination
in the course of a few days, either by the restoration of the _Empire_
to its former size and style of publication, or by its being
permanently reduced; in which latter case a corresponding reduction will
be made in the price, and the typographical arrangement and character
of the paper will be materially altered." Then giving a statement of how
the wages of printers had increased, causing the receipts of the
establishment, amounting to more than £26,000 for the year, to be
swallowed up in wages and other expenses of publication, it was
explained how Mr. Parkes had proposed to the printers to reduce the rate
he had been paying them, convinced after long experience that either
this reduction must be submitted to or the publication itself reduced.
The printers refused to agree to the reduction, and," said the notice,
"it could not reasonably be expected that the proprietor should go on
year after year, contending with complicated and undiminished
difficulties, with all the anxiety and burden of collecting £26,000 or
£27,000 a year from the four quarters of the globe, simply to pay it away
for paper, ink, rent, and labour."

"It may be," the notice went on to say, "after all, that the colony
cannot afford to support two daily papers on the scale of the morning
journals hitherto published in Sydney. In that case the proprietor of
the _Empire_ is at last willing to give up the field to the older
journal, and to reduce its publication to a secondary character. He
certainly is not quite prepared for this final step, though more than
weary of a struggle which has been disastrous to himself and those most
closely connected with him, whatever may have been its other results;
but a few days may determine its adoption."

The few days passed, and there seemed some hope that the increased
difficulties might be surmounted, for another announcement appeared
stating that the necessary mechanical arrangements would be completed
not later than the following week, to enable the paper to be brought out
permanently in its former size. It was not, however, so to be. Instead
of the difficulties being removed, they became greater than ever; and he
who had done so much by his journal for the good of the colony was
forced into the Insolvency Court, and his career as a journalist came to
an end. The last issue of the _Empire_ was on 28th August, 1858, and
three days afterwards there appeared, in the _Herald_'s record of the
business of the Insolvency Court, the information that Henry Parkes, of
Hyde, newspaper proprietor, had surrendered his estate "on petition and
affidavit", the liabilities being estimated at £50,000, and the assets at

The same day were published as advertisements two communications from
Mr. Parkes, one to the readers of the _Empire_, and the other to his
constituents of the North Riding of Cumberland. The former was a plain
but dignified statement of the reasons why the _Empire_ had ceased to

"The public journal established by me in November, 1850, and conducted
by me up to last Saturday, has ceased to exist. I wish to say a few
words which the public have a right to expect in explanation of its
sudden stoppage. I still hold to the opinion I formerly expressed on
different occasions, that the _Empire_ during the first six years of its
existence was eminently successful as a young journal. I know of no
instance where a daily paper of equal magnitude, in so short a time, has
risen to a higher position of circulation and influence, and received
more frequent acknowledgments of ability and character. Its early
embarrassments arose from inadequacy of means, and not from any natural
condition of failure in the undertaking itself. But I firmly believe it
would have surmounted all difficulties if the state of its affairs had
not been brought before the public eighteen months ago.

"Of all things in the world a public journal is the very last to bear an
exposure of this kind. It must command public respect, not depend upon
public sympathy. I felt all this at the time of the first crisis in the
_Empire_'s affairs, and so expressed myself to the gentlemen who at so
much personal inconvenience interested themselves publicly on my behalf.
When matters were arranged for the continuance of the publication from
April 1st, 1857, I accepted the obligation to go on and do the best I
could for the property, though I was fully convinced that things were
changed greatly to my disadvantage in the business.

"Since that period I feel conscious that I have done all that man could
do, by continuous labour and systematic economy, to preserve the
_Empire_ in existence; and, though at last overborne in my efforts, I
have succeeded in keeping its liabilities where they were at the
commencement of this last struggle--showing how near it had risen to a
position of safety when the first public shock came upon it.

"Independent of the injury sustained by the occurrence to which I have
alluded, and from which the paper never appeared to recover, a variety
of other circumstances arising out of that crisis in its existence,
together with the general stagnation of business, have been unfavourable
to success. Still, however, as the expenditure was very considerably
reduced, I think the _Empire_ would have floated through the bad times
and its smaller difficulties, if it had not been for the apparent
indifference of a large number of its readers in neglecting to pay their
accounts. For example, I received by the post this morning several
letters containing each the sum of £1 due on the 30th June for a
quarter's subscription. In each of these cases while that debt of 20s.
was accumulating the publication cost me upwards of £6,000. Since I have
been waiting for the payment of that debt of 20s. it has cost me £4,000
more. Indeed, up to the present moment, we have not received 2s. 6d. in
the pound on the total amount of the accounts demandable, beyond the
limits of Sydney, on the 30th June. In these unpleasant facts may be
discovered the immediate cause of the stoppage of the _Empire_." And the
announcement closed with an appeal to those indebted to the paper to
remit the amount of their accounts to the trustees "for the benefit of
those whose pecuniary interests are involved in my misfortunes."

In these circumstances Mr. Parkes' career as a journalist closed, for,
though at various times, in the subsequent years of his life, he
contributed to the Press, he did not again take part in the conduct of a

Henceforth his abilities were to be devoted to politics. So far as he
had proceeded he had won for the _Empire_ a very prominent position,
and by its aid had in many ways done good service to the country. Well
conducted it was from the issue of the first number, but its best days
from journalistic and literary points of view may be said to have been
during the years 1854-1856. By that time it had become in every sense a
great newspaper, and had attracted to its service many of the ablest
writers in the colony. Sir James Martin, Mr. William Forster, and Mr.
Edward Butler were among the contributors to its pages. Men skilful with
the pen, and earnest in the desire to use it to the advantage of the
colony, admired the outspoken tone of the paper, and coveted the
privilege of writing for its columns. And so it flourished, and its
importance in the community grew. If it had continued, and its conductor
had never entered on a Parliamentary career, he would, as a great
journalist, have always been a conspicuous figure among the prominent
men of his time, and held in general esteem as a public benefactor.

Mr. Parkes' insolvency made it necessary for him to resign his seat in
the Assembly for the North Riding of Cumberland, and in taking leave of
his constituents he explained to them his position. He had worked hard
in the House during the few T months he had been their representative,
assisting to the utmost of his ability to make the Electoral Bill a fair
and useful measure. He had voted in every division on its clauses,
always on the side of practical reform, and had taken part in all
important discussions. On other questions also he had in all instances
endeavoured to act in the public interest. Now, for a time at least,
retirement into private life was inevitable. "Circumstances of private
difficulty," he wrote, "known to you at the time of my election, which
it was thought would terminate more fortunately, have, contrary to my
hopes, assumed a weight beyond my strength to support, and involved me
in absolute and irretrievable ruin."


THE first election under the Electoral Act of 1858 took place in June,
1859, and for the first time East and West Sydney appeared as electoral
districts, each entitled to return four members. Under the new Act the
city of Sydney, forming previously one constituency returning four
members, was divided into two constituencies returning eight members.

Mr. Parkes came forward as a candidate for East Sydney. Between the time
of his resignation from the Legislative Assembly in 1858, in
consequence of the misfortunes of the _Empire_, and the general
election of 1859, he did not take any prominent part in politics. For
almost the whole of that period his affairs were before the Court of
Insolvency, and it was only a few days previous to the general election
that he obtained his certificate of discharge. Much of his time had been
occupied by the proceedings in relation to his insolvency, and the
remainder had been spent chiefly in the establishment of a business of
a kind somewhat similar to that which he had relinquished for the
profession of a journalist. He had been offered, in relation to the
proposed mail service _via_ Panama, a lucrative position which would have
placed him above necessitous circumstances, but it would have obliged
him to leave the colony, and this obligation led him to refuse it. Upon
mature consideration he determined, notwithstanding his reverses of
fortune, to remain in the country which, as he said in alluding to the
circumstance, had upon the whole treated him well and showered
distinctions upon him.

The proceedings in connection with his insolvency were of a very trying
nature. Immediately the _Empire_ terminated its career the enemies of
Mr. Parkes increased, and he was bitterly assailed. It is safe to kick a
dead lion, and in various ways those unfriendly to him harassed him. In
the endeavour to continue the publication of the _Empire_, in spite of
the difficulties which in the later period of his proprietorship had
accumulated around it, he had, under responsible advice, adopted, in
association with the monetary arrangements of the paper, a method which,
when the publication of the paper had ceased, formed, in the hands of
his opponents, the groundwork for virulent attack. Though completely
exonerated by the judge--Chief Commissioner Purefoy--who presided in the
Insolvency Court, from even the suspicion of any act of impropriety in
his business operations, he was then, and afterwards, when political
ends were to be gained by it, subjected to bitter abuse and innuendo.

It was objected in the court, by those who opposed the issue to him of a
certificate of discharge, that he had obtained goods and credit by means
of cheques, well knowing that there were no funds to meet them, and that
they could not be paid. But it was pointed out by the judge that there
was no evidence to sustain this charge. No witness was called to whom a
cheque of this description had been given, or to whom any pretence of
the kind indicated had been made.

Then it was said that he had been in the habit of drawing two kinds of
cheques, one to be paid on presentation at the bank, and the other not.
This, however, it was shown by the judge, had been done in pressing
circumstances, under advice from the bank, and without any fraudulent

In April, 1857, Mr. Parkes' creditors, the evidence proved, consented
to give him five years to pay off his then existing debts, and at that
time several cheques were outstanding and unpaid. The current expenses
of the _Empire_ made it necessary that cheques should be drawn every
week, or oftener, for wages, paper, and other purposes; and the fund
from which those cheques had to be honoured consisted of money paid into
the bank, as it was received at the _Empire_ office, in the course of
business day by day. This money, so paid into the bank, was found
insufficient to meet all the expenses of the establishment; and, at the
suggestion of the bank, it was arranged that cheques, the payment of
which, as the judge explained it, "was urgent, and which, so to speak,
had a moral or necessary claim to preference over others", should be
initialled by Mr. Parkes, so that they might be distinguished from other
cheques, "the payment of which was temporarily postponed."

Mr. Parkes declared on oath, that he fully intended to pay every cheque
as funds were placed in the bank from time to time, but the sudden and
unexpected stoppage of the paper, by the mortgagee taking possession,
frustrated his hopes and expectations; and the judge believed him.

In His Honor's opinion there was no fraudulent intent in what had been
done; the course adopted had been rather "for the purpose of keeping
the paper in circulation, and endeavouring to meet and possibly
overcoming the difficulties" which, at the time, were pressing heavily
on Mr. Parkes. To the judge it appeared clear that Mr. Parkes had
entertained a reasonable and _bona fide_ hope of being able, within the
time allowed him by his creditors in 1857, to pay everybody in full; and
that this hope was not unreasonable could be seen in the circumstance
that, for the last four quarters previous to the stoppage of the paper,
it had cleared, over all expenses, above £3,000. The good debts, at the
time the publication of the paper ceased, were sworn by the accountant
to be worth £9,000, and Mr. Edward Butler, considered by the judge to be
fully competent to form an opinion on the matter, estimated the
commercial value of the paper, at the time the mortgagee took
possession, at £50,000, supposing its debts were paid. "Could it be said,
then," asked the judge, "that, under such circumstances, Mr. Parkes was
not justified in using every possible exertion to keep the _Empire_ in
circulation, and that, in adopting the mode referred to of paying some
cheques in preference to others, he was not anxious only to attain that
end and not to defraud his creditors in any way?" Such a practice as
that followed with regard to the cheques might have been irregular, but
there was no fraudulent intent apparent in it.

A third objection to the issue of the certificate was that the insolvent
"had appropriated trust funds or other property of which he was only
the agent or trustee". This was based on the circumstances that Mr.
Parkes had obtained, from different persons, renewal promissory notes,
for the purpose of retiring other notes which had been given him for the
business requirements of the _Empire_, but, instead of using the
renewal notes for this object, he had, through extreme pressure of the
demands upon him at the time, applied the proceeds of the renewals to
meeting some of these demands, "leaving the original bills or notes
unpaid, and, in some few instances, the makers of these notes had to
take up both."

But, here again, it was pointed out by the judge, that though, according
to the evidence, it was understood between the parties giving these notes
and Mr. Parkes, that the first notes were to be paid or retired with the
proceeds of the second, and that Mr. Parkes, in some instances, promised
to do so, the notes had been given merely for the convenience and
benefit of Mr. Parkes; the proceeds of the second bills were applied
strictly to the business purposes of the _Empire_; and, "when Mr.
Parkes explained the circumstances under which he had been compelled to
deviate from his promise as to the appropriation of the money, the
makers of the notes admitted the exigency, and approved of the payments
made." No complaint was made by them as to any misappropriation of the

A fourth objection was that Mr. Parkes had contracted debts without
intending to pay, or having at the time any reasonable or probable
expectation of paying them,--in fact, well knowing that he could not pay
them; and there were several others. All, however, Were overruled, His
Honor giving it as his opinion that the rapid growth of the _Empire_,
and the aid and encouragement, pecuniary and otherwise, which Mr.
Parkes had received from numerous and influential friends, had been
sufficient to create the most sanguine hopes of ultimate success, and
ability to discharge all his monetary obligations.

In this position Mr. Parkes appeared before the electors of East Sydney
at the general election in 1859. Overwhelmed with business
embarrassments a few months previously, he had, though with the loss of
the _Empire_ and his prestige as the proprietor and editor of a great
newspaper, passed through them unscathed, and now was prepared to
re-enter the political arena, comparatively free from the difficulties
by which he had been hampered in his early Parliamentary career.

He came forward as a candidate at the solicitation of friends. Vilified,
oppressed, penniless it may be said, there was no one to deny his
political ability and the consistency of his character. Depressed, as he
had been by his business complications, compelled, under peculiar
circumstances, to retire from active political life, he was yet in the
community a conspicuous figure in whom the public recognised an abiding
power to act in the interests and for the benefit of the country. Even
his enemies felt this. The _Herald_, bitter in those days in its
cleverly written and merciless leading articles, referring to his
insolvency and the result of the proceedings in the Insolvency Court,
said that, while in England bankrupts were whitewashed, in New South
Wales they were "Purefoyed"; but it admitted he was a man of power and
influence in the country, and the leader of the democracy. "Who has the
right to say," it asked, "he is not qualified to be a representative
of the people? . . . . Unquestionably there is no man before the
electors who would represent a larger amount of popular aspirations or
who would represent them with greater intelligence and discretion."

Though for some weeks previous to the election he was urged to permit
himself to be brought forward as a candidate for East Sydney, it was
not until the nomination proceedings were very near that he consented.
His reluctance was not due to fear of failure. It was rather owing to a
disregard of the whole matter, born of the weariness and worry which had
been associated with his previous career in the Legislature. Conscious
of his ability to serve the colony, and willing--even ambitious--to be
in its service, he yet could not be forgetful of the unsatisfactory
nature of the conditions that had attended his past political life. He
had done much, but it had fallen far short of what he had set himself to
do. Now, when he was free from the business career which had harassed
him, when he was more master of his time, as he himself explained it,
than ever he had been before, when "if he went into the Legislature
again he should have a ten-fold strength, as it were, to serve the
country", he saw no reason why he should not consent to the
solicitations of his friends, and appear as a candidate for East Sydney,
part of the important constituency which had elected him twice before.

He announced, that if elected, he would go into Parliament thoroughly
independent,--"a follower of no man, a flatterer of no man, but an
independent democrat, determined to support that Administration which
shall be true to the principles of progress and to the democratic genius
of the age,--to support that Administration and none that falls short of
that." Not long ago, in the glamour of the appearance in the political
world of the new Labor Party, it suited some of his opponents to close
their eyes to the democratic professions of his earlier political
career, and to his strict adherence to democratic principles throughout
his life. Yet he never swerved from the line of duty marked out by
himself from the first.

In the Parliament of 1858 he had been friendly to Mr. Cowper and of
considerable assistance to his Government. But the support had never
been given in any subservient manner, or on mere party grounds; and,
towards the end of the period during which he occupied a seat as a
member of that Parliament, he saw reason to modify his support, and to
act more as an independent critic than had before appeared necessary.
Mr. Cowper, though undoubtedly one who, in all he did as the head of the
Government, had the interest of the country at heart, sometimes acted in
a manner which had the effect of weakening the confidence of his friends
and alienating their support. They doubted his sincerity. He was a
singular mixture of various qualities. That he was a highly honourable
Christian gentleman no one would be disposed to deny, and yet it would
be equally difficult to say that he was not as capable, as any one in
his position might be, of resorting to all the tricks and devices
necessary to retain a hold of office and power. In many of his acts and
purposes which professed to aim at the progress and the welfare of the
colony he was undoubtedly sincere, and yet he was so insincere that he
came to be known by the sobriquet of "Slippery Charley". Such a
portrait as this might be taken to represent politicians since the time
of Mr. Cowper, but the inexperience of the colony, at this period of its
existence, in the ways of government under a popular Constitution, would
probably make the defects in the character of a prominent public man
much more conspicuous than they may appear in such a person now.

Mr. Cowper appeared before the electors at the general election of 1859
as the head of a Government which had passed the new Electoral Act, but
the Government were not received with any display of enthusiasm. Their
land policy--that which a few years later was passed by the persistent
efforts of John Robertson--was the principal measure in their programme
for the future, and some of its main provisions were not generally
approved, perhaps, not rightly understood. Even friends of the
Government refrained, for the time, from expressing their concurrence in
the proposed new system. Robertson, convinced himself on the subject,
and enthusiastic in its advocacy, put the matter before the country in a
manifesto, and, with his colleagues, carried it to the hustings, where
it was destined for some time to remain. Its chief principle was free
selection before survey, or, as Mr. Cowper described it, "provision to
enable a person of small means to obtain his farm and settle himself
without the delays of office."

Next to the land question was the subject of education. Though the towns
of the colony were well supplied with schools under the National system,
the country districts, especially those in which the population was
small and scattered, were greatly deficient in the means for the
teaching of children; and the extension of the means of education
throughout the country was one of the leading questions in the election.

The reconstruction of the Legislative Council was also a measure which
the Government contemplated having to deal with in the new Parliament.
Attempts to bring about this reconstruction had already been made, but
they had not been successful, and the Government favouring the plan of
placing the Upper Chamber upon an elective basis, were inclined to try

Another matter of importance, though not of such moment as to demand
immediate attention, was the question of State aid to religion, and the
advisableness of reducing all religious bodies in the colony to the
voluntary or self-supporting principle.

Mr. Parkes was liberal in his views on each of these questions, but he
did not blindly follow what the Government put forward. He did not see
his way clear to assent altogether to Mr. Robertson's land scheme, nor
to the whole of the principles put forth at the time by a Land League
which had been formed in Sydney. He expressed himself generally in
favour of the American land system, which was similar to Mr. Robertson's
in regard to permitting people to settle on the land where and when they
chose, irrespective of survey or anything else, but not the same in what
was afterwards required to be done. There was more definiteness and
safety in the American system as to residence, improvement, and
subsequent ownership by the settler, than there was in the scheme
advocated by Mr. Robertson. By the American system the settler was duly
protected and the country benefitted; by Mr. Robertson's plan it was not
certain that either of these results would be attained.

In common with all who sought the real progress of the colony in regard
to its lands, Mr. Parkes favoured agricultural settlement, and all
measures that would assist such an object; but, at the same time, he did
not desire to act unjustly towards the squatters. He recognised the fact
that, though they were a powerful class in the community, influenced
frequently by self-interest, they were undoubtedly one of the mainstays
of the country, and he was willing that full justice should be accorded
them. But he wanted such a revision of the system under which they had
the use of the public lands, as would make it impossible for them to
hold the lands against the advance of population.

The question of education he regarded as intimately connected with the
subject of the public lands; and having always been a staunch supporter
of the National school system, he intimated that, in any revision of the
system of public instruction in the colony, he should adhere to the
maintenance "of those broad principles of the National system which had
already been shown to possess so much usefulness."

At the same time it seemed to him that greater facilities "should be
given to ministers of religion to impart religious instruction to the
children attending the schools, and to satisfy the consciences of those
who complained of the system in this particular." If such facilities
could be given, he said to the electors of East Sydney, without
impairing the usefulness of the schools, the plan should have his
cordial support. Since that time the tendency has been to make education
in the State schools of the colony almost wholly secular, and Sir Henry
Parkes conformed to the general feeling in this direction; but, in 1859,
he was more in favour of a system on the basis of the National school
system, (which was not much dissimilar from our present public school
system), with ample provision for religious instruction in the schools.

With respect to the Legislative Council, he was favourable to seeing a
system of election applied to it, with a suffrage similar to that
required for the Legislative Assembly; but though ready to make the
basis of the two Houses common so far as the suffrage was concerned, so
that the Council should be free from the objections that would be urged
against it if the suffrage were of a more restrictive character, he was
in favour of some restriction as to the age of a candidate for the Upper
House; and he thought it a question worthy of consideration, whether
some period of service in the Lower House should not be required as a
qualification for the higher Chamber. While strongly in favour of a
second House, he thought the two Houses should be composed of similar
elements, with the exception "that the Council ought to gather up the
ripened intellect, the valuable experience, of the country."

A firm believer in the democratic institutions of the colony, it was
impossible, he was of opinion, for us to progress with any other system
of government; but, at the same time, it ought to be our endeavour to
infuse into our institutions a high spirit, and a nice discriminating
sense of honour. For these reasons, he pointed out to the East Sydney
electors, every effort should be made to put honest, faithful, and able
men into the new Parliament, and to educate the children of the country
so that when they should come to man's estate they should be able to
perform the duty of free citizens, with a full consciousness of the
importance of that duty, and a deep sense of the necessity for
preserving the liberties of the country and building up a great and
honourable national character. This sound advice he was never tired of
instilling into the minds of the people at any period of his life,
whenever and wherever he may have been addressing them.

His faith in the importance of the democratic spirit of the country was
equalled only by his belief in the value of its natural resources. In
his eyes New South Wales was far richer than any of the other colonies,
and he saw an important future before it, not only as a country of great
production, but as one of manufactures. "I will never rest," he said,
"until I see that we have not only a great producing interest, that we
are not only developing the raw material for manufacturing, but that we
have a sound, enlightened, and extensive commerce, and, in addition,
that great basis of national prosperity, a great manufacturing
interest. For the country to be safe it ought to have as its three
bases, a great producing interest, a great manufacturing interest, and
a great commerce, and I would not attempt to serve the interests of the
one at the expense of the other, but to foster the three alike so that
there shall be many outlets for the energies of our children."

These words are not exactly those which might be expected from a
free-trader, and yet they are not antagonistic to free trade. Mr. Parkes'
views on the question of free trade and protection were not, at this
period of his life, as distinct as they became later on.

At this time he was not so much a free-trader as he was what has since
been called a fair trader. But, as he himself has explained, his views
on the subject were then immature. Longer experience and deeper
reflection taught him that progress and prosperity are best found under
a policy in which commerce is entirely free, and manufactures are not
fostered artificially. At the same time he was never averse to assisting
the manufacturing interest when it could be done consistently with the
principles of commercial freedom.

To the electors of East Sydney he described his opinions on these points
in words which were sufficiently plain for them to understand his
position. "I have for twenty years", he said, "been a free-trader; but I
am not one of those who ridicule the efforts or the opinions of those
who are called protectionists. I am a practical free-trader as against
theoretical free-traders, and I would maintain the principles of
free trade to this extent: that I would resist all legislation that would
seek to restrict the supply of the main commodities of human existence
or in any way limit the well-being of the community."

Dr. Woolley, who was present at the meeting, and took some part in it,
regarded Mr. Parkes "as a free-trader with a good deal of protection in
him", and this was the generally accepted view of the matter.

As it proceeded the election created much interest. There were eight
candidates: Mr. Cowper, Mr. Parkes, Mr. James Martin, Mr. John Black,
Mr. Richard Driver, Mr. W. B. Allen, Mr. W. Benbow, and Mr. Charles
Kemp. Mr. Parkes was, in some respects, regarded as the rival of Mr.
Cowper. Each desired to top the poll, and it was thought that Mr. Parkes
aimed at the leadership of the Liberal Party in Parliament. For this
important position he was not regarded as unfitted. Some of the opinions
of the leading journal on his fitness have already been quoted. As the
day of nomination drew nigh the paper appeared to be more than ever
impressed by the prospect of his future eminence. That he was destined
to be a great popular leader and the head of a Government appeared to
the _Herald_ more than probable.

"Looking about us," it wrote, "at the indications of feebleness and
uncertainty which mark the movements of public life--the disposition of
men to pick up the articles of their political creed out of any current
of popular feeling which sweeps by them, we are not sure that a man of
strong will and considerable popular influence may not make his way
upwards to the highest position. All we hope is that if Mr. Parkes
should be so fortunate as to gain that position, to which he undoubtedly
aspires, he may have power to infuse into the policy of the future some
of those moderating principles which he has so freely recognised."

"No man among us," the _Herald_ said on the same occasion, "knows better
where to find the heart of the dark-browed and the rough-handed. The
solemnity of his manner, the very tone of his voice, and the expression
of his countenance, all combine to corroborate his influence over them,
and if we are not greatly mistaken, he is marked out by the hearty vows
of many--and they the most active and persevering--to be the future
chief of the democracy and its legislators."

The speeches delivered by Mr. Parkes at this time were much above the
average of those of other candidates in the election. They were marked
by great breadth of view and much evidence of thoughtfulness, and, in
their delivery, there was an earnestness of manner which showed that in
what was said expression was given to strong convictions, and that what
was advocated was conscientiously believed to be for the public good.

A prominent feature in them was the aphoristic style of language
adopted. This kind of phrase was used with frequency, and doubtless with
effect. So nicely were the sentences arranged, so well did they convey
the ideas embodied in them, that today, reading from a musty volume of
newspapers over thirty years old, they appeal to the understanding as
eloquently, and as forcibly, as they must have done when they leaped
with the freshness and strength of new life from the lips of the orator.
"My motto has always been," he said, speaking on the subject of
education, "fewer gaols and fewer policemen, more schools and more
schoolmasters." "It is much better to educate your children into
intelligent, enlightened, obedient, and industrious citizens than to
attempt to coerce them into the observance of, and servile obedience to,
crude and impolitic laws." "My motto is few laws, and those laws
embodying sound principles and of universal application." That these are
words of wisdom, admirably expressed, and such as appeal with
forcibleness to those who listen or those who read, who will deny?

The declaration of the polling showed Mr. Cowper to be at the head of
the list with 2,064 votes, Mr. Black, who had been running with Mr.
Cowper, second with 1,682 votes, and Mr. Parkes, with 1,654 votes,
third. The fourth candidate elected was Mr. Martin, whose votes numbered
1,349. At the nomination proceedings, Mr. Parkes was by far the most
popular of all the candidates, and obtained the largest show of hands;
but in the voting the Government party proved the strongest, and secured
the first two places. Mr. Parkes took a philosophic view of the
situation. Though third in the order of those elected, he did not regard
himself as the representative of any particular class, or even as
specially representing Sydney, but accepted his election as placing him
in the position of a representative of the whole body of the people and
of the interests of the whole country.

Parliament opened on the 30th August, and the Government, doubtful of
their chances of remaining long in office, endeavoured to secure
support by putting forward an attractive programme.

Mr. Parkes gave notice of a motion for the immediate repeal of the
duties on tea and sugar. These duties, first imposed in 1851, and four
years afterwards doubled, the increase being made for revenue purposes,
were the work of an irresponsible Legislature, and they had never been
popular with the constituencies. Mr. Cowper had been one who had opposed
their increase, and now that there was a Government in power, under a
popular system, at the head of which was one who had denounced the
duties in their present shape, Mr. Parkes expected to see some step
taken towards their repeal. He advocated their repeal because they were
opposed to established principles of political economy; they had been
imposed by a Government irresponsible to the people; the Government now
in power had been sufficiently long in office to be in a position to
deal with the question; and as the Governor's speech at the opening of
Parliament had stated that the revenue was in a prosperous condition,
there could not be a more favourable opportunity for taking the course

Mainly through indecision in the matter the Government caused the motion
to be carried, though only by a majority of one; and their resignation
was announced, their hope lying in the belief that their opponents would
be unable to form a new Administration. In this view they were correct.
Mr. T. A. Murray was sent for by the Governor, and he was unsuccessful;
the efforts to form a new Government failing through a want of cohesion
among the members of the Opposition.

In later days Mr. Parkes would have been entrusted with the task of
forming a new Administration, but at this time his democratic tendencies
were regarded by many as somewhat dangerous. Consistent in principle and
in conduct he had always been, and was admitted to be; but, in
influential quarters, there was a feeling of aversion to seeing "the
greatest democrat of the colony", as Mr. Robertson styled him in the
debate on the tea and sugar duties, in power. "As public men," the
_Herald_ observed in reference to this point, "we may prefer, for
instance, Mr. Parkes to Mr. Cowper, and this, because as a legislator,
Mr. Parkes has always been steady to his principles and true to the
political programme he announced. He has been the same man as a
journalist, as a candidate, and as a member of the Assembly; but if the
question be whether the principles espoused by the more intimate
supporters of the Ministry, or those advocated by Mr. Parkes, should
become the ruling policy of the country, we should certainly have no
hesitation in voting with Mr. Cowper. We must have a Government, and if
we cannot have that which we prefer, it is mere folly to go with the
extreme section of the Opposition."

The impossibility of forming a Government from the Opposition having
been proved, Mr. Cowper induced the House to rescind the resolution
passed for the repeal of the tea and sugar duties, and remained in
office; but in less than two months his Government was again in


THE Cowper Government met their fate in a defeat on a bill introduced by
them to deal with the subject of education; and a Ministry under Mr.
William Forster conducted the affairs of the country, until, at the end
of four months, they were succeeded by the Robertson-Cowper
Administration, famous in the political history of the colony for its
land legislation on the principle of free selection before survey.

About this time Mr. Parkes began to turn his attention to the subject of
immigration, and the best means for bringing a desirable class of
immigrants from the mother country to New South Wales. Until very recent
years there was a great dearth in the colony, and, in fact, in Australia
generally, of that class of population who are possessed, not only of
the energy to do what can be done in developing the resources of the
country, but of the capital to enable them to do it. There was also a
scarcity of mechanics and labourers, and of domestic servants. Until as
late as 1860 this was very marked. Among the labouring classes there
were some, who, notwithstanding the scarcity of population, thought, or
professed to think, that no more people were wanted; but there had not
been shown by the working classes generally the spirit, which has since
been exhibited, in the efforts made by labour organizations to
discourage all immigration to the country. Generally, people recognised
that they were few in number and limited in means; and, though
surrounded by almost boundless natural resources, were unable to
properly take advantage of them. As a consequence they were not averse
to giving their attention to the desirableness of adopting, in addition
to the means then existing, some plan by which the population and the
capital of the country might be judiciously increased.

Mr. Parkes had long been impressed with the necessity for more people
and more money, and was convinced that without them the country must be
materially hindered in its progress. As far back as 1854 he had sat as a
member of a select committee which had expressed itself strongly in
favour of immigration; and now, with the construction of railways, the
introduction of the electric telegraph, and the establishment of ocean
mail services, an increased population was wanted, if only to prevent
the burden of meeting the public necessities from pressing too heavily
upon the comparatively few people in New South Wales.

Much, he thought, might be done by spreading a knowledge of the colony
in England. The ignorance of the English people respecting Australia was
very marked. Very few were aware of any difference between the country
of this period and the Botany Bay of the convict days, while the vast
majority were entirely oblivious of its existence. If persons in the
position of public lecturers could be sent to England, and there make
known to the British people the great advantages offering to those who
emigrated to the colony, probably, Mr. Parkes thought, there would be a
considerable influx of population. The climate was all that could be
desired; the facilities for obtaining land under the new land law, it
was believed, would prove very satisfactory; the colony was particularly
suited for various important industries; and English institutions and
habits existed throughout the land. There was, therefore, much to
attract the emigrant; and it seemed very reasonable to think that
amongst the large population of the mother country there were a
considerable number of persons, with the means of emigrating, who, when
convinced that they might improve their condition in life by removing to
New South Wales, would not hesitate to leave their native land and come
out to Australia.

Impressed with these ideas, and following a provision contained in an
Act relating to Immigration, then recently passed by Parliament, Mr.
Parkes, on May 1st, 1861, proposed in the Assembly that £5,000 should be
expended on the establishment "of immigration agencies and lectureships
in Great Britain and Ireland", the money to be distributed as follows:
£2,000 in salaries for twelve months for two lecturers and general agents,
£1,000 to meet the travelling expenses of the lecturers, £500 in payment to
shipping agents in the principal British ports for collecting and
imparting to intending emigrants information as to vessels sailing for
Australia, and £1,500 to cover the expense of printing, in a cheap and
popular form, copies of the Land Acts and other trustworthy information
relating to the colony. A scheme of this kind, in his opinion, would
induce a spontaneous emigration to New South Wales, which would be large
and satisfactory; and, in this opinion, he was supported by the
Government and by the Legislative Assembly. With an amendment, which
left to the Government the details as to the distribution of the £5,000,
the motion was passed without division.

The following morning the _Sydney Morning Herald_, writing upon the
subject, remarked that no one would be so suitable as Mr. Parkes to
address the working classes of England; and, very shortly afterwards, it
was announced that the Governor, with the advice of the Executive
Council, had appointed Mr. Parkes and Mr. W. B. Dalley to proceed to
England in accordance with the terms of the Assembly's resolution.

Comment and criticism now began to appear. Mr. Parkes having been a
strong opponent of the Government, their ever watchful foe and keenest
critic, and Mr. Dalley a colleague and staunch supporter, an idea
prevailed, in some quarters, that instead of being prompted by a desire
to benefit the country through additional immigration, the Government
had been influenced in making the appointments by the unworthy object
of getting rid of an enemy and serving a friend. The _Herald_ making
further reference to the matter, though again complimentary to Mr.
Parkes, plainly indicated its opinion that an able opponent of the
Government had been adroitly disposed of.

The appointment of Mr. Parkes, the article remarked, was expected the
moment his resolution received the support of the Government; and, it
added, "no one could be so suitable to carry out the plan which he had
submitted." But, in alluding to the position which he had filled in
relation to the Government, it said: "That he proposed the plan of
sending lecturers to England, was a suggestion to the Ministry both to
accept the relief which it promised them, and to grant the compensation
by which that relief is repaid. Mr. Parkes, lately a determined opponent
of the Government--a few weeks ago armed with a resolution which would
have demolished one member of the Ministry at least, if not the Cabinet
of which he is a member--more lately silent upon political subjects, is
now in the service of the Crown, under the auspices of Mr. Cowper."

The paper, however, still refrained from condemning the appointment.
"We do not condemn the appointment of Mr. Parkes in itself", it said.
"He is qualified for the task if anyone could fulfil it." And further:
"Mr. Parkes will be better fitted to serve the country on his return
than on his departure. . . Mr. Parkes has many valuable qualities--great
industry and indomitable perseverance, and an oratory which, though not
adapted to the schools, tells with great effect upon the masses. His
work, if it prove successful, will entitle him to the public thanks, and
doubtless interest in his future career many who may be induced by his
persuasion to seek this country as their future home. Had we much
greater reason to complain of his career than we have hitherto admitted,
we should at the present moment withdraw them, and only express our
desire that, having rendered on the whole considerable service to the
country, he may be successful in the mission he has undertaken, and
return hereafter to complete the circle of public labour which his
ambition has doubtless contemplated, and to which, comparing him with
his competitors, it is not unreasonable he should aspire."

He and his colleague Mr. Dalley were not long in setting forth upon
their mission. The appointment rendered necessary the resignation of Mr.
Parkes' seat in Parliament, and this step having been taken,
preparations were made for departure.

The day upon which the two commissioners left Sydney, an address from
his friends and admirers, headed by Dr. Woolley, was presented to Mr.
Parkes. It was the outcome of a meeting of citizens held a few days
previously, and it was read and presented to the recipient on the deck
of the steamer _Wonga Wonga_, just before her departure for Melbourne,
where the commissioners were to catch the mail steamer for England. Time
had not permitted of anything more elaborate or demonstrative.

"We cannot allow you", the address was worded, "to leave the colony
without expressing the confidence which we feel in your ability to
carry out the object of your important mission to the mother country."

This, in itself, was a great compliment. Not very many years previously
Mr. Parkes had stood on the deck of another vessel, in the same harbour,
among a crowd of others, a friendless, almost penniless, immigrant, with
all the years of toil and hard experience to bring him to his present
position before him.

"Your public life," the address proceeded, "consistent throughout in
adherence to fixed principles, your untiring energy and perseverance,
the warm interest which you have ever taken in social questions, and
your expressed attachment to the country, are a sufficient guarantee
that the advocacy of the colony will be safe in your hands.

"We earnestly hope that as an accredited representative of the country,
your efforts will be successful, not only in dispelling much ignorance
with regard to New South Wales as a field for industry, enterprise, and
capital, but in exposing the misrepresentations of any who depreciate
our institutions and cast a doubt upon the future development and
progress of the colony."

And the address concluded by wishing him a safe return to the country,
for which he had "laboured so long and so earnestly".

In his reply, Mr. Parkes explained his position. He believed, he said,
that he had done right in proceeding to Europe. He had toiled hard for
eight or ten years. His health, though in its foundation strong, was
somewhat impaired by over-anxiety and prolonged labour; and the change
he was about to enjoy would probably establish his health, and confer
on him a great physical benefit.

But independently of all personal considerations, he went on to
explain, the object which he was about to assist in carrying out, he had
ever regarded as one of great importance and interest. The records of
the Legislature would show that it had been his settled belief that what
was wanted to keep this colony, if not actually in advance, at least
abreast of the other colonies, was giving sufficient publicity in Great
Britain to its natural resources and attractions.

He was convinced that there was nothing that would remove the
embarrassment from which the country was suffering, but an increase of
the classes engaged in the various avocations of production; and the
only way, in his opinion, to extend the great producing interests of the
country was to diffuse labour throughout them.

In going to England, his intention was not simply to introduce into the
colony wage-earning labourers. His object would be to represent to the
British public of all classes, rich and poor, high and low, settled and
unsettled, men with capital, and men without capital, the real character
of the country as a field for general immigration. "My object", he said,
"is to attract rich men here as well as poor men, so that a spontaneous
volume of immigration may visit us, bringing with it, as a great element
of prosperity, labour and capital combined, so that we shall have as it
were a slice of old England in this country."

Of his past career he said but two or three words, but they were words
of weight. "I have learned to value above all things the test of time
as applied to a public man, and if any little services that I have
rendered to the country will not stand the test of time I say--let them

This interesting little ceremony, which most persons would think should
have elicited the approval of everybody, excited displeasure in some
quarters, and was followed by unfavourable comments in the press. The
leading journal appeared to have arrived at the conclusion that, at
last, it was clear the appointment was not pure and in the public

The morning after the presentation on the steamer it appeared with an
article in which it said:--"The appointment itself and all the
circumstances under which it was made points out its true character. Mr.
Parkes has been the most formidable opponent of Mr. Cowper, but he has
been compelled to surrender, like many a strong fortress, under the
pressure of starvation. Mr. Cowper, being in better quarters and having
the revenues of the country at his back, could have carried on this war
for some months longer. Mr. Parkes was fairly exhausted. There was,
however, in his public character a latent strength which might under any
accident display itself and command the wavering majority of the
Assembly. The coast was clear. He moved for a grant of £5,000 for the
appointment of lecturers, £1,000 as salary, £500 as travelling expenses,
and the remainder to enable them to distribute tracts or whatever might
be otherwise convenient and desirable. Mr. Cowper accepted the terms,
and the appointment was made, Thus, in the course of a few days, one of
the most prominent and consistent of the radical party, a man, who,
whatever may be his faults, did more to secure its organization and
consolidation and early triumphs than all the rest put together, was
removed from the arena. It is in vain to look to immigration as the
object of this compact--no light will come from that quarter. The whole
thing combines in itself all the characteristics of a job, _and it is a

These strictures only provoke a smile now. The editor of the _Herald_, and
undoubtedly many other persons, found it difficult to reconcile the
appointment with Mr. Parkes' vigorous and sustained criticism of the
Government and their actions, unless on the hypothesis that the one had
been made to put an end to the other.

Of Mr. Dalley, as the colleague of Mr. Parkes in the mission to England,
very little was said. He had not then risen to prominence. He was known
and recognised as a clever speaker, as a man of considerable natural
ability and eloquence, but he had not impressed himself upon the
proceedings of the colony at this time in anything like the manner that
elicited the approbation and aroused the popularity which surrounded his
career in later years. He had been a staunch supporter and friend of Mr.
Cowper, and a member of one of Mr. Cowper's Governments; and he had
done much to save Mr. Cowper from rejection at the hands of the electors
at a critical time. His appointment as joint commissioner with Mr.
Parkes was regarded as a reward for useful services, and beyond that
little was thought of it.

He was, however, a more conspicuous figure in the matter than was
generally thought, for it was at his instance, and in response to his
persuasion, that Mr. Parkes accepted the position when it was offered to
him. Mr. Dalley was on terms of friendship with Mr. Parkes. From the
time of their being introduced to each other they had been very close
friends, partly through contributions which Mr. Dalley made to the
columns of the _Empire_, and partly for other reasons. The visit to
England attracted the attention of Mr. Dalley very soon after the
proposal of Mr. Parkes, as expressed in his resolution, was made public,
and he was desirous of securing one of the appointments for himself. The
other he thought could not be given to a more suitable person than Mr.
Parkes. Especially suitable would the two appointments be to Mr. Dalley,
as Mr. Parkes was his friend, and travelling to England on a lecturing
tour with a friend was in prospect much more pleasant than travelling
with a stranger. So Mr. Dalley came to Mr. Parkes, and urged him to go.

"I can safely say", said Mr. Parkes, on one occasion when talking of
this incident in his life, "that when I moved that resolution the
thought of going myself never entered my head." Mr. Dalley was not in
Parliament at the time. He had lost his seat in the general election,
when, as a candidate for East Sydney, he had sacrificed himself to
secure the return of Mr. Cowper. Being free from Parliamentary
requirements, there was nothing of any importance to call upon him to
remain in the colony, and he had but to mention his desire to go to
England to induce Mr. Cowper and his colleagues in the Government to
consent. His friendship with Mr. Parkes, his power of persuasion, and a
circumstance in relation to Mr. Parkes himself at this time, prevailed,
and Mr. Parkes consented to go.

This other circumstance, which, apart from Mr. Dalley, induced Mr.
Parkes to consent to accept the appointment, was pecuniary
embarrassment. "I was in needy circumstances," Mr. Parkes has since
frankly said, "and I thought it would be a fine thing if I could do
some good, and I yielded; but I never should have gone if it had not
been for Dalley." So desirous was Mr. Dalley that Mr. Parkes should go,
that he declared if anyone but Mr. Parkes should be appointed he would
not go. His acceptance of the position depended entirely upon that of
Mr. Parkes, although he very much wanted the appointment.

As the published correspondence shows, Mr. Parkes did not approach the
Government on the subject. The first intimation of the appointment being
within his acceptance came from them, in a confidential letter from the
Secretary for Lands, Mr. John Robertson. This letter, and Mr. Parkes'
reply, with two letters which followed on the question of precedence in
relation to Mr. Parkes and Mr. Dalley, and the minute of the Executive
Council, confirming the appointments, have a historic interest.

Mr. Robertson's letter, dated 11th May, 1861, from the Department of
Lands, and marked "confidential", was as follows:-

Department of Lands,

11th May, 1861.

My dear Mr. Parkes,

It is the intention of the Government to appoint forthwith, at a salary
of £1,000 a year and allowances, two gentlemen, to proceed to the Mother
Country as Commissioners of Emigration; and my colleagues and myself are
desirous of placing one of those appointments at your disposal. Will
you, therefore, say whether or not you are willing to comply with our
wishes? It is unnecessary for me to describe for you the nature of the
duties of the office, as the proposal, sanctioned by Parliament,
originated upon your own motion.

It may, however, be proper to mention that a similar communication to
this has been made to Mr. W. B. Dalley.

I am, etc.,


To this, Mr. Parkes wrote in reply:-

Sydney, 13th May, 1861.

My dear Mr. Robertson,

I beg to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 11th instant,
offering me, on behalf of yourself and colleagues, the appointment of
Commissioner of Emigration in England.

After mature consideration, I have determined to accept the appointment,
principally with the hope that I may be of material use in successfully
carrying out the important undertaking sanctioned by Parliament. I beg
the Government to accept my assurance that I shall enter upon the duties
of my office with an earnest and anxious purpose to disseminate a
correct knowledge of this colony, to exhibit its real advantages as a
field for the better class of emigrants, and to raise its reputation in
the estimation of the British people.

I have this morning resigned my seat in the Legislative Assembly, and
shall be prepared at once to receive the instructions of the Government,
and to proceed to England by the first opportunity.

I have, &c.,


The appointments were notified to the public, in a Supplement to the
_Government Gazette_, on the day after the receipt by the Secretary for
Lands of Mr. Parkes' letter; and, so far, everything appeared to be
satisfactory. But, inasmuch as Mr. Dalley's name appeared in the _Gazette_
notice before that of Mr. Parkes, and the circumstance seemed to
indicate that Mr. Dalley was regarded by the Government as occupying the
superior position of the two Commissioners, the question of precedence
arose, and for a time threatened some difficulty.

Five days afterwards, Mr. Parkes wrote to Mr. Robertson on the subject.
His letter was dated from "Werrington", his place of residence near
Ryde, on Sunday, 19th May, and, after dealing with some matters of
business necessary to be attended to with promptness to enable the
Commissioners to start on their mission, went on to say:-

"I notice in the _Gazette_ of our appointments, that precedence has been
given to the name of Mr. Dalley; and I infer from this, that in any
communications addressed to us jointly by the Government, the same
deference will be shown to that gentleman. I presume this distinction
must have been intended, as it could hardly have arisen from seniority
in years, greater prominence in public life, or more intimate connection
with the subject of our mission. Though this consideration, if it had
been hinted at previous to my acceptance of the appointment, would have
determined me in declining it, I should not now allude to the matter
were it not that it may lead to some embarrassment hereafter; for
instance, if we are to make joint reports to the Government, I shall
decline to sign my name after Mr. Dalley, unless I am instructed to do

At the same time he was not disposed to raise such a difficulty as would
affect the chances of the mission being a success. What he wanted was an
authoritative statement from the Government as to whether one
Commissioner was to be regarded as the superior of the other, or whether
they were equal.

"If the Government, however", the letter continued, "consider Mr. Dalley
has superior qualifications for the direction of our movements in
England, I shall raise no objection whatever to such an arrangement, but
shall implicitly obey your instructions in acting under the advice of
that gentleman as my duly appointed superior. All I desire to know
before leaving the colony is, our precise positions in matters of
courtesy as well as action, and our relative responsibilities."

To this, Mr. Robertson sent a very cleverly-worded reply. With each of
the Commissioners he was on terms of friendship, and though Mr. Dalley
had been more closely in association with him as a friend and supporter
of the Government, and on that ground merited special regard, yet he was
not disposed to overlook the claim to consideration on the side of Mr.
Parkes. He desired to be just to each, to offend neither, and to
maintain the position he occupied in the matter as the Minister charged
with the arrangements for the carrying out of the mission. He wrote to
Mr. Parkes as follows:-

Lands, 20th May, 1861.

My dear Mr. Parkes,

I have your note of yesterday, and will have all the arrangements
relative to money matters and the commissions ready for you, at the
time you mention.

I regret very much to find the view you take of the relative positions
of yourself and Mr. Dalley; and especially I regret the tone and temper
of your observations thereupon.

You assume that one of the Emigration agents will have functions
superior to those entrusted to the other; an idea which I confess
appears to me not only new, but unnecessary.

You also say that if it (this supposed preference of Mr. Dalley) had
been hinted previously to your acceptance of the appointment, you would
have declined it.

To me the necessity for these statements is quite unintelligible. I look
in vain for anything that has been done, warranting the supposition that
Mr. Dalley is placed in a position of superiority to yourself.

As to your reference to the absence of any hint on the subject, previous
to your taking office, of course there could have been none, it never
having been intended that any superiority should exist. It seems,
however, evident, that had your name appeared first in the _Gazette_, you
would have claimed something of the kind; why so, I do not understand,
as I am sure no hint of mine ever justified it.

One of two names necessarily appeared first, and the usual custom, in
cases where it is intended that gentlemen shall hold equal positions, is
to give alphabetical precedence; and as D stands before P, Mr. Dalley's
name would appear before yours. But there is another ground for his
nominal precedence, and one that I am not disposed to overlook;--it is
that he has held high office in the colony, having been
Solicitor-General, and a Member of the Cabinet, with several Members of
the present Government.

You speak of your determination not to sign joint reports after Mr.
Dalley, unless specially instructed on that behalf. I have too much
confidence in your good sense to suppose that you will not speedily see
that a statement of that kind is unworthy of you. At any rate I feel
quite sure that no difficulty will arise--that Mr. Dalley will have too
much regard for the important interests intrusted to him, to allow them
to be impeded by refusing to you any comfort that you may desire from
signing first, on such occasions; I shall therefore give no order in the
matter. In great haste--

I am, etc.,


This smartly written letter effectually disposed of the question of
precedence, for nothing more concerning it appeared in correspondence;
and the completion of the arrangements for the despatch of the
Commissioners was pushed on rapidly.

On the 28th May, the appointments were confirmed by the Executive
Council. According to the Council's minute, each of the Commissioners
was to be paid a salary of £1,000 a year, and an allowance of £500 a year
to cover travelling and all other personal expenses, including the cost
of passage to and from England; and they were to receive an advance of
three months' salary and allowance prior to leaving Sydney. At the same
time, provision was made against continuing payment to them after it
should be considered by the Government necessary that they should be
recalled; and they were informed that the salary and allowance would be
continued for a period of three months, and no longer, after the
delivery at their official address in London, of a notice from the
Government that their mission was at an end.

Under these arrangements the Commissioners left Sydney. In a letter of
instructions the Minister for Lands stated generally the wishes of the
Government in regard to the manner in which the work of the
Commissioners should be performed, but, necessarily, the method of
carrying out the duties attached to their mission was largely left to

While, however, practically leaving to their own discretion the precise
manner in which they should endeavour to secure the results aimed at by
the Government and the Legislature, Mr. Robertson suggested that it was
of the first consequence to the success of the undertaking, that they
should, as early as possible after arriving in England, associate
themselves with, and seek the co-operation of, gentlemen having local
influence among those portions of the community it was especially
desirable to attract to the colony. These were, he explained, small
capitalists, and such of the labouring classes as had the means of
defraying the cost of their passage to New South Wales.

"To place before such persons the advantages which it is conceived this
colony possesses as a field, as well for the man with small means as
for the industrious mechanic and labourer, is, of course," he wrote,
"the very essence of your mission. Whether you effect this by means of
lectures, or pamphlets, or by means of the public press, or by _viva voce_
addresses, is a matter which must be left, and which is confidently
left, to your own discretion. Whatever meed of success may attend this
experiment, the Government are fully assured it will not fail from the
want of able and zealous advocacy."

The two Commissioners landed in Liverpool on Sunday, August 4th, and
immediately set about their work; Mr. Parkes going to Birmingham, and
Mr. Dalley to London.

But though from that time they were very closely occupied, Mr. Parkes
visiting several parts of England and Scotland, and the principal
centres in Ireland, they had not been long engaged at their work before
they became aware of a disposition among the propertied classes of
England to discourage emigration.

In the humbler walks of life they found generally A desire for
information respecting the colonies, and in many cases a strong
inclination to remove to Australia; but they were handicapped by the
peculiar nature of the plan under which it was hoped people would be
induced to emigrate to New South Wales. Each emigrant, unless able to
pay the whole of his or her passage money, was obliged to lodge the
portion necessary under the assisted immigration regulations, in the
Colonial Treasury at Sydney; and this it was not easy to do. It was
difficult also to arrange for suitable accommodation on ships sailing
for the colony, unless a certain number of passengers were guaranteed,
and another obstacle was the fact that some of the other colonies were
offering to emigrants greater inducements in the way of concessions than
New South Wales was prepared to offer.

The Commissioners did not, however, despair. They opened offices in
London, and styled themselves "New South Wales Government Emigration

Sir John Young, who, at this time, was Governor of New South Wales, had
given them letters of introduction to Mr. Gladstone, Lord Brougham, and
the Duke of Newcastle; describing Mr. Parkes as a gentleman who "had
occupied a seat in the Legislative Assembly for several years, and
acquired much distinction by his ability and various exertions,
especially by those he has made for the moral and social improvement of
his fellow citizens", and Mr. Dalley as a highly talented gentleman, a
native of New South Wales, and a barrister-at-law who had held, for a
considerable time, a seat in the Legislative Assembly, and was, in the
year 1859, Solicitor-General and a member of the Cabinet.. These eminent
persons, and others, they waited upon, and as far as could be done were
assisted in their mission. They addressed a large number of public
meetings; had personal interviews with individuals and families;
answered much correspondence; distributed thousands of circulars and
pamphlets; and published information in the press.

From time to time they forwarded to the Secretary for Lands, in Sydney,
reports of their proceedings, and these, though somewhat hopeful in
tone, were generally very plainly expressive of the difficulties they
found in their way. The more they extended their operations, the clearer
did they see the indisposition of the wealthy classes to emigration of
any kind but that, perhaps, of the criminal portion of the population.
The sympathies of landed proprietors and of large employers of labour
were not with them.

In one of his reports, Mr. Parkes described a conversation he had with a
wealthy manufacturer and influential politician on the subject of New
South Wales. "It is a fine country," this gentleman said, "it sends us
amazing quantities of wool and gold, and is a splendid customer for our
manufactures. I do a good trade with Sydney myself. Don't you think the
colonists could be persuaded to take our convicts again?"

At this period, it was not at all uncommon for persons of influence in
the political arena of Great Britain to manifest an adverse feeling
towards the Australian colonies; and Mr. Parkes found that they were
afraid of "stimulating" emigration, because it was the best class of
people who emigrated.

The chances of the success of his mission appeared to be greatest in
personal communication with the emigrating class; "frankly explaining
to them the condition of the colony, and their own prospects of success
as colonists, and advising them according to the different circumstances
of their cases."

Frequently, he had interviews with families of this class. "Men come to
me," he wrote, "with their wives, and a son or daughter, or perhaps a
friend, lay their case before me, apparently with the utmost confidence,
and explain their views in wishing to emigrate, which sometimes discover
a long course of thought and inquiry on the subject. I am at present in
communication with several families, who reckon that, after removing
themselves to Australia, they would have little capitals, ranging from
£100 to £600; and I have reason to believe that their lot will be cast
among the inhabitants of New South Wales next year. In this way--
travelling, corresponding, and giving personal interviews, I have been
much occupied of late, and shall be for some time to come, in the
Midland and Northern Counties."


IN the earlier period of his Parliamentary career, Sir Henry Parkes did
much good work in connection with select committees, which he was
instrumental in having appointed, and of which he was, in most
instances, Chairman.

Several of the principal of these committees sat in 1859-1861. One of
them was that the report of which formed the foundation of the charge
made against Sir Henry Parkes of being favourable to a protective fiscal
policy. This committee was appointed to inquire into the condition of
the working classes of Sydney--the want of employment among them, the
subject of wages, the class of house accommodation available, and the
existence and extent of juvenile vagrancy. It was appointed on 30th
September, 1859, and it sat from the 7th October of that year, until
18th April, 1860.

The condition of affairs it disclosed was a very sad one. It is
interesting at this time as a picture of degraded life which, existing
at the period of this inquiry, has, to a large extent, since then
disappeared. Destitution and immorality are still amongst us, but the
homes of the masses are much better, and their lives purer and brighter
than was the case thirty-five years ago.

Sir Henry Parkes, when he moved his motion for the appointment of the
committee, could not have been fully aware of the state of things his
inquiry disclosed, and yet his speech on the occasion showed that he
possessed a considerable grasp of the subject. The object he had in view--
"giving a more healthy character to society and a better direction to
the industrial energies of the population"--had led him to acquaint
himself with very much of what was going on around him.

Several years before, he had done what he could towards reforming the
juvenile vagrants of the metropolis, by having a select committee
appointed to consider the propriety of establishing a nautical school,
in which many of the male portion of these waifs and strays ought to be
placed and trained into useful citizens. Now, his efforts were directed
to the improvement of life among the parents as well as the children. He
desired to see the children taken from the slums and by-ways, where dirt
and vice were ever present; and this he knew could only be effected by
improved house accommodation, better moral training, the spread of
education, and increased means of livelihood so that the adult portion
of the male population might be more constantly in employment and
earning higher wages.

And what was the state of affairs disclosed by the select committee's
inquiry? It was so shocking that it cannot be read without a feeling of

Want of employment existed amongst the working classes to a large
extent, and no doubt contributed much to degrade the life which a great
proportion of these classes were living. Decent houses are not obtained
from landlords without the payment of adequate rent; wholesome food and
good clothes are not bought for less than their value; and, in the
absence of decent houses, and good food and clothes, family life must go
backward, and pass from bad to worse.

The gold-fields of the colony, at this period extensively worked, had
unsettled the lives of numbers of men, and withdrawn them from their
families in Sydney, the wives and children being in many cases left
without protection, or any means of subsistence; and this had produced a
large amount of destitution and misery. The impossibility of finding
employment, experienced by a large proportion of the men not attracted
from Sydney by the glitter of the gold-fields, produced more.

The house accommodation of the working classes was deplorably bad.
Drainage and ventilation were scarcely thought of. Sanitary precautions
were almost entirely neglected. It was not uncommon at this time to find
large families, with sometimes a lodger or two, in small weatherboard
structures, containing two rooms of not more than 10 feet by 11 feet
each, their ceilings not more than six or seven feet high, and
possessing little or no means of ventilation, except the door or window.
"Hundreds of houses in Sydney," the Master of the Benevolent Asylum
stated to the committee, "are totally unfit for human habitation."

The suburbs in this respect were, to a great extent, in the same
condition as the city. In a block of twenty or twenty-five wretched
hovels, accommodation, such as it was, was obtained for, perhaps, a
hundred people, old, middle-aged, and young, married and single. Not
only were the houses for occupation by the working classes constructed
without regard to the requirements of comfort or health, but they were
grossly overcrowded in consequence of high rents. A tenement, deserving
of no better name than a den, of two rooms, might be occupied by as many
as fourteen persons--seven men and seven women. Seventy persons had been
found herded together in a common lodging-house of six rooms; and, in
one of the Chinese quarters, one building proved a lodging house for no
fewer than 315 celestials.

With these conditions of life existing, it is not surprising that
intemperance, destitution, and vice among old and young abounded, or
that the committee should consider that, in this disordered state of
things, the social happiness of the community was fast becoming

The committee made certain recommendations, and among them, the famous
protectionist proposal which ever afterwards attached itself to Sir
Henry Parkes.

"Your committee", the report stated, "are also of opinion that the
connection of cause and effect is in some measure to be traced between
the fiscal laws of the colony and the existing social evils, and they
consider a revision of our entire taxation a matter of necessity. We
have the authority of eminent economists in support of raising revenue
in a new country by the imposition of duties that would tend to foster
manufacturing enterprise, and such encouragement to our own people
within well-considered limits would not be inconsistent with practical
freedom in our commercial intercourse with the world, while no nation
affords us an example of the establishment of manufactures without

From this recommendation, which was not only an expression of opinion
from the committee as a body, but may be regarded as peculiarly Sir
Henry Parkes' own, inasmuch as the report was signed by him as chairman,
it is plain that, at this period of his life, Sir Henry Parkes
entertained protectionist ideas. But the circumstance is not unnatural,
and can be easily explained. Indeed, he himself explained it, on more
than one occasion, when it was used as a weapon against him by his

At this time he had been but six years in Parliament. His political
knowledge had been chiefly acquired in the intervals of a busy life,
which did not afford him too many opportunities for reading and
reflection. In his youth and early manhood, he had experienced all the
hardships attendant upon want of employment or low wages. Moreover, he
had imbibed to a certain extent the fiscal doctrine apparent in a
well-known passage in the writings of John Stuart Mill. Was it at all
strange that he should, under such circumstances, have thought that
unrestricted freedom of commerce was not, in all conditions of a
country's existence, the best for its welfare? Further observation and
study of the subject, and an interview with Richard Cobden during a
visit to England in 1861-2, disclosed to him the fallacies of
protection; and with the clear view of the whole matter, which this more
matured examination of the question put before his mind, he became what
since that time he always was--a staunch supporter and advocate of free

During his later life, in the struggle which certain industries have had
in this country to firmly establish themselves, and, in response to
earnest solicitations for some assistance on their behalf, there were
occasions when, as head of the Government, he indicated his willingness
to assist those industries to the extent of a certain preference over
manufacturers outside the country in the tendering for work required by
the Government to be done; and this has been characterised by some
persons as protection. But it would be difficult to prove that the
concessions offered in this manner went, in any instance, beyond what
was justifiable in the interests of either free trade or the general

If the excess in price of a New South Wales tender, as compared with the
tender of an English firm, be no more than would be represented by
freight, insurance, and other charges incidental to obtaining the
required articles from England, and the quality of the articles made in
the colony be equal to that of the articles manufactured in England,
there can be no valid objection to accepting the colonial tender in
preference to the English one; and this Sir Henry Parkes was always
willing to do.

Strongly free trade in its fiscal opinions, the Legislative Assembly
refused to adopt the Committee's report.

Mr. Parkes moved its adoption in an able and distinctly protectionist
speech. "He held that the country, to be prosperous, must rest upon
something more than their industry employed in the production of raw
products. There was only one base for a prosperous community, and that
was the three-fold base of producing raw material, of manufacturing it,
and of trading in it; or, in other words, agriculture (taking that term
in its wider sense as including all the products of the soil), and
manufactures and commerce . . . . And, in passing, he might say that the
whole doctrine of free trade (and perhaps he was as thorough a free
trader as most members of the House) was at least a theory. It rested
upon assumptions. Its reasoning was all of a deductive nature. There
was, however, this in favour of the out-and-out protectionists: that
their doctrine to a great extent depended upon the actual rise of
nations . . . . It was absolutely necessary for the employment of the
human mind, and all the faculties belonging to our nature, that the
modes of employment should be as varied within the country as possible."

Quoting largely from authorities in support of the contention that it is
desirable to produce within our own towns as much as possible of the
imposing duties for the establishment of manufactures, he went on to
say:--"The mere traders of a community, though highly honourable and
useful in their proper relations, it must be borne in mind were
non-producers, and, as far as they were concerned, the world would die
out in all the elegancies and refinements of life. So that,
necessarily, a large proportion of the population would be
unproductively employed. Thus it would be impossible for us to keep
abreast of the age. . .

. . . Our only chance if we wished to bring out the talents of the rising
generation, and to run a fair race with other parts of the world in all
the attainments which dignify human life, was by introducing other
modes by which the inventive faculties of the country would be brought
into full play."

The motion for the adoption of the report was negatived by so large a
majority as 27 votes to 6; but the matter did not end there. By the
unemployed portion of the citizens of Sydney, the decision of the
Assembly was viewed with much dissatisfaction; and for several nights
hostile demonstrations were made by a mob outside the Assembly Chamber.

On the third night following that during which the report was rejected,
the gathering was so large and threatening, that something like a
riot--certainly a serious disturbance--occurred. Torches were burned;
members favourable to the report were cheered, and those unfavourable to
it groaned at and hooted. Inflammatory speeches were delivered, and
attempts were made to penetrate into the enclosure in front of the
Parliamentary buildings, and effect an entrance where the House was

In the Assembly Chamber, Members were fearful that the Chamber was
about to be rushed; and the attention of the Speaker was called to the
circumstance, a debate upon the subject taking place. Meanwhile, the
efforts of the crowd to pass the entrance gates becoming more persistent
and determined, a conflict arose between the crowd and the police. The
guardians of the law drew their batons; blows, were struck freely; and
several persons were severely injured. Still the mob endeavoured to
reach the gates; and it was only when police reinforcements--including a
detachment of mounted police--arrived on the scene, that the people
could be beaten and driven back, and the street cleared.

These demonstrations by a portion of the populace made Mr. Parkes
throughout this agitation a prominent figure; but he gave no
encouragement to what was done, and was not slow to describe it as
ill-advised, and not justifiable.

He made another attempt to carry the report of the committee through the
Assembly, but again failed. On the 22nd May, 1860, he endeavoured to
have the provisions of the report adopted, by moving a series of
resolutions embodying the proposals made in it; but after some
discussion the resolutions were shelved by the House adopting the
previous question.

The report did not again see the light. Not long afterwards, Mr. Parkes
went to England, and there his protectionist ideas disappeared under the
benign free trade influence of Richard Cobden. Very recently he referred
to the circumstance, and entered into a detailed explanation of his old
protectionist error. Speaking chiefly of his protectionist views in
1860, he said not without pathos: "My case is this; I was not educated
at a University. Unhappily for me, I was not educated at all. I never
was at school more than three months in my life, and whatever I have
attained, I have attained in circumstances of bitter poverty. Some
allowance might be made for me who have had to educate myself every day
of my life from my cradle until now. . .

. . . . . I started in life as a free-trader. I dare say that much of my
opinions was caught up from those around me. I dare say that I imbibed
my free trade opinions very much as many persons imbibe their religion.
I admit that in the year 1859 or 1860, I was misled by that fatal, that
mischievous, passage in John Stuart Mill's book, in which he lays down
the doctrine that protectionist duties are pardonable to support new
industries in a new country. And, about the same time, I read one or two
American economists who confirmed that view. Mine was a case of pure
backsliding . . .

. . . I went to England, and the person who converted me finally, and
put me into the groove where I have remained ever since, was that
illustrious Englishman, Richard Cobden. I spent a few days at Mr.
Cobden's house. On a cold winter's night, which I remember well, and
shall ever remember, Mr. Cobden invited me into his room. We sat down by
the fire, and had a conversation of two hours on the question of
protection in Australia; and he satisfied me that the view I was then
taking was in error. If I admit that he was my converter, I shall only
admit that I was converted by the man who converted Sir Robert Peel. But
now", he went on to say with some triumph, "comes my vindication. From
that day until the present time, I have been a steady consistent free
trader; and surely thirty years ought to protect me from any reference
to that early period. When, as I tell you, with a confession that costs
me a good deal to make, I have had to educate myself every day of my
life from my very childhood, I might be pardoned for straying into the
paths of error; because when I got true knowledge, I retraced my steps."

Another important select committee appointed at the instance of Mr.
Parkes, and of which he was chairman, was one to inquire into and report
upon the state and management of the public prisons in the city of
Sydney and the county of Cumberland.

The arrangements for the confinement and treatment of prisoners at this
period were very incomplete and unsatisfactory. Though an improvement
upon what existed in the very early days of the colony, they were far
short of what was necessary. Overcrowding, want of cleanliness, and the
absence of any inducement to reform, had such a brutalising effect upon
the prisoners that they became terrible in their depravity, resorting to
unspeakable practices and indulging without hesitation in the committal
of serious crimes.

At this period Cockatoo Island was the largest prison in the colony,
though the new gaol at Darlinghurst was in use; but Darlinghurst, though
containing many prisoners was only partially built, and Cockatoo Island
was full to overflowing. At times there were as many as 500 prisoners on
the island, and a large proportion were always of the very worst class.

The passenger in the Parramatta River steamboats, which call nowadays at
Cockatoo as regularly as at other places on the river, can still see
sufficient to send his thoughts back to the period when hundreds of
hardened criminals were there. Only some remnants of the old prison
buildings are now standing, but these and two or three stone sentry
boxes close to the water's edge, deserted and weather worn, suggest with
much force the grim nature of the place thirty-five years ago.

The Committee made a number of recommendations with a view to
improvement in the condition of the gaols and the management and
treatment of the prisoners. Among these recommendations was the
appointment of an inspector of prisons, who should be a man of ability
and high character, entrusted with the entire supervision and direction
of the prison system of the colony. This officer was ultimately
appointed, and the prison system greatly improved. Now there is a
Comptroller-General of Prisons; and, at the present time, the prisons of
the colony are equal in every respect to the prisons of any other

A copy of the Committee's report, with the evidence upon which it was
based attached, was forwarded by Mr. Parkes to Charles Dickens, who
wrote the following letter in reply:-

Gad's Hill Place,

Higham by Rochester, Kent,

Tuesday, twenty-sixth August, 1862.


I beg to acknowledge the safe receipt of your very obliging letter, and
its accompanying report and evidence. I have perused that public
document with great interest and not a little horror, and with a sincere
admiration of the spirit in which the whole inquiry was conducted. It is
very honourable to the gentlemen concerned and to the great country they

Faithfully yours,


Henry Parkes, Esq.

Various other matters important to the good government of the colony
were inquired into and reported upon by select committees appointed on
the motion of Mr. Parkes, and assisted by him in their labours. From his
first entry into Parliament he saw in the select committee a means of
great usefulness; and, up to the period of his official life as a
Minister of the Crown, he used this means whenever he thought it was
required, to the great advantage of the country.


RETURNING to Sydney from England in January, 1863, in response to a
resolution of the Legislative Assembly in June, 1862, recalling him and
his colleague, Mr. Dalley, from their positions as emigration agents
and lecturers, Mr. Parkes resumed business in Sydney, and awaited an
opportunity for re-entering Parliament.

He had lost none of his popularity; public opinion of his great capacity
and his political integrity was as strong as ever; and a seat for him in
the Legislature was assured. He had only to await the occurrence of one
of the political crises so numerous in those days, and then to choose
his constituency.

The opportunity came in April, 1864, when Mr. Parkes was returned as
Member for Kiama in the place of the late Mr. Samuel W. Gray.

Previous to this he made an effort to obtain the seat for East
Maitland, rendered vacant by reason of Mr. J. B. Darvall accepting the
office of Attorney-General in the Cowper Government, and going before
his constituents for re-election.

The step was not a wise one, for not only was it unsuccessful, but the
contest proved one of the bitterest in political annals. The amount of
vituperation introduced into the speeches of the candidates was
unequalled. Both able men and powerful speakers, they were recklessly
unmerciful in their denunciation of each other.

Mr. Darvall, usually polished and refined in his oratory--for he claimed
to be and was an educated gentleman--allowed himself for once to adopt a
style which, while unsurpassed in skilfulness and effect, was coarse and
even revolting. Tucking up his sleeves on the hustings, in the manner of
a callous surgeon, he proceeded to describe the previous career of Mr.
Parkes, as the surgeon would dissect an unsavoury body.

Mr. Parkes was equally severe, though in a different manner; and both
writhed under the torture. So intense, indeed, was the feeling
engendered, that at the close of the election when in addition to the
unmeasured abuse heaped upon him, he had to endure the disappointment of
defeat, Mr. Parkes called upon the electors if they believed him to be
the guilty character his opponent had described, to hound him and stone
him to death immediately he left the hustings.

Doubtless Mr. Darvall was excessively annoyed at being opposed at all.
Unless there be very special reasons for a contrary course, the
re-election of a Minister is generally allowed to go without
opposition. The practice is universal, and not without its advantages.
Mr. Parkes owed some consideration to Mr. Cowper, and having returned
only a few months before from his visit to England as an Emigration
Commissioner, he might well, it was thought, have refrained from
embarrassing the Government. Mr. Robertson went to him, and sought to
induce him not to come forward as an opponent of the Attorney-General.
"There will be other opportunities before long," Mr. Robertson urged;
"several seats will be available shortly." But Mr. Parkes declined to
withdraw. He disapproved of the proceedings of the Government as a
whole, and therefore considered himself justified in opposing the
re-election of their Attorney-General.

Probably he was also annoyed at a rumour which had been spread that he
had applied unsuccessfully to the Cowper Government for an appointment,
at this time about to be made, of Inspector of Prisons. This appointment
had been recommended by Mr. Parkes. Commissioned by Mr. Cowper to make
inquiry while in England respecting the English prisons, Mr. Parkes had
done so; and one result of his inquiry was a recommendation that a high
inspecting officer should be appointed in Sydney.

People naturally thought Mr. Parkes suitable for the position, and with
equal readiness considered that he would get it. Mr. Cowper was ready to
give it him; but having already been charged with buying him off, by
means of the emigration commissionership, he was reluctant to offer any
second appointment. Mr. Parkes did not ask for it. That he desired it is
riot at all likely, for great as were the possibilities of his political
success before he went to England, the information and experience gained
during his sojourn there, made those possibilities very much greater;
but it is not improbable that he would have been glad to have had the
refusal of it. This was not absent from Mr. Cowper's mind, and was an
additional reason why he did not make the offer. So the two came
together several times, and talked of prisons and prison inspectorship;
but though each was anxious that the other should make some move in the
direction of an offer or a request, no offer or request was made; and
the inspectorship eventually went to somebody else.

The Kiama election, in 1864, which sent Mr. Parkes back to the
Legislative Assembly, was not very exciting; but his speeches during the
contest indicated that his visit to England had not been without an
effect upon his mind, which, while being beneficial to it, was certain
to be of advantage to the political life of the colony.

He was still the same uncompromising liberal, the same keen critic and
denouncer of political incapacity and wrong, the same able and
persistent advocate of social reform; but the association which, during
his stay in England, he had enjoyed with prominent men in politics,
literature, and society, had enlarged his views, increased his stock of
information, and improved his style.

He has told us since that one of the great Englishmen with whom he was
intimate at this time in England was Richard Cobden; and that
conversations with him dissipated from his mind for ever the
protectionist fallacies which had made an entry there in the early years
of his political career.

To one destined to be the leader of Governments in New South Wales, over
a period longer than that of any other Prime Minister in the political
history of the colony, association with such men as Cobden, even for the
transitory period covered by a short visit to England, must have been
invaluable. And it is not unlikely that Cobden learned something from
Mr. Parkes. His arrival in England, fresh from the self-governing young
Australian community, his mission to promote emigration to New South
Wales, his strong democratic opinions, the important part he had taken
in Australian public life--all this would be of deep interest to Mr.
Cobden, and make Mr. Parkes' company as agreeable as Cobden's company
was to Mr. Parkes.

It did not need an eye of much discernment to see in Mr. Parkes the
probabilities of future eminence. His detractors professed to observe
nothing but vanity and superficialness. Impartial observers saw with
clearer vision, and were sometimes not slow to say what they saw.

At the Kiama election he read a letter he had received from Charles
Gavan Duffy, who, in those days, was ever ready to bear testimony to the
probable greatness of Mr. Parkes' future. The letter was written at a
time when Mr. Parkes was defeated in an election at Braidwood, and it
was produced at Kiama in reply to a charge made during the election
there that he was an enemy to the Irish Roman Catholics.

"I read in the Sydney telegram today," wrote Mr. Duffy, "that you have
lost your election by a few votes; and be sure that though sometimes a
silent, I am never an indifferent, spectator of your affairs. Ah, my
dear friend--if you will permit me to moralise the occasion--you might
have been anything in this new world, if you had only made up your mind
once for all what it was to be. You may do anything still on the same

Re-entering Parliament as Member for Kiama, Mr. Parkes did not take his
seat as a supporter of the Government, which was then under the
premiership of the late Sir James Martin. His political sympathies, he
had told his constituents, were not in that direction. He could not see,
in the course which had marked the political conduct of the Government
in power, any avowed and distinct principles. There was a want of
agreement among them on the main questions of the day. They were at
Variance on the subject of the land laws; some were protectionists and
others free-traders; and they were divided on the subjects of State aid
to religion and education. To such an incongruous body Mr. Parkes could
not give his assistance, and he became what he described as an
"independent neutral member".

Yet, in less than two years afterwards, he found it in the public
interest for him to join some of these ministers, in a Government which
proved to be one of the most useful in passing measures to promote the
welfare of the country.

In November, 1864, Parliament was dissolved; and it re-assembled on 24th
January, 1865, Mr. Parkes again taking his seat as Member for Kiama.

To him the new Parliament was destined to be one of great importance. It
was to mark his entry into official life, in which he did not, as is
usual with those taking ministerial office for the first time, accept a
subordinate position, but at one bound rose to the highest and most
influential, for he became Colonial Secretary.

Parliament opened with the Martin Ministry in office, though not in
power, for they had been badly beaten in the elections, and their
retirement was only a question of a day or two. They were succeeded by a
Ministry under Mr. Cowper, and the proceedings of this Ministry provided
the means by which, after a long and exceedingly useful career as a
private member, Mr. Parkes was enabled to apply his great abilities to
the actual government of the country.

The Cowper Ministry, though indicating when it entered office a very
capable administration, fell in the course of a few months into serious
difficulties through the necessity for reconstruction. Mr. Robertson, in
consequence of difficulties connected with his private affairs, was
obliged to relinquish his position of Minister for Lands; and Mr. W. M.
Arnold, who was holding the office of Minister for Works, succeeded him.
Mr. Thomas Ware Smart, who was Colonial Treasurer, was removed to the
Works Department, a new Treasurer being found in Mr. (afterwards Sir)
Saul Samuel. A few days subsequently Mr. Arnold was elected Speaker of
the Legislative Assembly, and Mr. Robertson returned to the Lands

These changes greatly embarrassed Mr. Cowper, and seriously interfered
with the well-being of the Government; but it was left for a further
change to bring matters to the point of a crisis.

Mr. Samuel, in his capacity of Treasurer, made his Financial Statement
on 29th November, 1865, and proposed a taxation scheme which the House
virtually rejected. He at once resigned. Mr. Cowper, sensible enough of
the gravity of the situation, was anxious to make another effort
to place the finances of the country in a satisfactory condition before
relinquishing office; and looked around for a new Treasurer. The field
of choice open to him was small. The Government were not popular either
in the House or outside. Additional taxation appeared to be absolutely
necessary, and a Government upon whom the duty of taxing the community
falls is not likely to be popular. Furthermore, there was a general
impression that the Ministry could not last long, and that it would
speedily give way to another.

Mr. Cowper was one of those men not easily cast down by difficulties;
and he had at his back, in the person of Mr. Robertson, a man still more
resourceful. It did not seem easy to find a new Finance Minister, but it
was not impossible. On a previous occasion it had been quite as
difficult for Mr. Cowper to find an Attorney-General; and yet he was at
last discovered in a gentleman just landed from a vessel which had
arrived from England.

Curiosity was aroused now as to whence Mr. Samuel's successor would
come. Name after name was mentioned, and the chances of the persons
considered eligible for the office discussed. But none of those in
Parliament regarded as suitable were willing to undertake the duties of
Treasurer at this particular time, and under the circumstances
surrounding the ministerial position.

Mr. Cowper was compelled to fall back upon an outsider, a Treasurer who
would be a Treasurer in name only. He announced that the office had been
accepted by Mr. Marshall Burdekin. This gentleman was not known either
to have had the experience or to possess the ability to enable him to
fill the position of Finance Minister satisfactorily, and his
appointment was regarded with much disfavour. Mr. J. H. Plunkett,
Attorney-General in the Government, absent from Sydney when the
appointment was made, resigned his office immediately the name of the
new Treasurer reached him.

In the Assembly, with the approval of Mr. Martin, the matter was taken
in hand by Mr. Parkes.

On the 9th January, 1866, Mr. Cowper moved that the seat of Mr. Marshall
Burdekin be declared vacant by reason of his acceptance of office, and
thereupon Mr. Parkes moved--"That, in declaring such vacancy, the House
feels it to be its duty at once to express its entire disapproval of Mr.
Burdekin's appointment."

A short but sharp debate ensued; and the amendment was carried by 25
votes to 10, the original motion, as amended, being passed by 21 to 11.

This expression of opinion was a direct vote of censure; and though Mr.
Cowper was inclined to evade it, he very quickly found himself compelled
to act in accordance with its real nature. The Assembly adjourned, and,
at its next meeting, was informed that the Government had advised a
dissolution, but that the Governor had not accepted this advice, and
consequently Mr. Cowper and his colleagues had resigned.

Mr. Parkes' opportunity had now arrived. The prospect of his becoming a
member of the Government in a high and influential position was at once
greater than ever before. The fear of the effects of his ardent radical
opinions, and of his tendency to encounter and overthrow established
forms and institutions wherever they interfered with what he considered
to be the welfare of the country, was disappearing before the sense of
his great ability and of his patriotism.

Almost from his entry into the Legislature he was well fitted for
office; but, for the powerful Conservatives of those days, he had always
gone too fast in the direction of reform, and fear that ministerial
power might induce him to run riot in the endeavour to improve, where
improvement might be needed, had made Cabinet-makers very chary of
admitting him to their ranks.

At last, however, it was recognised that he ought to be in the
Government; that he was entitled to it on every ground of fitness except
the pace at which he had travelled in his efforts for social arid
political advancement, and that even this characteristic might, after
all, not be so bad as to some persons it had seemed.

It was not, therefore, with alarm that the resignation of the Cowper
Government was seen to indicate the probable inclusion of Mr. Parkes
among their successors. To a large proportion of the community it gave
great satisfaction, and those who were not quite satisfied were not
without hope that his appointment would prove beneficial.

The Governor, Sir John Young, was not, apparently, as confident of the
success of Mr. Parkes in high office as many of Mr. Parkes' friends
were. In the ordinary course of things, Mr. Parkes should have been
commissioned to form the new Government. Instead of that, Mr. Martin was
sent for. But Mr. Martin and Mr. Parkes were in consultation and
agreement as to the new Ministry, and though Mr. Martin was to be
Premier, he gave Mr. Parkes a choice of the other offices, including
that of Colonial Secretary.

The new Ministry proved a very strong one, and it remained in office for
nearly two years, passing during that time some of the most beneficial
of the measures under which the country for the last thirty years has
been advancing. Mr. Martin was Attorney-General and Premier; Mr. Parkes,
Colonial Secretary; and Mr. Geoffrey Eagar, Colonial Treasurer. The
other offices were filled by Mr. John Bowie Wilson, Minister for Lands;
Mr. James Byrnes, Secretary for Public Works; Mr. Robert Macintosh
Isaacs, Solicitor-General; and Mr. Joseph Docker, Postmaster-General.

All have since passed away, and the names of several may be said to be
forgotten; but the legislation they, as a Ministry, were able to bring
into operation will ever live conspicuous in the political history of
the colony.

There was, of course, criticism of the new Government, favourable and
unfavourable. Some people professed not to understand how Mr. Parkes
could enter the same Cabinet as Mr. Martin, especially with Mr. Martin
as Premier. The two had not been very friendly in the Assembly, and in
1864 a quarrel occurred between them, which lasted twelve months. "With
respect to several of the more important questions that had engaged the
attention of Parliament and the public," it was said, "the new
Ministers have occupied the most opposite positions, whilst they have
denounced each other's conduct in the strongest language." And the
combination was regarded as having been brought about with a view to
securing the support of different sections in the Assembly, rather than
as the result of agreement on any distinct line of policy.

But the one led to the other. Once certain of the necessary support in
Parliament, it was easy to formulate a policy upon which there should be
general agreement.

Mr. Parkes, in his address to his constituents, made some allusion to
the causes of the the coalition. "One result", he said, "of the perverse
and tortuous courses pursued in political life of late years is the
obliteration of nearly all party distinctions, so that it is now quite
impossible for any six public men to associate together without making
mutual concessions and sinking differences of opinion which, under
circumstances more favourable to a healthy state of party action, would
present a broad ground of disagreement. In the present juncture it is
felt to be obligatory on persons who regard the public interest as
superior to personal consideration to make such concessions."

The financial circumstances under which the new Government entered
office were some what auspicious, notwithstanding a gloomy outlook when
the Cowper Government went from power. The Treasurer was able to put
before the House a statement so satisfactory, that it showed, instead
of a deficiency on the year's transactions and a necessity for increased
taxation, as indicated by his predecessor, a considerable surplus.
This, however, was largely due to the receipts from _ad valorem_ duties
brought into operation by the Cowper Government, and the advantages from
which the Martin-Parkes Government were reaping.

From a state of something like alarm into which the community had
drifted through the periods of successive Governments, the public were
beginning to realise a feeling of hopefulness and confidence.

At that date the finances of the colony were, of course, of as much
importance to the general public as the finances of the present period
are to the people of today; but, compared with what they are now the
public accounts of 1865 were little short of insignificant. The charges
for the year, inclusive of a sum of £20,000 for a postal service, a
large expenditure for such a purpose at that period, amounted to
£1,932,745, and those to be provided for by loan £820,500. The estimated
revenue for the year was £2,084,511. Nowadays the figures for estimated
expenditure and estimated revenue reach £9,000,000. Another remarkable
difference between the circumstances of the two periods is to be seen in
relation to the public debentures. At the present time they can be sold
readily at a high price. In 1865, they were not only exceedingly
difficult of sale, but were disposed of for what they would bring. In
that year, by an agreement between the Cowper Government and the
Oriental Bank, the bank had absolute power to sell the debentures which
it held as security at any price to cover its cash advances; and though
the sum due by the Government to the bank was only £940,000, against
which it held debentures of the nominal value of £1,716,300, it refused
to make the advance necessary to pay the interest on the public debt due
in London in July, 1866.

The Ministry proposed to do nothing in their first session but pass the
estimates. The great measures of their programme were to stand over
until the session following. Though of much importance, these were not
so urgent as to make it necessary to interfere with the desire to get
the financial matters of the country into thorough order. By having a
short session to deal solely with the estimates, the necessary monetary
arrangements for the year could be made, and, after a brief recess,
Parliament, unembarrassed by financial matters, could proceed calmly and
deliberately with the principal parts of the ministerial policy. This
was done. The session commencing on 20th February, 1866, lasted about
six weeks, and Parliament went into recess until July.

Mr. Parkes spent a portion of his time in visiting some of the country
districts. Bushranging was very troublesome at this period, and, as the
minister at the head of the Police Department, he was instrumental in
administering to it a very salutary check. He possessed, in a marked
degree, the faculty of discernment of character. More appointments to
high and responsible positions in the colony were, through his life,
made by him than by any other person who has held the office of
Minister, and his appointments, it may be said, were invariably
satisfactory. During one of his tours through the country at this period
of his career, he exercised his power of judging the capabilities of men
by suddenly picking out, from his police guard, an ordinary policeman,
and commissioning him to search for and capture the two most
bloodthirsty and notorious of the scoundrels then infesting the
interior. The man, who was naturally fitted for such work, but had never
before had the opportunity to show what he could do, accepted with
alacrity the duty so unexpectedly placed upon him, and in a very short
time captured the bushrangers and earned a sub-inspectorship.

Another instance of excellent judgment of character and capacity, which
occurred about the same period, with very beneficial results to the
colony, was in relation to the asylums for lunatics. Mr. Parkes had not
been long in office as Colonial Secretary, before he ascertained that
these asylums were in a very imperfect and unsatisfactory state. They
were, in fact, little better than prisons. He saw the necessity for
improvement; and one thing the Government did, on his recommendation,
was to lay out the grounds at Gladesville, so that the patients might
enjoy to a proper extent fresh air and exercise among beautiful

More, however, required to be done. Accident threw Mr. Parkes into
acquaintance with a gentleman who was a surgeon on one of the ships of
war on the Australian station, and this gentleman, he discovered, was
very conversant with the treatment of lunatics. Frequent conversations
with him, led to the conclusion that he was the man wanted in connection
with the New South Wales asylums; and, overtures being made to him, he
left the Navy to enter the public service of the colony. Then, with the
approval of his colleagues in the Ministry, Mr. Parkes commissioned him
to go through Europe and America, and examine the construction, and
methods of management, of the principal asylums for lunatics in those
countries, and to report the results to the Government. This he did, at
considerable expense, but very effectively, and his report is regarded
as one of the most valuable contributions to the literature relating to
the treatment of lunacy.

This gentleman is Dr. Manning, the present Inspector-General of the
Insane in New South Wales; and the state of perfection to which the
asylums for lunatics in the colony have been brought by him is
well-known to everybody. Referring to this subject in a speech made in
1883, Mr. Parkes remarked that he took the important step of sending Dr.
Manning on his tour of observation and inquiry, without waiting for
Parliamentary authority. "I risked the censure of Parliament", he said.
"If I had waited for Parliamentary authority, Dr. Manning would have
sailed away in the ship of war, and his services would never have been


THE great fact in the career of the Martin-Parkes Ministry was the
passing of the Public Schools Act.

Education in the colony had not been neglected, and had produced fairly
good results. But the system in operation, beneficial in some respects,
was not by any means as satisfactory as was desirable. The plan adopted
for its administration was cumbrous and expensive, and, being based on a
wish to meet the religious prejudices of some classes of the people,
rather than upon a determination to afford the fullest educational
advantages to the people as a whole, the standard of instruction was
necessarily inferior. The schools were similar to the Irish national
schools, that system having been introduced into the colony in 1844, and
they were divided into two classes--the national schools and the
denominational schools. Each class of schools was controlled by a Board,
and maintained at the expense of the State; but beyond this, and the
necessity that a certain average educational standard should be
observed, they were practically distinct. One class consisted of secular
schools, the other of church schools. As far as possible, each went its
own way, doing the best for itself, and caring nothing for the welfare
of the other. The rivalry between the supporters of the one and the
adherents of the other was virtually a struggle between popular rights
and sectarian suspicion and jealousy. While one party wanted the
education of the young directed for the good of the State, the other saw
little advantage to be gained unless it were associated with a
strengthening of the power of the church.

It is easy to see that with such conflicting interests at work the
results to the community as a whole were certain to be the reverse of

Another serious defect in the educational system of the period was that
its operations were not as far-reaching as it was necessary they should
be. The schools were confined to the large towns and principal centres
of population. The children of the inland districts, where the people
were few and scattered, were, in many instances, wholly without the
means of education.

Men taking up blocks of land under the new Land Law, and, with their
families, establishing permanent homes, saw their children growing up
ignorant even of the common rudiments of systematic knowledge, and
exposed to all the evils which want of education induces.

It was estimated in 1866 that fully 100,000 children under the age of
fourteen years were in the colony receiving no instruction whatever. The
population at the time stood at about 400,000, and the number of
uninstructed children represented, therefore, one-fourth of the
population. Government after Government had tried to remedy this, and
had not succeeded. Political exigencies, arising from party struggling,
had proved a serious obstacle, and, so far, all attempts to improve the
State school system had failed.

Mr. Parkes and his colleagues in the Ministry considered, as other
Governments had, that the time had arrived when a limit should be put to
the assistance given by the State to denominational schools. Mr. Parkes
himself had long given close attention to the subject. From the
circumstances of his own career, he could not but be deeply conscious
of the importance of an adequate system of popular instruction. As a
journalist he had seen the evils arising from the inefficiency of the
system in the colony, in those districts where schools and schoolmasters
were most needed. As a member of the Legislature he was familiar with
all that had been done to exchange the existing system for a better.

He knew of no higher duty before him or before Parliament than to devise
improved means of education, and extend them to every corner of the
land. Want of education led to crime. "If parents are not alive to
their own responsibility, and will allow their children to grow up
without any education," he argued, "we cannot be surprised if the fire
in their young blood finds a vent, or if, removed from the better
influences of society, they turn out offenders against law and swell the
roll of bushrangers." To prevent crime, the people must be enlightened.
Better have schoolmasters, he was fond of saying, than gaolers; better
schools than gaols.

Sentiments such as these were not likely to pass lightly across the
minds of a population scattered far and wide over many hundreds of
miles of wild bush. The evils of ignorance and crime were too apparent
around the infant settlements of the interior for men to shut their eyes
or close their ears to the advantages derivable from educational
improvement. Where the schoolmaster ought to have been, the highwayman
roamed; and the boy, whom education would have made a good and useful
citizen, was, in too many instances, instructed in little more than the
gain to be obtained by a career of robbery and murder.

It could not be for a moment doubted by anyone who knew the country,
said Mr. Parkes when moving the second reading of his great measure, if
education had been extended to the unfortunate young men who had during
the preceding few years suffered the extreme penalty of the law for
bushranging, they might have been still alive, enjoying liberty and
using that liberty well.

At the same time, no one than Mr. Parkes was more fully aware of the
difficulties in the way of improving the existing condition of things.
He fully recognised the important fact that the two great religious
bodies in the colony--the Anglican and the Roman Catholic Churches--were
leagued in a determination to resist to the uttermost all proposed
change. Yet, while conscious of the strength of these opposing parties,
he saw a way through their opposition, by which it appeared to him he
might, to a large extent, meet their prejudices and, at the same time,
secure most of the advantages obtainable from a greatly-improved and
well-arranged secular system.

As the time did not appear ripe, or the possibilities of success
sufficiently assured, for suddenly depriving the denominational schools
of all State support, the wisest course to take seemed to be the
adoption of a system which should be a fair compromise. The
denominational schools might still be maintained at the public expense,
but conditions must be introduced by which all aid from the State should
cease, if the standard of instruction fell below that in the purely
State schools, or the attendance of scholars became smaller than a fixed
number. Every encouragement that was justifiable should be given to the
denominational schools, and the conditions imposed upon them should be
no more than consistent with what was believed to be the desire of a
majority of the people,--that there should be one educational system of a
uniform standard maintained from the public funds. Schools showing that
standard should be assisted; schools below that standard should be
closed, or remain in operation at their own expense.

In this spirit the Public Schools Act was framed. Instead of having two
controlling boards it was proposed that there should be one, to be
called the Council of Education, no two members of which should be of
the same religious persuasion. Denominational schools might operate
wherever they were strong enough to do so; but to entitle them to the
public money they must show a certain attendance of children, a certain
efficiency of instruction, and be a certain distance from a public
school. Where the public school was sufficient to meet the educational
requirements of a locality, no assistance would be given to a
denominational school establishing itself in the vicinity. Religious
instruction in denominational schools would, in the main, not be
interfered with; but in all such schools receiving State aid the full
benefit of the secular education imparted in them must be afforded all
children applying for it without any compulsion upon them to receive
instruction in religious matters.

While, however, there was this apparent restriction upon religious
instruction in the denominational schools, there was a provision that
one hour a day might be set apart in the public schools for instruction
in religion. This also was not to be compulsory. The hour for religious
instruction would be occupied in that manner at the discretion of
clergymen voluntarily attending; and it was to be optional with the
children in the school whether they should attend the classes in
religion or remain at their secular studies.

In regard to the question of religious instruction the bill was very
cleverly drafted. It kept in view the desirableness of having as far as
possible only one kind of State-supported schools throughout the colony,
and aimed at bringing this about; but its provisions were framed so that
the desired change should be effected gradually and without harshness.
Denominational schools were doomed; but there was no wish to close them
arbitrarily, or in a manner to unduly irritate and create excitement.
Reasonable compromise was likely to be a much more effective weapon than
blunt force; and this was the prime feature of the measure. The bill
sought to improve the quality of the education imparted in the colony,
to extend it in all directions, and to have, as far as was justifiable,
only one class of schools; and in endeavouring to secure these great
advantages, the author of the measure, while not backward in paying
due respect to the feelings of denominationalists, did not lose sight of
the best interests of the whole community.

Mr. Parkes moved the second reading of the bill on the 12th September,
1866, in a speech which was a masterpiece of well chosen details,
telling argument, and eloquent language. The actual state of the
country, the necessities of the rising generation, and the duty upon
the Government to do something to extend, to those who did not now
possess them, the advantages of education, were the strong points of his
case; but he had carefully ascertained the condition of affairs with
regard to education in other countries, particularly those of Europe,
and this information greatly strengthened his position.

He was, he said, exceedingly anxious in addressing himself to the
question to temper his own opinion with the results of experience, and
to consider the opinions of others with every possible respect. The
disadvantages of the system in operation in the colony were that
education was unnecessarily expensive, inferior in quality, calculated
to engender jealousies and uncharitable feelings among the different
sections of society, and, in an alarming manner, limited in its supply.
These defects he earnestly desired to remove.

To him it was clear that the schools established to educate the
children of the colony should not be engaged in an unnatural
competition. If the Government undertook the great duty and
responsibility of educating the children, they should do it in a manner
to be effectual, both in teaching as many children as possible, and in
providing a quality of education as high as it could possibly be raised.
At the same time, the money available for the purpose should be so
economised, that a single shilling more than necessary should not be
spent in the work.

"It must be wrong," he contended, "nay, positively sinful, to spend a
single shilling unnecessarily upon educating 50,000 children so long as
other 50,000 children are destitute of education. It must be wrong to
administer the Parliamentary grants in a way that shall, in any respect,
interfere with the quality of education; and it must be wrong to
administer them in a way that shall in any degree interfere with the
extension of this education."

He did not seek to hide his opinion of the baneful effects upon
education, which sectarian interference produces. The reason for the
multiplicity of small inefficient schools was, he explained, the
contention amongst religious bodies to have schools of their own. "The
clergy of the various churches, in this as well as in the mother
country, are the most inveterate and the most powerful enemies that
popular education ever had."

How differently they might act, and with what good results, he was
equally plain in stating. "If, in a locality," he said, "where there is
only a sufficient number of children to form one good school, they would
exercise in a proper spirit that Christian charity which ought to be the
chief feature of their religion, and consent to their children being
educated side by side, extravagance would be avoided, and the means of
education would be extended to a number of other children who, whilst
ministers of religion are cavilling over a division of the spoils, are
left to moral destitution--to the gaols, and, unfortunately, sometimes
to the gallows."

He was inclined to consult the interests of the great denominations,
even, to some extent, to consult their prejudices; but he was
determined to put an end to all that stood in the way of the desired
reform. With this resolve, the Government had framed the bill so that
the difficulty should be met in the most practical manner they could

The soul of the bill, as Mr. Parkes described it, was in the clauses
which made provision for the establishment of a public school in any
locality where, after due inquiry, the Council of Education was
satisfied there were at least twenty-five children who would regularly
attend such school, and for the establishment of denominational schools
in all cases where children enough could be found to fill them; the
Government giving full permission for the teaching of religion in the
denominational schools, and only insisting on the number of children and
that the standard of secular education taught should be as high as in
the other schools.

A new proposal in the bill was a provision for the appointment of
itinerant teachers in districts where, from the scattered condition of
the population, or from other causes, it was not practicable to
establish a public school; and the great benefit this has been to many
families in the far interior is well known to all who have had any
acquaintance with provisional or half-time schools.

"To save the children and make them useful members of society" was the
grand feature of the speech from the beginning to the close; and the
close was an unusually fine burst of eloquence.

"This cause," said Mr. Parkes, "cannot suffer from the feebleness of my
appeal. The voices of a hundred thousand children appeal to you, and
implore you not to allow any secondary consideration to impair your
generous exercise of power in saving them from neglect and ignorance. By
what you do now you may render a service that will be felt hereafter in
the aspirations of a hundred thousand human lives--of that unknown
multitude arising in our midst who have yet to employ their faculties in
moving the machinery of society, and who, for good or evil, must connect
the present with the future. They will come after us, in the field and
in the workshop, in the school and in the church, on the judgment seat
and within these walls--a mighty wave of intelligence that must receive
its temper from you, but whose force you will not be here to control. I
leave with you this question, so pregnant with social consequences,
relying on your enlightened patriotism to approach it in a temperate
spirit, to consider it dispassionately, and to arrive at a decision upon
it which shall inspire the people with renewed confidence in the wisdom
and integrity of Parliament."

The debate extended over five nights; and the division list showed the
House to be in favour of the bill by nearly three to one.

It was generally understood, after Mr. Parkes' speech, that the measure
was safe, and certain to be passed by a substantial majority. Its chief
opponents were men of extreme denominational tendencies, and some of
them were not slow to bitterly denounce the measure and its author.

Mr. Macpherson, who followed Mr. Parkes in the debate, had struggled
desperately, only a short time before, by a resolution, and by a
judicious canvas and banqueting of members, to reestablish the system,
previously in force, of State aid to religion. In that attempt he had
failed completely; but, conceiving that the rejection of this bill would
at least be beneficial to the State-aid principle, by keeping within the
grasp of the churches the power they exercised over a large proportion
of the schools, he opposed the measure vehemently. In the bill as
introduced, it was proposed that the Council of Education should consist
of five persons, with the Colonial Secretary, for the time being, as
ex-officio President. To Mr. Macpherson, this proposal to place the
Colonial Secretary at the head of the Council was to make him "the Pope
of education, with five Cardinals under him". Another member, equally
rabid in his opposition, characterised the bill as a monstrous measure,
one that sought "to remove the Deity out of his place."

But while the bill had some bitter opponents, it had also some powerful
friends. Dr. Lang came to its support with the strength of an
intellectual giant. To his mind, it was a great and important step in
the advancement of the colony, likely to introduce a new era in colonial
history, and to promote in a much higher degree the intellectual, moral,
and religious welfare of the community.

Outside Parliament, the struggle between the supporters and the
opponents of the bill was marked with much vigour, and not a little

The two leading religious organizations in the colony joined in a common
onslaught upon the measure. Each denounced it from the pulpit, and
pulpit denunciations were followed, or accompanied, by pastorals or
addresses which were published far and wide.

The Bishop of Sydney (Dr. Barker) described the bill as "one to
extinguish the denominational system", except in a few of the largest
towns, and as destructive of religious instruction.

The Roman Catholic Archbishop and his clergy regarded it as something
that would "destroy the principles of religion and morality in the
public schools of the colony", and merited the severest condemnation. A
pastoral on the subject, issued by the Archbishop, was printed and
circulated for "the guidance and encouragement" of Roman Catholics "in
the present emergency, when the Public Schools' Bill, now before the
Legislative Assembly, again threatens to deprive us of one of the
dearest portions of our liberty."

Not content with attacking the bill on religious grounds, the extreme
denominationalists declared that it would largely and unduly increase
the power of the Colonial Secretary, and greatly swell the public
expenditure without adequate cause. These charges, joined with that
which declared the bill to be, in some of its provisions, destructive of
religion in the community, formed a serious indictment.

But the very nature of this indictment was sufficient to prevent it from
having any important effect in the direction intended by those who made
it. Reduced to the necessity of seizing upon any pretext likely to
support their position, the opponents of the bill went too far.

Those of the public, who thought for themselves, could see there was
very little in the charges when they came to be examined. Religious
instruction in the schools was not abolished; the arrangements
connected with it were merely altered. The power of the Colonial
Secretary, instead of being improperly extended, was simply enlarged,
so that he might sit as the official head of the body who were to
administer the Act; and that this was not regarded as an essential
feature of the bill, was afterwards seen in the fact that it was
omitted. As to the increase in the public expenditure, the great
majority of the people were of Mr. Parkes' opinion,--that it was better
to spend money in providing schools than in building gaols, and upon
schoolmasters than upon gaolers. Public money spent in educating the
children of the colony under one well-arranged system was public money
well spent, whatever the sum might be. So most people thought.

But the denominationalists laboured on; continuing the fight during the
whole time the bill was before Parliament.

Among their proceedings was the presentation to Parliament of a large
number of petitions. Many names were attached to these documents; but
neither these nor the documents attracted much attention. What was
generally regarded as the most significant thing about them was the
manner in which the names had been obtained. Numbers of them were said
to have been collected at church doors, and under inflammatory harangues
from the pulpits. It was scarcely probable they would influence in the
direction desired, to any appreciable extent, the minds of those who
were bent upon dealing with the bill in the public interest.

The numbers in the division upon the motion for the second reading were
36 to 14; and, among those who voted with the ayes, were Dr. Lang,
William Forster, John Robertson, Saul Samuel, and John Stewart. In
committee the bill was subjected to close examination and criticism; but
it stood the ordeal well, and emerged slightly amended though in no
respect with its principal features altered. One of the amendments, and
perhaps a desirable one, was the omission of the proviso that no two of
the five members of the Council of Education should be of the same
religious persuasion.

A final effort against the measure was made by denominationalists in the
Legislative Council. On the motion for the second reading, Mr. Plunkett
moved that the bill be referred to a select committee, who should
inquire into and report on the state of education in the colony, on the
alleged defects in the system in operation, and on the causes and
remedies thereof; and a week was spent before the House came to a
decision in the matter.

The amendment was rejected by 22 votes to 3, and the bill was then read
the second time. Some rather important amendments were introduced in
committee; and these, when the bill was returned to the Assembly,
threatened for a time something like a deadlock between the two Houses.
Eventually an amicable arrangement was arrived at; and the bill was
assented to by the Governor, and became law on 21st December, a little
more than three months after the date of its introduction.

Very soon afterwards Mr. Parkes commenced, and continued at intervals,
through several years, what may be said to have been a unique proceeding
in relation to an Act of Parliament. He began educating the people
respecting the principles and provisions of the great measure which had
been passed.

The course observed in the introduction and passing of a bill through
Parliament is rendered so tortuous by conflicting opinions, mystifying
speeches, and party scheming, and the newspaper reports of the debates
are often so abridged, that, in many cases, it is not easy for the
ordinary citizen to properly comprehend what is adopted and what

Mr. Parkes set himself to the task of explaining to the people what the
provisions and the advantages of the new law really were. He took to
travelling in the country; and, wherever he travelled, some opportunity
presented itself, of which he could take advantage, for speaking on the
new educational system. Sometimes the opportunity was offered by a
public dinner given to him. At other times it was presented through an
invitation to open a new public school. Occasionally he was in the
position of being obliged to deliver a political speech on matters
generally. But wherever ha was, or whatever might be the circumstances
under which he was called upon to speak, he never failed to do his
utmost to instruct the general public respecting the provisions and the
operation of the new law.

The consequence was that the Public Schools Act which, under ordinary
conditions, might, like most measures passed by Parliament, have been
placed among the statutes of the colony and speedily forgotten, became
the best known of the laws of the country, and the most popular. An
appeal to the people by its author, based upon the great privileges it
conferred, never failed since then to excite their minds and arouse
their enthusiasm. Frequently it influenced, at critical times, debates
and divisions in Parliament. It won many elections. It gave Mr. Parkes
an impregnable position in public esteem.

The enemies of the Act did not, with its passing, cease their hostility
to it. Efforts of various kinds were made to render it unpopular, or to
hamper its operation. In many instances, pressure was brought to bear on
parents to prevent them from sending their children to the public

But, in spite of all opposition, the schools rapidly increased in
number; the attendance of children grew with the growth of the schools;
and the quality of the instruction imparted showed great improvement.

The Council of Education, well chosen in its _personnel_, worked with
energy and wisdom. Mr. Parkes was its President. No man, it was
considered, could understand the Act better than he; no one was more
capable of administering it. On those grounds, and as a compliment in
respect of the valuable services he had rendered the cause of education,
he was offered, and he accepted, the most influential position on this
important Board. His colleagues were Mr. George Allen, a Member of the
Legislative Council; Mr. William Munnings Arnold, the Speaker of the
Legislative Assembly; Mr. James Martin, the Attorney-General and
Premier; and Professor John Smith, of Sydney University. They were well
fitted for the important work of bringing the Act into operation, and
conducting it through its initial difficulties. Well known men, in whom
the public had confidence, they were firm without being violent; not
likely to be set aside from their duty by any consideration whatever,
they were at the same time anxious to administer the Act with as little
harshness to its opponents as possible.

The Council of Education had very large powers. It was the sole
authority in the expenditure of all sums of money appropriated by
Parliament for elementary instruction. It established and maintained
all public schools, and granted aid to the denominational schools. It
appointed all teachers and school inspectors. It had the power to frame
regulations, which had the force of law unless disallowed by express
resolution of both Houses of the Legislature. In this way it was able to
make good any omission, to repair any defect in the Act, as between what
the Legislature actually passed and what it desired to pass but
unintentionally overlooked. In other words, without altering the
provisions of the Act as passed by Parliament, the Council was able, by
framing regulations, to make the Act fully effective.

Perhaps its most important duty was the choice, training, and
classification of teachers; and of this Mr. Parkes entertained a very
strong and very proper opinion. Having the requisite number of children
in the locality to justify the establishment of a school, the first
necessity was a competent teacher.

In Mr. Parkes' view, no person should be appointed to the position of
teacher simply because he or she was a protégé of a minister of
religion, or was unable to earn a living in any other walk of life.
Furthermore, he was well aware that men might be accomplished scholars,
and yet quite unfit to teach little children. They might be highly
educated, he once pointed out, and yet have none of "that aptitude,
that patient power of control, that peculiar sense of responsibility to
parents and to society, which are necessary in the management of
children. They may know nothing of the varying forms of development of
the human mind: and, without some knowledge of the capacity of the mind
to receive instruction, no man or woman can teach little children."

It was the duty of the Council of Education to teach the accepted
candidates for the position of teacher the art of teaching; and, having
gone through the prescribed training, course they were classified not
merely upon their ordinary educational attainments but upon their skill
in teaching. This has been of enormous benefit to the educational
system of the colony from the time of the passing of the Public Schools
Act until now. It has brought into existence in the community an army of
teachers, who in natural fitness for their duties, in educational
accomplishments, and in technical skill, compare favourably with any
teaching body in the world. It has spread throughout the country a high
standard of education which has elevated family life, purified our
criminal records, and is fast filling our pulpits, platforms, and
Legislative Chambers with well-instructed, earnest, thoughtful men.

Ignorance is one of the parents of evil. The system of State education
which the colony has enjoyed for now more than a quarter of a century,
has shown forcibly that knowledge is powerful for good. In view of the
great natural resources of New South Wales, it would not be correct to
say that without the Public Schools Act, or, as it is now, with some
amendments, called, the Public Instruction Act, the colony would not
have advanced as it has done during the last thirty years; but it is
undeniable that the operation of this beneficent measure has greatly
assisted its progress, and will continue to do so for all time.


IN January, 1868, His Royal Highness, the Duke of Edinburgh, visited
Sydney, and on 12th March an attempt was made at Clontarf, a favourite
harbour resort, by an Irishman named O'Farrell, to assassinate him. The
Prince, shot at from behind, was severely wounded; and for, some days,
lay in a critical condition.

Public sympathy for His Royal Highness was expressed by all classes of
the people; and the indignation felt at the dastardly attack aroused a
remarkable outburst of loyalty.

The community was greatly excited. The crime being attributed to
Fenianism, all sorts of rumours were abroad. Disquieting statements,
some having a little truth in them, and others wholly false, produced a
condition of feeling, which, for a time, had a very disturbing effect
throughout the colony. Business was almost at a standstill, and fears of
further outrage were deep and widespread. People flocked to public
meetings to express their loyalty to the Throne, and vied with one
another in their condemnation of the act which had not only sought the
life of a member of the Royal Family, but threatened the peace and
safety of society.

Parliament, also excited and indignant, adopted loyal addresses; and, at
the instance of the Government, passed through all its stages in both
Houses, in one day, a "Bill for the better security of the Crown and
Government of the United Kingdom, and for the better suppression and
punishment of seditious practices and attempts",--more generally known
as the "Treason Felony Act".

This Act, assented to by the Governor, the Earl of Belmore, the day
following that upon which it was passed, was of an exceedingly stringent
character. It contained ten clauses, several of them making the law in
the colony relating to treason identical with the law in England, but,
among the remainder, two or three which provided severe penalties for
proceedings, unknown in New South Wales up to that time, as punishable
offences. Any person using language disrespectful to the Queen, or
factiously avowing a determination not to join in any loyal toast or
demonstration in honour of Her Majesty, or who expressed sympathy with
or approval of any offence under the Act, might be apprehended by any
constable without a warrant, and, on conviction, imprisoned, with or
without hard labour, for any period not exceeding two years. In like
manner, any person responsible for the publication of language which
might be construed as an offence of this nature, was liable to
imprisonment for three years. Extraordinary powers were also given by
one of the provisions of the Act for entering any suspected house and
searching for persons, papers, or arms.

For a time the community seemed to have lost its head. A few cautious
persons gravely protested against legislating in a panic, and pointed
out the dangers to which, under a law of this character, many innocent
and loyal people would be exposed; but they were scarcely listened to.
The circumstances, it was held, were more than justification for what
was proposed. O'Farrell had declared himself a Fenian, chosen by an
organized Fenian body to take the life of the Duke of Edinburgh; and
information had been received by the Government, which led them to
believe that some of O'Farrell's accomplices were still in the colony.
In this condition of things, no measures were regarded as too severe
for the suppression of treasonable practices; and, in the excitement of
the moment, sober-minded and thoughtful people accepted with
acclamation, what in calmer moods, they would have scouted with

The Treason Felony Act probably did some good by frightening evil-minded
persons from openly doing anything to increase the public excitement;
but it was not long before it came to be regarded with disfavour by many
of those who had welcomed its appearance; and very little
dissatisfaction was expressed when, at the end of two years, the worst
of its provisions ceased to be operative.

In some of the proceedings of this remarkable period of New South Wales
history are to be found circumstances which at intervals, for many years
afterwards, were made the ground work, inside and outside Parliament, for
virulently attacking and denouncing Mr. Parkes. Not, in fact, until
those who sat as members in the Parliament of 1868 had disappeared from
the arena of politics by death or retirement, and a new generation had
made its appearance, did these attacks materially weaken or the
denunciation cease.

As Colonial Secretary Mr. Parkes was at the head of the police; and it
consequently fell to his lot to be acquainted with everything relating
to the attempted assassination of the Duke of Edinburgh. No other
minister of the Crown, nor any public official, was in so good a
position for knowing the whole of the circumstances connected with the

About the middle of 1868, after the Prince had recovered and left the
colony, and O'Farrell had been executed, Mr. Parkes visited his
constituents at Kiama; and, in the course of a speech he delivered
there, he said "that he held in his possession, and could produce at
any moment, evidence attested by affidavits, which left on his mind the
conviction that, not only was the assassination of the Duke of Edinburgh
planned, but that someone who had a guilty knowledge of the secret, and
whose fidelity was suspected, had been foully murdered." And this
evidence, he declared, would carry the same conviction to the mind of
any impartial person.

These statements created a sensation. Some persons professed to doubt
their truth; most people believed them. Later on, they were nicknamed by
some of Mr. Parkes' political opponents, "The Kiama Mystery", and, by
others, "The Kiama Ghost".

In the beginning of 1869, the statements at Kiama formed the subject of
an inquiry by a select committee of the Legislative Assembly. A short
time previously, Mr. Parkes had retired from the Government, in
consequence of a disagreement with his colleagues respecting the censure
and dismissal of a high public officer; and the Martin Government had
given place to one under Mr. Robertson. Mr. Parkes was chosen by the
Opposition to move a motion of want of confidence in the new
Government, and, immediately this became apparent, the statements at
Kiama were seized upon and used against him with great bitterness.
Parliament met on 8th December, 1868, and on the same day, Mr. Parkes
gave notice of his want of confidence motion. On the following day the
motion was proposed, and the debate, which was protracted over twelve
days, did not end until 22nd December.

During one of the intervals in the proceedings, and in the course of a
series of tactics by the party supporting the Government, resorted to
with the object of discrediting the Member for Kiama, and so bringing
about the defeat of his motion, the select committee was appointed. It
was appointed at the instance of Mr. Macleay, and it was "to inquire
into, and report upon, the existence of a conspiracy for purposes of
treason and assassination, alleged by a former Colonial Secretary to
have existed in this country, and to receive all evidence that may be
tendered or obtained concerning a murder alleged by the same person to
have been perpetrated by one or more of such conspirators, the victim of
which murder is stated to be unknown to the police."

The select committee was a somewhat remarkable one, and has a curious
history in the legislative annals of the colony. It reported dead
against Mr. Parkes, declaring that there was no evidence to support the
statements he had made before his constituents at Kiama; and requested
that its conclusions might be forwarded to the Secretary of State for
the Colonies. The report was adopted by the committee, on the vote of
Mr. Macleay as Chairman, the numbers in the division being equal, and
three of those voting for the adoption of the report being Ministers.
Mr. Parkes, when the report came before the Assembly, secured its
rejection, and had it expunged from the records.

The conclusions of the committee, as stated in their report were as

"(1.) That there is no evidence to warrant the belief that the
   Government was aware of any plot or intention to assassinate His Royal
   Highness, the Duke of Edinburgh, before his arrival in this country, or
   at any time previous to the attempt upon his life.

(2.) That it does not appear that any extraordinary precautions were
   taken for the preservation of the life of His Royal Highness, either on
   the occasion of his landing, or at any period during his stay in this
   country, up to the moment of his attempted assassination.

(3.) That there is no evidence to warrant the belief that the crime of
   O'Farrell, who attempted to murder the Duke of Edinburgh, was the
   result of any conspiracy or organization existing in this country, or,
   as far as the Government had or have any knowledge, the result of a
   conspiracy or organization existing elsewhere.

(4.) That there is no evidence whatever of the murder of any supposed
   confederate in the alleged plot.

(5.) That the foregoing resolutions be embodied in an Address to the
   Governor, with a request that His Excellency will forward the same to
   Her Majesty's Secretary of State for the Colonies."

Mr. Parkes induced the House by a substantial majority to set the
resolutions of the committee aside, and to adopt the following:-

"(1.) That the report of the select committee, appointed on the 15th
   December, 1868, to inquire into the existence of a conspiracy for
   purposes of treason and assassination, presented by the chairman on the
   3rd inst., contains numerous statements and inferences not warranted by
   the evidence, and is made an instrument of personal hostility against a
   member of this House, in disregard of the authorised objects of the
   inquiry, and manifestly for party purposes.

(2.) That the evidence shows that several principal officers of the
   Government,--who from their official position and experience, were best
   qualified to form a correct judgment of the occurrences, and the state
   of public feeling during the time of excitement, previous and subsequent
   to the attempt to assassinate the Duke of Edinburgh,--were and are still
   of opinion, that meetings of seditious persons were held in the colony;
   that the criminal O'Farrell was not alone and unaided in his attack upon
   the life of His Royal Highness; and that persons openly sympathised with
   the attempted assassination.

(3) That the evidence shows that rumours of intended violence towards
   His Royal Highness, more or less definite, were in circulation before
   the 12th March, 1868; and that some such rumours have proceeded from
   sources unknown to the Government at the time, and that, therefore, they
   supply independent evidence in support of the statements of the
   official witnesses.

(4) That the important results of the inquiry set forth in the preceding
   second and third resolutions, and also other matters of serious moment,
   which ought to have been faithfully represented to this House, have been
   either set aside altogether, or improperly and prejudicially dealt with
   in the report.

(5.) That this House expresses its disapprobation of the said report,
   and directs that it be expunged from the proceedings of the select

The opinion of the majority of the members of the Legislative Assembly,
at the time Mr. Parkes secured this signal triumph over his political
foes, may be said to be the general opinion now. A quarter of a century
has passed since the attempt upon the life of the Prince, and it is not
now difficult to so calmly and carefully consider the evidence relating
to O'Farrell's crime and its surroundings, as to arrive at a just
conclusion. Few persons, now living, who remember the incidents of the
attempted assassination, the magisterial inquiry, and the trial of the
prisoner, are disposed to deny that there was much more evidence to
support Mr. Parkes' statements, than there was to justify the
conclusions of the select committee.

The statements of O'Farrell were themselves sufficient to show this. He
was not insane, and he repeatedly declared that the crime he had
committed was the outcome of action on the part of a disloyal
organization who had allotted the duty to him. The first shot from his
revolver took effect in the Prince's back; and his intention was to fire
a second shot at the Prince as he lay on the ground, and then kill
himself. This he stated at the magisterial inquiry held soon after his
arrest. On the same occasion, in answer to a question from the
magistrate he said:--"I have nothing to say but that the task of
executing the Duke was sent out and allotted to me." Asked by the Crown
Solicitor to repeat this, he answered again,--"the task of executing the
Prince was sent out to me; but I failed, and I am not very sorry that I
did fail." "Everybody", it was remarked at one of the public meetings
held at the time, "instinctively guessed the source of the treason."
"I am sorry I missed my aim," O'Farrell remarked to a police-sergeant on
the way to Darlinghurst Gaol. "I don't care for death. I am a Fenian.
God save Ireland."

The _Herald_ argued that there could be little doubt that Dublin being the
headquarters of the Fenian conspiracy, it must have been from Dublin
that "the task", as O'Farrell termed it, was sent out, if it were sent
out at all. That was where the plot was originally hatched, and the head
central organization there was responsible for the crime. But it was
exceedingly improbable that O'Farrell himself was nominated in Dublin.
He could not be sufficiently well-known to be trusted by the rebel
authorities there. The story of his life showed that he had spent only a
small portion of his existence in Ireland, and that he had for a long
period been a resident of Victoria. If, therefore, "the task" were sent
out from Ireland it must have been sent to some branch Fenian
organization in Australia--probably in Victoria.

This inference may have been correct. At least it appears, from the
evidence, certain that, for some time, the possible assassination of the
Prince was a matter of rumour in New South Wales, and was made known to
the police in Sydney. The period was one in which Fenianism in Ireland
and America was active, and in its far-reaching operations there was
nothing very surprising in the sending of a mandate to one or more of
its emissaries in Australia.

Undoubtedly Fenian sentiments were entertained by people in New South
Wales. A witness before the select committee described a number of
Fenian meetings at which he had been present. In the year 1867, while
living at Shoalhaven, he began to attend meetings of the Irish settlers
in the neighbourhood. These meetings were partly social and partly
political. "The young people indulged in dancing whilst the old people
talked politics and treason." The arrival of the mail with the latest
Irish newspapers was always the signal for one of these gatherings. On
one occasion, after some derogatory remarks concerning the Royal family,
this witness was asked by one of those present what he should think if
he should hear of His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh being shot.
Laughing at the idea, he inquired if it were thought anybody would be so
foolish or so madbrained as to do it. "Oh," was the reply, "some one
will be found that will do it." That it was "no sin to put anyone to
death who stood in the way of the purposes of Fenianism" was an
observation often made. "It had been frequently said," this witness
stated in his evidence, "that they did not consider it any sin to
exterminate any person whatever that stood in the way of those who were
standing up for the rights of old Ireland. They said the Royal family
were in the way, and would soon be exterminated."

A landholder at Penrith heard a neighbour, on the occasion of a visit to
that town by the Duke of Edinburgh, say, in allusion to the Prince,
"It's all very well now; he is joyous enough now with the red flag waving
over him, but the black flag will wave over his corpse before he leaves
the country."

Irish disaffection has never been fortunate; and one of the misfortunes
invariably attending it, has been that disclosures from some one not
loyal to the cause have enabled the authorities to put in force
effective precautionary measures. It was so in the course of the Fenian
movement in Ireland. It was equally so in these ebullitions of
disloyalty in New South Wales. The Government were fairly well informed
of what was going on. Their information was not as minute as was
desirable, but it was more than sufficient to put them on the alert. Mr.
Martin, when moving the suspension of the standing orders to allow of
the rapid passing of the Treason Felony Act, told the Legislative
Assembly, that a great quantity of information had been placed before
the Government tending to show that there were persons in the colony
engaged in a conspiracy against the British Crown. "There are persons
here," he said, "agents of persons in other parts of the world, and in
correspondence with societies who have entered into a conspiracy against
the British Crown. We have been informed that these persons have their
places of meeting where there are, no doubt, papers connected with the
conspiracy or where such papers are supposed to exist."

No arrests were made as a result of this information, nor were any
important documents discovered and secured; but that does not prove the
information supplied to the Government to have been unreliable. The
passing of the Treason Felony Act in a country like New South Wales was
similar to the suspension of the _Habeas Corpus_ Act in a country like
Ireland. Under it, the liberty of no man could be said to be absolutely
safe. Arrest and imprisonment might take place upon the mere surmise of
a justifiable reason. One important effect from the passing of such a
law would therefore be that disloyal meetings would cease. Compromising
documents would be destroyed. Bands of conspirators would disperse. The
speed at which the Treason Felony Act was passed through the New South
Wales Parliament and made law, was within a few hours that at which the
House of Commons, in 1866, two years before, suspended the _Habeas
Corpus_ Act in Ireland. The object of the two Parliaments was the same;
the results were similar.

It was said that the attempted assassination of the Duke of Edinburgh
was an act of revenge for the execution of the Manchester Fenians. We
know that the hanging of those men gave an additional impulse to
Fenianism. The execution took place on November 23rd, 1867. The shooting
of the Prince occurred on March 12th, 1868. The despatch of instructions
from the Fenian head quarters in Ireland immediately after the execution
at Manchester, would be a very natural proceeding. It was known that
the Duke of Edinburgh intended to visit Australia, and a more effective
reply to what, not only the Fenian brotherhood, but many loyal
Englishmen regarded as excessive punishment, than the taking of the life
of a son of the Queen, could not have appeared to the minds of the
Fenian leaders.

Two days after the attempted murder of the Prince, the warder of
Darlinghurst gaol specially charged with the care of the prisoner
O'Farrell, reported that, in the course of conversation, the prisoner
had remarked that, the Queen had very little feeling or compassion for
the Manchester Fenians, who had been wrongfully executed. But the day
before this, and the day following the shooting of the Prince, O'Farrell
stated to the Chief Warder of the Gaol, that immediately after the news
arrived in Australia of the Manchester executions, "a Fenian body was
organized in Melbourne, composed of some Ballarat men, under the
leadership of a person who came out from England for that purpose, when
it was agreed upon that Prince Alfred was to be shot. They came over
here (Sydney), and recruited their ranks some two dozen, but losing
confidence in some of their members, the band was reduced to ten, who
drew lots to whose part it should fall to assassinate the Prince and the
Earl of Belmore."

Lord Belmore appears to have escaped by becoming patron of St. Patrick's
Regatta, at that time an annual celebration in Sydney Harbour.
Immediately after the determination to murder the Prince and the Earl,
Lord Belmore became, O'Farrell explained, "the patron of some society
that was favourable to them, or they were favourable to it". Lots were
again drawn, to know who was to shoot the Prince, only, and the lot fell
to O'Farrell.

Some days after these statements by the prisoner he was seen by Mr.
Parkes, in his capacity of Colonial Secretary. O'Farrell conversed
freely, and the details of the conversation were recorded by a shorthand
writer. Much that the prisoner said confirmed the view which had been
taken of his crime and its cause; but, ultimately, he sought to withdraw
his statements concerning the existence of an organized conspiracy which
had directed him to the committal of the crime, and to take the blame
for what he had done solely upon himself.

The strongest evidence in support of the statement that the Government
had been, warned, and believed that an attack might be made upon the
Prince, is to be seen in the precautions taken to protect him. Special
constables were sworn in before his arrival. Two troopers were specially
directed to ride abreast of him. The officer at the head of the police,
when giving these men the order as to their duty, remarked to them, that
if the Prince was fired at, they would receive the shot. How necessary
some such protection was came to light after O'Farrell's arrest. It then
became known that his first intention had been to shoot the Prince on
the occasion of his official landing. Hiring a room from which he could
view, within easy distance, the procession from the landing place, he
managed to convey a loaded gun there. This gun he actually levelled at
the Prince, but did not fire because he found it impossible not to risk
shooting one or other of the two protecting troopers.

In defending himself from the aspersions contained in the select
committee's report, Mr. Parkes closed a carefully considered and
effective speech with some impressive sentences.

"I shall content myself", he said, "with nothing less than is set forth
in my resolutions. I will not submit to having a report, so dishonest
and so scandalous as I have shown this to be, still remaining among the
records, to be unfairly quoted at any moment by persons whose
capabilities of unfairness we have so often witnessed--to be made a
handle of in a nefarious way at the general election, when it is
desirable that the verdict of the constituencies should be honestly
taken. I take my stand upon this ground,--that I am above reproach in
this matter; that the committee, with all its malignity and ingenuity,
have failed to substantiate a charge against me; and that the charges
recoil upon themselves by the unanswerable testimony I have adduced
before the House. The laws of honourable feeling are against the authors
of this report. The law of God declares 'Thou shalt not bear false
witness against thy neighbour'; and I will not submit to that which
will stamp our proceedings with disgrace, and which, if I submit to it,
may at some future time fall upon the head of a worthier man."

The conclusion of the speech was followed by a burst of cheering from
most of the members of the House; and, on the passing of Mr. Parkes'
resolutions, three cheers were given with enthusiasm for Her Majesty
the Queen. The occupants of the Strangers' Gallery, which was crowded,
joined with members in this extraordinary demonstration by waving hats
and handkerchiefs; and, outside the House, received Mr. Parkes with
many demonstrations of approval. The honourable member for Kiama, in
this matter, undoubtedly had the support of the general public.


LESS than a month after he had made to his constituents his famous
"Kiama Mystery" speech, Mr. Parkes resigned his office of Colonial
Secretary. This he did in consequence of the Cabinet, at the instance of
the Colonial Treasurer (Mr. Eagar), dismissing Mr. W. A. Duncan from
his position of Collector of Customs, and making such arrangements to
fill his place as did not meet with Mr. Parkes' approval.

Parliament, at the time, was in recess. A quantity of goods imported by
a Sydney tradesman had been seized, by the order of the Collector of
Customs, on the ground that the nature of the packages having been
improperly described the goods were under-valued, and an attempt was
made to defraud the Customs revenue.

Regarding the case as one requiring severe treatment the Collector,
having seized the goods, recommended their confiscation and the
imposition of a heavy fine on the importer. To this the approval of the
Colonial Treasurer was not given. Mr. Eagar, after representations had
been made to him by the importer, was of opinion that, as far as the
importer was concerned, there had been no attempt at fraud; and he
directed that the seizure be cancelled and the goods restored. Payment
of the amount of duty, calculated on the proper value of the goods, he
considered sufficient to meet the ends of justice. The Collector
refused to deliver up the goods. He considered the course he had taken
to be that not only authorised but directed under the law, and deemed it
his duty to abide by the law rather than obey the order of the Colonial

A repetition of the order from Mr. Eagar had no more effect than the
first. Firm in the belief that the law directed the seizure, and that
this was superior to any mandate of a Minister, the Collector was
obdurate. Angry correspondence took place; and Mr. Duncan wrote a minute
which Mr. Eagar viewed as a gross act of insubordination and disrespect
to him as the Minister having the control of the Customs Department. He
directed the suspension of Mr. Duncan; and took steps to bring the
matter before the Cabinet. Mr. Duncan refused to be suspended. He
declared that it was not in the power of the Colonial Treasurer to
suspend him; that such a suspension could only be ordered by the
Governor and the Executive Council. Mr. Eagar, knowing more than Mr.
Duncan appeared to know of the power of a Minister of the Crown over the
Department of which he is the official head, insisted on the suspension,
and threatened to resort to police assistance to eject Mr. Duncan from
his office. This proved effectual.

The threatened forcible ejection induced Mr. Duncan to leave the Custom
House; and he immediately forwarded a statement of his case to Mr.
Parkes. With Mr. Parkes he had been on terms of close friendship for
many years. The intimacy had commenced in Mr. Parkes' struggling days,
when occasional poems, afterwards published in the volume "Stolen
Moments", were admitted by Mr. Duncan into the columns of the _Australian
Chronicle_; and it had grown to firmly rooted feelings of esteem. Mr.
Duncan thought he could count upon Mr. Parkes' friendship as a weapon
against Mr. Eagar. He asked Mr. Parkes, as Colonial Secretary, to
interfere with what he considered the inconsiderate conduct of the

Mr. Parkes sympathised with Mr. Duncan, but disapproved of what he had
done. Refusing to interfere, he pointed out that it was not possible for
him to do so. He wrote to Mr. Duncan two letters, of interest to
everybody who may care to clearly understand the position and power of a
Minister of the Crown under Responsible Government.

"As I explained to you on Saturday (the letter stated) it is quite
impossible for me to interfere in the case represented by the papers
which you sent to my office. I and Mr. Eagar stand upon an equal footing
as members of the Government, and I should simply put myself in a false
position by presuming to interfere in the Department of the Public
Service under his Ministerial control. A Minister is responsible to
Parliament alone for his management; and _his_ judgment must guide, and
his decision be final, so far as those who serve the Government are

A few days afterwards he wrote again, regretting that it was not in his
power to serve Mr. Duncan in his difficulty, and saying, that he did not
see Mr. Duncan's way out of it.

"I wrote to you last Monday" (the letter went on) "from a sincere
desire to point out to you, so far as I might presume to remind you of
what you should know quite as well as myself, that _Government must
govern_, and that it is not for the _servants of the Government_,
whatever their rank, to dictate the course of action which should be
pursued by those, who for the time being, represent and hold the powers
of the Constitution. It has often appeared to me that the public
servants in this colony have failed to comprehend the full force of the
change that has taken place in the management of our affairs--that all
power of local government has been transferred to the responsible
Ministers of our own Legislature. As one of those Ministers responsible
to Parliament alone, the Colonial Treasurer, in dealing with the
Department placed under his control, acts with the whole weight and
authority of Government. It is this Minister, thus constitutionally
clothed with authority, whom you have disobeyed, treated with contempt,
accused of illegal conduct, and threatened with correction from his
colleagues in power. . . . I repeat all I said to you, when I last saw
you, of my sincere respect for your personal character and attainments;
but if I had received the minute which you sent to the Colonial
Treasurer, I should have suspended you instantly, and I am quite sure
Mr. Martin would have done the same. Under any circumstances, in such a
case as the present, I should consider it my duty to support my
colleagues in the Government, or retire from office. In these particular
proceedings I am convinced that you are entirely in the wrong, and that
the Treasurer had no other course open to him, consistent with the
respect which is due to his office, than the one he has taken."

Up to this time, the relations between Mr. Parkes and Mr. Eagar were
most cordial. Mr. Eagar had informed Mr. Parkes of the circumstances of
the Duncan case, and consulted him in the matter. The two Ministers were
thoroughly in accord as to the insubordination of the Collector, and the
necessity for adequate punishment.

But, after his suspension, Mr. Duncan retracted and apologised; and
this, in Mr. Parkes' opinion, gave to the matter a new and important
aspect. He thought the Treasurer might, without loss of dignity, accept
the apology, and restore Mr. Duncan to his position. Mr. Martin thought
so too. Other members of the Cabinet, and also the Governor, were of a
similar opinion. Mr. Parkes, in the desire to lay this view before the
Treasurer, wrote to Mr. Eagar the following private note:-

"My dear Mr. Eagar,

I called to see you yesterday morning, but you were not at the moment at
the Treasury. Mr. Duncan has sent in an unconditional apology, and Lord
Belmore has written a long private note to me on this matter, in which
he refers to a similar case at home. I think you would probably like to
see what is said on this point.

My object, however, in writing this note is to offer you _my opinion_
simply as _mine_. You have gained everything in compelling Duncan to
acknowledge that you have been right and he wrong. You are in the
highest position that any man in power can occupy, when you can afford
to be magnanimous, and refrain from punishing where you have the power
to punish and where punishment has been deserved. Your position is even
still better--you can save a man from ruin, where no consideration at
your hands has been merited. It is not often that men have an
opportunity of acting with this sweet and abiding sense of
satisfaction. If I were in your place, I should do what I have ventured
to suggest. Having thus hastily unburdened my mind, I shall not go
behind your back to express my opinion to your colleagues, and I am
quite sure you will appreciate my speaking plainly to yourself."

Most people would see little or nothing in a letter of this kind at
which to be angry. They would recognise in it, the friendly counsel of a
colleague, as well as a desire to serve an erring friend. Few persons
would say that the good counsel of the colleague was used merely as a
means for serving the friend.

Mr. Eagar, however, took offence at the letter. Though up to this point,
there had been no interruption of the good relationship between the two
Ministers, Mr. Eagar appeared to view this private note of friendly
advice as something grossly offensive. Communication between him and Mr.
Parkes, personally, or by letter, at once ceased; and Mr. Eagar began to
treat Mr. Parkes with what the latter regarded as contempt. Cabinet
meetings, which hitherto had been held in the office of the Colonial
Secretary, were now held elsewhere; and, in many other ways, the
ill-will of Mr. Eagar and his influence in the Cabinet were shown.

Mr. Martin was of the same opinion as Mr. Parkes, respecting Mr.
Duncan's apology, but he allowed himself to be swayed by Mr. Eagar.

The Premier was anxious to avoid taking the extreme course of removing
Mr. Duncan from his office; and, in the endeavour to accommodate
matters, and prevent the Collector from being dismissed, several
meetings of the Cabinet were held, and the ultimate decision of the case
put off from time to time, in the hope that the Treasurer would be
induced to accept Mr. Duncan's apology. But this, Mr. Eagar firmly
declined to do; and Mr. Martin, rather than lose the services of a
colleague with whom he had been politically associated for some years,
and who, next to Mr. Martin, was, of the Premier's party, the most
prominent Minister in the Government, sided with Mr. Eagar, and Mr.
Duncan was dismissed.

Mr. Parkes viewed this dismissal as an act of great harshness, but he
did not immediately resign. Probably, he contemplated resignation; but
it was not until other proceedings in relation to the office of
Collector of Customs took place in the Cabinet, that he determined to
forward his resignation to the Governor.

Mr. Eagar considered that the position of Collector of Customs had been
one of too much independence of action. In his opinion, it was desirable
to make it more amenable to the Treasurer's control. He therefore urged
the Cabinet to reduce the salary of the Collector, and to make the
office more subordinate than it was in the time of Mr. Duncan; and the
Cabinet agreed.

To Mr. Parkes, this seemed a degradation of the office of Collector,
harsh and unwise in itself, and not at all necessary in the public
interest. Moreover, he did not regard the decision as one arrived at
after unbiassed deliberation of the Cabinet. He would not agree to it,
and as a consequence, determined to relinquish his office of Colonial

Mr. Martin tried to dissuade him from taking this step, and then to
reconsider his decision. But he was immovable. He allowed a day or two
to pass, and then wrote that he had taken time to weigh the various
considerations pointed out to him, with the result that he believed he
was right in the course he was pursuing.

"I believe", he said, "I am right in my view of the special case and of
the public interests affected by it, and that entertaining those views,
and having been made the object of Mr. Eagar's marked contempt, I am not
simply justified in the course I propose to pursue, but I could scarcely
take any other, and preserve my self-respect." Mr. Duncan, the letter
went on to say, "has not only acknowledged himself in the wrong, and
unreservedly apologised, but has thrown himself on the mercy of the
Government in consideration of his long service, his advanced years, and
his helpless family. I know Mr. Duncan to be a man of integrity and
unblemished life, and I cannot view his humbled position as it has been
viewed by you and your colleagues. Then, again, if Mr. Duncan were
removed, I could not assent to the arrangements that are to follow."

He severed his connection with Mr. Martin very regretfully.

"Believe me, my dear Martin," he wrote, "that I separate from you at
this moment with feelings of deep regret, so far as I am concerned
myself, and of warm esteem towards you, which has been strengthened by
every day's experience since we have been associated together."

Mr. Martin sacrificed the Collector of Customs simply because he thought
it to be his duty rather to be loyal to his colleague, the Treasurer,
than generous to a public officer.

"As you are aware," he wrote to Mr. Parkes, "it would have been most
gratifying to me if Eagar could have been prevailed upon to accept the
retractation and apology of Mr. Duncan, and no pains were spared by me
to bring about such a result. The determination of Mr. Eagar, however,
to insist on the removal of Mr. Duncan, and to withdraw from office
unless that removal took place, presented to me the alternative of
either standing by an officer whose conduct justified his removal, or
supporting a colleague of more than four years' standing in a course
which, in my opinion, he was perfectly warranted in pursuing."

And the letter concluded: "I need not tell you how much it would have
gratified me if you had consented to remain with us during our term of
office. Notwithstanding occasional differences of opinion, which in any
combination must be expected to arise, I have been enabled cordially to
co-operate with you, for nearly three years, under circumstances of no
common difficulty, and in spite of efforts perseveringly made to induce
us to distrust one another. Those efforts have in every instance proved
unavailing, and, while I regret the loss of a colleague whose energy and
ability have conferred so much benefit upon the public, and have been of
such great advantage to the Government, I am glad to be enabled to say
that that loss has not been occasioned by any difference, personal or
political, with myself."

Public opinion was with Mr. Parkes in the matter. The course he had
taken was almost universally approved. The leading journal, alluding to
it, said that throughout the incident he had acted with prudence and

"His interference was limited to that kind of persuasion which men who
meet each other and are not on terms of enmity are accustomed to use to
prevent an evil or to accomplish a good. The letter of Mr. Parkes
setting forth his views before Mr. Eagar is couched in terms which do
him infinite credit. Every man not embittered by public life, and
conscious of human infirmities, will approve of his recommendation to
Mr. Eagar, both as to its form and substance."

Not long did the Government survive the resignation of Mr. Parkes.
Probably it would not have lasted much longer if he had remained. It had
been in office two years and nine months, a period greater than in the
case of any Administration but one--the Robertson-Cowper Ministry of
1860-1863--since the introduction of responsible government, and beyond
what is regarded as the average life of Ministries in the colony. It had
done good work; but a certain proportion of the Assembly had begun to
tire of it, and others were hostile because of the passing of the Public
Schools Act. Twice it had met with a serious reverse. It had been
defeated on its railway policy, and upon a bill to amend the Land Laws.
So pronounced was the opposition to the Land Bill that Mr. Martin
obtained the adjournment of the House to enable the Government to
consider its position. It did not resign, and the rejection by the House
of a direct motion of want of confidence enabled it to go on r but it
had been greatly shaken. The worrying tactics of some of the Opposition
made matters worse.

The Government was undoubtedly tottering to its fall, but the withdrawal
of Mr. Parkes materially hastened the end. Mr. Parkes resigned on 17th
September; Parliament reassembled on 13th October; and on 20th October
the Government went out of office. Defeated on an amendment moved by
Mr. Robertson on the Address-in-Reply to the Governor's Speech at the
opening of Parliament, Mr. Martin endeavoured to secure a dissolution,
but this the Earl of Belmore refused to grant, and the Ministry

To Mr. Parkes the defeat of the Government in a vital division was, in
one sense, highly complimentary, for Mr. Robertson's amendment was
based on the dissatisfaction of the House with the Ministry after Mr.
Parkes' retirement. Mr. Robertson moved the following addition to the

"But we feel that we should be wanting in our duty if we did not, on the
earliest opportunity of which we can avail ourselves, respectfully
express to your Excellency our regret that, on the retirement of the
late Colonial Secretary, your Excellency did not secure an
Administration having the confidence of this House."

The debate, preceded by an explanation of the Duncan incident by Mr.
Martin, and a statement from Mr. Parkes, was brought to an end the same
evening. Three points of importance appeared in the speeches of the
Opposition. They disapproved of the dismissal of Mr. Duncan; they
regarded the Government as irretrievably weakened by the resignation of
Mr. Parkes; and they refused to consent to the position of Colonial
Secretary being given to a member of the Legislative Council, where Mr.
Martin had found, in the person of Mr. Joseph Docker, Mr. Parkes'
successor. The division was equal, and the Speaker gave his casting-vote
with the Government; but it was impossible for the Ministry to continue.
It had been undoubtedly condemned, chiefly because without Mr. Parkes it
was not considered deserving of support; and Mr. Robertson, who had
skilfully used the retirement of the Colonial Secretary for his own
purpose, took Mr. Martin's place at the head of a new Administration.


FOR the greater part of three and a half years following the defeat of
the Ministry in which he had held the office of Colonial Secretary, Mr.
Parkes occupied, in the Legislative Assembly, the position of a private
member. As had always been his habit, he was very regular in his
attendance, very watchful of the proceedings, and ever on the alert to
keep Ministers from overstepping the bounds of constitutional practice.

The Robertson Government of 1868 he tried to displace immediately it
appeared in the Assembly; and, for a few days, there was a prospect of
his being successful and becoming the head of an Administration formed
by himself. Extraordinary efforts on the part of the Government alone
saved it.

Though the Martin Ministry had outlived its support in the popular
branch of the Parliament, its successor, on its entrance to office, was
not received with general approval. The new Government had been formed
somewhat incongruously; it had made but a weak announcement of policy;
and, for some time its chief objects seemed to be the raking up of every
charge possible against the Martin Government, and the publication of
these with unlimited abuse. The Opposition, with the members of the late
Martin Government at their head, determined to see, in a definite
manner, to what extent Mr. Robertson and his colleagues had the support
of the House. It was believed that they and their friends were in a

The principal members of the Ministry were Mr. Robertson, Mr. Forster,
and Mr. Samuel. Mr. Robertson and Mr. Samuel had been together in a
previous Government, as had Mr. Forster and Mr. Samuel; but Mr.
Robertson had never before been associated in a Ministry with Mr.
Forster. They had been regarded as relentless opponents rather than
bosom friends.

Mr. Forster, once described as "disagreeable in Opposition, insufferable
as a supporter, and fatal as a colleague", had a very bitter tongue.
Though an educated and cultured man of considerable ability, it seemed
to be his nature to be disagreeable and to say unpleasant things. It was
at least exceedingly difficult, and certainly most unusual, for him to
say anything pleasant or agreeable. He revelled in cynicism, which he
brought into use in every debate and applied to every subject. He had
said many unpleasant things of Mr. Robertson, and Mr. Robertson had
flung back unpleasant things at him. Mr. Forster had likened Mr.
Robertson to a certain insect "so offensive that it could only be
touched by a pair of tongs", and which, "if pinched according to its
deserts, emitted a very unpleasant odour." "Unless, therefore," he
proceeded with his unsavoury illustration, "I can figuratively lay hold
of the honourable member with a pair of tongs, and carry him outside
without the risk of contact with what is extremely offensive, I shall
not, if I consult my own feelings, have anything to say to him."

Mr. Robertson had said of Mr. Forster that he was always holding with
the hare and running with the hounds, that he could not take a
straightforward and consistent course. "No one", Mr. Robertson declared
on one occasion, "enunciated more liberal opinions, and no one more
frequently recorded his vote with those who were opposed to all

Before the reassembling of Parliament after the Ministerial re-elections
the Opposition held a meeting, and decided that a test
want-of-confidence motion should be moved. It was also determined that
Mr. Parkes should move it. He urged that the duty could be more
fittingly performed by others. Mr. Martin, for instance, as the head of
the previous Government and the leader of the present Opposition, was,
in Mr. Parkes' view, the person in whose hands the motion should be
placed. But the choice of the party fell on Mr. Parkes, all his
colleagues in the Martin Ministry approving; and he consented.

On 9th December, 1868, he moved, "That the present Administration does
not possess the confidence of this House"; and, in a speech of ability
and force, scathingly attacked the Government on their want of agreement
amongst themselves, their incapacity for governing, and their failure in
possessing or putting forward a definite policy.

The debate and its attendant proceedings were unique. Neither before nor
since has anything similar taken place. A challenge, by direct motion,
of the right of Ministers to occupy their positions on the Treasury
benches, coming from a prominent and influential member of the House, is
generally regarded as a signal to stop business until the hostile motion
has been disposed of. When, in the matter, the member moving the motion
is the chosen mouthpiece and leader of the Opposition, the cessation of
all business, to permit of the debate upon the motion proceeding without
interruption, is imperative. Unless upon some subject which, in the
public interest, it would be unwise to delay, not even a question is
answered. Everything awaits the decision of the House upon the movement
of the Opposition. Consequently a Government, when challenged in this
manner, immediately adjourns the House until the day appointed for
making the motion, and then proceeds day by day with the debate upon it,
until it is brought to a vote.

In this case, the Government and its supporters took a very different
course. Everything that could be thought of by Ministers and their
friends was brought forward to block the progress of the debate, delay
the decision of the House, and weaken the effect of Mr. Parkes'

There was a general impression, based on a careful counting of members,
that in the division the Opposition would have a majority of five or
six; and, in the interests of the Government, it was necessary to do all
that was possible to effect an alteration. If the debate could be
prolonged, some members inclined to vote against the Government might
be induced to waver and vote the other way. Time to deal with these
flexible gentlemen was essential.

The question was how to gain the necessary time. If, in addition to
gaining time, the position of the mover of the hostile motion could be
materially shaken, so much the better. Mr. Parkes' attitude in the
O'Farrell incident had raised, in some quarters, a bitter feeling
against him. Some persons honestly believed he had been guilty of gross
exaggeration, if not deliberate misstatement, in his public utterances
respecting O'Farrell and his crime. Others, more directly inimical to
him, if they did not actually believe this, professed to do so, and
joined with those who did. Besides this combination of unfriendly
persons, there was a party of influence and activity, who had never
forgiven him for what he had done in establishing the Public Schools
Act, and undermining the existence of Denominational Schools.

Here were the directions in which, with advantage, he might be
attacked, and the decision of the Assembly upon his want-of-confidence
motion delayed. The Government resolved to take this course.

The debate upon Mr. Parkes' motion had not proceeded beyond the first
night, when it was interrupted by a motion moved by Mr. William Macleay,
and a long discussion upon it, for the production of all papers having
reference to the attempted assassination of the Duke of Edinburgh.
Appeals to have this postponed, in order that the debate on the
want-of-confidence motion might be continued without interruption, were
altogether vain. The Government and their supporters pressed Mr.
Macleay's motion forward, and attacked Mr. Parkes upon some of his
proceedings as Colonial Secretary, during the time of the O'Farrell
incident, with a virulence unknown before.

One of a number of charges brought against him, was the removal and
retention from the Colonial Secretary's Office, of certain papers
relating to matters connected with O'Farrell's crime. Mr. Thomas
Garrett, then, and all his life, a firm supporter of Mr. Robertson,
declared that the proper way of getting these papers, was to issue a
search warrant, and have it executed by a common constable; and Mr.
Robertson went so far as to say that, if the papers were not returned to
the Colonial Secretary's Office by the following day, he would put the
criminal law in motion. "I will have them tomorrow, if the criminal
law will give them to me", he said. "If the law will enable me, I
will put him in custody."

These words indicate the nature of the debate. The removal of the papers
was easily explained, and was justifiable; but the anger and resentment,
which actuated the Government party at the time, made them deaf to
explanation, and drove them at the mover of the hostile motion with the
savagery of a pack of wolves.

The larger portion of Mr. Robertson's speech, in answer to Mr. Parkes,
consisted of a series of charges against him which he had sought to
hide, Mr. Robertson averred, by bringing forward his motion; and most of
the speakers on the Ministerial side adopted a similar course. The main
idea of almost everyone appeared to be to pile up the charges, and so
crush the delinquent effectually. The sins of the whole of the
Government of which he had been a member, as well as his own
shortcomings, were heaped upon him; and, as he afterwards said, in his
speech in reply at the close of the debate, it almost seemed as if the
motion the House was considering was one condemnatory of the honourable
member for Kiama, rather than one inviting the House to censure the

During the debate there was a curious disclosure with regard to some
expenditure by the Martin Government for political purposes of their
own. It was said that they spent £20 in cab hire, to bring up their
supporters from their homes at night, when they were wanted in the House
for a division.

Mr. Eagar, the Treasurer in the Government, admitted the truth of the
charge, and candidly defended it. He had authorised the expenditure, and
saw no harm in doing so. "Honourable members of the Opposition", he
explained, "were forming little conspiracies and endeavouring to
surprise the Government by an adverse vote; and he considered it
necessary to send round messages to collect the Government supporters
together." For this purpose he had employed certain cabs, and had
ordered the payment of the cab hire from the Treasury. He had gone
further. On some nights of important debate, he had caused a number of
cabs to be retained in the vicinity of the House, and had used them in
sending for members as they were wanted. This he considered to be
necessary in order to keep business in a proper state. "It was no
personal interest of his," he told the House; "but, in order to bring
members to the House, it was necessary to send messages to their private
residences. It was, in fact, part of the system of the Government."

The unjustifiable character of this expenditure it is needless to point
out, and Mr. Parkes did not defend it. In his opinion it could not be

But he himself was charged with having been paid from the Treasury a
large amount, for expenses in travelling, while Colonial Secretary; and
it was said that his Government had given a lunch at a cost of £98 which
had been defrayed from the same source. This charge even went on to
assert that a quantity of wine, left over from the lunch, was sent to
the private residence of one of the Ministers, and that the money for it
was not paid in to the Treasury until after the new Government had come
into office.

The charge against Mr. Parkes was trivial, and easily answered. He had
travelled about the country, principally to make himself acquainted with
the state of education in the colony, so that the knowledge thus
acquired might be used to advantage in the preparation, and in the
conduct through Parliament, of the Public Schools Bill. He had done so
with the approval of his colleagues, and with their expressed sanction
to the payment of his expenses.

Mr. Robertson entertained great respect for Mr. Parkes' ability, but
professed that he was not to be trusted. He was a man of remarkable
power, Mr. Robertson said during this debate, but one whose support was
dangerous to any Government. When taking office, after the fall of the
Martin Ministry, Mr. Robertson was advised to endeavour to get the
support of Mr. Parkes to the new Administration; but the advice Mr.
Robertson asserted, was not taken. There is no doubt the new Premier
recognised the fact that any such attempt would result in failure. But,
in stating the circumstance to the House, he made the most of the
situation. "I have been incautious sometimes," he declared, "but I have
not been so incautious as to let the enemy within the walls."

The debate extended over twelve days, and resulted in a majority for the
Government, the division being twenty-five for the motion, and
twenty-nine against it. Virtually, the Government were defeated, as
several members who voted with them expressed a want of confidence in
them, and six out of nine members who did not vote in the division, were
understood to approve of the motion.

Eleven months afterwards, Parliament was dissolved; and Mr. Parkes came
back from the elections triumphant--at the head of the poll, in the most
important of the constituencies, and undoubtedly the most popular man in
the country.

Very little business was done in the Legislative Assembly by the
Robertson Government, and the Parliamentary record, generally, for the
period between the want-of-confidence motion in 1868, and the
dissolution of Parliament in 1869, was not satisfactory. But some
notable events occurred during the year. Mr. Duncan was reinstated as
Collector of Customs. Mr. Michael Fitzpatrick, who years afterwards
occupied the position of Colonial Secretary in a Ministry formed by Mr.
J. S. Farnell, retired from the office of Under Secretary for Lands. Mr.
James Martin and Mr. T. A. Murray were knighted; Mr. Charles Cowper and
Mr. J. B. Darvall were made Companions of the Order of St. Michael and
St. George; and Mr. Geoffrey Eagar and Mr. J. Bowie Wilson received
permission to assume the title of "Honourable" within the colony. The
Duke of Edinburgh visited Sydney for the second time in H.M.S. _Galatea_,
and laid the foundation stone of the pedestal in Hyde Park, upon which
now stands Woolner's fine statue of Captain Cook. The Australian Library
at the corner of Bent and Macquarie Streets was purchased by the
Government, and opened as a Free Public Library; this last mentioned
event being preceded by the opening at Newtown of the first public
library established in New South Wales, at which the ceremony was
performed by Mr. Parkes.

The member for Kiama had been in evidence throughout the year. In the
Assembly, on some important occasions, he had been by far the most
conspicuous figure there.

He had especially thrust himself into notice by the outspoken attitude
he assumed on the question of Irish immigration. The Roman Catholics of
the community became bitterly hostile to him. The dislike of him aroused
by the passing of the Public Schools Act and his uncompromising defence
of that Act, and increased by his proceedings as Colonial Secretary
during the O'Farrell incident, grew to positive hatred. Nothing was too
bad to say of him; scarcely any course too extreme to take in the desire
to check his progress or destroy his position in public life. But, while
one section of the community detested him, another adored him. The
Protestants flocked to his support, and hailed him as their champion.
The evil of the whole thing was that the population of the colony became
transformed into two hostile religious camps, the effects of which are
apparent even now.

Yet it would not be right to say that Mr. Parkes' course on the question
of Irish immigration was not justified by circumstances. For many years,
from one cause or another, Irish immigrants had arrived in the colony,
at the public expense, in undue proportion to those from England,
Scotland, or Wales. As far back as 1858, the question had been
prominently before the public. In that year, it had formed the subject
of a petition to the Legislative Assembly, and of an inquiry by a select

Much of the complaint at that time respecting the Irish immigrants was
directed against the Irish girls brought to the colony for domestic
service. For this position in life, it was held they were quite
unfitted. The Immigration Agent reported that "they were unsuited to the
requirements of the community, and distasteful to the majority of the
people"; and it was not an uncommon thing to see in advertisements for
domestic servants, "No Irish need apply." The subordinate positions in
the public service, such as those of messenger, cleaner, or caretaker,
were, in the large majority of cases, filled by immigrant Irishmen; and,
in the police force, they were numerous. Very few entered into the
productive industries of the colony.

So noticeable did this become, that strong feelings were aroused among
other sections of the community; and a bill, introduced by the Robertson
Government, but afterwards withdrawn, to extend the existing system of
assisted immigration, was denounced as a measure offering a premium to
the Roman Catholic hierarchy to Romanise the territory.

Mr. Parkes was not opposed to Irishmen or Irishwomen forming part of the
general community, nor to their introduction as assisted immigrants;
all he wanted was that they should not be brought to the colony at the
public expense in undue proportion to immigrants from England, Scotland,
and Wales.

"I am as anxious," he told the electors of East Sydney, in December,
1869, "that the people of Ireland should come here, as any other class
of persons; I am as anxious that Roman Catholics should come as any
other persons; but I am opposed to their coming here in excessive
numbers,--I am opposed altogether to their coming in such undue streams
as to lead to change in the social character of the country." "Let them
come", he said again, "to this free land, from England, from Scotland,
from Ireland, from any other country under the sun; but let them come on
equal terms, to be Australian colonists."

It was easy to join to this immigration outcry the question of religion;
but Mr. Parkes was equally emphatic in denying a want of due
consideration on his part for the religious belief and practices of any
portion of the community.

"I am attached to our common Protestant religion", he explained in the
speech just quoted from, "broadly on these great social grounds; that I
believe it is identified with the freedom of men and the progress of the
world. . . I believe that Protestantism is identified with universal
liberty. But this in no way puts me in the position of denying to any
man the right to worship his God in his own way. I would be the last--I
would rather lose my life than I would be a party to imposing
disabilities on any man on account of his faith. Let every man enjoy his
own opinion, and worship God in his own way; but do not let any section
of persons attempt to ride rough-shod over the rest of the community."

These sentiments won Mr. Parkes wide support; and, as Protestantism and
the Public Schools Act seemed to very many people inseparably connected,
it was little wonder that East Sydney, at this time elected him their
senior member with acclamation. He was returned at the head of the poll
with 3,397 votes; Sir James Martin being second with 3,158, Mr. David
Buchanan third with 2,765, and Mr. George King fourth. Mr. Cowper was
fifth on the poll, and, of course, defeated.

The leading article of the _Herald_ the next morning, on the result of the
election, is worth attention.

"Mr. Parkes heads the poll", it said. "There is no possibility of
mistaking the significance of this fact. Mr. Parkes, on the present
occasion, has been a representative man. His name is indemnified with
the Public Schools Act; he introduced and carried it; and, as President
of the Council of Education, he has continued to watch over its
operation. His warmest admirers do not pretend that that Act was a
purely original conception, or that the merit of framing and passing it
belongs exclusively to himself. Nor has he, though not deficient in
self-appreciation, ever claimed any such monopoly of merit. But this is
certain,--that however much he may have done for the Act, he has
certainly suffered for it. In certain quarters he has been unsparingly
abused for his connection with it. His public and his private character
have both been attacked; and, from some things that have been said and
written, it might almost have been inferred that he was little better
than the author of all evil for having been the author of the Act. For
some time past no uncertain intimation had been given that, at the
general election, a determined effort would be made to reverse the
public educational policy, and repeal or modify the obnoxious law. This
intimation has provoked a counter-movement. Organization has been met by
organization. The rival parties have tried their strength against each
other, and now we have the first result. The Public Schools Act is at
the head of the poll."

The change of tone in the leading journal towards Mr. Parkes,
indicating, as it did, from a source not previously given to paying him
compliments, a fairer and fuller recognition of his services and his
merits, was, equally with the firm hold his great system of public
education had secured in the hearts of the people, a sign of the strong
position he had attained in the political world and of his future
progress and success.


THE year 1870 was one of very chequered experiences to Mr. Parkes.

Before two months of it had gone he had resigned his seat in the
Legislative Assembly for East Sydney, choosing to sit there for another
constituency which, like East Sydney, had, at the general election,
returned him to Parliament as its representative. A few days afterwards,
he was the unsuccessful defendant in a slander action. Later on, he
severed his connection with the Council of Education, where he had
worked earnestly and well in the interests of the Public Schools Act for
four years. About the same time, through financial difficulties in the
commercial business in which he was then engaged, he was obliged to
retire completely from the Assembly. A fortnight subsequently, he was
re-elected to Parliament, the election taking place on November 3rd. On
December 9th, for the third time during the twelve months, he
relinquished his position as a member of the House; and the year closed
with him out of Parliament, and out of public life. The ups and downs in
this short period of his career were frequent and vexatious.

His resignation early in the year, as one of the members in the
Legislative Assembly for East Sydney, was due to his having been
returned at the General Election by both East Sydney and Kiama.

At the time of the election at East Sydney, he was a candidate for
Kiama, and had expressed his determination to go to the poll there, in
order that the electors of Kiama, who were his constituents in the
previous Parliament, might deliver their verdict upon his character and
proceedings in Parliament in relation to the select committee obtained
by Mr. Macleay respecting the crime of O'Farrell. Their verdict was an
emphatic approval; and, notwithstanding the flattering manner in which
the premier constituency of the colony had dealt with him, he determined
to remain among the electors with whom he had been in association,
through the period which had been marked by some of the most harassing
of his troubles and some of the greatest of his triumphs.

One thing only dimmed the lustre of his public position at this time,
and that, but temporarily. In his speech in the Assembly upon the report
of Mr. Macleay's select committee, he had alluded to one of the
witnesses examined by the committee, in terms which could not afterwards
be justified. Supplied with information which, on what he considered to
be satisfactory assurances, he believed to be correct, he used it; and
the speech being afterwards published and circulated by him in pamphlet
form, an action was brought against him for slander, with the result
that a verdict was obtained against him, with damages, to the extent of

The case excited much interest, and the verdict was a subject of comment
far and near. It gave much satisfaction to the enemies of Mr. Parkes,
but it did not lessen the number of his friends. To them, the voluntary
stepping forth from the shelter of the privilege that protected him, so
long as the speech was not published by him beyond the walls of
Parliament, proved his honesty in the matter; and his popularity was

In Parliament, at this time, he was, as usual, watchful and active, but
not taking a conspicuous part in the proceedings.

Outside the Assembly, he gave most of his attention to his private
business. Unfortunately, this business did not answer expectation, and
financial troubles again began to wind their toils around him. In the
month of October, it became known that he had been obliged to place his
affairs in the Insolvency Court. He was trading at the time as Parkes &
Co., and doing what appeared to be an extensive business as a general
merchant. Friends had assisted him, and he had collected together a
large stock of goods; but assured success did not follow; and, after
vainly endeavouring to cope with the difficulties which gathered about
him through loss of trade and other attendant evils, he was obliged to
succumb. He was declared insolvent, his estimated liabilities being
£32,000, and his assets £13,300.

Insolvency then, as now, meant to a member of the Legislature that he
must resign his seat in Parliament, and, if he wished to return, submit
himself to his constituents for re-election. Mr. Parkes resigned his
seat for Kiama. Only a short time before Mr. Robertson had, from a
similar cause, resigned his seat for West Sydney, and had been
re-elected. Mr. Parkes was re elected for Kiama. His seat in the
Assembly was declared vacant on October 19th, and he was returned on
November 3rd. So far matters were satisfactory.

But his position in Parliament was very considerably affected for the
time by the proceedings in relation to his affairs in the Insolvency
Court. The details of his indebtedness, which disclosed the names of his
creditors, provoked much comment among those who were never backward in
seizing upon anything that could be used to injure him. Dislike, on the
part of some people, towards him was so intense, that any opportunity
affording the means by which he might be placed in unfavourable
circumstances, was eagerly seized.

It seemed quite possible to use this second insolvency in his career
greatly to his detriment. If his political progress could not be finally
stopped it might, at least, be very materially checked. It was nothing
to persons who thought in this way that misfortune, rather than any
other cause, was the prime reason of his difficulties. Of no concern to
them was it that some of those who regretted his position, and were
still his firm friends, were among his largest creditors. The chance to
do him some harm was apparent, and it must be used. It was used, and, it
seemed at the time, with thorough success.

In December the Robertson Government, in which Mr. Charles Cowper was
Colonial Secretary, retired from office; and, just before their
resignation, Ministers appointed Mr. Cowper to the position of
Agent-General of the colony in London.

The appointment raised a loud outcry. Mr. Cowper's fitness for the
position was not questioned; but the manner of the appointment was
unsparingly condemned as a gross breach of constitutional practice. It
was the first instance in New South Wales of a retiring Government
appointing one of its number to a permanent office under the Crown; and
the danger of Mr. Cowper's case establishing itself as a precedent was
urged on all sides.

Mr. Parkes, with the fine sense of constitutional procedure which he
always showed, saw the danger as clearly as anybody, and determined to
do what he could to remove it. He gave notice in the Assembly of his
intention to move--

"(1) That the practice introduced by the Ministry holding office,
1869-70, of appointing its own members to permanent places of profit in
the public service, is contrary to the spirit of the Constitution,
detrimental to the character and efficiency of government, and ought not
to be followed by succeeding Ministries.

"(2) That the foregoing resolution be presented by address to the
Governor, praying that His Excellency will cause it to be entered on
the minutes of the Executive Council."

No sooner was the notice of this motion given than it was laid hold of,
and, in conjunction with the proceedings in the Insolvency Court, used
against Mr. Parkes with telling effect.

The editor of the leading journal of the colony was, at this period, as
he had been for some years, very hostile to Mr. Parkes. Early, in the
latter's public career, the two were mutual admirers, and, to a certain
extent, friends. Brought together in the days when the agitation for the
cessation of transportation to the colonies was at its height, there was
much in the public movements of the time attractive to both. But while
the mutual admiration in some degree remained,--for in the character and
acts of each, there were points that compelled admiration--the friendship
ended, and was never renewed. The editor was remarkable for the
bitterness of his pen. His leading articles, while unpolished, and not
always meritorious in a literary sense, were invariably able and
effective. Disjointed, rough, sometimes even coarse, they nevertheless
went straight for the object in view, hurling sneer or epithet, plainly
stated charge or innuendo, with such force and continuity, that the
unhappy subject of the writer's wrath emerged, at the bottom of the
column, as a battered and defeated man might come out from the mauling
he has received in the prize ring.

The _Herald_ made Mr. Parkes' notice of motion the subject of one of its
articles, and tacked to it his position as an insolvent. Already the
paper had expressed disapproval of the manner in which Mr. Cowper had
been appointed to the Agent-Generalship, and to that extent was in
agreement respecting it with Mr. Parkes. But it denied his right, under
the circumstances of his position, to take such action in the matter as
his notice of motion indicated.

What justification could he have, it asked, for "taking a position so
prominent in the censure of political immorality?" With what title did
he appear in the House as an accuser? He had done distinguished services
in the Legislature; and it must be admitted that his re-election to the
position of a member gave him all the rights and suggested the duties of
the position. But the public conscience revolted at the anomaly. It
could only be in consequence of an inadvertence on the part of those who
framed the Constitution, that a constituency was given the power to
place in the Legislature an uncertificated insolvent, who might become
the arbiter of the fate of a Ministry and even its head.

Thus the paper argued. It referred to the schedule of his liabilities,
to the _personnel_ of his creditors, to the amount of his debts compared
with his assets, and to the manner in which the debts had been incurred.
It drew attention to the power associated with a seat in Parliament held
by a man of conspicuous ability and courage; and, pointing out how
formidable this might be to anyone provoking his hostility, it hinted at
the danger of its even affecting the administration of Justice. Rumour
was abroad, it stated, that office was to be reserved for Mr. Parkes in
the incoming Government, so that he might take his seat in the Cabinet
immediately he obtained his certificate from the Insolvency Court; and
it declared that the Governor would be forgetful of all that was
honourable in administration, if he were to allow any man to come into
the Cabinet under the circumstances.

"It is a misfortune," the article observed in conclusion, "that those
who are candidates for office in Government are almost uniformly poor,
but, at least, let us take some security that we may have a reasonable
presumption that if they are poor they are upright."

Mr. Parkes, in response to the article, promptly resigned his seat in
the Assembly. The insinuation that his presence there, while before the
Insolvency Court, might influence the officials and the Judge of that
Court to the detriment of Justice, seemed to him capable of being
answered in no other effective way. Writing to the Speaker of the
Legislative Assembly on the day the article appeared, he said:

"The _Sydney Morning Herald_ of this morning publishes an article, on a
notice standing in my name on the Votes and Proceedings of the
Legislative Assembly. In this article, it is affirmed that my holding a
seat in Parliament, and exercising the privileges which inseparably
belong to such seat, must in various ways prejudicially affect the
administration of the law. It is not possible for me to meet the
statements, thus made to the world with all the influence of the most
widely circulated journal in the colony, except by depriving myself of
the power which, in my case, is represented as dangerous to the
community. I therefore resign the seat to which I have been elected as
member for the electoral district of Kiama."

The resignation, of course, excited remark, and met with approval and
disapproval. Those who could not see in it the high sense of political
rectitude which prompted it, sneered at, and ridiculed it. Among them,
were some members of the Assembly, notably Mr. Samuel, Mr. Garrett, and
Mr. Forster; and a strong effort was made by these to prevent the letter
to the Speaker from appearing upon the Assembly records.

A day or two afterwards, Mr. Parkes wrote a letter to the _Herald_, with
the heading "Parting Words",--an eloquent, manly, forcible explanation
and defence of his position, much more in the style of the old-world
statesman, than in that of the colonial politician, and brimful of his
great ability from beginning to end.

"It is obvious I could not meet the case which had been conjured up
against me," he wrote, "by any other course than the one I adopted, and
I wished this to be known. It was a thing incapable of being refuted or
explained. I do not fear, but that all persons whose opinion is of
value, will understand both my motive and my object, and I should not
have expected to be understood by the gentlemen who indulged their
spitefulness in the Assembly on Friday evening.

"To confound a position so distinct as this with that of weakly giving
way before the ordinary animadversions of a public journal", the letter
went on to say, "is not more disingenuous than it is absurd. For many
years past I have been the subject of your adverse criticisms; so much
so indeed that it has appeared to me that any favourable notice of parts
of my public conduct of which you could not but approve has been
grudgingly bestowed, while my faults have been dealt with in terms of
severity not often measured out to the faults of other men.

"My letter to the Assembly", it proceeded, "was the last available peg,
it seems, on which my enemies could exhibit the rags of their malice";
and then it referred to Mr. Samuel, and to Mr. Forster, "who, of course
had a fling at the fallen object of his long cherished hatred."

"Mr. Forster", the letter declared, "strained his ingenious malignity
to the utmost, and dared to suggest to the public mind the suspicion
that I have enriched myself at the expense of others. It is bad enough,"
it continued, "to be in the position I am in, but, whatever may be my
misfortunes or my faults, I and those belonging to me are left penniless
in the world, and dependent on others for a home. In my extremity,
however, I have health; I have such ability as God has bestowed upon me;
and I have some friends. And, fortunately for me, there is sufficient
evidence, in the possession of a sufficient number of persons, to clear
my character from the cruel aspersions flung out so wantonly by Mr.

"As to my absence from Parliament," it said in conclusion, "I am well
aware that my place will be easily supplied. I entered it young, and
full of hope; I leave it no longer young, but not in despair. At least I
take nothing away with me. I have neither decoration nor empty title--no
honorary post, nor compliment of power. No son of mine is eating the
bread of the people he cannot earn. I leave something behind me which
cannot be undone or taken from me, and which men will hold in
remembrance and honour. For the rest I seek no sympathy, and am prepared
to bear the burden alone. No man can control the future, and to resolve
against events which cannot be foreseen would be folly; but, for any
personal interest that I can possibly have to serve, it would not cause
me a single pang of regret if my political existence now terminates."

The _Herald_ replied to the letter by publishing another article.
Compelled to take some notice of the forcible protest which Mr. Parkes
had made against the unsparing censure of some of his enemies, the
newspaper sought to explain its course on the ground simply of the
inconsistency between Mr. Parkes' position as a member of Parliament and
as an insolvent.

The complaint, it said, was not that he had done anything which could
not be justified or explained, but that he was "passing to and fro from
a high place in the Legislative Chamber to the tribunal of the Insolvent
judge." It was again bitterly personal, and closed with the following
remarks, the last seven words printed in italics: "We hope we shall not
have occasion to return to Mr. Parkes' letter; and we can only express
unfeigned regret that a man of abilities so undoubted, of public
services so distinguished, and who has obtained such marks of friendly
consideration from many, should be able to say that he is 'left
penniless in the world and dependent upon others for a home'; and we may
add that this cannot long be the case with such a man if, with all his
other qualities, he could command some share of that worldly wisdom
_which often is another word for virtue_."

Mr. Forster then took up the subject, dealing with it more particularly
in respect of the reference which the letter "Parting Words" had made
to him and his enmity. His defence of himself was not lost sight of; but
it was made the means for a long and scathing attack on Mr. Parkes,
which was evidently the principal object of the writer.

Some statements of business relations between the two men in the days of
the _Empire_, and an unfortunate pecuniary difficulty which arose in
connection with them, drew from Mr. Parkes a rejoinder, with the
consequence that the correspondence, comprising several letters of
considerable length, was continued almost to the end of the year, with
much recrimination, and with no other definite result than the regret of
the friends of either writer and the amusement of those who find
entertainment in the quarrels of prominent public men.

One feature of the correspondence, from its commencement to its close,
was the moderation and dignity in the matter and style of Mr. Parkes'
letters as compared with those of Mr. Forster. Through the whole of the
latter it was apparent that the chief object in view was to sting; and
the more venom with which the sting could be administered, the more the
writer seemed to chuckle and be satisfied. With Mr. Parkes, while he did
not fail to reply to Mr. Forster's attacks with what effectiveness he
could bring to play, there was an evident desire to leave to the
judgment of the public the charges made against him, rather than put
himself to the unnecessary task of explaining that respecting which they
were well acquainted. And from the first of his letters to the last,
there was apparent in them a keen sense of the misfortune of his
position, which had deprived him, at least for the time, of political
influence, of business, of means of livelihood for those near and dear
to him, and of a home.

"I hope", he pathetically said, in the letter which, as far as he was
concerned, closed the correspondence,--"I hope I feel the weakness of
the position which I occupy, but, if I am not spotless like Mr. Forster,
the world, after all, may think that my life has not been without its
better purposes and its better actions."

This melancholy close of an eventful year--it was in the Christmas
season that this correspondence took place--marked an important period
in Mr. Parkes' life. Before twelve more months had passed lie had risen
phoenix-like from the difficulties that had borne him down; he was again
in Parliament, his position in politics stronger than ever; and a few
weeks later on, as head of a Government, he had commenced a long career
as Prime Minister which, while it was of singular benefit to the colony,
placed him in popularity and political reputation above the most
prominent and able of his enemies.


THE opportunity to re-enter Parliament came in December, 1871, with a
bye-election at Mudgee. The vacancy in the representation of the
electorate was caused by the resignation of Mr. Matthew Henry Stephen,
now His Honor Mr. Justice Stephen; and Mr. Parkes, being pressed to
allow himself to be nominated as a candidate, consented, and was

He had been repeatedly urged by his friends to return to public life. By
many his absence was regarded as a public loss. Politics were not in a
satisfactory state, and the rival parties in the Assembly were so
curiously situated that the prospect of useful legislation was very
meagre. The want of a man of ability, independence, and courage, such as
Mr. Parkes had always shown himself to be, to raise his voice and take
his stand in the interest of the people, was very apparent.

The financial policy of the Government was open to grave question; and
indiscreet proceedings on their part towards Victoria, on the subject of
border duties, had threatened a serious unfriendliness between the two
colonies. In this respect the condition of affairs gave rise to much
condemnatory criticism.

Worse, however, in the view of a large proportion of the members of the
Legislative Assembly, and of the general public, was the circumstance
that Sir James Martin and Mr. Robertson had entered into what was
regarded as a wholly unjustifiable coalition, and were together in the
Government, the former as Attorney-General and Premier, and the latter
as Colonial Secretary.

The outcry which this extraordinary alliance caused exceeded the adverse
comment which, on any previous occasion, had followed an unusual event
in political life. During the whole of their public careers the two
Ministers had been so opposed to each other, so invariably hostile, that
their taking office in the same Government, or even sitting on the same
side of the House, was never dreamed of. Each had been the leader of a
party which had not moderated its opposition, nor lessened its
hostility, at any time or under any circumstances; and, when the
coalition of the two leaders was announced, it came as a thunderclap to
the two parties as it did to the public.

In common with most persons, Mr. Parkes strongly disapproved of the
coalition; and the condition into which affairs in Parliament had
drifted made him, at last, anxious for the opportunity to return there.
Mr. Robertson, he regarded as a. deserter from his party; Sir James
Martin was, in his opinion, a traitor.

The nomination for Mudgee was received with general approval. The
_Herald_, mentioning the matter as an item of news, said the ranks of
the Opposition in Parliament would be greatly strengthened by Mr.
Parkes' return. At Mudgee, he was alluded to as the gentleman "upon
whose coming the colony waited". Before the electors he spoke
vigorously, showing unmistakeably the unabated strength of his position
in the public life of the country, and indicating his assured political
progress in the future. Nominated for Mudgee on 28th December, 1871, in
less than six months from that time he was at the head of a strong and,
as it proved, useful Government.

"I know," he declared on the Mudgee hustings, "that I speak today with
a voice that will be potential in the country. I know that that voice
will reach every district, and that it will be listened to in other
Australian colonies, with as much interest as if it belonged to those
colonies." Notwithstanding his reverses of fortune--his debts and his
forced retirements from Parliament--he was still the most popular man in
the colony, the man to whom the masses looked for the needful reform of
the abuses which were interfering with the proper operations of

The Martin-Robertson combination, and the proceedings of the Ministry
since they had taken office, he denounced unsparingly.

As it had happened, he was the first person with whom Sir James Martin
had any communication after being entrusted by the Governor with the
formation of what afterwards proved to be the coalition Government; and,
during the course of a conversation upon the difficulties surrounding
the situation, Sir James Martin mentioned Mr. Robertson and Mr. Forster
in such a way as to lead Mr. Parkes to conclude that the coalition,
which subsequently took place, must have been contemplated by Sir James
Martin while sitting in Opposition and receiving the support of Mr.
Robertson's opponents. Mr. Parkes told Sir James Martin that the bare
mention of such a proceeding as Mr. Robertson and he coming together in
the same Government, would create a storm amongst his friends. For two
gentlemen who had been opposing each other "in office, out of office, on
the hustings, in the Assembly,--in fact everywhere, for a period of
twelve years", and had denounced each other as the worst man in the
country, to combine in this manner, was, to Mr. Parkes, perfectly

But the coalition taking place, the storm it was expected to cause
immediately raged around the Government. Mr. Robertson, reluctant to
face his constituents, endeavoured to avoid submitting himself for
re-election by contending that his acceptance in the new Ministry of the
office of Colonial Secretary was a mere exchange from the office of
Secretary for Lands, which he had held in the preceding Administration
up to the time of its giving place to its successor. In this contention
he was upheld by the Speaker; but the Assembly, in which he made his
appearance and attempted to proceed with some business, passed a motion
declaring his seat vacant, and thus compelled him to go before the
electors. Then he published an address, a paragraph of which brought
Mr. Parkes and Sir James Martin into a curious correspondence which was
read to the Mudgee electors.

"I have never hidden from the public", the address represented Mr.
Robertson as saying, "the hope I entertained that the course of the
last Government would have the effect of greatly allaying the
unfortunate feeling that had been engendered, and had produced so much
acrimony, between class and class, country and country, creed and creed,
of the people of our community; and I trust and believe that the
determination of the present Government, to deal equally with all
classes of the people, will tend to still further cultivate the
improved popular feeling in that regard already so gratifyingly

To Mr. Parkes this appeared to be nothing less than a reproduction of
the charge made against the Martin-Parkes Government of 1866, and
particularly against himself, in connection with the crime and
execution of O'Farrell; and he drew Sir James Martin's attention to it.

"It is impossible", he wrote, "not to recognise in these words the
charge which has been persistently made by this gentleman against both
you and me, for the worst of party purposes, for the last three years.
Under the new circumstances in which he is placed, Mr. Robertson must
intend to direct his charge against me alone; but I will not suffer
myself to believe that you can have concurred in this artful attempt, in
the name of your Government, to exasperate sectarian feeling against
one who was long your colleague, and whose support and fidelity in that
relation you have frequently acknowledged. Nor can I suppose that you
would desire to separate yourself from your former colleagues, in the
responsibility that may justly attach to the conduct of your Government.
This cannot be considered by me as a light matter, and I am sure it will
not be so regarded by you."

Sir James Martin did not put upon the paragraph in the address the
interpretation set forth in Mr. Parkes' letter. He did not see in it any
attack upon the conduct of the Government of which Mr. Parkes and he had
been members; and, "for that conduct," he wrote, "I, as the head of
that Government, was of course responsible, and that responsibility I
never at any time had the slightest intention of withdrawing from. I
think", his letter said, in conclusion, "that the manner in which I
have acted on all occasions ought to have rendered your inquiry

This was not satisfactory to Mr. Parkes; and he again wrote to Sir James
Martin on the subject, pointing out that the paragraph was distinctly
the charge which had been made a hundred times, generally against the
former Government of Sir James Martin, and, on other occasions, more
specifically against himself. What was the meaning of the words? he
asked. To whom did they refer? "If you do not see in these words any
attack upon the Government of which you and I were members, do you see
in them any attack upon me as a member of that Government?"

Sir James Martin responded with emphasis.

"For all official acts of yourself as a member of the Government of
which I was the head," he wrote, "I, and all our then colleagues, are
just as responsible as you are. All those acts had our fullest
concurrence. If Mr. Robertson's address implies--and I am sure it does
not--a censure on any of those acts, the present Government has nothing
to do with that censure, is no party to it, and repudiates it
altogether. If that address implies, as I do not believe it does, a
censure on you individually, for some act of your own, not official, and
in which your colleagues took no part, then I have nothing to say to it.
It is a matter between you and Mr. Robertson; and does not, and cannot,
concern us. I say now, as I have always said, that our Government never
did anything to set class against class, or stir up religious animosity
in any way. If those things were done, they were not done by our
Government, or by you as a member of it, but by persons opposed to us.
We did our utmost to preserve the public peace, and act impartially to
all parties." And the letter went on: "I would, in conclusion, suggest
that if you want to ascertain Mr. Robertson's exact meaning, you should
apply to that gentleman himself."

To some extent this second letter from Sir James Martin satisfied Mr.
Parkes; but further correspondence appeared to him to be necessary.
Though Sir James Martin clearly exonerated him from any charge such as
the paragraph in Mr. Robertson's address seemed to imply, he did not
deal with the paragraph itself in the manner Mr. Parkes considered

"When you take the liberty", Mr. Parkes observed in another letter, "of
suggesting to me that I should apply to Mr. Robertson for his exact
meaning, I must remind you that for five years you have constantly
impressed upon me that his word was not to be depended upon in anything,
and that there was nothing in the world which he was not capable of
doing." And, thinking he was quite justified in demanding from Sir James
Martin an explicit interpretation of the objectionable paragraph, the
letter proceeded: "As you say that _you are sure_ that the passage in Mr.
Robertson's address does not imply a censure on any of the acts of your
former Administration, and that you do not believe it applies to me
personally, perhaps you will tell me what is its new meaning, so that I
may not be misled by confounding it with the calumny of old times, which
was embodied in the same mind, in the same language.

"I think some excuse may be made for the perplexed light in which I am
compelled to view the strange things that are passing before me. For
more than two years I, and many others, were led by you, and induced to
sacrifice our time and convenience, to incur enmities, and often to act
against our own discretion and sense of propriety, for the purpose of
ejecting Mr. Robertson from the place for which, you were never tired of
assuring us, he was utterly unfit, and which he could not hold without
danger to the country. During all that time we were never told--I do not
think any of us suspected--that the real object for which we were
contending was to enable you and Mr. Robertson to make terms in dividing
between yourselves the offices of State. If Mr. Robertson was the proper
person to be Colonial Secretary, we might have thought, not
unreasonably, that it would be best to keep him in that office when he
had all the prestige and influence of being also the head of the
Administration to enable him to be useful in it. But I venture to say
that it would have been indignantly resented as an aspersion on your
character, if anyone of your followers had been told that you were
leading him into the arms of Mr. Robertson, Mr. Garrett, and Mr.

The relentlessness of the logic of this statement of the position was
equalled only by the severity of the castigation which the letter
administered. The whip was one of scorpions.

"You must not think," the letter continued, "that I am exceeding the
limits of propriety in writing to you in these plain words. You invited
my co-operation, and received my support, on terms of hostility to Mr.
Robertson, in gaining the position which enabled you to do what you have
done. I therefore am entitled to speak. You may think that you have
formed a strong Government. If a 'strong Government' can arise from
severing political attachments, from bringing political enemies into
combination in the place of friends, from destroying the faith of the
people in our public men, and from creating in the popular mind the idea
that political life is a juggle, your Government has the prospect of
being strong.

"I have written this", he said in conclusion, "without any abatement
of my personal regard for yourself, if you will continue to accept it,
and without any change in my wishes for your honour and usefulness.
Depend upon it, he is the best friend who speaks unreservedly when there
is need for it, and you are not likely to hear much plain speaking from

When this correspondence was made public at Mudgee, it was twelve months
old. The proceedings of the Government during the twelve months had
increased Mr. Parkes' disapproval of their position; and, as he appeared
at Mudgee as a candidate who if elected would seek to eject the Ministry
from power, he considered the publication of the correspondence to be
justifiable and useful.

Mudgee sent him back to Parliament, and the Assembly very quickly became
sensible of his presence there again. He had told the Mudgee electors
that he had no wish for office for its own sake, but that any man
standing in the relations he did, who went into Parliament, must be
prepared for office if it legitimately came in his way. It was then, he
considered, not only permissible for him to take it, but his duty to do
so. Office was not far off.

The burning question of the time was that of the border duties. Not only
was it setting the two largest and most important colonies of the
Australian group by the ears; it was stirring up feeling of such
discontent among the people of the southern border districts, as to
threaten the dismemberment from New South Wales of a large and valuable
section of its territory.

The Martin-Robertson Government had conceived the idea that the amount
of money then being paid by Victoria to New South Wales, in lieu of the
collection of duties on goods passing into New South Wales over the
River Murray, was considerably less than it ought to be. It was £60,000,
and the New South Wales Government declared it ought to be at least
£100,000. Victoria, though contending that £60,000 fully represented the
duties on the goods passing across the border, offered to pay whatever
sum a careful investigation of the matter showed to be justifiable,
provided New South Wales agreed to receive that sum whether it should
prove to be more or less than £60,000. To this Sir James Martin refused
to accede; and, at a dinner given him at Albury when on his way to a
conference in Melbourne, he declared his determination to have the

Nothing would induce him to give way. Victoria, he had got it into his
head, was profiting to the extent of at least £40,000 a year at the
expense of New South Wales, and this £40,000 he would have, or
custom-offices should be established along the border and the duties
collected. Intercolonial unfriendliness, or even hostility, he regarded
as insignificant compared with the obligation of getting hold of this
money. Discontent in the border districts troubled him no more than the
time it caused him to expend in taking measures to meet any possible
violation of the law. A threat to forcibly evade the payment of duties,
if border custom-houses should be established, he replied to by
swearing-in special constables and providing other police precautions.
Feeling in the country, criticism in the press, or opposition in
Parliament, had no effect upon his decision. Having the courage of his
convictions he was resolved to carry out his purpose, if it were
possible to do so, though in the face of general disapproval and the
probability of defeat.

Mr. Parkes caused great amusement at the time by an imaginary
description of the ludicrous appearance of Mr. Robertson, dressed in
cocked hat and sword, drilling himself at night on the rocks at Watson's
Bay, preparatory to marching to Albury at the head of a small military
force not long before established in Sydney by the Government. Ridicule,
however, was only one of the weapons he employed to defeat the
intentions of the Ministry. It did good service, as in such situations
it always does. But his trenchant criticism of the Ministerial policy,
and his defence of the public interest, did more.

Immediately on the assembling of Parliament after the Christmas holidays
of 1871, the Government were met by a hostile motion on the subject of
the border duties. Mr. William Forster moved that the terms offered by
the Government of Victoria were reasonable and ought to have been
accepted, that the collection of the duties was highly inexpedient, and
that immediate steps should be taken to obviate any necessity for
collecting them. The resolution was carried by twenty-seven votes to
twenty-three, and the Assembly adjourned in order that the Ministry
might consider their position. It was expected they would resign; but,
to the surprise of everybody, it was announced to the House next day
that the Governor, on the advice of his Ministers, had decided to
dissolve the Parliament. Supply was to be asked for to cover the period
of the elections, but, whether granted or not, the dissolution would
take place.

The course taken by the Governor aroused great indignation; and the
Assembly refused supply.

To most members of the House, as to the majority of the public, a
dissolution of Parliament seemed both unnecessary and unjustifiable. It
did not appear to be difficult to form a new and stable Government from
the Opposition in the Assembly, who could deal with the border duties
question in the way the majority of the House desired. There were
several measures of importance before Parliament requiring immediate
attention. To close the Assembly, and plunge the country into the
turmoil of a general election, would aggravate the border difficulty,
and generally injure the public welfare.

"Deeply influenced by these various considerations, and anxious in
particular to secure peace and the goodwill of our fellow colonists
upon the Border", the Legislative Assembly, by resolution, respectfully
requested His Excellency not to dissolve Parliament at such a critical

The reply of the Governor was a proclamation in a _Government Gazette
Extraordinary_, the next morning, proroguing Parliament preparatory to
sending it to the country. In the afternoon of the day on which the
House declined to grant supply, and passed their resolution protesting
against dissolution, Lord Belmore left Sydney for his country residence
at Sutton Forest; but, very early the next morning, an hour or two after
the division, Sir James Martin was speeding by special train to Moss
Vale, for the purpose of obtaining the authority of the Governor to the
issue of the proclamation necessary to prevent another meeting of the
Assembly. Ignorant of the course Ministers were taking, and not doubting
that His Excellency would receive, with due deference, the respectful
address of the House, and give it fair consideration, hon. members knew
nothing of the prorogation until, going to the Assembly Chamber at the
usual hour in the afternoon, they found the doors closed, and the
_Gazette Extraordinary_ informing them that their presence there was no
longer required.

The general election which followed ended disastrously for the
Government. It was marked with much party zeal and acrimony. In Sydney,
the excitement was very great. The question of the border duties was
that upon which Parliament had been dissolved; but, for electioneering
purposes, the objectionable union upon which the Martin-Robertson
Government had been based, and its results generally, were made the
principal indictment against the Ministry in the speeches of Opposition
candidates at their meetings and on the hustings.

The lead in the attack, and the strength of it, lay with Mr. Parkes.
Though, but a few months previously, he was struggling under a burden of
debt which had compelled his retirement from Parliament and public life,
and had raised about him a hornet's nest of vindictive critics and
calumniators, he was now far-and-away the most popular man in the
country. His presence before an assemblage of electors was everywhere
greeted with enthusiasm. Where other men could not obtain a hearing, he
was listened to with admiration, and cheered to the echo.

Much that he said was eloquent, forcible, and such as to safeguard and
promote the public good. Some passages in his speeches might, with
advantage, have been left unsaid. But electioneering speeches are never
without the spice of extravagance. Serious disorders are believed to
sometimes require remedies of an extreme nature, and votes, in an
election, are frequently won in a good cause by means which those who
have employed them are not, after the struggle is over, always disposed
to defend.

The electors recognised and supported the efforts of Mr. Parkes to
defeat the Ministry. Purity of political life and good government were
his watch-words, and they rang through the country from one end to the
other. His mission was "to break up the factions existing in the
colony, to punish traitors, to vindicate our institutions, and to roll
back the tide of corruption which had set in."

To him one of the worse features in the coalition of Sir James Martin
and Mr. Robertson, was that it had been brought about with the object of
rendering opposition in the Legislative Assembly impossible. For sixteen
years--from the time of the introduction of responsible government--he had
constantly urged the electors to keep in view, above all other
considerations, the necessity for preserving the independence of
Parliament. "Bad men may rise to power," he had said; "bad laws may be
enacted; but you can sooner or later eject the bad men from power, and
erase the bad laws from the statute book. Once, however, degrade your
Parliamentary institutions, and a wrong is done to the country which
will not be remedied during your lifetime."

Occupying a foremost place in the front rank of the opponents of the
Government, it was imperative that, in this general election, he should
appear as a candidate for East Sydney, where Sir James Martin, with
three of his colleagues, expected to be returned. Mr. Parkes announced
that he stood for East Sydney to oppose Sir James Martin; and the
electors responded most cordially. When the contest was over he was at
the top of the poll, with 3,270 votes, while Sir James Martin and his
friends were hopelessly defeated. Some days subsequently, Sir James
Martin found a seat at East Macquarie; but three of the Ministers failed
to secure election anywhere, and were, therefore, not in Parliament when
the elections terminated.

The defeat of the Martin-Robertson Ministry was satisfactory as an
emphatic expression of popular disapproval of both the formation of the
Government and their proceedings; but it was gratifying in another

At this time there were in existence in the colony, with their
headquarters in Sydney, two very active and powerful politico-religious
organizations. They still exist, but are not so powerful today as they
were twenty-five years ago. Now, as then, they seek to rule the
political life of the country; but their influence upon Parliamentary
elections and the formation of Governments is, at the present time, very
much weaker than it was. Their origin can be found in the disturbed
state of public feeling which arose from the circumstances surrounding
O'Farrell's attempted assassination of the Duke of Edinburgh.

Many of the Protestants of the community, conceiving the idea that the
well-being of the country was threatened by all who were of the same
religious faith as that professed by the assassin, banded themselves
together, with the determination to resist all attempts on the part of
Roman Catholics to obtain positions of prominence. In defence of their
right to all advantages open to the people in common, the Roman
Catholics entered upon an organized procedure which became as aggressive
as the association to which they were opposed. Thus the colony came
virtually to be divided into two hostile camps, the operations of which,
were the more objectionable because they were conducted, as far as
possible, with secrecy.

The Protestants, being more numerous than the Roman Catholics, were,
generally, more powerful. Their leaders were men of considerable
influence. Whether this influence was justified, to the extent of the
power which they were able to wield over their followers, is doubtful.
But the idea prevailed that every man who was a member of the
organization was at the bidding of its leaders. The consequence was
that Governments were in a large degree subject to them, and elections
were special objects of their attention. It was boasted by them that
they were able to defeat any candidate, and upset any Government. Whom
they would they set up, and whom they would they pulled down. Nothing
associated with the Government of the country escaped them. Even the
public offices knew them and felt their power, every vacancy being to
them a source of concern, and a means for serving their adherents and
assisting their cause.

The leaders of the Protestant organization gave their support to the
Martin-Robertson Administration, and denounced Mr. Parkes for the
severity of his opposition to it. Mr. Parkes, in return, denounced them;
and condemned their undue interference with politics and public men. He
did so in the Assembly, during the proceedings which led to the defeat
of Sir James Martin and his colleagues, and he repeated it on the

The outcome of the polling at East Sydney, while it was an unmistakeable
condemnation of the Government, was regarded as in a large measure an
emphatic declaration, on the part of a majority of the electors, that
the time had come when the operations of the two religious organizations
should be checked.

Previous to the election Mr. Parkes was warned that he would have to
meet their opposition to his return; and, during the election, the
strongest efforts they were capable of putting forth were used to bring
about his defeat. It was announced that his rejection was certain. But,
as was pointed out afterwards, a greater party in the State than either
of the two organizations, profoundly influenced by the conviction that
there should be in politics no coercion of the kind that had been put in
force, and irresistible in their power when once thoroughly aroused,
appeared on the scene. Free citizens, they declared, should not be
defrauded of their rights by anyone. The cry spread through the
electorate, and right-minded Catholics, as well as Protestants, recorded
their votes in unison with this assertion of their independence.

The triumphant success of Mr. Parkes, said a writer, commenting on the
result of the election and the antagonism of the two organised bodies
against him, was, in no small degree, due to "his defiance of
pretensions which the city had come to feel were both disgraceful and


THE new Parliament met on the last day of April, 1872, and on the day
following was officially opened. Mr. Parkes was elected leader of the

A few days previously the Martin-Robertson Ministry had tendered the
resignation of their offices, but had been requested to remain in their
positions until after there had been transacted the business necessary
to the opening of the session, and to the passing of a supply bill to
cover certain expenditure incurred during the period of the elections.
Three of the Ministers having been rejected by the electors, were not
present in the House.

Lord Belmore, who had dissolved the previous Parliament, had left the
colony for England; and, pending the arrival of his successor, Sir
Alfred Stephen, in his capacity of Chief Justice, was acting as
Governor. Sir Alfred Stephen, with a view to the formation of a new
Government, sent for Mr. Forster.

This he did before Parliament met. Why he should send for Mr. Forster
was not quite clear. Mr. Forster was the member of the Opposition who
moved the motion which brought about the defeat of Sir James Martin and
his colleagues, but the weight of the defeat had proceeded from Mr.
Parkes. There was, however, on the part of some influential members of
the Legislature an intense feeling against Mr. Parkes, and their dearest
wish was to exclude him from any chance of further power.

"I will not", said a member of the Assembly on one occasion, "go the
length of saying that His Excellency will not make the honourable member
a Minister, but I will say that I should deeply regret to see him belong
to any Administration in this country. Whatever his views may be of the
lofty position he thinks he occupies, I, for one, am no believer either
in his exalted position or in his capability to benefit the country in
or out of office." It would not be right to say that this feeling
influenced the Acting Governor, but he must have been aware of its

Mr. Forster accepted the task of forming a new Administration, and
failed. His only chance of success was the co-operation of Mr. Parkes,
and this he refused to have. Leading members of the Opposition whom he
asked to accept office in his Government, and who were ready to do so
provided he sought the assistance of Mr. Parkes, urged him to take that
course. But, though it was plain to everyone that his success depended
upon it, he went his way alone. For several days he tried to get
a Ministry together, the Assembly adjourning twice or three times to
accommodate him, and, ultimately, was obliged to inform the Acting
Governor that his efforts had been futile. Sir Alfred Stephen then sent
for Mr. Parkes.

The announcement of this step was received with mixed feelings both
inside and outside Parliament. While a majority of the members of the
Opposition supported Mr. Parkes, and recognised his claims to office
there were as already mentioned, others in the House who would have
preferred almost anybody else in the position he now occupied. His great
ability was admitted by all; of his powerful influence in politics
everyone was aware; but, so bitter was the enmity which many entertained
towards him, that his exclusion for the remainder of his life from all
chance of place and power would have been to them a matter of the
greatest satisfaction.

Dr. Lang, speaking at a meeting of the electors of East Sydney, and
alluding to this feeling, referred to Mr. Parkes as "that great
grievance, but the friend of the community". The phrase very well
describes the subject of the reference. Mr. Parkes was, in truth, a
great grievance to those who disliked him; but, by the general public,
he was regarded as a friend, ever watchful of their interests, and full
of courage and strength to protect them.

Among the great bulk of the community his popularity was unabated,--in
consequence of the border duties difficulty it had extended; and the
opportunity afforded him to form a Government, of which he would be the
head, was greeted with many manifestations of approval.

The leading journal was disappointed and annoyed. It would have
preferred to have seen Mr. Forster succeed, or even Sir James Martin and
his colleagues remain in office,--in fact almost any Administration
rather than a Government under Mr. Parkes. But it was obliged to admit
that, in the circumstances, there was nothing for the Acting-Governor to
do but send for Mr. Parkes. A new Ministry, it was clear, could not be
formed without him, and those who were not satisfied were obliged to
accept the inevitable. "It was a matter of opening your mouth and
shutting your eyes", it was said. "Such are the turns in the wheel of
fortune that the course of a few months has placed in the Premiership
the man who seemed least likely to attain that distinction." But there
was no alternative, so the leading newspaper of the colony wrote.

To Mr. Parkes himself, the moment was a proud one. In spite of all that
had been done openly and covertly to bring about his political
destruction, he was now in the situation to be more prominent and
powerful than ever. All he had wanted was the opportunity, and it had
come constitutionally, honourably, and with public approval.

Immediately he was entrusted with the duty, Mr. Parkes set about forming
his Ministry. He met with two rebuffs. Desiring to have Mr. (afterwards
Sir) John Hay with him, he offered that gentleman the position of
Vice-President of the Executive Council and Representative of the
Government in the Upper House. Mr. Hay did not see his way to accept
the offer. Mr. Parkes then wrote to Mr. Forster, offering, him the
office of Colonial Treasurer, or any other but that of Colonial
Secretary. Admitting the personal differences between them, he pointed
out that, in the main, their political opinions were the same, and urged
that personal differences should not be permitted to stand in the way of
assistance in the formation of a Government. Mr. Forster met this
apparently well-meant communication with a curt refusal.

The following day the new Ministry was complete.

It consisted of--

   MR. PARKES ...         Colonial Secretary and Premier.

   MR. S. SAMUEL ...      Vice-President of the Executive Council.

   MR. W. R. PIDDINGTON   Colonial Treasurer.

   MR. J. S. FARNELL ...  Secretary for Public Lands.

   MR. J. SUTHERLAND ...  Secretary for Public Works.

   MR. G. A. LLOYD ...    Postmaster-General.

   MR. E. BUTLER ...      Attorney-General.

   MR. J. G. L. INNES ... Solicitor-General.

Formed entirely from the Opposition side of the House, the new
Government consisted almost wholly of men who had worked together in the
Legislature as members of the same party for the same objects. Mr.
Samuel was the only one of the Administration who had not always been on
friendly terms with Mr. Parkes; and nothing had occurred between them to
prevent them from coming together in the same Government. On the whole,
the Ministry was very favourably received.

There were, of course, those who cavilled at it. The association, in the
same Government, of Mr. Parkes and Mr. Butler, was complained of, and
denounced, by some, as worse than the coalition between Sir James Martin
and Mr. Robertson.

Mr. Butler was a native of Ireland and a prominent Roman Catholic. He
was a well-known man by reason of the high position he occupied at the
New South Wales Bar, where he was one of its leaders; and also through
his having been for some years in Parliament, where he had shown ability
which had won respectful attention to his speeches and, on one or two
occasions, had led to his being offered office. But though a gentleman
of education, and generally of liberal tendencies, he was a thorough
Irishman, even to his brogue. Being an Irishman, and a Roman Catholic,
it was not extraordinary that he should be on the side opposite to Mr.
Parkes in the matter of the alleged conspiracy in connection with the
crime of O'Farrell. On all other questions the two were understood to be
in perfect agreement.

They had known each other intimately for most of the time from the date
of the arrival of Mr. Butler in the colony. The _Empire_ had not been long
started when Mr. Butler landed in Sydney, and it happened that Mr.
Parkes was one of the first persons with whom he had any communication.
One of the earliest things he did, after his arrival, was to write for
the _Empire_; and, notwithstanding the O'Farrell incident, the
acquaintanceship--the friendship it really was--between the two did not
cease. This friendship was a sufficient justification for their coming
together in the same Government; and, on this ground, Mr. Butler
defended the course he had taken.

It was somewhat remarkable that his inclusion in the Ministry was
condemned alike by extreme Roman Catholics and extreme Protestants. But
the bulk of those of his own religion saw in his position, as a
prominent member of the Ministry, the safeguard of the interests of all
of their faith, and were satisfied. Archbishop Folding, who has often
been alluded to as the most fair-minded of the prelates who have been at
the head of the Roman Catholic Church in New South Wales, was of the
same opinion. Mr. Butler's presence in the Ministry, as he himself put
it to his constituents, was a guarantee that, while the interests of the
people of the colony generally would be attended to, those of his own
religion would not be overlooked.

Probably this was not absent from the mind of Mr. Parkes when he offered
Mr. Butler the position of Attorney-General. The Ministry was the first
formed under Mr. Parkes. He was not, and had not been for some years, in
the favour of the Roman Catholic portion of the community. The
introduction, into the Government, of a gentleman prominent among them
would placate them and strengthen it. Friendship would justify the offer
of office to Mr. Butler, possibly prompt it also; and the advantage to
the Government of his acceptance of the offer was undeniable.

So far as was known, there was no good reason for condemning the
association of Mr. Parkes and Mr. Butler in the same Ministry. Later on,
circumstances occurred which, to some extent, indicated that in
accepting office, there might have been in the mind of Mr. Butler, a
consideration superior to all others, and one of which the public was
not, at the time, aware; but the relations which had existed between him
and Mr. Parkes, were alone sufficient to justify the course taken in
forming the Government.

The career of the new Ministry commenced under good auspices. The
country was in a highly prosperous condition, and the revenue was
flourishing. The only cloud upon the general brightness was the
difficulty that existed in relation to the border duties. Everything
else was satisfactory.

The first act of the Government was to re-open the question of the
border duties, and deal with it in the light of the offer which the
Victorian Government had made to Sir. James Martin. This was consistent
with the wish of the constituencies, as expressed at the general
election, and with the attitude Mr. Parkes had assumed in regard to the
matter from the first.

Some time elapsed before the necessary arrangement between the two
colonies could be made; but, eventually, an agreement was entered into,
by which Victoria was to pay New South Wales £60,000 a year, as
compensation for the loss of the duties which would have to be paid to
New South Wales if the goods sent by Victoria across the river Murray
were not admitted into the colony free. The tariff of New South Wales at
the time was a protective one, and had been so for some years. Though
not of an extreme kind, for the duties had been imposed for revenue
purposes only, it was sufficient to class New South Wales as a
protectionist colony. The agreement with Victoria, therefore, while it
had for its chief object the removal of irritating customs measures from
the population of the southern border was, to a certain extent,
necessary to the New South Wales fiscal system.

But Mr. Parkes looked beyond the existing condition of affairs. Imbued
with strong free trade views, he saw the possibility of liberating the
sea-ports and the inland borders of the colony from the shackles of a
restricted commerce; and, as head of the Government, he set himself to
the work. In his eyes, it was possible to tell Victoria that she might
keep the £60,000 payable under the agreement, and send her goods, in
any quantity she pleased, across the Murray free of charge or any other
hindrance. It was possible also, with advantage, he was convinced, to
throw New South Wales open to most of the products of the whole world.
The idea was a great one, marked with the courage and boldness of a
far-seeing statesman. Financial embarrassment of a serious kind might,
for a time, follow such a course. Timid men declared it would. But, on
the other hand, there was the prospect of enormously increased trading
operations throughout the colony, and the consequent improved general

On taking office, it was announced by the new Ministry that they were
determined to carry out a policy of free trade; and, consistently with
this announcement, Mr. Parkes steadily kept his object in view. One of
the results was the termination of the agreement with Victoria, a few
months after it was signed, and the free passage of goods across the
southern border.

The declaration, by the Ministry, of a free trade policy was followed by
the introduction of a budget greatly reducing the customs tariff and
virtually making it one of free trade. Victoria, ever alive to her
interests, at once saw in the new policy the danger to herself.
Unrestricted admission of goods into the port of Sydney might mean the
supply of the population along the Murray much more cheaply than they
could be supplied from Melbourne, after the goods sent from there had
paid the heavy Victorian protective duties. The Victorian Government
promptly gave the requisite notice to terminate the agreement respecting
the Border duties; and, in thirty days, it was cancelled, having been in
force only six months. Very shortly afterwards, in the operation of the
new fiscal policy in New South Wales, the compensation which Victoria
had paid, in lieu of duties on her trade across the Murray, became
unnecessary as it was not required.

This incident, and the spirited policy of the Parkes Government,
attracted much notice in the colonies and in England.

The Melbourne _Argus_, writing upon the subject, referred to Mr. Parkes as
"animated by a sincere desire to wrest from Victoria the primacy of the
Australian group, and to reinstate New South Wales in her former pride
of place." "It is a legitimate object of ambition," it said, "and a
noble aim; and he could adopt no wiser or safer method of accomplishing
it than that of freeing the commerce of the country from all artificial

The London _Times_, in a long article, was very eulogistic upon "Mr.
Parkes' spirited measures of fiscal reform". "It cannot be said", it
observed, "that Mr. Parkes' policy is wanting in boldness; but he has
counted the cost, and carries the colony with him with unexpected
unanimity. We do not doubt, and we certainly hope, that his courage will
be rewarded by a large measure of commercial success."

The _Scotsman_ referred to him as "a man with a wonderful history, of
great energy, and who was well imbued with sound principles before he
left England."

But the most important feature of the articles in the press, was the
conviction, in the minds of the writers, of the remarkable advance which
New South Wales had made by adopting the new fiscal policy. Not only did
they see great advantage to herself, but they saw an improved prospect
throughout the Australian colonies. While New South Wales, by adopting
and adhering to a policy of free trade, had everything to gain and
nothing to lose, the other colonies witnessing her success would
probably be educated into the same policy.

Victoria was the head-centre of protection in Australia; and, on that
colony, it was hoped the action of New South Wales would have the good
effect of convincing her of the error of her ways. But the _Argus_ was
doubtful of Victorians taking the matter seriously to heart. It
earnestly wished they might, but saw serious obstacles in the
pertinacious adherence of the colony to a restrictive tariff.

"Our chief hope of a return to right principles, and to reason, in our
fiscal policy," it said, "lies in the lesson which New South Wales
appears likely to read us, and in the emulation which her example will
provoke; for the practical benefits which are accruing to her, from the
wise and prudent reformation of her tariff in the direction of free
trade, are obvious and indisputable." The _Times_, on the same subject,
remarked that "even if Victoria, finally stirred to emulation by the
prosperity of her rival, should forswear her economical heresies, the
latter will still have made solid gains. She will have developed the
system of internal communications, and so strengthened all her interests
and consolidated all her resources. She will have laid the foundations
of a thriving commerce, which Victoria, under a liberal guidance, may
share with her, but cannot pretend ever again to monopolise."

In recognition of his service to the cause of free trade, at this period
of his life, the Cobden Club tendered to Mr. Parkes its congratulations,
elected him an honorary member, and presented him with its gold medal.

Through much of its career success seemed inseparable from the
operations of the Government. The term of office of this Ministry was
remarkable for a substantial and fast-increasing prosperity throughout
the colony, this flourishing state of affairs appearing with the advent
of Mr. Parkes to the position of Premier. Money became plentiful; trade
and commerce increased and extended their operations; industrial
activity, compared with what it had been, assumed a condition which made
it necessary to seriously consider the advisableness of introducing a
vigorous immigration policy to bring into the country the labour
requisite to meet requirements. Through some wonderfully rich finds,
gold mining developed to an extent almost incredible, the output of
gold being enormous. The seasons were propitious; and the pastoral and
agricultural industries were proving sources of wealth to those engaged
in them, and of material benefit to the colony.

Of course, so far as the Ministry was concerned, these circumstances
were merely fortuitous. But they "boomed" the Government greatly. At
the opening of each session of Parliament the Governor's speech
announced, in most satisfactory terms, the continued well-being and
progress of the colony. "The industrial activity consequent on
the continued prosperity of the colony", said His Excellency on one
occasion, "has caused a large increase in the public revenue, which is
sufficient not only to meet the ordinary objects of government, but to
justify the undertaking of important works for the improvement of the
country." And each vice-regal utterance contained a similar
announcement, the wonderful prosperity of the colony forming the most
prominent feature in the speeches to the newly-assembled legislators.

Not only was the Government able to meet ordinary expenditure and to
provide for works and services of general advantage; it found
opportunity, and the means, for materially reducing taxation, and for
making some arrangements for a sinking-fund to lessen the public debt. A
vigorous railway policy, consistent with the interests of the colony at
this period of its existence, was introduced and set in motion. Ocean
mail services, and a perfect system of electric telegraphic cable
communication with the mother country, and with New Zealand, received
attention. The abolition of the _ad valorem_ duties, and of many of the
duties of a specific character, which had placed New South Wales in the
position, and given it the name, of a protectionist colony, and the
simplification of the tariff as much as possible, encouraged outside
commerce, and laid the foundations for the large shipping trade, and the
extended commercial operations, which are carried on in connection with
the colony at the present day.


IN November, 1873, there occurred an event which brought about the
resignation of Mr. Butler from the Ministry, and for a time threatened
its downfall.

Sir Alfred Stephen, who for a number of years had sat upon the Bench of
the Supreme Court as Chief Justice, relinquished that position, and it
became necessary for the Government to appoint his successor. For some
months previous to his actual resignation, it was known that he intended
to retire. He had been a Judge of the Supreme Court of New South Wales
for thirty-four years, during twenty-nine of which he was Chief Justice.
Half of his life had been spent in the service of the country, in one of
the most arduous and responsible positions it is possible for a man to
occupy; and now, having arrived at the age of seventy-one, he was
desirous of spending the remainder of his days in leisure and ease. Full
of years, he was also covered with honours. No colonist had done more;
few had laboured so faithfully and well. As Chief Justice he had adorned
his position; had been held in the highest respect; and had contributed
greatly to the well-being and progress of the colony. The vacancy his
retirement caused it was not easy to fill. There were other able Judges
on the Bench, and there were men of ability at the Bar; but, in any
community, the characteristics which distinguished Sir Alfred Stephen's
judicial career are rare.

Only one man in New South Wales, a leader at the Bar as well as a
prominent politician--Sir James Martin--appeared to be really suitable
for the office; and the position being offered to him, it was accepted.
The appointment was received with public approval, and it was justified
by results. But it was accompanied by a regrettable quarrel between Mr.
Parkes and Mr. Butler, and by the latter's resignation from the office
of Attorney-General.

Mr. Butler wanted the position of Chief Justice. According to the custom
in England he was, he considered, as Attorney-General, entitled to it;
and his right under this practice was strengthened, as he made it known,
by what he declared was a direct and repeated promise on the part of Mr.
Parkes that he should have it.

The appointment of Sir James Martin was made on the 10th November, and
announced on the following day. The Legislative Assembly was informed of
the circumstance by the Speaker reading a letter from Sir James Martin
resigning his seat in the House, and bidding honorable members farewell.
At that time it was not very generally known that Mr. Butler had been
desirous of the position, or that there was any difficulty between him
and Mr. Parkes respecting it. Members of the Assembly were aware that he
had been mentioned as the successor to Sir Alfred Stephen; and the
possibility of his appointment had not only been received with
dissatisfaction, but opposition had been raised to it. The public,
however, knew little. Yet five days before, in consequence of a letter
from Mr. Parkes to him on the subject of the Chief Justiceship, he had
resigned the office of Attorney-General, and was now merely performing
certain of the duties of the position until the Government could make
arrangements for some one to succeed him.

The reading of Sir James Martin's letter in the Assembly gave Mr. Butler
an opportunity for making a statement; and, moving the adjournment of
the House, he explained his position, and placed the public in
possession of a long correspondence between himself and Mr. Parkes, in
which he declared that, until a few days previous to Sir James Martin
being appointed, he had been led to believe that he would be the new
Chief Justice, and that the position had been withheld from him for
reasons that were neither sufficient nor honourable.

According to Mr. Butler, he had been called upon at his chambers by Mr.
Parkes, on the day Sir Alfred Stephen had informed the Government of his
intention to resign, and, without any application on his part for the
position, promised the succession to the office. On a subsequent
occasion, Mr. Parkes, meeting him in the street, had shaken him by the
hand, and congratulated him upon his appointment as a thing in effect
accomplished. Later still, when discussing in Mr. Butler's presence,
with one of their colleagues, the possible consequences of his
appointment, to which the colleague raised objections, Mr. Parkes, so
Mr. Butler asserted, had repelled the apprehensions of the colleague
with flattering remarks upon Mr. Butler's qualifications for the office.
His fitness for the office being in this manner admitted, he then, as
Attorney-General, had, he contended, according to established usage
under responsible government, the first claim to it.

Mr. Parkes, on the other hand, though admitting that he had been, at
first, favourable to Mr. Butler's appointment, denied that the position
had been promised him; and explained how, on several occasions, he had
urged upon Mr. Butler's attention weighty reasons why he should give up
all idea of being the Chief Justice, and remain with the Government as

The correspondence, which was read to the House, told its tale fully.
No one reading it would be disposed to deny that, to a certain extent,
Mr. Parkes had been favourable to Mr. Butler succeeding to the Chief
Justiceship, and had so expressed himself. But it does not appear that
beyond having been, through his friendly feelings towards Mr. Butler,
somewhat impulsive and indiscreet in stating his own view of Mr.
Butler's qualifications and claim, he did anything that could justify
Mr. Butler in concluding that an absolute promise of the appointment had
been made to him.

Though, as the head of the Government, Mr. Parkes had the appointment in
his gift, it was impossible, without risking the destruction of the
Government, for him to avoid consulting his colleagues in the matter,
and most of the Ministers were opposed to Mr. Butler receiving the
position. Opposition to it appeared also both inside and outside
Parliament; and, though Mr. Butler's desire for the office was not, at
that time, sufficiently known to elicit any strong expression of public
opinion on the subject, it was easy to see that his appointment would
not give that satisfaction which was desirable. Reflection convinced Mr.
Parkes that the requirements of the office would be met, and the public
interest best served, by the appointment of Sir James Martin; and,
notwithstanding that the difficulty with Mr. Butler afforded an unusual
opportunity to the enemies of Mr. Parkes, of which they were not slow to
avail themselves, the new Chief Justice was hailed with satisfaction in
every part of the colony.

The correspondence commenced with a letter dated 5th November, 1873, to
Mr. Butler from Mr. Parkes, in which he said that serious doubts had
been awakened in his mind, in a further consideration of the very grave
duty devolving upon the Government in filling the vacancy at the head of
the Judicial Bench.

"In my first deliberate conversation with you," the letter proceeded,
"I expressed my solicitude that you should remain with your colleagues,
and I represented to you that, in my judgment, you would he consulting
your interest as a public man by remaining; but, after listening to your
strongly expressed desire to change your position, I told you, in
conclusion, that I would not stand in your way if you considered it your
duty to accept this high office, and that I would be no party to the
objection raised against you on the ground of your religious faith."

Mr. Parkes foresaw that a strong feeling would manifest itself, in
certain quarters, against the elevation of Mr. Butler to the position of
Chief Justice, and thought it rather inconsiderate on his part that he
should so little regard the disturbing consequences to the Ministry
which were likely to follow his appointment; but he determined to resist
all sectarian pressure. Day by day, however, as the appointment to the
office came nearer, and was made more the subject of public discussion r
he became aware, he told Mr. Butler in this letter, that the objections
to him were not by any means confined to religious grounds, but were
entertained by intelligent persons of his own faith. These objections
were based on the comparative fitness between him and other members of
the Bar for the position, and were raised and argued in the interest of
the administration of justice and the public welfare. One and all, Mr.
Parkes said, who had communicated with him on the subject, and very many
had done so, regarded the possible appointment of Mr. Butler with
disfavour, and not a single opinion had reached him in approval of it.

"They say, very justly," the letter explained, "that the office of Chief
Justice is the highest in the community, not only in its judicial
functions but in its relations to the dearest and tenderest interests of
society, and that it ought to be filled by the member of the Bar
possessing, in the highest degree, the qualifications of learning,
professional character, liberal education, personal standing, and social
recognition; and that neither the Bar nor Society will admit that you
are pointed out by these considerations."

The phrase "social recognition" was unfortunate, and led to much
criticism, and condemnation of Mr. Parkes for his having used it. But
when the opportunity came it was shown that he had not intended it
should convey its generally accepted narrow meaning; his intention was
that it should be taken in the broad sense of recognition by the general
public. As far as he could form an opinion, Mr. Butler's brethren at the
Bar were opposed to his elevation to the vacant office, their opposition
arising not from any narrow prejudice, but from a fair and honourable
jealousy of distinctions being conferred when the requirements of the
position were not met in the person so honoured; and he did not
entertain the faintest doubt that the public generally objected to the

"The estimation in which I hold your personal character, and your great
natural abilities", the letter concluded, "is in no sense altered, and I
treat with scorn the objections urged against you on religious grounds.
But I think I am justified in asking you to reconsider the whole matter,
when I find that, in the judgment of men of all classes and of all
shades of opinion, your appointment would not be the best that could be
made for the country, and when, as you are aware, all our colleagues are
unfavourable to it."

This letter, evidently, was not expected by Mr Butler, and he replied to
it with emphasis.

Stating the circumstances, as they were in his mind, of the interviews
with Mr. Parkes, in which, he asserted, the offer of the Chief
Justiceship had been made without any previous request for it, he said:
"I may then be pardoned for some surprise at your letter of the 5th
instant, written, as it seems to me, as an elaborate vindication of a
foregone conclusion on your part not to confer the appointment upon
me." He excused himself for not answering the objections urged against
him. "I have no desire", he wrote, "to be my own advocate. I am quite
satisfied to be judged in my social and professional character by those
who have no motive to judge me unfairly. When you made me the offer, you
had known me longer and better than any of those objectors, after a
period of twenty years' intimate acquaintance. The influence which,
within a few days, has counteracted your knowledge for that long period,
is best known to yourself." He had not been aware, he said, that his
colleagues, with perhaps one exception, were opposed to his appointment;
he had, in fact, been left under a contrary impression. "As to your
request to me to reconsider the whole matter, it is no longer with me
one of merely personal consideration. I am convinced, notwithstanding
the many disqualifications alleged in your letter, that the 'strong
feeling' to which you refer is the real ground of disqualification.
Entertaining this opinion, it only remains for me to relieve the
Government of all embarrassment by resigning, as I now do, the office of

Mr. Parkes did not wish Mr. Butler to resign; and, desiring that he
should take time for reflection, wrote that he would, for the present,
consider the resignation as not received. "I do not ask you to take
this longer time for your decision," he pointed out, "in deference to
me or my colleagues, but in justice to yourself in a matter to be viewed
entirely in the light of the public interest."

Mr. Butler replied that he had no wish to put the Government to any
inconvenience, and, if the public service required him to hold office
for a few days longer, he was willing to do so.

Writing again, Mr. Parkes addressed Mr. Butler from one of those high
constitutional standpoints for which he was always remarkable. "I
intended to invite you to consider," he said, "in justice to your own
public character, whether in a case where a number of men had, in
political agreement, accepted the office of Government, and were still
agreed upon questions of principle and policy, it was a wise course for
one of them to retire, because objections were conscientiously and
reluctantly raised to his receiving a high judicial appointment. I
thought I had used language sufficiently suggestive of the course of
reflection to which I desired to invite you. I sincerely hope you will
not persist in your resignation. Nothing has occurred, so far as I am
aware, to lead to disagreement between your colleagues and yourself, on
public questions, and, if our political views remain in unbroken
accord, have you really satisfied yourself that it is your duty to leave
the Administration for reasons almost wholly personal in their nature?"

He admitted he was to blame in having taken a course, however sincerely,
which naturally led Mr. Butler to believe that his appointment would not
he objected to by him; but the interview at Mr. Butler's chambers, he
contended, "did not bear the same positive and vivid form", in his
recollection, which it did in that of Mr. Butler, and he could not admit
that he had said anything on that occasion which could be interpretated
into "a promise of the succession to the office of Chief Justice". As
Mr. Butler knew, he explained, he had argued that gentleman's case with
his colleagues, as long as he felt he could do so without violating his
sense of public duty. The obstacle had arisen in "the public sense of
the propriety of the appointment, and in the more careful examination of
the whole case, and the fuller and clearer knowledge which have revealed
themselves to the Government."

They had not taken office together, he was careful to point out, to
enable one of them to receive a high permanent appointment; and, while
he admitted that on hearing Mr. Butler's expressed desire to receive the
appointment, he had assured him that he personally would not stand in
his way, he had held the opinion that Mr. Butler's elevation to the
Bench would lead to serious embarrassment. He admitted also having, on
one occasion, shaken Mr. Butler by the hand and congratulated him;
"but," he wrote, in explanation of this circumstance, "you ought to have
remembered that this was done in a moment of impulse, when you were
labouring under strong feelings of excitement at the sectarian
prejudices which had been raised against you by others; and I think it
is hardly generous to allude to an incident which was so entirely an
ebullition of sympathy and friendship."

His feelings with regard to Mr. Butler were, he asserted, unchanged; but
the question was "whether in the judgment of the community at large, and
in truth," his qualifications for the office of Chief Justice were the
highest. He resented the accusation that he had acted on a foregone
conclusion, but acknowledged that he ought to have arrived at his doubts
earlier. "I am anxious", he declared, "to secure one object as the
result of much thought and consideration, and that is the appointment,
to the office of Chief Justice, of the person best qualified for that
high station, and most acceptable to the colony; and I have no other

There was some further correspondence, in which Mr. Butler charged Mr.
Parkes with breaking faith in the matter of the appointment, owing to
pressure brought to bear on the Government, and otherwise wrote on the
subject with considerable bitterness.

"There is only one ground of really personal feeling in what has
occurred between us in this business", his letter said. "It is that you
did not scruple deliberately and elaborately, and in a letter intended
for public use, to disparage my personal and social standing and
professional character, when the hostile pressure brought to bear upon
the Government made it desirable to find an excuse for breaking faith
with me. It was surely open to you to appoint the gentleman you thought
most competent, without having recourse to such an elaborately
unfriendly proceeding towards one whom you always professed to esteem
as your friend."

In the House there was a good deal of party condemnation of Mr. Parkes,
and to some extent, it made its appearance outside; but the opinion was
almost universal that the right appointment had been made. Virtually
everybody admitted that Sir James Martin was the man, above all others
in the country, fitted for the position.

The question that arises in the matter is whether after Mr. Parkes had
gone so far with regard to Mr. Butler, as he himself admitted he had, he
should have held to that gentleman all through, or, in the light of more
mature consideration and further information, taken the course he did in
giving the position to Sir James Martin. Some persons thought, or, at
least said, that he was bound in honour to give the position to Mr.
Butler; that, having once led him to understand he was favourable to his
succeeding to the office, Mr. Butler should have been appointed. But
those who said this were well aware that, had it been done, there would
have been a much more severe condemnation of Mr. Parkes for taking a
course which only a small section of the people would have considered
the right one, and probably no one would have thought the best in the
public interest. Then it was said that, in offering the position to Sir
James Martin, the chief object of Mr. Parkes had been to get rid of a
formidable political opponent. Yet, though not at the time together in
the Government, the two statesmen had been friends for many years; and
there was no very important advantage to be gained by Mr. Parkes in
effecting the removal of Sir James Martin from political life.

If Mr. Parkes had resigned, and left the appointment of the new Chief
Justice to another Government, probably it would not have assisted Mr.
Butler to the office; and it is quite possible the appointment made
would not have been the one that was made. The singular and convincing
feature of the whole affair was that, while certain persons thought
proper to condemn Mr. Parkes, they admitted he had made the appointment
which not only was best in itself but met with public approval. Even
Mr. Butler considered the appointment an excellent one.

Mr. David Buchanan brought the subject before the Assembly, in a motion
affirming that the conduct of the Colonial Secretary, towards his
colleague the Attorney-General, was unworthy, discreditable, and
deserving of the censure of the House; but the motion was set aside by
the previous question, moved by Mr. Robertson, who was leading the

This result to a motion of censure was sufficient to indicate the
general feeling. The party politically opposed to Mr. Parkes did not
dare go to a vote on the question of condemning him for the course he
had taken. Like most other persons, they were obliged to admit that Sir
James Martin was the right man. But the debate was useful in one
respect. It served to bring to light information which put a clearer
complexion upon the correspondence that had taken place between Mr.
Parkes and Mr. Butler.

It transpired, that, as far back as the 13th October, Mr. Butler was
aware of the strong feeling in Parliament against his appointment. The
knowledge came to him during a debate on an amendment to a motion for
going into committee of ways and means; and he went away from the House
that night, as he said, "a sadder and a wiser man". He at once saw that
it was his duty to consider his position, and he did so; with the result
that he "made up his mind that come what would he would never yield to
such influences". Finding that this feeling against Mr. Butler existed
not only inside, but outside, Parliament--that his appointment would not
give satisfaction--Mr. Parkes first invited Mr. Butler to reconsider and
withdraw the claim he had put forward; and then, seeing that he would
not do so, took the decisive step of appointing the man at the Bar best
qualified for the office, and most likely to meet with public approval.
It is difficult to see what other course, in the public interest, Mr.
Parkes could have taken under the circumstances.


CONTRARY to the expectation of many, the Butler incident, though for a
time wearing a threatening aspect, did not develop into anything
serious. Mr. Butler was not the man to revenge himself by endeavouring
to bring about the downfall of the Ministry; and his disposition to let
the matter rest at the point it had reached when the correspondence
between him and Mr. Parkes was read to the House, disarmed those who
would have used it as a weapon of party warfare.

The Government went on with a good working majority, and with fair
success, for the average term which, in New South Wales, represents the
life of a Ministry. Some difficulty was experienced by the Legislative
Council standing in the way of two great measures it was thought by the
Government and by the Assembly desirable to pass. One of these was a
bill to make the Upper House elective, and the other a bill to amend the
electoral law. The latter Mr. Parkes was able to carry through both
Houses, and make law, some years afterwards, and, by means of it, to
effect some important improvements in the electoral system; the former,
though not lost sight of in subsequent years, did not, at any time, make
material headway beyond the point it reached in 1873.

The alterations in the status of the Council, sought at that time, were
very much the same as those aimed at since. Existing members were to
continue to hold their seats; and provision was made for electing a
certain number of others, and for filling vacancies by the elective

The moving spirit in the Council was Mr. Joseph Docker. Appointed to
that Chamber in 1856, and, during most of his career there, acting in a
ministerial capacity as Representative of the Government, he was well
versed in all the forms and practice of the House, and ever ready in
bringing his knowledge and experience to bear on the matter before it.
Adding to these qualifications a keen and forcible method of debate, and
a gentlemanly bearing, he was a formidable opponent whose defence of the
House he safeguarded it was exceedingly difficult to overcome. As
Postmaster-General in the Martin Ministry of 1866, and representative
of that Government in the Legislative Council, he conducted through the
Upper House the Public Schools Bill of that year; but his association in
that great work with Mr. Parkes in 1866 did not prevent him from
opposing strongly the attempt of the Government to reform the Council
seven years later.

Military reform was another work to which, at this period, Mr. Parkes
set himself. A force of permanent infantry had been established in
Sydney, and, so far as drill and discipline could make them, they were
an exceptionally fine body of men; but there were indications about them
of an expensiveness which many persons considered was not justifiable,
and, in the opinion of others, they were altogether unnecessary.
Permanent artillery might be required for the efficient working of the
harbour batteries, and for the proper defence of some vulnerable parts
of the coast; but the duties of infantry could be well and inexpensively
performed by volunteer corps. This opinion was entertained by Mr.
Parkes; and, immediately the opportunity came, he drew the attention of
Parliament to the subject.

Permanent military service in a country like Australia, he considered,
was in itself an evil, as it tended to withdraw many of the best of the
population from occupations, which, rightly carried on, brought about
national prosperity and progress. Industry and enterprise, not indolence
and mere display, were wanted in New South Wales. The glamour of war was
contemptible, compared with the arts of peace. The country needed a
defence force, but that, with the exception of a small body of men
constantly employed taking care of the guns in the batteries, should be
composed of the general body of the people trained to arms in the
intervals of leisure afforded by their daily work.

Some persons advocated the policy of a small standing army, and defended
the existence of a permanent infantry. Sir James Martin was at the head
of these. To him, indeed, in the main, the country owed both the
permanent infantry, and most of the military expenditure of that day.
But, with the eloquence of strong conviction, the weight of his
popularity, and the confidence he inspired in the community, Mr. Parkes
overthrew all obstacles; and the infantry had to go. The officers and
men were paid a money compensation, and the force was disbanded.

Perhaps the most telling of all the weapons, which Mr. Parkes used in
bringing about this result, was ridicule. A phrase he used in describing
the men instantly attached itself to them, and did as much as anything
to effect their destruction. He called them "painted soldiers"; and,
though the words were used impulsively, in the heat of debate, and were
certainly not justified by the capacity, conduct, or appearance of the
force, they stood out before the public eye, ever afterwards, in bold
letters, as ineffaceable as if stamped upon the uniforms of officers and

A glance at the manner in which the military expenditure of the colony
has, of late years, increased will suggest the conclusion that had the
infantry of 1873 not been disbanded, the expenses of its establishment
during the twenty-three years that have since passed would probably
have been something formidable.

Now and then attempts were made by the Opposition, led by Mr. Robertson,
to oust the Government from office; but, until the Ministry were
actually defeated, these met with little support. At the opening of the
session of Parliament, on 9th September 1873, the leader of the
Opposition moved an amendment on the Address-in-Reply, and was defeated
by a vote of thirty to twelve. On 3rd November, 1874, the opening day of
another session, Mr. Robertson again moved an amendment on the
Address-in-Reply, expressing, on several grounds, dissatisfaction with
the administration of affairs; but the result was the same as before,
the amendment being negatived by twenty-seven votes to thirteen.

On 27th January, 1875, at the opening of a new Parliament, the first
under the Triennial Parliaments Act, the Opposition leader was more
successful, and the Government found themselves in a minority of four,
in a division in which sixty-two members voted.

The question upon which they fell was a peculiar one. About the middle
of 1874 it became generally known, through a paragraph in an evening
newspaper, that the notorious bushranger Frank Gardiner, then
incarcerated in Darlinghurst Gaol, where he was undergoing a sentence of
thirty-two years imprisonment, was about to be released; and
immediately a hubbub arose in protest and condemnation of what, it was
said, the Government intended to do. It was of no avail that
explanations were made to the effect that Gardiner was considered to
have been sufficiently punished; that his liberation had been
recommended by some of the foremost men in the country, including
members of the party in opposition to the Government; that his freedom,
after the serving of a certain proportion of his sentence, had been
promised by the Governor; and that such precautions would be taken as to
prevent the possibility of the prisoner doing any further harm to
society. In certain quarters no effort that could be put forth to
inflame the public mind on the subject was neglected; and, though the
Parker Ministry were simply carrying out what virtually had been
determined before they took office, they were made, by their enemies,
and opponents, to bear the brunt of the public condemnation.

On the 10th June, 1874, Mr. Edward Combes moved an amendment, on a
motion for the House to go into committee of supply, which, by
expressing disapproval of the proposed release of the prisoner Gardiner
and some other long-sentenced prisoners, was, in reality, a motion of
censure. Mr. Combes was neither an old nor a prominent member of the
House; but this did not prevent his amendment from getting considerable
support. The Opposition threw their whole strength in its favour; and,
when the division was taken, the voting was found to be equal,--
twenty-six to twenty-six. Virtually this was a defeat of the Government;
but the Speaker gave his casting vote with those who voted to go into
committee of supply, and for a time na further difficulty arose.
Ministers did not attach much importance to either the division or the
amendment, for the reason that as the prerogative of pardon rested, at
the time, wholly with the Governor, the Government could not be regarded
as responsible for the course which, in Gardiner's case, it had been
decided to take.

Trouble more serious was to come next session. A few days after the
division on Mr. Combes' amendment, Parliament was prorogued; and, on the
day of prorogation, a minute explaining his reasons for the course he
had taken in respect to the prisoner Gardiner, was sent to the
Legislative Assembly, by the Governor, Sir Hercules Robinson. This
minute, which referred to the protests against the release of Gardiner
as clamour unreasonable and unjust, attracted considerable notice, but
did not immediately affect the Government. Parliament met again on the
3rd November; and, though a hostile amendment was moved on the
Address-in-Reply, nothing was said in it of the Governor's minute.

Three weeks afterwards, however, Mr. Combes took the minute in hand, and
moved that it should be taken into consideration by the House in
committee of the whole. The motion was carried by twenty-eight votes to
twenty-six; and, in committee, resolutions were passed expressing regret
that the Governor should have been advised to communicate his minute to
the Assembly, because it was "indefensible in certain of its
allegations"; because, if it was "considered to be an answer to the
respectful And earnest petitions of the people", it was "highly
undesirable to convert the records of this House into a means of
conveying censure or reproof to our constituents"; and because, if it
referred to discussions in the Chamber, then it was "in spirit and
effect a breach of the constitutional privileges of Parliament".

The division upon these resolutions was twenty-eight votes to
twenty-eight; and, though the Speaker gave his casting vote with the
noes, the House, on the motion of Mr. Parkes, at once adjourned, and, a
day or two afterwards, Parliament was dissolved.

It is instructive, at the present day, to recall the excitement which
was aroused over what has since proved to be a very harmless affair.
That the Governor had no intention to wound the feelings of honourable
members, insult the dignity of the Legislative Assembly, or question the
undoubted rights of the public, is now generally admitted. That the
release of Gardiner has had no unfavourable consequence is well-known.
To every individual of the population, with the exception of the
immediate relatives of the bushranger and the police, the _liberé_ has
been as dead to the world as the confinee. The public were not made
aware of the day when the release from gaol took place; and, beyond a
rumour that the released man was shipped to America, nothing has ever
been divulged of the convict's movements. Society has been none the
worse; and, probably, few among those who joined in the outcry of 1874
really believed it would be the worse. But the opportunity was a
favourable one for the opponents of the Government, and the most was
made of it. There was nothing to be gained in trying to punish the
Governor, but there was a good deal of satisfaction in administering the
rod to his advisers.

Ministers did not appear to lose ground in the elections. There was a
good deal said in disapproval of the Gardiner proceedings, and some
indications were apparent that the attacks upon the Government would be
renewed when the new Parliament assembled; but their general policy
seemed to meet with approval.

To the Ministers themselves, it appeared, that on their general policy,
a large majority of members were elected in their favour. But at the
meeting of the Parliament on 27th January, 1875, the Gardiner question,
brought forward again, this time by Mr. Robertson as leader of the
Opposition, put the general policy of the Government in the background;
and the newly elected of the constituencies were called upon to express
their opinions, by their votes, upon the Governor's minute. Mr.
Robertson, adopting the words of Mr. Combes' motion which had brought
about the dissolution of the previous Parliament, moved them as an
amendment on the Address-in-Reply, and the amendment was passed by
thirty-three votes to twenty-nine. The Government, of course, then
resigned; and the first Parkes Ministry came to an end.

A notable result of the trouble over the Gardiner question, in addition
to the defeat of the Government, was a change in relation to the
prerogative of pardon. As Sir Henry Parkes afterwards explained the
matter, the Ministers of the day had forced upon them, by a party
movement, "the choice between responsibility without authority and the
authority of an active judgment coupled with a just responsibility."
Previously the practice had been for the prerogative to be exercised by
the Governor, irrespective of his constitutional advisers; now Mr.
Parkes recommended, and the Governor approved, that it should be
employed on the advice of Ministers. The change was made with some
misgivings as to the wisdom of the proceeding, but it remains to this
day, and operates beneficially.

At this period, Mr. Parkes' speeches displayed a powerfulness, combined
with a wide range of political knowledge clearly understood and well
applied, which equalled anything in his utterances of later years, when
a more matured experience raised him nearer what may be regarded as the
zenith of his career. Always eloquent, his speeches on whatever subject
or in whatever circumstances he spoke, at any period of his life, seldom
showed any sign of weakness; but those who remember the Gardiner
debates, do not forget the unusual force with which the attacks upon the
Government were repelled, the strength with which their position was
defended, or the effect which the scathing denunciation of the tactics
of the Opposition had upon the House. Ever leonine in his appearance, by
reason of a peculiar cast of countenance, the shape of his head, and the
thick growth and manner of wearing his hair, it was not at all uncommon
for him, in the indignation of the moment, when he would roam from one
end of the table to the other, his scornful eloquence thundering from
his lips, to suggest in the minds of those observing him the similarity
of his manner, his voice, and his might, to the characteristics which
mark the strength and superiority of the monarch of the forest.
Frequently since then he was referred to as "the old lion", but at no
period was he more like his prototype, than when, during the last few
days of his first Ministry, he may be said to have been caged but not


THE defeat of the Government was followed by the return to power of Mr.
Robertson, who formed a Ministry which held office from February, 1875,
to March, 1877.

The new Government had a politically wild time, principally in
consequence of proceedings on the part of their Minister for Lands,
which gave rise to much comment outside, as well as inside, Parliament.

Mr. Parkes was not slow to take his part in this criticism, and, when
necessary, to condemn what he considered deserved condemnation. The
manner in which his Ministry had been ejected from office, was not such as
to lead him to be very friendly to those who took its place; but no
active hostility was shown by him, as leader of the Opposition, for the
first few months, nor until the circumstances of the time appeared to
warrant it.

He gave some attention to the public school question. The movement to
further popularise the educational system of the colony, which
afterwards developed into the League whose watchwords were "secular,
compulsory, and free", was beginning to show some signs of progress; and
Mr. Parkes, opposed to any radical changes in the existing system,
appeared to think that the zeal of the reformers might be neutralised,
if he could bring about some modifications, which, while not
interfering with the great principles underlying the system, would
largely increase the number of schools at much less cost, than hitherto
had been the case, to the people requiring them. One direction in which
this might be done was the repeal of the regulation, then in force,
requiring one-third of the cost of the public schools to be raised by
the residents of the localities where schools were wanted. Mr. Parkes
proposed that this repeal should be effected, and the Assembly agreeing,
it was done.

In July, of 1875, rumour was abroad respecting the Minister for Lands,
and an appointment said to have been mads or procured in the interests
of an acquaintance or friend. Eventually it came under the notice of
the Assembly, and the Minister was obliged to defend himself. It is
right to say that no direct charge was made against him, that little
more definite than rumour was connected with the matter, and that he
made an explanation, that was not disproved, of the circumstances which
appeared to have led to the rumour. The incident is of interest here
only so far as it associated itself with Mr. Parkes.

He, as the head of the Opposition, could not fail to take some notice of
what was talked of concerning the Minister; and, as was natural,
information on the subject was brought to him by some of those acting
politically with him.

The Minister for Lands declared that a conspiracy existed to blacken
his character, and eject him from office; and he charged Mr. Parkes with
being one of the conspirators. Though quite unfounded, the charge served
its purpose. The Minister was a master of parliamentary tactics and
political fence; and a favourite method of his in defending himself from
attack was to adroitly hide the allegations against himself behind
counter-charges against his accusers. On this occasion, not only did he
charge Mr. Parkes with conspiracy, but by means of a rule of Parliament,
and the aid of some of his friends, he was able to make the charge
without Mr. Parkes being afforded a fair opportunity to reply to it. To
Mr. Parkes this mattered little, for the groundlessness of the charge
was palpable; but it was an indication, among others, of a state of
feeling in the House not to be commended.

The charge of conspiracy, it scarcely need be said, was not carried
beyond the statement of the Minister for Lands and the speeches that
followed it. Except for the express purpose for which it was made, it
was worthless. It did its work when the Minister succeeded in inducing
the House to believe that instead of being in the position of the
accused, he was the accuser; and it was then dropped. The allegations
against the Minister also resulted in nothing definite; but it was the
destiny of the Ministry to bear him, for much of its existence, like a
millstone around its neck, and ultimately to be ejected from office
largely through his proceedings.

Before the year was out, Mr. Parkes made an effort to bring about the
defeat of the Government on their policy with regard to immigration and
railway construction. The provision made for the former did not appear
to him to be desirable, and he objected to a proposed expenditure of
£1,100,000 for railways from Sydney to Wollongong, and Junee to
Narrandera. Judging from results, the proposal to construct the south
coast railway was a wise one; that to construct a line from Junee to
Narrandera unwise. Mr. Parkes dealt with these matters by moving an
amendment on the motion to go into committee of ways and means, and the
amendment was negatived by thirty-four votes to twenty-two.

Just twelve months afterwards, at the opening of a session, he moved an
amendment on the Address-in-Reply, expressing dissatisfaction with
the manner in which the government of the colony was being administered;
and he found himself with a slightly increased following, the voting for
the amendment being twenty-five, and against it thirty-two. The
Opposition were gaining strength, and there were indications that the
Government would not much longer have a majority. They were losing
support principally through their Minister for Lands. Several times they
suffered defeat on important matters; but, determined to retain their
positions, if possible, they remained in office for some months longer.

Becoming weary of this, Mr. Parkes began to think of retiring from the
leadership of the Opposition. Some of the party sitting on that side of
the House were not as loyal to him as they might have been, and that
added to the unsatisfactoriness of the position. In August, 1876, while
addressing the people of West Maitland, and at the close of a scathing
criticism of the Robertson Government, he said of himself:-

"My tastes, my personal desires, my associations in life, would never
lead me to the Legislative Assembly. I much prefer my home. I prefer
spending my time--what remains of life to me--in a very different way; and
I only attend in my place in Parliament, because I am honoured with the
confidence of that portion of the country which, time after time, has
sent me there with triumphant majorities. I have long learned the lesson
which was taught to a young member of Parliament by Sydney Smith, years
ago, when he said: 'Be loyal to your party as far as you can without
being untrue to yourself. Do what you conceive to be your duty. Put out
whatever abilities you possess in performing it. Think nothing of
office. If it comes honourably, take it. If it does not come honourably,
do not feel a twinge of regret in refusing it.'"

The Christmas recess of 1876-7 had scarcely commenced when he addressed
a circular to members of the Opposition, informing them of his intention
to relinquish the position of their leader. He was living at Ashfield;
and, dating the circular from there, he pointed out that, soon after his
retirement from office in the beginning of 1875, he intimated to several
members of the party his unwillingness to assume any office in the
Assembly which would entail upon him special labours and
responsibilities. Since that time, however, he had been led to take a
part which had insensibly merged into that of nominal leadership. With
this position he had never felt satisfied; and several circumstances
which had occurred, and to which he did not wish to make further
allusion, combined with personal considerations of which every man must
be his own judge, had induced him to inquire whether, in justice to his
political friends and himself, it was his duty to continue to occupy it.

A very little examination of the case convinced him that the duties of
leadership, at that time, required, for their satisfactory performance,
abilities and qualifications which he did not consider he possessed,
and must necessarily impose personal sacrifices, and an amount of
continuous labour, for which he was not prepared. He had, therefore,
decided to limit his political obligations, after the reassembling of
Parliament, to the discharge of his duties as an individual member.

The circular concluded with the statement that he had addressed it to
all members opposed to the existing Administration, in order that steps
might be taken, during the Christmas adjournment, to make such
arrangements as might be satisfactory to the Opposition generally, for
the conduct of their proceedings in the House.

This announcement of his intention to retire was variously received.
Some persons experienced a feeling of satisfaction, under the impression
that it would clear the way for new men to come forward. Others
professed to doubt the permanency of the retirement, and to express the
opinion that, when the right opportunity presented itself, Mr. Parkes
would step to the front again and lead as vigorously as ever. Friends or
foes, however, could not but feel some regret at the disappearance, even
temporarily, of a striking personality, from the fighting rank of his
party; and most persons, recognising the great value of his services in
Parliament, hoped that he would soon see his way to re-occupy the
leading position, for which no one else had shown himself to be so well

Several meetings were held to elect a new leader; but there was no
immediate result, and, for some time, the Opposition was in a state of
disorganization. Eventually a ballot was taken, and the choice fell
upon Mr. W. R. Piddington. It was, perhaps, the best selection that
could be made; but it was of little usefulness.

Mr. Piddington was one of the oldest members of the House; he could
boast some experience in the administration of government; and he was
well acquainted with Parliamentary rule and practice. But he had none of
the more special attributes which are necessary to success as a leader.
He never impressed the House, or the public, with a sense of strength or
tactical skill. Though earnest and conscientious in the discharge of his
duties, he was in no way conspicuous for political ability. Mr. David
Buchanan, for many years a member of the Legislative Assembly, and one
who possessed much natural talent which found an outlet through a
caustic pen, and a tongue that, at times, was a master of invective,
once described him as looking like a pilot in his Sunday clothes, with
the pretence of being a financier, but, beyond a fluency of utterance,
pointless and ineffective in all he did. There was a never-varying
sameness in his style that wearied and annoyed those who listened to
him. Sir John Robertson aptly likened him to an organ-grinder, And his
speeches to the tiresome tunes of a hurdy-gurdy ground out in endless
repetition. His favourite subject was finance. On that he could speak by
the hour; and, so interminable was his criticism, that its value was
lost in its length and dreariness.

It was not to be wondered at that the leadership of Mr. Piddington was a
failure. Those who sat on the same side of the House with him, though
they elected him to the position of leader, did not show much
disposition to follow him; and, while he voted on one side, the majority
of them voted on the other. In February of 1877, he tried the effect of
a motion of censure against the Government, for the manner in which they
were administering the affairs of the country; and, on that occasion,
his party went with him, the Government escaping by a majority of three
in a division of twenty-six to twenty-nine; but it was all along
evident, that if the Government were to be overthrown, it would have to
be done by some abler hand than his.

The following month, the Opposition met to consider the position of
affairs, and it was decided that another motion of censure should be
moved. But the question arose of who was to move it. Mr. Piddington had
failed a week or two previously, and it did not seem likely that, if he
took this second motion in hand, he would be more successful. He himself
solved the difficulty by proposing that the motion should be made by Mr.
Parkes. There appeared to be no one else with the shadow of a chance of
success. The party agreed that Mr. Parkes should be asked to lead the
attack; and he consented. It was an early reappearance from the
retirement into which his resignation, scarcely three months before, had
sent him; but, as the Opposition seemed unable to do without him, he
considered it to be his duty, at their request, to resume his former

The House was informed of the circumstances, and notice was given that
Mr. Parkes would move--"That the retention of office by Ministers, after
having suffered within nine sitting days four several defeats on motions
expressive of condemnation and want of confidence, is subversive of the
principles of the Constitution." Very little time was occupied by the
motion. Moved early in the afternoon of the 6th March, it was taken to a
division the same night, and the Government were defeated by thirty-one
votes to twenty-eight.

They advised the Governor to dissolve Parliament; and time would have
been saved, and the political situation greatly improved, if the advice
had been followed.

The Assembly had drifted into a very unsatisfactory state; it had
become almost demoralized; and a general election was the only remedy
that seemed likely to do any good. But the Governor, though willing to
grant a dissolution, attached to his acceptance of the advice of his
Ministers to take this course, the condition that they must first obtain
supply to cover the period of the elections; and this the Assembly
refused. No one with a clear sense of the state of affairs could have
expected anything different. Aware that their being sent to the country
depended upon the granting of supply, it was not at all probable that
members would take a course which would deprive them of their seats. The
House declined "to grant supplies to a defeated Government under
circumstances which would, in all probability, result in two general
elections within a short period of time"; and the Robertson Government
were obliged to resign.

This brought Mr. Parkes into power again at the head of his second
Ministry. Sent for by the Governor, on the resignation of Mr. Robertson
and his colleagues, he formed an Administration in which the offices
were allotted as follows:-

HENRY PARKES               ... Colonial Secretary & Premier.


FRANCIS BATHURST SUTTOR    ... Minister of Justice & Public Instruction.

RICHARD DRIVER             ... Secretary for Lands.

JAMES HOSKINS              ... Secretary for Public Works.

WILLIAM CHARLES WINDEYER   ... Attorney-General.

GEORGE ALFRED LLOYD        ... Secretary for Mines.

SAUL SAMUEL, C.M.G.        ... Postmaster-General.

The Ministry was a good one collectively and individually. Three of them
were new to office--Mr. Suttor, Mr. Driver, and Mr. Hoskins; but they
were men of education and experience, and did not, in any way, weaken
the Government as a whole. Had the condition of the Assembly been
satisfactory, the new Administration would probably have done good
service. As it was, they were able to do but very little; and, in less
than five months, were obliged to resign, on a division which took the
business of the House out of their hands. This was a motion for
adjournment moved by Mr. Robertson. A few days previously they had been
defeated on a motion, moved by Mr. Garrett, relative to the
interpretation of a section of the Lands Act.

Even had they escaped these difficulties, they could not have made much
headway in the existing Assembly. So disorganized had the House, by this
time, become, that its business was virtually at a standstill.
Obstruction and disorder were frequent, and it was with difficulty that
the proceedings were kept under anything like control. Added to this,
there was a feeling manifesting itself that the chiefs of the two sides
in the House should retire from active leadership, and so make way for
others. People began to talk of the see-saw change of office between Mr.
Parkes and Mr. Robertson. This had an injurious effect upon politics;
and, assisted as it was by the demoralized condition of the Assembly, it
added to the difficulties of the Government. It was destined to make
itself felt, a few months later, in an unwise, and even cruel, manner at
the polls. At present it was but assisting to hamper the operations of
the Ministry.

Mr. Parkes, on being defeated in the Assembly, counselled the Governor,
as Mr. Robertson had done, to dissolve Parliament; but, finding that His
Excellency would only do this on the same condition as in the case of
the Robertson Government, he declined to become a party to a qualified
acceptance of the advice of Ministers, and, with his colleagues,
resigned. The resignation was followed by another Robertson Ministry,
and, in two months, by a general election.


THE two leaders of the Assembly went before the electors knighted. The
title of K.C.M.G. had just been conferred upon them. Mr. Parkes had
previously been offered the companionship of the order--C.M.G.--and had
declined it; not, as he said, because he underrated its value, but
because of his disinclination to accept any title.

The knighthood was regarded as a just recognition of the performance of
great services in the public interest, but it was not popular.
Distinctions of this kind never have been popular in New South Wales, or
in any of the Australasian colonies. They do not fit in with the
democratic sentiment, or suitably accommodate themselves to the style
of address usual, among a people where, it may be said, every man is
supposed to be in social rank the equal of his fellow. Certainly the
knighthood did not make matters smoother in the Assembly. Business did
not show satisfactory signs of progress. The two principal parties were
so evenly balanced, and there was such a constant struggle of the one to
overthrow the other, that satisfactory work was out of the question.

One great evil was that the balance of power rested with two or three
members. These formed a kind of independent or cross-bench party whose
intentions, at any time of crisis, were absolutely secret until
disclosed by their votes. Virtually they ruled the House. They were not
of the stamp of men who could be approached, sounded, and made
subservient to influence. When their vote was vital to the result, in
any division about to be taken, no method existed of ascertaining how
the vote would be given before it was recorded.

They, like others, seemed to think that the frequent change of
Government from that of Sir Henry Parkes to that of Sir John Robertson,
and from that of Sir John Robertson to that of Sir Henry Parkes, had
gone on long enough, and that some new men should be brought forward. It
did not appear to occur to those who desired the two veterans to stand
aside for others, that it was possible for the two, if they could be
brought together in the same Government, to do more towards the
stability of an Administration, and the progress of its work, than had
been done for many years before. The one idea in their minds was "new

The cry of "new blood" was raised in the elections; and, with the
unthinking portion of the public, it had its effect.

Sir Henry Parkes went into the contest with reluctance. At his meetings
in East Sydney, for which electorate he was a candidate, he told the
electors that his inclination was not to offer himself for election. For
some time previously the proceedings in the Assembly had wearied him of
his seat there, and led him to feel that it was utterly impossible for
any set of men to do in Parliament that work which the electors had a
right to see done. For the previous five or six years, he pointed out,
no Government had been sufficiently strong to follow their own
convictions. They had been obliged to give way on every side, in order
to secure a majority and to retain their power. He did not underestimate
the honour of being returned for the constituency, but he showed no
anxiety for it. At the same time he was confident of succeeding in the
contest, for, at one of his meetings, he declared that there would be
such a sprinkling of support from every street and alley, from every
palace, every workshop, and every poor man's home, that he would be at
the head of the poll by 500 votes.

The nomination proceedings took place on 22nd October, and twelve
candidates were proposed. Among them were Mr. John Macintosh, Mr.
(afterwards Sir) Alexander Stuart, Mr. John Davies, and Mr. James

The last mentioned was making his first appearance as an aspirant for
Parliamentary honours. The cause of the Education League, of which he
was the founder and the head, had led him to relinquish everything for
politics; and his candidature was pushed by his friends to the utmost.
His advocacy of educational reform had brought him under the notice of
the public generally, and shown him to be possessed of qualities likely
to be of great use in Parliament. A graduate of the University of
London, with intellectual qualifications of a high order, and great
facility of utterance, he had arrived in the colony, from England, in
the capacity of a trained Minister of the Gospel, to fill the pulpit of
the leading Baptist Church of Sydney; and, in that position and as a
public lecturer, had acquired a reputation for scholarship, a wide range
of information, keenness of observation, deep insight into questions of
cause and effect, and unusual power of expression. The large assemblage
which invariably gathered to hear him was, at no time, the limit of the
number of those who gave heed to his sermons and his platform addresses;
and, for years previous to the formation of the Public Schools League,
he was regarded as a man of prominence.

He had unbounded confidence in his political prospects, and his
supporters had implicit confidence in him. No one could hear him speak,
or read his speeches, without being impressed by the wide extent of his
knowledge and his deep insight into, and clear exposition of, great
principles. But there ran through many of his public addresses,
particularly those delivered during this general election, an indication
that he was attempting too much, that he was overestimating his powers,
and that in the endeavour to accomplish everything he would in the end
have accomplished nothing. He was, however, a formidable opponent in
the contest at East Sydney.

Mr. Macintosh, Mr. Stuart, and Mr. Davies were also in the position of
being well supported r each for special reasons. Mr. Macintosh, a very
worthy colonist, had many friends on the grounds of his being, as he was
described in his advertisements, "a hard-working man, an upright man,
a good neighbour, a good citizen, a good alderman". Mr. Stuart was a
champion of the educational policy favoured by the two great religious
bodies in the colony, and a man of some Parliamentary experience and
statesmanlike ability. Mr. Davies enjoyed the confidence of important
organizations whose influence in colonial politics had always been

At the nomination proceedings Sir Henry Parkes was not well received. It
was with difficulty that he obtained a hearing. But the show of hands
was in his favour, and the interruption during his speech from the
hustings was attributed, by his friends, to the enmity of certain
sections only of the assembled crowd. Three days afterwards the polling
took place, and the city and the colony were startled by the
announcement that he had been rejected. Four of the candidates were
elected, and he was fifth on the poll. Mr. Macintosh headed the list;
Mr. Davies came second; Mr. Greenwood was third; and Mr. Stuart fourth.
Sir Henry Parkes was eighty-seven votes below the number polled by Mr.

It was a bitter moment for him. "I come here," he had told the East
Sydney electors at one of his meetings, "after a political connection,
which, although severed for short periods, was first riveted by your
votes nearly a quarter of a century ago." For more than twenty-four
years he had been fighting the battles of the people, devoting the prime
of his life to the public interest, and now he was rudely cast aside as
one who was no longer wanted. Can it be wondered at that, in the
bitterness of his feelings, the sense of the injustice done him, he told
the electors they had closed the door of his political life for ever?

Fortunately his political career had not ended, for it was determined by
his friends that it should not end in such a manner.

Offers of seats were telegraphed from all parts of the country, and it
was not doubted that he would be returned by some constituency and sit
in the new Parliament. But, personally, he would take no step to secure
his election. He declined all offers. In one day he despatched to the
country no fewer than twenty-five refusals.

His friends decided to bring him out for Canterbury, and advertised his
candidature for that constituency. Seeing the advertisements, he wrote
declaring he was not a candidate, and that he would not consent to be
nominated. But his friends persisted. They held meetings in his favour;
they proposed him to the Canterbury electors on nomination day; and
finally they had him elected. He was returned at the top of the poll,
nearly 200 votes ahead of the other candidates.

A wave of regret at the action of the electors of East Sydney had passed
over the colony, and everyone now seemed anxious to do what he could to
undo the defeat. The people of Canterbury seized with avidity the
opportunity to bring him back to Parliamentary life. He, recognizing
their public spirit and appreciating their sympathy, appeared before
them at the declaration of the poll, and consented to sit for the
electorate. "The man must be made of sorry stuff," he said, "who would
not be stirred to the depths of his inmost nature by their generous
conduct and the triumph accorded him. They had nobly responded to the
appeal of his friends, and, by honourably placing him above all others
on the poll, had acted in accordance with the desire of the great body
of the people throughout the country."

Meantime an examination of the voting at East Sydney revealed the fact
that, but for the overzeal of the supporters of two of the successful
candidates, which led them to plump for their favourites, Sir Henry
Parkes would not have been rejected. Had his friends known he was
exposed to danger in this direction it could have been met by their
plumping for him. But, not suspecting anything of the kind, they
distributed their votes, and he lost his chance of being returned.

A careful scrutiny of the returns of the voting led to this conclusion.
It was estimated that about three-sevenths of those who recorded their
votes had voted for Sir Henry Parkes; but the plumping for favourite
candidates, the splitting of votes, and other cross purposes in the
election, had made it inevitable that he should be beaten. The working
man's vote, it was thought had been withheld from him, because of the
outspokenness of his views on free trade and immigration; but this he
denied. He was, however, of the same opinion as those who attributed his
defeat to the plumping resorted to in the interests of his opponents.
"Had the election to take place again tomorrow," the _Herald_ wrote,
"it is probable that Sir Henry Parkes would be among the four successful
candidates, and, practically, therefore, he owes his defeat less to the
separation between him and the working men than to the peculiar tactics
of our defective electioneering system."

Before the Canterbury election had taken place, West Sydney, apparently
following the example set it by East Sydney, rejected Sir John
Robertson. This increased the sensation which the city elections caused,
but did not exclude Sir John from the new Parliament. Very quickly he
found a seat at both East Macquarie and Mudgee, and, with his
colleagues, met the Assembly when the new Parliament opened.

But the general election did not result in giving either Government or
Opposition that strength necessary to satisfactorily carry on the
affairs of the country. The evenness of the members on each side, which
had made the progress of business in the previous Parliament difficult,
had, to a certain extent, disappeared; but not sufficiently to enable
either the party in office, or that in opposition, to rule.

Parliament assembled on the 27th November, and the Government were
immediately met by an amendment on the Address-in-Reply to the
Governor's opening speech, expressing want of confidence in them. It was
moved by Mr. James S. Farnell.

Just before the session opened, the Opposition met to consider the
political position, and, at the meeting, Mr. Farnell submitted the
amendment as one he intended to propose. Sir Henry Parkes was present;
but the fact that Mr. Farnell's intention to move the amendment was
approved by general consent was an indication that Sir Henry was not, at
the time, regarded as the chosen leader of the party. They had, in fact,
no leader. Sir Henry Parkes was nominally at their head by force of
experience and political standing, but they were not in that organised
state which makes it necessary to have a duly elected and recognised
chief, to whom shall be left the business of leading an attack upon the
Government. They were little more than a number of members in general
agreement, to anyone of whom it was open to take what hostile action he
pleased against the party in power.

Notwithstanding this, however, Sir Henry Parkes interested himself in
Mr. Farnell's amendment, so far as to give him some advice as to its
composition, and to induce him to alter it in a manner likely to make it
more effective. The result was that it proved successful, for it was
carried by thirty-three votes to thirty-two. Such a small majority did
not indicate a quiet life for the new Ministry, whoever might compose
it; but, as another dissolution was out of the question, a new Ministry
had to be formed.

Sir Henry Parkes was sent for by the Governor, and he accepted the duty
of endeavouring to form a new Administration. The choice of His
Excellency excited some comment, for, in addition to the feeling that it
would be well to see if a stable Government could be formed apart from
either Sir Henry Parkes or Sir John Robertson, 'it was considered by
many that, as Mr. Farnell had brought about the defeat of the Robertson
party, the formation of the new Government should have been entrusted to

His friends determined that he should have the opportunity. Though aware
of the fact that the carrying of a vital motion or amendment against a
Government, does not entail upon the Crown the necessity to entrust to
the mover of the motion the duty of forming a new Administration, they
set themselves to prevent Sir Henry Parkes from being successful. No
member of the party, of the prominence desirable, would join him. He
first endeavoured to secure the co-operation of Mr. Farnell, and did not
succeed. Then he sought the assistance of other members of experience
and reputation in the House, and again failed. More than ordinary
difficulty met him in every direction.

Unwilling to abandon his undertaking, he tried day after day--longer,
perhaps, than he ought to have done--and then was obliged to return his
commission to the Governor. He could have formed an Administration, he
wrote, when informing His Excellency of his want of success,--one which,
so far as he could see, would have the confidence of Parliament in a
sufficient degree to proceed with public business; but, owing to
circumstances unprecedented in the political annals of the colony, he
had failed in bringing together members of the Assembly who,
collectively, would have sufficient strength to conduct the affairs of
the country for any length of time in an efficient and satisfactory
manner. He therefore was obliged to relinquish his task, and make way
for some one else.

That some one else was Mr. Farnell; and the Farnell-Fitzpatrick Ministry
came into office, where it was to remain for just twelve months, and
then give place to another Government under Sir Henry Parkes.


A trenchant and very successful method in the hands of Sir Henry Parkes
for damaging the prospects of a Ministry, and one frequently employed,
was to make a tour through some of the country districts, and delivered
a series of political speeches to the people.

Though ostensibly addressing himself to the comparatively small
gathering of townsfolk or farmers of some country township or village,
his voice reached the ears of the population throughout the colony, and
seldom was ineffective. In the country districts he was always popular,
and his speeches, backed by his strong personality, damaged many
Ministries and carried many elections.

Wherever people existed, and he made his appearance in their
neighbourhood, they flocked to hear him; sometimes in crowds, and, at
other times, in smaller numbers, just as the population of the place
permitted, but always to listen with eagerness and pleasure to what he
had to say. Mostly his audiences were large; but he would make before a
gathering of less than twenty persons, where he had to wait until a box
was found as a rest for the reporter's notebook, a speech, which, for
the time, was the best reading matter in the newspapers and a thing of
interest throughout the land.

No one in the public life of New South Wales stood so high in the
estimation of the people generally; and, though in Sydney there were
times when his popularity seemed to have lessened, if only temporarily,
in the country districts it never waned. Not being concerned with the
strife which occasionally divided the Sydney constituencies, the people
of the country looked only at the services he had rendered in the public
interest, at the weight of his political experience and judgment, and at
the instructive nature of his speeches. They listened, and learned, and
profited, and they always held him in admiration.

In many respects these country tours of Sir Henry Parkes resembled those
of the great Liberal leader--Mr. Gladstone--in England. Allowing for the
difference in the number of the population, there was the same
enthusiasm, the same admiration, the same respect. The questions with
which the speeches dealt were, in most instances, smaller, by reason of
the difference in the political life of the two countries; but the
thoughtful exposition of great principles, the earnest advocacy of good
government, and the high estimate of the duties of a citizen in a
country of free institutions, were identical.

About six months after the Farnell Ministry entered upon the duties of
office, Sir Henry Parkes determined upon a tour through some of the
Western Districts of New South Wales; and he visited Orange, Molong,
Wellington, Dubbo, Gulgong, and Mudgee. The reverse which he had
suffered at the hands of the electors of East Sydney during the general
election, and the obstacles that had stood in his way in the Assembly
for the previous year or so, found no approval among the people with
whom he now placed himself in contact. Receiving him with open arms they
met him in procession, presented him with laudatory addresses,
entertained him at public banquets, and assembled almost to a man to
hear him speak.

It was his first active crusade, in this form, against what he
considered to be misgovernment, and in advocacy of the duties of
citizenship in the exercise of the franchise. It was also conspicuous
for affording examples of other work he engaged in during his political
life. This included his speeches on books and reading.

A great reader and lover of books himself, some of the best of his
addresses were delivered at the opening of mechanics' institutes and
schools of art. His advice with respect to the choice of books, the
study of the authors most qualified to teach and improve, and the value
of the information acquired by properly directed and systematic reading,
was attractive and useful not only to those immediately interested, but
to the public generally, who acquainted themselves with his speeches
upon these subjects from the reports of them published in the

He was equally successful in addressing himself to children. No one was
more capable than he of speaking to an assemblage of young people,
especially if they were attending one of the public schools. In such a
case, he was able not only to interest the children by addressing them
in an entertaining manner, but to impart to them, in simple language
which they could well understand and appreciate, the great possibilities
within their reach from the privileges they enjoyed, if their
opportunities for making the most of those privileges were properly
recognised and used.

These three classes of oratory marked this western tour; and, for fully
a fortnight, the press was engaged chronicling his utterances and his
progress from one town or district to another.

Speaking upon the welfare of the colony as a whole, compared with
advantages to a single district only, of the importance of Australia as
compared with New South Wales, and of the principles which should
prevail in legislation and in government, he said--

"Let us cultivate the feeling and conviction that every district in the
country will progress best, in the degree in which it is bound up with
the prosperity of all the districts in the country. Your great desire
should be for the general prosperity; and, if the country is in a state
of general prosperity, this district, as all others, must share in that
prosperity. I for one go much further than this, and I am not desirous
for the prosperity and progress of New South Wales at the expense of
the other colonies. I look to the time when Australian interests will be
identical throughout this land, from sea to sea, and when those
jealousies which have grown up, to bitter form in some instances, will
have passed away, and each colony will believe that its prosperity will
be best promoted by the prosperity of the free communities around it.

"Just in the same way I am anxious that we should, more and more,
cultivate a feeling of free citizenship, a feeling of nationality, and
have more of New South Wales and less of any particular district in
which we live . . . I believe the true philosophy of our political
system is to elect members for particular districts in order that, in
the collective body of the Legislature, we should gather up a variety
of forms of intelligence, a variety in the knowledge of the condition of
the country's resources; but, while that is the case, that the members
should legislate for the whole country and not for any particular
district . . . No interest of any district ought to be considered beyond
its legitimate claim to consideration.

"The principles which ought to prevail in legislation and in government
are as eternal, and as clear, as the very heavens bending above us. They
are equality of treatment, justice to all, definiteness in dealing with
mankind; and, beyond these great broad principles of treating all alike,
dealing out even-handed justice to all alike, telling all men in
definite terms what rights they are entitled to, and giving in definite
terms just claims to those rights, anything in the shape of
favouritism--favouring special interests at the expense of others--will,
in the end, recoil with bitter misfortune on the whole country."

And, proceeding more closely to the question of government, he went

"Free government, under our political system, means that the affairs of
the country should be managed by men who, by their services, by their
intelligence, by the proofs that they have given of integrity, command
the confidence of the people. It does not mean that the affairs of the
country should be in the hands of persons who by promises, by an
improper dispensation of patronage, or by what there is no other word
for than 'jobbing', can for the moment get a majority of votes.
Government by parliamentary majority, fairly won--won in the open
daylight, by the merits of the persons who win it, is one of the best
forms of government in the world. Government under our form of
constitution, by men who receive the support of a majority got together
by unseen processes, by back-door influence, by means which the public
know nothing about, is the worst, or, if not the worst, nearly the worst
form of government."

The great difficulty in a country like this, he pointed out, was the
want of an educated leisured class properly instructed in politics and
the science of government.

"There is one great drawback to the working out of our institutions to
which older and more compact countries are not subject. In older and
more compact countries, such for example as England, there is always a
leisured class which is trained to the study of political questions.
There is always a class which, from the cradle to the grave, mingles
with persons who have made government their chief study: and this class
is composed of men who have had every advantage of the highest forms of
education. They are, as a rule, men of the most sensitive honour, quick
to obey the obligations of public life, thinking more of their public
reputation than of any other end; and hence the government is conducted
upon principles of strict purity; hence it is conducted with a broad and
comprehensive attention to the clear ends of government.

"But in a colony like ours, every man has to struggle for existence.
Even the men who hold broad acres amongst us, the men in possession of
large estates, have lived a more laborious life than men of
corresponding wealth in older countries, and have little time to attend
to any subject, except those they attend to in prosecuting their own
interests. When they get into Parliament, as they occasionally do, they
have to turn their attention to political questions for the first time.
They turn their attention to these questions under circumstances and
modes of life quite new to them, and frequently are entirely deceived
during the first years of their Parliamentary existence,--until, in fact,
they probably lose their seats and never appear in Parliament again.
Thus our Parliamentary life is made up of novices,--of the actions,
purposes, and thoughts of novices,--who are not sufficiently long
engaged in it to mature their views, or make themselves thoroughly
acquainted with the state of things with which they have to deal; and
many of the crudities and mistakes which arise may be traced by thinking
persons to these causes." How necessary, under such circumstances, it is
for both the people and those they elect to Parliament, to have their
respective duties clearly set before them, lie fully recognised.

"The duty of every true member of Parliament", he explained on this
occasion, "is to support the popular rule, to keep a sharp eye on the
growth of abuses, to keep a tight hand upon the public purse; to see
that the liberties of the people are in no point affected, that the
public money is in no profligate manner expended; and to stand right
across the path of any Minister who would indulge in abuses in order to
preserve himself in power. It is certainly not the duty of any member of
Parliament to be for ever trotting at the heels of a Minister, for ever
introducing deputations and asking little favours."

"If the time should ever come," he further said on this subject,--"and I
trust it will come as education spreads, and young men of the country
grow up with other feelings and other objects of ambition--when we shall
have gentlemen forming the Legislature, who consider that government
itself can confer no honour upon them, that being freely returned by a
body of free electors they have attained the highest position which they
can have in a country like this, where they value their independence
above all else, you will have a Legislature more robust, more manly,
more deserving, and more patriotic than any you have yet seen. I for
one", he went on to say, "do not despair for the successful working of
our free institutions; but I look more to the diffusion of knowledge
among the people, to a cultivation of the perception of the duties of a
citizen, to the greater value attached to an elector's vote, than to any
members entering Parliament. Whenever the electors of this country shall
form a high idea of their advantages, and cherish in themselves a
resolute and manly spirit to perform their duty above all
considerations, the result will be a high and independent and proud

These words may be read with benefit by everybody; for, though taken
from a speech delivered over twenty years ago, they are as applicable to
the political life of the colony today as they were to that of the time
when they were spoken.

The addresses of Sir Henry Parkes upon books and reading frequently
contained references to other methods for brightening life, especially
life in the more scattered districts of the country. A favourite topic
in this direction was cottage-gardening and the beautifying of homes
with flowers.

"In a land like ours," he said at the opening of the School of Arts at
Molong, "men and women must of necessity, in the remote towns and in
other country places, live under circumstances of everyday life which
are more rough than elegant, more calculated to imbrute than refine,
more calculated to inculcate a taste for the mere physical enjoyments of
life than for the higher and finer moral enjoyments. For this reason it
is, in the highest sense, desirable that we, all of us, do what we can
to bring about our homes those associations of everyday life which have
a more refining and more elevating tendency. Hence the man does not
perform a light service who by example, by encouragement, endeavours to
induce other men and women to some extent to beautify their homes. . .
There is no home in all this land, be it built of slabs or even sheets
of bark, that might not be rendered more beautiful, more attractive, or
more endearing by the simple act of planting a few flowers around it;
and there is no person so poor, or destitute of resources, that he
cannot brighten and enliven his dwelling in this way. . . I am very
sorry to say that this mode of enriching life is too much neglected
amidst the rough and hard cares to which men are subject. But neglected
as it is, it is really a comforting consideration to think that, in
every town of any importance, there are men found who, by their united
efforts, create institutions for the elevation of the mind, in the
absence of much that might be done, and is not done, for strewing the
common path of our life with flowers."

It was not out of place that, in addresses of this kind, to audiences
largely composed of working men, he should sometimes allude to the
humble circumstances of his early life, and to his persevering efforts
to advance himself.

"There is no passage of my life", he said on this occasion, "of which I
am prouder, than that, when I had to undertake a day's manual toil, I
always tried to fulfil my task manfully and well. I was a tradesman,
and came to this colony as such; and, if I had continued so, probably my
life would have been spent more happily. But there is nothing of what I
have accomplished, of which I am prouder, than that I understood my
trade, and could work beside any of my fellow-labourers. If I no longer
occupy a position of that kind, if I have had to associate with
different persons and perform very different kinds of duties, I have not
the less been a very hard labourer up to the present hour; and I
question whether there is any man, within the wide limits of society
here, who has toiled harder all his life than the person addressing
these words to you."

The criticisms in the speeches during this tour, of the Government in
office, had considerable effect in attracting attention to what others,
besides Sir Henry Parkes, regarded as evidence why the Ministers should
be removed from their positions, and contributed materially to their
downfall, which occurred a few months afterwards.

But unsatisfactory as the Administration in power seemed to be, the
condition of parties in the House was not such as to indicate that an
advantageous change could be made. Apart from Sir Henry Parkes and Sir
John Robertson, no suitable leader was apparent; and the followers of
the two knights were so evenly balanced in numbers, that it did not
appear possible for either to return to office with any chance of
remaining there. Unless the Farnell Ministry were kept where they were,
the old oscillation of the ministerial pendulum from Sir Henry Parkes to
Sir John Robertson, and from Sir John Robertson to Sir Henry Parkes,
seemed inevitable. And yet the Assembly was not long in deciding that,
come what would, Mr. Farnell and his colleagues must go. They did go
after, as already mentioned, an existence of just twelve months, when
they were defeated by a nearly two-to-one vote upon their Land Bill;
and, certain unexpected events taking place, they made way for a
Ministry under Sir Henry Parkes, which proved to be the strongest, the
longest-lived, and one of the most useful in the parliamentary history
of the colony.


GREATER surprises than two experienced in the month of December, 1878,
never fell upon the people of New South Wales. Bemoaning the want of a
strong and stable Government, and anticipating, with the defeat of the
Farnell Ministry, a sustained struggle for office between Sir Henry
Parkes and Sir John Robertson, they were suddenly startled by the
announcement that Sir John Robertson, determining to retire from public
life, had resigned his seat in the Assembly. The sensation was great,
for Sir John Robertson was always popular; and, notwithstanding the
inconvenience which arose from his constant efforts for office, his
public services were recognised and highly appreciated. His retirement
from Parliamentary life, in which he had been one of the most
conspicuous figures for nearly a quarter of a century, was the last
thing expected; and, after astonishment, the prominent feeling was

Scarcely, however, had the people begun to recover from this
extraordinary incident, than it was made known that Sir John Robertson
had consented to join the new Administration, under Sir Henry Parkes, as
Vice-President of the Executive Council and Representative of the
Government in the Upper House. To say that the surprise increased is but
mildly descriptive of the feeling this additional announcement aroused.
The public were amazed, but, with their amazement, came a sense of
relief and satisfaction. A strong Government was assured, for the union
of the two Opposition chiefs promised an end to disorganization in
Parliament, and, consequently, a satisfactory rate of progress with
public business.

What had led to the new position was very simple. On the defeat of the
Farnell Ministry Sir John Robertson had been commissioned by the
Governor to form a new Government, and had failed. He succeeded so far
as to submit the names of an Administration to His Excellency, but, the
House refusing supply in the form he desired it, he relinquished the
duty placed upon him by the Governor, before he and those who were to
have been his colleagues were sworn in. At the same time, he determined
to resign from the Assembly. Weary of the disordered condition of the
House, and convinced that the existence of three parties there was fatal
to the possibility of good government, he felt it would be wise for him
to retire. He did so; and the way was made clear for Sir Henry Parkes as
against Mr. Farnell. It was cleared also sufficiently for the two
parties forming the Opposition to come together. The patriotic
abnegation of self, which Sir John Robertson had shown by his
resignation, and the statement of his reasons for the step he had
taken, led his followers and those of Sir Henry Parkes to consider
whether they might not sink their differences, and, for the purposes of
good government, join their forces and act in concert. Once the idea was
mooted, and began to be considered, it was seen how easily it might be
carried into effect. It was agreed that the parties should join on the
basis of being equally represented in the Administration, and steps were
immediately taken to bring this about.

Sir Henry Parkes was taken by surprise at Sir John Robertson's
resignation from the Assembly, and he lost no time in stating this.
Apparently, it was done without any intimation of the proceeding being
previously made to him; and he could not see sufficient cause for such
an extreme step in the explanation given.

In very generous words, he bore his testimony to the high position Sir
John Robertson had filled in public life, and expressed his regret that
Sir John's great services should so suddenly, and, at a period when he
was still in the full vigour of his faculties, come to an end. Then,
alluding to the relations which, in the course of their careers in
Parliament, had existed between them, he unconsciously showed how easily
the two might have joined in the same Government, and, perhaps, paved
the way for what took place afterwards. They had sat for many years in
the Assembly, he said, from one cause and another on seats opposite each
other, and, whatever those causes were, it would be difficult to trace
them to their true source. It had not been in a conspicuous sense from
political disagreements, for, on broad grounds, they had been in accord
with each other. Nothing more in fact than a fair rivalry for the
position of leader had divided them. Otherwise they were one.

Whether Sir John Robertson entertained any thought of joining Sir Henry
Parkes, as he very quickly did, or of any similar arrangement, when
resigning his seat in the Assembly, has never been, fully explained.
Possibly he did not. The reference to the matter in "Fifty Years of
Australian History" represents the offer of a place in the
Administration to have been made to him by Sir Henry Parkes at Sir
Henry's own instance, "without consultation with anyone". In his
address to his constituents at Canterbury, Sir Henry Parkes said much
the same thing, though with an elaboration which might suggest, to some
minds, that the step was not the result of a sudden idea.

"In accepting His Excellency's commission," he stated, "it was
impossible for me to close my eyes to the manifest evidences that, both
in Parliament and in the country, a strong feeling prevailed in favour
of collecting the available elements for the formation of a strong
government on the basis of an honourable coalition of parties; and my
first step, therefore, was to place myself in communication with the
gentleman who had recently retired from the leadership of the
Opposition, and to urge upon him the duty of reconsidering his
determination, so far as to assist me by accepting a seat in the
Legislative Council as the representative of the new Ministry in that
House. Sir John Robertson, at once, and in the most cordial terms,
expressed the purpose he had already formed to aid me by using his great
influence in promoting the success of my efforts; and, eventually, he
consented to take the position I proposed to him.

The disagreement which had existed between the two having been more
personal than political, and the two sections of the Opposition having
joined in nominating Sir Henry Parkes leader of the consolidated party,
there was really no strong reason why Sir John Robertson should refuse
to join the Government. As he was out of the Assembly it was naturally
proposed that he should be appointed to the Council; and the place in
the Government submitted for his acceptance, while not conferring full
ministerial office, was, next to that of the head of the Ministry, the
position of honour. The Government, as a whole, was constructed
avowedly on the basis of a fair representation of the two recognised
sections of the Opposition; and, to quote Sir Henry Parkes' words, the
coalition had been effected "without any violation of principles or any
marked differences of opinion on leading political questions among its

In connection with the office offered to Sir John Robertson, there was
the difficulty that it did not carry with it any salary; but this was
got over by an arrangement among the other members of the Government, by
which they contributed a portion of their salaries for the purpose of
providing one for Sir John Robertson. In other words, the salaries of
the Ministry were combined and shared; and this arrangement continued
for sixteen months, when the passing of the "Public Instruction Act of
1880" caused the office of Minister of Justice and Public Instruction
to be divided, and brought about the appointment of Sir John Robertson
as Minister of Public Instruction, with the usual ministerial salary.

The Government on its formation, was announced as follows:-

SIR HENRY PARKES         ... Colonial Secretary.
SIR JOHN ROBERTSON       ... Vice-President of the Executive Council, &
                             Representative of the Government in the
                             Legislative Council.
JAMES WATSON             ... Colonial Treasurer.
FRANCIS BATHURST SUTTOR  ... Minister of Justice and Public Instruction.
JAMES HOSKINS            ... Secretary for Lands
JOHN LACKEY              ... Secretary for Public Works.
SAUL SAMUEL              ... Postmaster-General.
EZEKIEL ALEXANDER BAKER  ... Secretary for Mines.

All but Mr. Watson had previously been in office, and he, though new to
official life, soon showed a special aptitude for the position to which
he had been appointed. Most of the Ministers were able men. At first
sight, they seemed to be a combination, which, from old personal
antagonisms, would find it difficult to work in harmony, but it was
wonderful how well they acted together through the long period which
comprised their existence.

Many persons, though rejoiced to see the two parliamentary chiefs in the
same Government, felt somewhat puzzled at their being together. Some
remembered that, in a speech, delivered only ten years before, Sir Henry
had emphatically declared that, if he lived fifty years, he could not
politically associate himself with Sir John Robertson in any way. Others
could not forget that Sir John Robertson had never wearied of denouncing
Sir Henry Parkes, and, on one well-known occasion, had gone so far as to
threaten him with a criminal prosecution for certain alleged proceedings
with papers connected with the Colonial Secretary's Office.
Incongruities appeared also in the memories of many concerning the
relations between other members of the Ministry.

But these recollections, and the comments they suggested, soon
disappeared in the satisfaction created by the useful and important
measures which the Government were able to pass. The association of the
two chiefs had, in fact, been expected, by some persons who had narrowly
watched the Assembly, some twelve months earlier than it took place; but
matters were not then quite ripe for it. When Mr. Farnell formed what
was known as the Third Party, which subsequently helped him into power,
it was thought that Sir Henry Parkes and Sir John Robertson would unite;
but the Third Party and the Farnell Government, as events happened, were
allowed to run their course, and to drop into the background from sheer
inability to retain the position they had assumed.

The new Ministry, though not free from mistakes, produced an exceedingly
creditable record of legislative and executive work, They amended the
electoral law, passed the Public Instruction Act, under which the
present system of state education is administered, materially altered
the liquor licensing law, restricted the immigration of Chinese, brought
into existence the procedure by which children are boarded out by the
state, established the existing systems of water supply and sewerage for
the metropolis and the country, introduced the practice under which
land for public purposes is acquired by the Government, substituted for
the old and inefficient system of honorary police court magistrates the
appointment of stipendiary magistrates, extended and regulated the
liability of employers in relation to injuries to workmen, regulated
the fisheries of the colony, made provision for schools of anatomy, and
greatly improved the practice of dealing with the insane. In addition to
all this, they were able to leave, when retiring from office, a surplus
at the Treasury of nearly £2,000,000.

The change in the public school system was not brought about with the
unqualified approval of Sir Henry Parkes. He was satisfied with the law
of 1866, which, by the natural development and operation of its
principles, was, in his opinion, amply fulfilling all that had been
expected of it. Instead of radically altering or "tinkering with" the
machinery of what was doing so much good, it was a wiser policy, he had
always held, to let the Act continue in the satisfactory way it was
working, assisting its beneficial effects by efforts to improve its
administration wherever improvement was possible. Liberty of conscience
and differences of opinion had been respected by it, while it had
imparted instruction "to all classes, in all conditions, and under all
circumstances", throughout the colony.

He did not sympathize with the maintenance of purely denominational
schools, but he had contended that, so long as the revenues of the
country were appropriated for the purposes of education, no right
existed to apply them in a way that would exclude a large proportion of
the population from the benefits obtained from that expenditure.

He had not been backward in expressing the belief that, on this
question, the Legislature ought, as far as it could, to respect the
convictions and associations, and even the prejudices, or what might be
regarded as the unsound opinions, of all persons. For the sake of a thin
unsustainable theory, for the sake of carrying out impracticable whims,
were we, he had asked, going to shut up such magnificent schools as St.
Philip's, St. Mary's, and St. James', and put the country to the expense
of building other school-houses which could supply no better kind of
education? No advantage could be gained by such a course; the only
result would be to gratify the whim of bigoted religionists or equally
bigoted secularists.

Considering the circumstances of the population, the differences of
opinion, and even the prejudices which prevailed in the country, we had,
he had argued, a law sufficiently elastic to accommodate itself to all
conditions of our Australian life, sufficiently comprehensive to reach
all its proper objects, and economical enough to avoid all extravagant

As late as the middle of the year 1875, he had spoken warmly and
eloquently in this manner, during a debate in the Legislative Assembly,
upon a motion moved by Mr. (now Sir) George Dibbs, for the amendment of
the Public Schools Act, in the direction of discontinuing the assistance
given from the public funds to denominational schools.

But it came about that the system was made the subject of virulent
attack by two powerful, and, curiously enough, directly opposite
parties: one the secularists who, while desiring to secularise the
system, wanted to make state primary education compulsory and free, and
the other the leaders of the Roman Catholic Church in the colony, headed
by the late Archbishop Vaughan, whose efforts were untiringly put forth
in denouncing the secularism of the public schools, and in endeavouring
to secure, for their own schools, a full share of the public expenditure
devoted to state education.

Archbishop Vaughan, a man of high education, and one of the most
eloquent speakers ever heard in Australia, had denounced the state
schools as seed-plots of immorality and crime. He had aroused an
interest and activity among the adherents of his Church, and among
members of the Church of England, which irritated and alarmed those
disposed to stand by the educational system as it existed. So persistent
were his attacks, that the indignation of the friends and supporters of
the public schools began to give way, in some quarters, and among these
that in which Sir Henry Parkes moved, to a determination to increase the
safeguards which were intended to preserve the educational system from,
denominational control or influence. If the large privileges, which the
system offered to denominationalists, were to be spurned, with a view
to undermining and destroying the system itself, then it was but natural
that those, who had given these privileges, should seek to retaliate by
abolishing them. But while some persons were influenced by a feeling of
retaliation, others saw that, by removing the remnant of
denominationalism entirely from the state-supported schools, the system
would be both purified and strengthened. While the enemy had a footing
in the camp, be it ever so slight, the position was endangered. Exclude
him, and it was safe.

It was surprising that Dr. Vaughan did not see, or seem to see, the
probable result of the attitude he assumed. From the time of the passing
of the Public Schools Act until this period, and from then till now, the
vast majority of the population of New South Wales have been warm
supporters of the public schools. At no time could the Roman Catholic
portion of the people upset the system. Not even when supported in their
action by a proportion of the adherents of the Church of England, have
they been able to effect any serious harm. But their attacks have been a
source of irritation and disquiet; and the very circumstance that the
concessions to them, under the law, at this time, gave them a certain
right to advance their own interests, though it might be by destroying
the interests of others, was regarded as a strong reason why the special
privileges afforded them under the Act should be withdrawn.

Archbishop Vaughan, himself, was a splendid type of the fighting
Englishman, and the education question afforded him ample opportunity
for a display of his fighting qualities. Expert with his pen, as with
his voice, he could attack with judgment, neatness, and effect; and he
could receive, with equanimity and good humour, the chastisement that
his opponents were able to give him in return. From his residence at
St. John's College, letters to the press, and pamphlets and speeches to
his co-religionists, came with a frequency unknown previously in
connection with his church in Australia. All were brilliant and
forceful, though sectarian from beginning to end, and not always free
from features more objectionable; but their very brilliancy and
forcefulness, by stirring the fighting opponents of the Archbishop, and,
at their back, the general public, to greater activity, assisted largely
to defeat the objects of their author.

The Public Schools League had grown large and strong. Probably, if Sir
Henry Parkes had not included the amendment of the system of state
education in the programme of his Government, the matter would have
been taken out of his hands, and the work done by someone else. Inside
and outside Parliament, the feeling that the system should be entirely
secular, and both compulsory and free, influenced apparently the
majority. Secularization would remove the disturbing element of
denominationalism; compulsion would extend the benefits of the
instruction given in the schools to every child in the land; freedom
from expense to all but the state would justify compulsion.

As already mentioned, Mr. James Greenwood had entered the Legislative
Assembly as the champion of the new doctrine only a year before the
Parkes-Robertson Government assumed office. The question of state
education was a subject of intense interest to him. He had, in respect
of it, all the earnestness and enthusiasm of the reformer, and the
breadth and strength of view of the statesman. Extensive reading had
made him acquainted with the fullest information regarding the various
educational systems of the world, and a remarkable capacity for
understanding and dissecting statistics enabled him to arrive at
definite conclusions as to their relative or individual value.

He could not see why the education provided and paid for by the state,
should not be wholly national,--by which he meant that it should be
within reach of everybody on the most economical and equitable terms,
without distinction of class or creed. To associate it in any way with
the beliefs or opinions of any sect was, in his opinion, to do that with
which the state had properly no concern. The expenditure of public money
obtained from the people by taxation should be, he argued, for the
general and equal benefit of all. No class of the people could have a
just claim to the expenditure of public funds on denominational or other
sectional ground. Yet under the existing system, as he pointed out, the
denominational schools were costing the state far more than the public
schools, with much inferior results.

It was equally clear, to his mind, that state education should be
compulsory; the necessity for it being apparent in the large number of
children of school age in the colony, who were proved by statistics to
be growing up in almost total ignorance. National, secular, compulsory,
and free were the cardinal principles of his convictions on the subject
of public instruction; and having, with the assistance of some friends,
formed the League, he carried its banner through the country, and,
finally, into Parliament. James Greenwood, and his followers
throughout the land, had, in their way, as much to do with the passing
of the Public Instruction Act as Archbishop Vaughan.

Several changes in the composition of the Ministry took place during its
long existence. Some of these were consequent upon the passing of the
Public Instruction Act, which led to a division of the offices of
Minister of Justice and Public Instruction and the appointment of an
additional Minister. But others, and these the chief, were owing to
trouble which came upon the Administration in 1881 in connection with
what was known as the Milburn Creek Copper Mining Company Inquiry. The
member of the Ministry who, when the Government was formed, was
appointed Secretary for Mines, became involved in a transaction
associated with this mining company which, eventually, led to his
temporary expulsion from Parliament; but, before this took place, it
brought about the resignation of Sir John Robertson from the Government,
and the admission into the Ministry, in consequence, of the present
Chief Justice, Sir Frederick (then Mr.) Darley, and Mr. S. C. Brown. A
rearrangement of portfolios, after the passing of the Public Instruction
Act, brought to the office of Minister for Justice, Sir J. G. L. Innes,
who, less than twelve months after wards, was appointed a Judge of the
Supreme Court, and was succeeded in the Ministry by Mr. (afterwards Mr.
Justice) Foster. Mr. (now Sir) W. C. Windeyer retired in 1879 from the
position of Attorney-General, to take that of Acting Judge of the
Supreme Court, and was appointed to a permanent judgeship two months
before Sir George Innes was elevated to the Bench. Mr. Windeyer was
succeeded in the Attorney-Generalship by the late Sir (then Mr.) Robert
Wisdom. Mr. (now Sir) Saul Samuel left the Post Office in August, 1880,
to take up the position of Agent-General of the colony in London; and
his place in the Ministry was filled, first by Mr. F. B. Suttor,
temporarily, and, after wards, successively by Mr. S. C. Brown and Mr.
Alexander Campbell. One other member of the Cabinet in its later life,
not in it when the Government was first formed, was Dr. (now Sir) Arthur
Renwick, who became Secretary for Mines in October, 1881.

So many changes in the composition of a Ministry, would, in ordinary
cases, indicate weakness in the Administration; but, until Sir John
Robertson's resignation, there was no evidence that the strength of the
Government had in any degree lessened. Even when Sir John Robertson's
retirement seemed, for a time, to threaten the downfall of the
Administration, the readiness of Sir Frederick Darley and Mr. S. C.
Brown to come forward and assist the Government out of its difficulty
removed all fear of disaster. The Government went on very much as
before. When, with the termination of the proceedings in Parliament
relating to the Milburn Creek inquiry, Sir John Robertson was able to
re-enter the Ministry, as he did, its original strength appeared to
return; and from that time, until difficulties which arose on the land
question began to affect the stability of the Ministry, the union
between the two chiefs and their respective parties was not affected by
anything likely to shake or destroy it.

The Milburn Creek episode forms a very unpleasant incident in the
Parliamentary history of New South Wales. Left as a legacy by the
preceding Government, it became the duty of the Government of Sir Henry
Parkes and Sir John Robertson, to submit to arbitration a claim of the
Milburn Creek Copper Mining Company to compensation for loss of land
obtained by them as a mineral lease, and afterwards taken from them by a
decision of the Supreme Court in favour of a party who had selected the
land as a conditional purchase before the Milburn Creek Company's lease
was ratified.

The claim of the company to compensation was regarded by most persons as
just and indisputable. It had been inquired into by a select committee
of the Assembly, and the committee had decided that the claim merited
recognition by the Government. The only question that then required to
be determined was the amount of compensation that should be paid. The
mine had been carefully examined by Government experts, and the claim
investigated in its various bearings; and the arbitrators were
empowered, under instructions from the Government, to award any sum not
exceeding £26,000. They awarded between £16,000 and £17,000.

An undesirable feature in the matter was the circumstance that the
Minister for Mines was one of the principal members of the company. Up
to the time the compensation was voted by Parliament, he appeared to act
with tact and delicacy of feeling, taking no part whatever in assisting
the claim; and afterwards, according to his explanation, he acted simply
in justification of the position he held in the company. But no sooner
was compensation voted, and the apportionment of the money by the
trustees or directors made, than complications arose, strong disapproval
being expressed by some of the shareholders.

This might not have been of much effect if it had not found its way into
the newspapers. Publicity brought it under the attention of the
Legislative Assembly, where from the first some members had regarded the
whole matter with suspicion; and it then became necessary, that the
published statement of the manner in which the money voted by Parliament
had been divided by the trustees, should be searchingly investigated.

Anxious to probe the matter to the bottom, if only to give all concerned
in the company an opportunity for speaking out fully and clearly, the
Government issued a Royal Commission to Mr. {now Sir) Julian E.
Salomons; and that gentleman, after careful inquiry, forwarded to the
Government a report, so sensational in some respects that it awakened
widespread interest. The Minister for Mines, who had shortly before
resigned his ministerial office, was charged with improperly receiving
a share of the money awarded; and a charge of endeavouring to benefit
from the compensation, in a corrupt manner, was made against another
prominent member of the Assembly, the late Mr. Thomas Garrett.

Sir Henry Parkes took immediate action. He had entertained no suspicion
of anything discreditable in connection with the claim of the company or
the apportionment of the compensation voted. He had regarded his
Minister for Mines as occupying a strictly honourable and proper
position in the matter. He had taken no active part at any stage of the
proceedings but that when the vote of money was actually before the
House for decision; neither the adoption by the House of the select
committee's report, the appointment of the arbitrators, nor the issue of
the Royal Commission, was his work; but lie had never doubted the
propriety of the whole course of procedure, and it had received his
approval. Now, when the Royal Commissioner charged two members of the
House with conduct unworthy of a member, and such as to reflect upon the
honour and dignity of Parliament, and when the evidence, as Sir Henry
Parkes considered, bore out those charges, he determined upon giving the
Legislative Assembly an opportunity for expressing its opinion upon
this conduct.

The subject was discussed by the Cabinet, and a certain course decided
upon. The attention of the House was to be drawn to the report of the
Commissioner, and the House was to be invited to pass resolutions, first
expressing the opinion that the conduct of the two members charged had
been unworthy, and inconsistent with the honour and dignity of
Parliament, and then expelling them.

Sir John Robertson, who could look back upon many years of friendship
and association, in and out of office, with the two members, could not
permit himself to be in the position of their accuser. The tone of his
correspondence at the time indicated his conviction that the case of
each looked very unsatisfactory, and he could only hope that they would
be able to clear themselves of the imputations against them; but he
would not, as a member of the Government, take the action the Government
proposed to take against them, and he resigned.

"I find myself", he wrote to Sir Henry Parkes, "compelled to make
choice between becoming one of the accusers of two gentlemen with whom
I have been, for nearly a quarter of a century, connected in public
life, and to resign my office, and I have determined on taking the
latter course." A chivalrous-minded gentleman throughout his life,
generous to a fault whenever friendship was concerned, he separated
himself from the Government because he would not, at any risk, take part
in what might bring about the ignominious downfall of two who had worked
with him hand-in-hand through many, if not most, of the ups and downs of
his long political career. He thought the matter ought to be dealt with
in the law courts of the country, rather than that the Government should
assume in Parliament the position of accuser; but Sir Henry Parkes held
that the vindication of the honour and character of Parliament was not a
subject for the courts of law, and he could not see that dealing with
members criminally in the law courts "would place them in a more
honourable or better position than being dealt with by their peers in

The resignation of Sir John Robertson embarrassed the Government for a
time, and it saved Mr. Garrett; for, becoming known in the House during
the course of the proceedings relating to him, and being used with
advantage by both Mr. Garrett and his friends, it had the effect of
influencing the voting.

In the case of the Minister for Mines, it was of no avail. When that was
before the House, members were neither aware of the resignation nor of
any want of agreement in the Cabinet. But, if they had known of what had
taken place, it is doubtful whether it would have done the Minister any
good. The charge against him was different from that against Mr.
Garrett, and he was far less popular. Notwithstanding, an explanation
which, to his friends, appeared amply satisfactory, he was expelled;
and, not until the following Parliament, could lie do anything effectual
to remove the injury which this proceeding on the part of the Assembly
did his reputation. Then the motion which had brought about his
expulsion was rescinded, and, subsequently, he was again returned to the
House by the constituency he had previously represented.

Mr. Garrett was saved by a majority of two votes in a division of forty
to thirty-eight. He owed his escape to Sir John Robertson's resignation,
and to the style of speech he adopted in defending himself--an adroit and
masterful appeal to the feelings rather than an explanation of his
conduct. Throughout his parliamentary career, Mr. Garrett was, in many
respects, the ablest member in the House. On this occasion, he surpassed
himself; and his speech stands in the records of the proceedings, as
one of the cleverest ever delivered within the walls of the Assembly.


THE close of the year 1881 found Sir Henry Parkes, still the head of the
Government, on a visit to England.

For some time previously he had been in indifferent health, and, his
indisposition increasing, he had been warned by his medical advisers
that, if he desired any lengthened term of life, it was absolutely
necessary for him to seek change of scene and relaxation. To a busy
man, such as he had always been, relaxation in any form would be but
another kind of work; but a sea voyage, and the pleasant experiences to
which a short stay in the old country would give rise, were certain to
be beneficial. His labours in the Colonial Secretary's office, and in
Parliament, had overtaxed his strength, and he was suffering from some
of the worst effects of overwork.

Away from the Legislative Assembly he lived almost wholly in his office.
An anteroom, furnished plainly as a bedroom, gave him sleeping
accommodation, and his meals, plain as his sleeping apartment, were
provided by his messenger. Though midnight, or any hour of the early
morning, might see him in the Assembly, he was invariably in his chair
at his office-table long before breakfast-time; and there he sat
attending to official papers, receiving callers, or meeting deputations,
throughout the day. If the House adjourned early, he was back in his
office again, resuming his work until midnight. He frequented no club.
He was not of the disposition to fraternise with companions, and stroll
away from the Assembly to spend the evening in idle amusement. His life
was in his work, and his work was his life. No one enjoyed the
satisfaction from labour more than he.

In the gloomy quietness of night, with the flickering gaslight from the
street-lamp just making the sombreness of the heavy door perceptible,
and the grim-looking policeman, on duty there, measuredly walking
to-and-fro, the Colonial Secretary's Office presents anything but an
inviting aspect outside; and inside, in the darkness and solitariness of
the corridors, it is still more depressing. But any night, or early
morning, as the hour of the Assembly's adjourning allowed, the tall
well-proportioned figure of the Premier, his head bent as with
weariness, and his white hair amply showing from under his capacious
silk hat, could be seen approaching the Macquarie Street steps of the
building, preceded by the policeman, with latch key in hand, to open the

People used to say it was not surprising his health broke down, for how
could a man spending most of his time in such a place--night as well as
day--expect to keep well. Yet to him the time he spent there did not
appear to be distasteful. Some of the pleasantest half-hours or hours
were passed with him in his office late at night, by those on such terms
of friendship as justified their calling at such a time. He was always
glad of a visitor whom he knew, at night, if his work permitted of a
chat and an exchange of views. His loneliness may have had something to
do with this; but it was accounted for also by the fact that on such
occasions, freed from the incessant worry of the office-duties of the
day, he was companionable to a degree which not only put the visitor
at his ease, but made his visit an unalloyed delight. At such times he
was brimful of wise talk on politics and other topics of the day, and of
interesting anecdote. The newest of his books, collections of which were
constantly being brought to his room, were produced, and the latest of
his letters from English celebrities shown. Minutes flew like seconds;
the hours, sometimes, like minutes.

His only change from the monotony of his life in Parliament, and in the
Colonial Secretary's Office, was a weekly visit to the Blue Mountains.
There, at Faulconbridge, not far from the railway, he had taken up a
free selection, and built a mountain residence. Constructed of
weatherboards, in the bungalow style, inexpensive, and simple, it stood
on a commanding eminence, looking abroad upon an attractive prospect of
rugged mountaintops and rocky valleys and glens, and, beyond these,
upon a far-off view, which extended to Sydney. The mountainside he had
terraced, and planted with flowers and ornamental trees. The rough rocks
he had covered with clinging vines; and the rocky recesses he had made
homes of the fern and the lily. Native trees or flowering shrubs and
plants, attractive in any respect, had been preserved with as much care
as those obtained from city nurseries were cultivated; and a
blossom-laden Christmas bush, or blushing waratah, was as charming a
picture, amidst its forest surroundings, as any of its rivals of the
garden. In the same way the native five-corner and the geebung vied with
the English currant and the gooseberry. At points of vantage along the
winding paths, statuary in bronze and marble had been placed; and,
wherever the trickling of a mountain rill had gathered about it a nest
of moss or broidery of ferns, the diamonds and emeralds of the little
nook or crook were regarded as precious jewels. So also with the
treasures of the larger waterfalls. They, with their fairy-like
surroundings, were not absent from the estate; and one, some distance
from the house, approached by a descending pathway, was full of interest
to all who appreciated the delicious coolness of the air, the loveliness
and variety of the plant life, and the sweetness of the blending sounds
of falling water, rustling leaves, and singing birds.

One of Sir Henry Parkes' poems describes with pretty effect some of the
natural beauties of the place, and his experiences of them:

"And have we no visions pleasant
Of the playful lyre-tailed pheasant,
As some neighbour bird he mocks
Down among the gully rocks,
In the evenings cool and grateful,
When the storm and all its hateful
Gusts of fury are forgotten?
And of rambles where the rotten
Trees of ancient giant mould,
Felled by ruthless storms of old,
In their robes of golden moss,
Stretch their shattered limbs across
Runlets of sweet water purling
Through the ferns in beauty curling,
Down four hundred feet or more
From our mountain cottage door?
And of rambles on the ranges,
Where wild Nature's aspect changes,
Every step we onward take
Through the tangled flowery brake,
Every step we press the sweet
Woof of flowers beneath our feet:
Shapes dissolve and colours mingle--
Wooded slope to rocky dingle;
Trees by tempests toss'd and torn,
Long ere living man was born,
Standing still on steadfast root;
Currant bushes gemmed with fruit;
Soft clematis, forming bowers,
With its wreaths of pearly flowers;
And the waratahs in state,
With their queenly heads elate,
And their flamy blood-red crowns;
And their stiff-frilled emerald gowns;
And Australia's Christmas trees,
Budding to the wooing breeze;
And the robins and the thrushes,
Flitting through the fragrant bushes."

Clad in easily-fitting long coat, and wideawake felt hat, with stick
like an alpenstock in hand, Sir Henry Parkes, when at his mountain home,
could wander about for hours invigorated in body and mind. Inside the
house there were many things to attract and please--rarities in artistic
furniture, pictures, marble statuary, bronzes, autograph letters, and
choice books. The library teemed with volumes old and new; and adjoining
the main residence was a long roomy structure formed into a veritable
gallery of art, where oil paintings, watercolours, and statuary had
been collected, and were displayed with both tastefulness and effect.
Nothing was more pleasing to Sir Henry than the change from the worry
and oppressiveness of Sydney to the quietude, the bracing atmosphere,
the beautiful surroundings, and the home comforts of this attractive
spot. But it was not often he could get there. Now and then some
invited friends would enjoy his company; occasionally he entertained
there a large party of political and other personages, and distinguished
visitors to the colony; but, as a rule, he was not absent from Sydney on
any day but Saturday or Sunday.

It is not therefore difficult to understand that his close attention to
parliamentary and office duties ultimately began to affect his health;
and, when ill-health, as it did, prostrated him, the bed in the
ante-room of the Colonial Secretary's Office was, For many days,
occupied much more than the office-chair. Sympathy with him, it need
hardly be said, was universal; and, when it was made known that, to
secure a complete recovery, a trip to England was contemplated,
everybody approved.. Mr. David Buchanan, who, on different occasions,
had denounced Sir Henry Parkes with considerable bitterness,
endeavoured to get, by resolution, the cordial approval of Parliament
to a proposal authorising him, while away, to treat with the Government
of any country he might visit, if, in so doing, he advanced the
interests of New South Wales; and another ardent member of the House
moved a resolution, proposing a grant of £3,000, to defray the expenses
of the trip, and enable Sir Henry Parkes to make it with befitting
comfort and dignity.

This money was not voted, for Sir Henry Parkes refused to accept it or
any sum, and induced the mover to withdraw the resolution; but there is
little doubt that, if the proposal had been pressed, the House would not
have hesitated to grant the money, or even a much larger sum, and very
few persons inside or outside Parliament would have complained. High in
the estimation of all but a small minority of opponents, Parliament was
disposed to sanction anything in his honour, so long as it could be
done in order; but he desired to be independent of any grant of public
money, as he did of any private donation; and his determination in this
respect enhanced his reputation.

Outside Parliament his friends and admirers started a movement for
presenting him with a substantial testimonial from the public. But, as
he had met the movement with a similar object in Parliament, so he met
this. He declined to accept anything. As he had done throughout his
career, he took a dignified view of his position; and refused his assent
to anything which tended to affect the purity and influence of the
important office he held.

In a letter, addressed to the secretaries and committee arranging for
the testimonial, he wrote respectfully declining to accept the intended

"Occupying the high place of first Minister of the Government of the
country," his letter stated, "it is clearly my duty, so far as lies in
my power, to preserve my public position from personal entanglement
which, at the present or some future time, might be made the groundwork
of reproach or suspicion."

"Calumny", the letter proceeded, "is on all occasions sufficiently
busy in misrepresenting the actions of men entrusted with power; and,
where the choice is within my own hands, I must choose to hold myself
entirely free to act, if necessary, against the interests of individuals
who may be my political friends. As a matter of principle, which appears
the plainer the more it is examined, I could not reconcile the
acceptance of a gift of money from the public, with my sense of
propriety and obligations as the occupant of a high political office."

All he desired was to be permitted to leave the colony for a short time,
without any recommendation to strangers, except such as might be fairly
drawn from his services to his adopted country. He left the colony for
England at his own expense, taking his daughter with him; the only
contribution in money, from any portion of the public, being a
christmas-box of one hundred and fifty sovereigns, presented to his
daughter, from some of her friends, at the moment of departure.

In the evening before he embarked on board the steamer, he was
entertained at a public banquet, given in his honour, and largely and
influentially attended, by the citizens of Sydney. A few nights previous
both Houses of Parliament, acting together in the matter, had feted him
in a similar manner in the parliamentary refreshment-room. On each
occasion the feeling towards him was remarkably cordial. Nothing was
wanting to show the appreciation in which his services to the country
were held, or the strength of the position he occupied in public regard.

The parliamentary banquet was presided over by Sir John Hay, a man not
given to fulsome adulation, nor even to expressing the merest
compliment undeserved; a man of education, of experience, of
discernment, and of caution. He drew a portrait of Sir Henry Parkes
which, while it does not show all the lines that some might think ought
to be indicated, can be easily recognised and approved as one of truth
and vigour. He had known Sir Henry Parkes in the early days, and had
often been opposed to him. Frequently in the political camps of that
period the Liberal Party as well as the old Conservatives--he had heard
him denounced as a dangerous man. But he had never considered him so. He
had carefully observed him, and had seen that he had studied
politics--that "he had not fallen into politics"; that he had formed
political opinions; that he had embraced principles; and was thoroughly
imbued with the constitutional principles of English freedom and English
Government. Though never known to anyone as a wealthy man, at no time
had anyone been able to connect his name with anything that showed a
tendency to make a market of politics, to benefit his private interests
by the political power he had obtained. He had also, in Sir John Hay's
opinion, developed a considerable character for what would be
recognised, in all quarters, as statesmanship. Though he might, at
times, be mistaken in his views they were taken from a high platform.
He looked a considerable distance ahead. He was not confused in his
views by paltry details which were being transacted around him. He had
looked forward to the future of Australia, with the earnest desire to
found therein a new nation which should emulate the character of the
people from which he had sprung, which should be distinguished by the
sterling qualities of the British race, which should be self-reliant,
and which should carry out, as its inheritance, the tempered freedom
which our ancestors had enjoyed for so many hundreds of years.

It will not be difficult for most people to see, in this language of Sir
John Hay, the strong points of Sir Henry Parkes' character,--points
which led the London _Times_ to speak of him as the "most commanding
figure in Australian politics", and a keen observer of men, and
prominent writer on subjects of national concern, to rank him with Mr.
Gladstone, and the late Sir John Macdonald, of Canada, as one of the
three greatest men in the Empire.

The occasion of the parliamentary banquet brought many recollections to
the memory of Sir Henry Parkes. Twenty-seven years had passed since he
first entered the Legislature; and of all the men who were then
associated with him, only one was at the table that night, only four
were in the Legislature, and he alone of this remnant of the band of
former days was now in the Legislative Assembly. In the friendless
circumstances of his arrival in the colony, and his difficulties in
obtaining employment, he had found a sixpence, picked up by him in the
street, necessary to prevent him from going without food for the day.
Since then he had sat in every Parliament of the country, and had taken
an active part in every important measure which Parliament had passed;
and now he was leaving the colony in the position of Prime Minister,
with the confidence of both Houses of Parliament and of the people.

One thing he prided himself upon was his faithfulness to the opinions
of his early political career. Taking into consideration the arbitrary
conditions of ministerial life, which made it necessary for each man in
a Ministry to give way to another, there being in every Administration
the necessity for compromise, for the purposes of government, he thought
he might fairly claim to have been consistent. From the first he had
expressed opinions, which anyone curious enough to examine them would
find very much in accord with the opinions he now acted upon. But life,
he pointed out, was of small value to any man if it were not used to the
correction of error, to maturing the judgment, to enlarging the
understanding, by all accessible knowledge. For himself, he had been,
from year to year, seeking to educate and mature his faculties, so as to
best adapt them to the service of his fellow-men and of the world.

To some persons there may seem in this a taint of the egotism with which
he was often charged; but there is in it none the less truth, and it was
the truth of the statement which people recognised at the time.

The speech delivered at the banquet given by the citizens was, like that
at the parliamentary dinner, to some extent autobiographical, but
chiefly remarkable for an announcement of the public improvements
which, if he should remain in office, Sir Henry Parkes intended to see
carried out in Sydney during the succeeding ten years. This has
frequently been sneered at as the outpourings of vanity and
boastfulness; but an examination of it will show that though the
opportunity for carrying out the work, essential for the fulfilment of
the intention, did not occur, much was ultimately done as at the banquet
was indicated.

He would establish for himself, he told his hearers, a stronger hold
upon the affection of Australians, during the next ten years, than the
proudest warrior in the old world ever attained in the affections of the
people with whom he was connected.

With, of course, the assistance of others, he intended to so alter the
city of Sydney, in its conditions of life, that the people in the next
ten years would not know it as the city of today. In all that
contributed to the fostering of a taste for the beautiful, its parks and
gardens would be made equal with parks and gardens in other parts of the
world. The lowest parts of Sydney, which were hotbeds of fever and
pestilence, would be wiped out as with a sponge, and their sites used
for new structures, that would tend to permanently beautify the city and
promote its health, and this without any cost to the public exchequer.
The south of the city was to be married to the north by a bridge across
the harbour, which would make Sydney and North Shore one. The metropolis
would be supplied with an abundance of water and with efficient
drainage. Measures were to be introduced to effectively preserve the
timber forests of the country, and, in places where it was necessary,
forests would be planted for future supply. In addition to all this the
Government, he said, were alive to the necessity for a system of
irrigation which would convert the arid plains of the interior into
fruitful districts capable of sustaining a numerous population.

He was not able to do all this. The ten years have passed away, and the
North Shore bridge and the streams for watering the thirsty plains of
the interior are still matters for the future. But the other
improvements he forecasted have been carried out to some extent, and he
had a not inconsiderable share in the work. As a city Sydney is
undeniably much in advance of what it was in 1881, and the country
generally has advanced with the metropolis.

It has been said that Sir Henry Parkes should not have left the colony
in the capacity of Premier, that he should have resigned his Ministerial
office before going away; and after his example in this respect was
followed by Sir George Dibbs in 1892, he admitted that he was wrong in
the course he took.

But, at the time, the wisest plan seemed, to him and to everybody, to
keep the Government intact. It had done admirable work; there was
nothing to indicate an inability on its part to do more; the general
desire was that it should retain office. Speaking on the subject, Sir
Henry Parkes said it would have been injurious, instead of beneficial,
to the public interest, had he taken a step that would have
unnecessarily broken up a strong Ministry from which good work was yet
to be expected; and this was the general opinion. Not even his enemies
raised the cry that he ought to resign.

Since then, however, he saw reason to change his view of the subject,
and to declare that in leaving for England in the position of head of
the Ministry, he committed an error, and that as a constitutional
principle, the Prime Minister should not leave the seat of Government
for any place or period, which precludes him from performing the duties
of his office with the closeness of attention, and the responsibility
required of him.

The journey to England was made by way of America; and, while seeking a
restoration to health, Sir Henry Parkes thought he might be of some
public service by endeavouring to influence the American Government in
favour of revising the protective duties on Australian wool. It did not
seem likely that he would be successful in effecting this revision, and
some persons in Sydney, in their criticism of the proposal, made his
chances of success more uncertain; but proper representations on the
subject to the American Government, and conference with the principal
chambers of commerce in the United States, it was thought, might make
the matter better understood, and pave the way for concessions in the
future. In this, he could see a path of usefulness. The Governments of
South Australia, Queensland, Tasmania, and New Zealand saw some
advantage in what he proposed to do, and, by commission under the great
seal, accredited him their representative. Victoria held aloof, for she
being a strictly protectionist country, could not, with propriety, ask
America to give to her what she denied to others. But armed with
commissions from five of the Colonial Governments, he was able to
adequately fulfil his purpose, so far as to make full and forcible
representation to the American Cabinet and people. The wool duties were
not removed nor altered; but, in the reports of Sir Henry Parkes'
movements and speeches, more was made known to Americans, through their
newspapers, of the resources of Australia, and the opportunities they
offered for profitable trade, than they had previously been aware of,
and this must have been beneficial.

The stay of Sir Henry Parkes in America was marked by many pleasant
experiences and much honour. He met many of the foremost men of the
country, received lavish hospitality, and was paid to the full the
attention accorded those of high position and reputation. Though
well-known in England, by reason of his public services in New South
Wales, he could hardly have expected any special welcome in the United
States, where he had never before been, and where comparatively few
persons could be acquainted with Australian politics and progress; but
members of the Government, governors of states, politicians, merchants,
and literary men rivalled each other in making his visit agreeable to
him from his landing at San Francisco to his departure from New York.

All that was worth seeing of America's wonderful natural scenery, he
saw. The industrial progress of the country revealed itself to him, in
visits he made to the various centres, where invention and skill produce
and develop countless mechanical marvels. The far-reaching settlement of
the population over the land, their active life and general prosperity,
the growth and importance of the cities and the vast strength of the
whole community as a nation, were apparent to him at every stage of his
journey across the continent. And with all the evident greatness of the
nation, he witnessed, with not less admiration than surprise, the
simplicity and unassertiveness which seemed to characterise everything
connected with the highest office of state. The plainest dress and the
quietest manner that came under his notice were those of the President.

The stay in America lasted for about six weeks; and during that time,
whenever the opportunity presented itself, Sir Henry Parkes did his best
to make Australia known to Americans. He spoke of Australia as a whole.
Though doing justice to New South Wales, he was careful, in his
intercourse with the people of the United States, not to single out his
own colony as superior to its neighbours. For the time he represented
the group of colonies, overlooking all geographical divisions, and
saying nothing of the claims to greater importance of one as compared
with another.

In England he followed the same course. It was not so necessary there to
say all that was in his knowledge of the resources and progress of the
Australians. Though, in some quarters of the mother country, what is
known of Australia is often found to be indefinite and distorted, the
relationship between the two countries is too close, the intercourse,
commercial and social, too extensive, for ignorance of the importance of
the colonies to exist amongst those classes of the English people who
are important to Australian development. But on various occasions, and
in many ways, Sir Henry Parkes was able to do good service in speaking
of the resources of his country, of its advancement, and of its probable
great future. For doing this his opportunities were unusually good.
Houses were opened to him, and attentions bestowed upon him, in a manner
that brought him into association with many of the first men of the
Empire; and speeches which he made in public were published widely in
the newspapers.

One thing in connection with Australia he was very careful in impressing
upon the people of England, and especially upon men of position and
Influence. While ardently desirous of preserving the ties existing
between the Australian colonies and England, he was emphatic in pointing
out that the more the colonies were left alone the more closely they
were likely to cling to the old land. "The softer the cords," as he
aptly phrased it, "the stronger will be the union between us and the
parent country." This has not always been the policy of the Imperial
Government; but the bonds have been gradually loosened, and now, happily
for both countries, they are but a "silken thread" easy to bear and yet

During the Whole of the period of his stay in England Sir Henry Parkes
was one of the lions of the season. Town houses and country houses
invited and received him as an honoured guest. Ancient companies and
guilds feted him. From no important public function was he absent.
Royalty, through the Prince of Wales, the Duke of Edinburgh, and other
members of the reigning family, paid him attention.

But among the pleasures of the lime spent in the motherland none
compared with a few days stay with the late Poet Laureate at his
residence on the Isle of Wight, and a visit to Stoneleigh, Warwickshire,
Sir Henry Parkes' birthplace.

The visit to Farringford, was at the special invitation of the poet.
Previously, Sir Henry Parkes had not been acquainted with Tennyson; but
there was a friendship between him and the late Thomas Woolner, the
sculptor, and Woolner was Tennyson's friend. An introduction through Mr.
Woolner led to a pleasant interview in London, and then to the
invitation to the poet's residence in the Isle of Wight. The
acquaintanceship thus formed, blossomed into friendship, and from that
time, until Lord Tennyson's death, this friendship never lessened. The
natures of the two men, widely different as the men themselves were in
many respects, must, to some extent, have been alike, or at least
mutually sympathetic and admiring. Sir Henry Parkes entertained a deep
reverence for Tennyson, and the poet undoubtedly saw in Sir Henry Parkes
that which called for thoughtful attention and respect. Though going
through life by different ways, the two were seeking the same end. Each,
in his manner, was devoting his powers to the world's improvement, the
work of making things better than they are. One might do it in poetry,
the other in politics; the object to be gained was the same. Alfred
Tennyson in England, and Henry Parkes in Australia, were each
endeavouring to educate and improve. In this, the poet and the statesman
were identical, and Tennyson and Parkes became and remained friends,
corresponding with each other up to the time of Lord Tennyson's last

Stoneleigh was visited not only because of Sir Henry Parkes' desire to
see, in late life, the place of his birth, but in response to an
invitation from Lord Leigh to make a short stay at Stoneleigh Abbey.
Noticing the arrival of the Australian statesman in England, and being
aware of the fact that Stoneleigh was his birth-place, Lord Leigh
thought it would be agreeable to Sir Henry to spend a few days at the
Abbey, and accordingly sent to him a kindly-worded invitation, which was
accepted, At that time there was no idea in the mind of anyone that the
daughter of Lord Leigh (the Countess of Jersey) would, within ten years,
be assisting her husband in the performance of vice-regal functions at
Government House, Sydney; but the stay of Sir Henry Parkes at the Abbey,
and the information which, in conversation, no doubt he imparted
respecting New South Wales, may reasonably be supposed to have
influenced Lord and Lady Jersey, when the expiration of Lord
Carrington's term made the appointment of another Governor of the colony
necessary. Rambles about the locality disclosed the fact that the
farm-house, in which Sir Henry Parkes first saw the light, and the old
church in which he was christened, were still as they were in his
infancy, and Lady Leigh, greatly interested in the matter, promised to
sketch both structures and send the sketches to Sir Henry after his
return to Sydney. She did so, and ever afterwards the two drawings were
among his treasures.


SIR HENRY PARKES returned to Sydney, from his visit to America and
England, on 17th August, 1882, travelling from Melbourne by rail.

In Melbourne, immediately after his landing there from the mail steamer,
he was waited upon by a deputation headed by the mayor of the city and
including the President of the Chamber of Commerce. They, on behalf of
the citizens of Melbourne, congratulated him upon his safe arrival, and
tendered him a banquet at the Town Hall. The feeling in the southern
capital being that in what he had done, while away, he had acted in
the interests of all Australia, the people did not like the idea of his
passing through their city without some expression of satisfaction on
their part and some form of welcome. So the banquet was given in the
evening of the 15th August; and the gathering was both representative
and appreciatory. Throughout his career, whenever he cared to visit
Melbourne, Sir Henry Parkes was well received; and frequently he
looked to that city for a clearer and, in his opinion, juster view of
some question or course of procedure in which, at the time, he was
concerned, than he observed in Sydney. The welcome on this occasion was
very cordial, and was regarded by him, not only as a high personal
compliment, but as an expression of generous feeling from one colony to

In Sydney, great preparations had been made by his friends and admirers
to accord him a fitting reception. The railway station was decorated,
the platform crowded with those anxious to give him an early and hearty
greeting, and a large assemblage of the public gathered about the
station approaches. In the evening he was entertained at a public dinner
in the Exhibition Building, Prince Alfred Park.

This hearty welcome-home-again seemed to bode well for the continued
stability of the Government. Sir Henry Parkes had been away from the
colony for seven months and a half, a longer period than was announced
before the trip was taken, or than was expected; but, apparently, the
public interest had not suffered. The machinery of government had not
ceased its ordinary operations, and the various members of the Ministry
had been equal to their respective duties. With Sir John Robertson as
Acting Colonial Secretary, the general policy of the Administration had
been maintained; and, so far as the public were aware, everything
appeared satisfactory.

But appearances are proverbially unreliable. Behind the apparently clear
political atmosphere were gathering clouds which rapidly assumed a
threatening aspect. Some persons did not approve of the length of the
recess; others condemned Sir Henry Parkes for re-admitting Sir John
Robertson to the Cabinet after his retirement in connection with the
Milburn Creek affair; others again complained of certain acts of
administration in some of the Government departments.

More serious than these matters, however, was a feeling of disquietude
which had been growing for some time in relation to the land laws.

Money was plentiful, land was cheap, and squatters and others were
doing their best to acquire large freehold estates. Lawfully done, this
could not fairly be complained of. The condition of the laws, might be
condemned, but those acquiring the land would be acting within their
rights. In many instances, however, there was reason to believe it was
not done lawfully. What was known as "dummyism" was practised to such
an extent that it became notorious. In its inception, this plan of
acquiring land was the outcome of defects in the laws, which made it
imperative on the part of squatters to do something to protect their
runs, from undue encroachments by free selectors. When its possible
advantages were recognised more fully, its operation was extended as far
as could be done with any prospect of safety.

The public had long been aware that much of the freehold land, on some
squatting runs, had been secured by a system of mock selection, carried
out in the interests of the run holders by their servants; but, for a
time, they knew nothing of the extreme lengths to which persons, in
their determination to acquire the land, sometimes went.

Someone suddenly discovered that inmates of one or two of the Government
asylums were unaccountably leaving the institutions, and going by
train, steamer, or coach, into the country. They were old, infirm, and,
in some instances, suffering from disease, and, while in the asylums,
were known to be without pecuniary means. Yet they left with alacrity,
and, apparently, with every provision for their comfort. Their singular
departure was a matter for surprise, but, for a time, did not arouse
suspicion. They were free to leave the institution, if they so wished,
and they were allowed to go without question. It was only when telegrams
appeared in the newspapers, announcing the arrival of old and infirm men
on some of the stations in the far interior, and selections began to be
taken up under very extraordinary names and in a very unusual manner,
that the real state of affairs was understood. Putting one thing with
another, it was not difficult to connect the selections with the old
men, to identify the old men as those who had left the asylums, or to
detect in the whole proceeding daring attempts at extensive dummying.
The men, it was understood, had been paid a certain sum for their
services, and were to be maintained for the remainder of their lives by
the persons employing them; they, in return, entering into arrangements
by which the land selected by them should fall into the hands of their
employers. A loud outcry was made in the press, and, subsequently, in
Parliament; and the Lands Minister, Sir John Robertson, indignantly
cancelled the selections, where cancellation could be done, and took
measures to prevent any recurrence of the evil.

But this did not remove the feeling of unrest in regard to the land laws
generally; and dissatisfaction on the subject began to be expressed,
from one end of the colony to the other. An amendment of the existing
Acts, in the way necessary to put an end to dummyism, and, by providing
proper security of tenure for the squatters, remove from them any
inducement to dummy, was demanded on all sides.

Unfortunately for the Government, Sir John Robertson would not take the
view which almost everyone else adopted. Dummyism was regarded as a
direct result of the insecurity in which pastoralists were compelled to
carry on their operations; and this insecurity was the outcome of free
selection before survey. Public opinion condemned the principle of free
selection before survey, as the chief cause of the evils associated with
the land system; but Sir John Robertson, as was perhaps natural, refused
to disturb this principle, and he was too strong in the Government to be
coerced into doing that of which he did not approve. He admitted that
the laws might be improved, but denied that it was necessary to alter
them to the extent generally stated. He proposed to amend them in some
comparatively unimportant particulars, and to consolidate them. Further,
he would not go.

In 1872, Sir Henry Parkes told the electors of East Sydney, that the
work of alienating the land was "a work of more sacred and tremendous
consequence than anything that could fall to the lot of the statesmen of
old countries like England and France. As we perform this work," he
said, "so will rise the structure of society, when we are dead; so will
our descendants be free, independent, and prosperous men, or the
reverse; so this colony will rise to the dignity of a great free
country, or become despised and enslaved, and descend among the least
powerful nations of the earth." In 1877, he had admitted that the land
laws were evidently bad in their results, in some respects; that, while
the lands were passing away, there was very little increase in the use
to which they were put. "By the bad operation of the land laws," he
declared "persons of capital have, in reality, been driven to buy large
tracts of land simply to protect themselves against the cultivators of
the soil."

This serious evil, apparent to everybody, public opinion looked to the
Government to remove. The Government met the general demand by the
introduction of a bill, good enough in itself, but quite inadequate to
satisfy the popular cry. As a consequence defeat came quickly.

The session opened immediately after Sir Henry Parkes' return to the
colony; and the Governor's speech announced a list of measures,
including a bill to consolidate and amend the land laws. The Opposition,
disorganised and weak in the previous session, now assumed both form and
strength. Mr. Alexander Stuart was elected leader, and the Government
found themselves confronted by a body of opponents compact and
determined. An effort was made to bring about a crisis, by the moving of
an amendment on the Address-in-Reply to the Governor's speech; but that
was not successful. A majority of the House preferred waiting, to see
what the Government measures should prove to be when introduced; and for
nearly three months, the business of the House went on with fair

At the end of this time Sir John Robertson moved the second reading of
his land bill. He spoke vigorously and well, and his figure, on the
floor of the Assembly Chamber, always handsome and striking, never
appeared to greater advantage. He was a very attractive man. Possessing
virtues which so overshadowed his faults as to render them almost
unnoticeable, it is questionable if he ever had an enemy in the sense of
one who could see nothing to admire or like in him. No one could fight
harder or more persistently than he; none could be more genial and
kindly. As the father of the system under which the lands of the colony
were administered, he naturally defended the good that system had
brought about, and resisted to the utmost all attempts to unduly expose
its defects. He had many friends in the Assembly, and the whole House
applauded his efforts to pass his bill; but neither friendship nor
admiration was sufficient to prevent a majority from declaring, by their
votes, that the measure was altogether insufficient to meet
requirements. On the third night of the debate, after but few speeches
had been delivered, the House went to a division; and the bill was
rejected by forty-three votes to thirty-three.

Sir Henry Parkes advised, and obtained, a dissolution. He believed that
an appeal to the country would show that the Government were still
popular, that their programme was not viewed 'by the constituencies in
the same light as it had been by the Legislative Assembly, and that
there was no general desire to see the Ministry retire from office.

But he was greatly mistaken. Making full allowance for the party
excesses of opponents, who did not refrain from heaping all the odium
possible upon the heads of Ministers, charging them with many and
serious misdemeanours, still the country was dead against the Government
on the land question. This question it was determined should be settled
in a manner very different from that which the Government bill proposed;
and, despite strong efforts made to prevent the elections turning upon
this one subject, the land laws and their radical amendment were kept to
the forefront in every electorate and influenced every contest.

Sir Henry Parkes sought to obtain the verdict of the electors on the
general work and policy of the Ministry, rather than upon the Land Bill
alone. He knew that this bill did not go as far as his opponents
considered it should go, perhaps not as far as he himself thought it
might go; but he regarded it as a beneficial advance in land
legislation, and was content to let the matter rest at that point in the
hands of the author of the system. To his mind, there were other matters
equal to the Land Bill in their importance to the country. The
Government had passed into law several great measures which were
promoting the general good; and they were prepared, and able, if
opportunity were afforded them, to pass others.

The Opposition, however kept the attention of the public to the subject
of the land; and only noticed the general work of the Government to the
extent of using it in any way possible to their disadvantage. The very
measures which Sir Henry Parkes prided himself upon as having been
passed by the Ministry, had raised a crop of enemies around him bent
upon his destruction.

"In the part I have taken, as your representative, in the arduous
labours," he said, in his address to the electors of East Sydney, and in
allusion to the work which the Government had done since their
assumption of office, "I have made many implacable opponents." Those
who wanted to obtain a giant's hold of the public lands for their own
aggrandisement, and those who desired to thrust a giant's hand into the
public Treasury for their denominational teaching, he declared were
against him, as were those who loved popular ignorance and disliked the
sight of orderliness and sobriety.

The friends of denominational teaching in the schools were wroth with
the Government for the passing of the Public Instruction Act, which
deprived their system of all state aid. The working of the new
Licensing Act had incensed the publicans and their adherents. An
undercurrent of feeling, among these sections of the community,
materially assisted the advocates of land reform at the polling booths.

But what told most against the Government, apart from the weakness of
their position on the question of the land, were some singular charges
in relation to a suggested bridge from Sydney to North Shore, and to an
unauthorised purchase of a country residence for the Governor. They were
denounced also for alleged quarantine mismanagement, for the
destruction, by fire, of the Garden Palace, and with it many public
documents stored therein, and for proposals to build an Art Gallery on
the site of the Garden Palace, and a Public Library on that of the
Benevolent Asylum. But the North Shore bridge and the Governor's country
residence, were the subjects of the principal allegations against them.

We hear nothing of these matters now. The Governor lives at his country
seat during the hot season of the year, and no one thinks of complaining
of it. The North Shore bridge is not yet built; but he, who, at the
present time, should speak of the sensational announcements respecting
this structure of the future, made during these election proceedings, as
anything more than a party device and an electioneering squib, would not
be credited with much knowledge of political manoeuvre. Yet the charges
against the Government in respect of these two matters, and especially
the bridge, had a most damaging effect upon the prospects of Ministers
in the constituencies, and particularly upon those of Sir Henry Parkes.
They placed him at the bottom of the poll.

Before that took place, however, the struggle was very severe. Probably,
never in the parliamentary history of New South Wales has there been a
hotter contest.

With almost the entire press at their back, and a definite pronouncement
in their favour from many sections of the people, the success of the
Opposition seemed, from the first, to be assured; but this did not
lessen their activity, nor cool their zeal. Not a man of their fighting
ranks refrained from coming forward; not a particle of material, capable
of being used with effect, was overlooked.

Mr. Stuart had a most effective supporter in Mr. G. H. Reid. In his
genial, racy, incisive style of oratory, Mr. Reid's speeches had as much
to do with the victories of the Opposition as anything else. Mr. Dalley,
too, came out; and spoke and wrote as only he could speak and write, and
added to the Opposition successes. His brilliant speeches charmed, as
well as influenced, both those who listened to them and those who read
them in the newspapers. His pen, busy throughout the time, assisted his
speeches. He even wrote speeches or addresses to the electors for
others. A laughable disclosure of this fact was made on the East Sydney
hustings. Carried away by his return as one of the members for that
electorate, and referring to the admiration with which his address to
the electors of another constituency, for which also he was afterwards
elected, had been received, a candidate declared that the much-lauded
address had not been written by him, but was the work of Mr. Dalley.

Only one familiar opponent of the Government was absent from the fight--
Mr. William Forster. Death had suddenly removed that well-known figure
from the turmoil of politics, a month previously; and he had been laid
to rest, in the churchyard at Hyde, "Until the daybreak". Those who
remembered him in Parliament, could imagine how heartily he would have,
assisted to bring about the defeat of Sir Henry Parkes. As it was, he
had gone from the scene of party strife for ever; and it had fallen to
the lot of his old opponent, in announcing to the Assembly his untimely
decease, to speak of him in the kindest words,--of the services he had
rendered to the public, the good qualities which distinguished him, in
many respects, above all others in the House, and of how ill Parliament
could afford "to lose a member so distinguished by education, by
practical knowledge of the country, and by ability to give effect to
what he believed."

Amid the buzz of the political hornet's nest, in which he found himself,
Sir Henry Parkes could scarcely get a hearing. His meetings were noisy,
and, to a large extent, antagonistic. Those of other Ministers, and of
ministerial supporters, were very similar. The friendly cheers of a few
weeks previously, had given place to strong marks of disapproval, in the
face of which the Government party found it difficult to make headway.
Still, they stood to their programme, and yielded nothing.

At the nomination proceedings at East Sydney the Premier found the crowd
more hostile than at his meetings. A second Minister, and another
candidate, the two with Sir Henry Parkes forming the Ministerial bunch,
were treated with the same disfavour. Yet Sir Henry Parkes did not lose
heart. Appearances were decidedly against him; but he could not believe
they were sufficient to justify the idea that he, and those running with
him, would be defeated. To the electors he expressed his conviction,
that the voting would show a state of things much different from that
which the nomination proceedings indicated. Confident of this, he was
content to await the verdict of the poll.

His friends were not so sanguine. They saw the danger, and knew that
defeat was much more probable than success. In their judgment, it was
certain that he would not head the poll; and it was not unlikely that he
would be found among the rejected. To prevent utter defeat, it was
necessary to resort to extreme measures; and, in the voting, many
electors, to save him, plumped for him. But all efforts proved futile.
Sir Henry, and his companions in the bunch, were badly beaten; the
Opposition candidates, headed by Mr. Reid, being returned in triumph.
"The popular breeze of today", said Sir Henry Parkes, quoting the words
as those of Mr. Wentworth, "may be the adverse wind of tomorrow";
and one more instance of the fickleness of the political barometer had
now to be recorded.

Offers from other electorates came to Sir Henry Parkes, immediately the
result of the election at East Sydney was known. There was no desire, in
any quarter, to see him out of Parliament; and a large proportion of the
general public were anxious that no time or opportunity should be lost,
now that he had failed at East Sydney, in getting him elected.

He himself was in no hurry. Firm in his impression of the good work
which the Government had done during their long term of office, and in
his belief that their popularity had not lessened as their opponents had
endeavoured to show, he did not see in the East Sydney defeat, the
beginning of what was to be a complete overthrow; but regarded it as a
proceeding, on the part of the electors of that constituency, under the
guidance of his enemies, which the electors of other constituencies
would condemn and seek to nullify. There would be a reaction, he
declared, from one end of the country to the other, and the Government
would yet be successful.

From the electorates proffering him assistance he chose St. Leonards.
There were others suitable, but he was averse to being nominated for a
constituency, where his nomination would interfere with a Government
supporter already in the field. At St. Leonards there was not this
objection; and, moreover, he was an elector of St. Leonards, and that in
itself was a justification of his appearance there as a candidate. He
was not free from inclination to retire for a time from public life;
but this feeling was overborne by a conviction that he could not take
that course, consistently with his duty to the country. It was necessary
that, as the head of the Government, he should continue in his position
until his services, in this respect, were constitutionally dispensed
with; and it was, therefore, incumbent upon him to continue the contest.

About the same time as he appeared as a candidate for St. Leonards, he
was spoken of for the electorate of Tenterfield. Representatives of that
constituency had, in fact, been in communication with him before he was
approached by the people of St. Leonards; and, to a certain extent, he
was committed to the electorate of Tenterfield. He told the electors of
St. Leonards so; and, in consenting to become a candidate there, he
intimated, without reserve, that, if he were elected, he could not
promise to sit in Parliament for that constituency. They would have to
trust to his public spirit, he said, and to his judgment, as to which of
the two constituencies he would represent, supposing he were elected for
both. They must ask him no questions on that point. They must either
elect him on this understanding, or reject him.

They were content. His candidature for St. Leonards went on; but, before
the day of nomination, he was returned unopposed for Tenterfield, the
only candidate out for that constituency, the Mayor of the town,
retiring in his favour, and nominating him. Then he withdrew from St.
Leonards; but, so earnest were some of his friends there, that,
notwithstanding his withdrawal, publicly announced, they persisted in
recording their votes for him, and, as a consequence, put him to the
expense of £40, which, under the Electoral Act, a candidate receiving a
certain proportion of votes below the others was bound to pay.

In one respect it was, perhaps, a fortunate circumstance that he did
withdraw from St. Leonards; for the withdrawal brought back to political
life one who, after a short preliminary term in the Legislative
Assembly, had for several years been absent from Parliament, and who, by
Sir Henry Parkes' election for Tenterfield, had opened to him a career
which was destined to bring him at once into high ministerial office,
and to distinguish him as one of the foremost of the public men of New
South Wales.

There were four candidates for St. Leonards. One was Sir Henry Parkes,
and another Sir (then Mr.) George R. Dibbs. Mr. Dibbs, when in the
Assembly, had represented West Sydney, for which constituency he was
elected in 1874. Before the next general election in 1877, he had made
himself, by his attitude on some questions relating to labour, so
unpopular that he found it impossible to secure re-election; and he
retired into private life. In 1882 he came forward again, for St
Leonards; and, until Sir Henry Parkes' appearance as a candidate for
that electorate, had a fair chance of being returned. The candidature of
Sir Henry Parkes, however, threatened to upset everything. If he went to
the poll there was no doubt that he would be elected; and it seemed
equally certain that the second member would be a local resident, who,
by his residence and the circumstance of his having spent money in the
district, had a hold on the people which would find him the requisite
number of votes to ensure his return. Sir Henry Parkes retired, and Mr.
Dibbs, bunching with the local candidate, was elected. A few days
afterwards he was Colonial Treasurer in the Stuart Ministry, which
succeeded that of Sir Henry Parkes; and subsequently, in rapid
succession, was Colonial Secretary and Colonial Treasurer in one
Government, Colonial Secretary in another, and Colonial Secretary and
Premier in two others.

By his election for Tenterfield, Sir Henry Parkes' presence in the new
Parliament was assured; but similar success did not come to all the
other members of the Ministry. Sir John Robertson was returned for
Mudgee, more on personal grounds than anything else--certainly not
because the electors were favourable to his land policy; but others, in
their appeal to the constituencies, failed irretrievably. When the
elections were over, it was found that four of the Ministers had been
defeated, and were out of Parliament; and those who had been bold enough
to declare adherence to the Government policy, had been rejected in all

The new Parliament had been returned to radically reform the land laws.
The Government were hopelessly defeated. Sir John Robertson's return to
the ministerial ranks, after the Milburn Creek affair, instead of
restoring the old strength of the Ministry, had weakened them to
destruction; and the Coalition Government, by his Land Bill, had been
carried, as Sir Henry Parkes some time afterwards phrased it, over the
"Falls of Niagara", and shattered. There was nothing for it but
resignation; and the Government withdrew from office immediately after
Parliament met.


THE new Government proceeded to deal with the land question; and while
they did so, Sir Henry Parkes, to a large extent, held aloof from active
politics. He felt deeply some of the tactics resorted to during the
elections, to secure his defeat--tactics which he denounced as
discreditable and unjust. He visited Tenterfield, and thanked the people
there for their public spirit in electing him to Parliament, without any
effort on his part to win their confidence; and, after a few months,
went for the second time, to England. On that occasion, he visited the
mother country as the representative of a financial company in Sydney,
and was away until the Land Bill of the Stuart Government was almost

It was in August, 1884, that he returned; and the parliamentary session
was then rapidly approaching its termination. In the business
remaining at that late period to be done, he took some part; but he did
not assume a position of prominence in connection with the Opposition
as a party. Sir John Robertson was the Opposition leader. Sir Henry
Parkes, for the time, had, fallen back from recognised active
leadership. His absence from his parliamentary duties, caused by his
second visit to England, had something to do with this, but the personal
influence which Sir John Robertson exercised, over members comprising
the Opposition, had more. Sir John Robertson was desirous of Sir Henry
Parkes returning to his old place at the head of the party, but Sir
Henry declined.

This change of position in the House did not prevent him from adequately
criticising the proceedings of the Government, when criticism was
necessary, or from voting on those occasions when lie considered it
right that his vote should be recorded; but it made his presence there
less felt.

To a man of his ability and temperament, this could not be agreeable;
and, as with a consciousness of a want of due recognition, there was in
his mind an impression that the Government were supported by a
too-pliant majority, who, in their turn, were accommodated by a
too-extravagant Government, he began to manifest a feeling of disgust at
the state of affairs in Parliament, and to be again influenced by a
strong desire to retire from politics altogether.

His second visit to England occupied fourteen months; and, on his return
to Sydney, he was "heartily welcomed by his friends, and banqueted in the
Town Hall. Fifteen hundred Orangemen received him in the new Masonic Hall,
and the members of the New South Wales Local Option League gave him a
public breakfast.

But he was not disposed to re-enter the political arena, with the
purpose of pushing himself to the front again, or even to actively
engage in the business of Parliament in any way. He had not lost the
sense of soreness he had experienced from the manner in which he had
been defeated in the country on the land question. "The country has had
enough of me", he told the company at the Town Hall banquet. "I feel
that in my last Administration I received a most unjust reward of
bitterness, and I am not disposed to forget it." Of defeat he made no
complaint, but no language was too forcible for him to denounce some of
the methods by which his defeat had been brought about. At the Orange
gathering he declared that he wanted rest and quiet; he was weary of
political turmoil. Yet, he said, his energy had not lessened, his
courage was still strong; and, if at any time, in the course of the
public procedure, something should occur in which someone were wanted to
fill the breach, if breach there should be, he would not be backward in
filling it.

Very quickly his announced desire for rest was followed by his
retirement once more from the Legislature.

The session in progress at the date of his return, from England closed
in about two months after his reappearance in the Assembly; and, three
days subsequently, he published an address to the electors of
Tenterfield, declaring his disapproval of the condition of things in
Parliament to be so strong, that he not only resigned his seat for
Tenterfield, but was determined to neither seek nor accept a seat in
any future Parliament. In the present Parliament, he said, political
character had almost entirely disappeared from the proceedings of the
Legislative Assembly, and personal objects had, to a large extent,
absorbed that kind of consideration which had taken the place of
deliberation and legitimate debate. "I have", he went on to say,
"lately seen immense sums of public money voted away by private pressure
and bargaining, in the face of the openly avowed convictions of members
so pliantly yielding up their consciences." This was in connection with
proposed new railways.

Even if he had strength and disposition for the kind of political
warfare he had witnessed, he was not, he informed the electors, prepared
to waste the remnant of life which remained to him in contending against
such forces. He could not continue to bear the sacrifices of time, and
of the capabilities of life itself, which a seat in the Assembly now

The new Lands Act, he declared, would prove to be more fruitful of
abuse, and destructive of revenue, as well as of settlement, than the
old law with all its admitted defects; and, while this would be found
so, Parliament had with a free and reckless hand increased the salaries
of the public servants, created a host of new pensioners, and largely
added to the permanent indebtedness of the country. Railways had been
sanctioned, which, if carried out, could not for a generation to come
pay working expenses, and could only be worked by draining away the
earnings from the trunk lines. The safeguards of sound parliamentary
government had been blindly and wantonly broken down; and necessity,
with an iron hand, would soon fasten new burdens of taxation around the
necks of the people, as the only possible means of escaping from a
financial crisis.

He admitted that it might be asked of him, why, if things were as bad as
he declared them to be, he did not remain at his post, to assist in
bringing about an improvement. But his answer was that he had remained
at his post for a generation, much to his personal injury, and until he
no longer had strength to confront "the gigantic difficulties which
must soon come upon us."

There was a feeling of regret at the step the veteran statesman had
thought fit to take, and at the pessimistic tone of his public farewell
to his constituents; but, viewed in the light of former proceedings of
the kind, the public were not inclined to take the retirement too
seriously. Those who were intimately acquainted with Sir Henry Parkes
knew that there was no want of sincerity in the course he had adopted.
That he conscientiously deplored what he regarded as the demoralization
of the Assembly, and, in consequence of the state of politics, as he
viewed it, was determined to clear himself of all connection with the
political arena, they did not doubt. But the general body of the people,
among them the bulk of his [admirers, though not doubting the
genuineness of the step he had taken, felt certain that, in the course
of a little time, circumstances would arise which would draw him back
again to Parliamentary life.

It was pointed out that the retirement could not have been induced by an
impossibility of office. The Ministry, the _Herald_ remarked, had been in
office for two years, quite the average length of Ministries; two of its
members had been crippled by ill-health; and there was sure to be a
reaction of feeling through the electorates after the excitement over
the Land Bill. Sir Henry Parkes' chance of returning to power could not
be considered unfavourable. But office at this time he did not covet.
He wanted neither office nor seat in Parliament; all he desired was to
rid himself of everything associated with politics and politicians, and
to get into a line of life which would afford him rest and quiet.

In a couple of rooms, in one of the buildings in Pitt Street, opposite
the _Herald_ office, Sir Henry Parkes took up his quarters, acting as the
official representative of the financial association in whose interests
he had visited England the second time; and there he remained until the
beginning of 1887.

As was his habit, whenever leisure permitted, he spent a portion of his
hours in writing poems; and, at this period of his life, he produced a
third little volume of poetry. He called it "The Beauteous Terrorist
and other Poems", and inscribed it "By a Wanderer". It was sent to the
newspapers, and was favourably criticised. The actual author was not
known. If he had been, he once said, the criticisms might not have been
so favourable.

The book is not free from defects, but it contains much that is of
interest, as well as of merit. The principal poem--that which gives the
name to the little volume--is one of those tragic stories with which all,
more or less acquainted with the desperate efforts in Russia for
emancipation from the thraldom of official tyranny, are familiar. While
being painful in its details, it is attractive in its heroine, and
agreeable in its versification; but it is not of particular interest to
Australian readers. Most of the other poems claim attention for the
reason that they deal with subjects nearer home. One rhymes pleasantly
about the author's "Silver Wedding Day", an extract from which is not
unworthy of being reproduced. It was written in 1861.

"How the light of memory gives
All thy girlhood's beauty back!
Ever fresh the rosebud lives--
Ever blooming on life's track!
Time may thin the soft brown hair,
Touch the cheek so dewy fair,
Send a dimness to surprise
Those for-ever-trusting eyes;
But thy rosebud heart's as young
And thy woman's soul's as strong
As they were in passion's dawn,
On our quiet bridal morn."

Lady Parkes, to whom these lines refer, died in 1888, after a married
life of 52 years. Her nature was homely, and she never lost her love of
home and domestic seclusion. During her husband's long parliamentary
career, which commenced more than a generation before her decease, she
appeared but once at the opening or prorogation of Parliament. Her
happiness was found among her children, in her garden, or in the midst
of her household occupations. It has been said that she never seemed to
fully realise the change her husband's knighthood brought about, in
regard to the manner in which she then became entitled to be addressed,
and that it may be doubted whether she ever appreciated the most notable
triumphs in his public life. She was in fact, as she was described at
the time of he death, an unpretending single-minded woman, with no
ambition beyond performing her daily duties as wife and mother, and
living to the last under the influence of a Christian training received
in early life.

Another poem is entitled "Seventy". It is a portrait of Sir Henry
Parkes in the year 1885, drawn by himself.

"Three score and ten,--the weight of years
Scarce seems to touch the tireless brain;
How bright the future still appears,
How dim the past of toil and pain!

"In that fair time when all was new,
Who thought of three score years and ten?
Of those who shared the race, how few
Are numbered now with living men!

"Some fell upon the right, and some
Upon the left, as year by year
The chain kept lengthening nearer home--
Yet home ev'n now may not be near.

"But yesterday I chanced to meet
A man whose years were ninety-three,
He walked alone the crowded street--
His eye was bright, his step was free.

"And well I knew a worthy who,
Dying in harness, as men say,
Had lived a hundred years and two,
Not halting on his toilsome way.

"How much of action undesigned
Will modify to-morrow's plan!
The gleams of foresight leave us blind
When we the far-off path would scan.

"What task of glorious toil for good,
What service, what achievement high,
May nerve the will, re-fire the blood,
Who knows, ere strikes the hour to die!

"The next decade of time and fate,
The mighty changes manifold,
The grander growth of Rule and State,
Perchance these eyes may yet behold;

"But be it late, or be it soon,
If striving hard we give our best,
Why need we sigh for other boon--
Our title will be good for rest."

In several parts of the little book there are glimpses of the personal
character of the author. His admiration for the great men of the old
world, whose lives have been spent to the public advantage; his
ambition to add to the results of his own public services, never
thinking he had done sufficient, but ever desirous of doing something
more, always wanting to move onward; his delight in nature; his
affection for England; his love for Australia, and particularly for that
part of it with which he was closely connected: all these of his
characteristics are to be found in one poem or another of this volume.

But the verses which, after those with the title "Seventy", attract and
hold the attention of anyone who can recognise in them to what they
refer, are some called "The Patriot". They present a vivid picture of
the inconstancy of the popular mind--of its acclaim today and its
execration tomorrow--and of the object of its adulation and its hate
standing erect, through all, in pity at the spectacle, but otherwise
unmoved and unchanged. It needs little reflection to see, in the
vigorous lines of this poem, the triumphs and the failures which Sir
Henry Parkes experienced in 1882; he, in their midst, a fine figure,
upstanding, resolute, and true to the purposes of his life, whether
applauded or condemned.

"Fair women cast sweet flowers before his feet;
From all the housetops 'kerchiefs gaily waved;
Ten thousand voices bailed him in the street;
In blear-eyed joy the monster Rabble raved.

"The town was mad with triumph where he passed,
The very flags flew out as wild with glee;
The few who dared dissent fell back aghast,
Like weeds washed past by a tumultous sea.

"A year!--and jibe, and jeer, and savage yell
Salute his ears; and missiles rank and foul
Fall thick about him where the garlands fell;
No cheer breaks through the monster Rabble's howl.

"And yet it is the same unswerving soul!
He only kept his faith when others changed,
And heeded not in scorn the ominous roll
Of jarring threats, from foes, and friends estranged.

"He only kept his onward path, when they,
Who could not see the grandeur of his aim,
Turned to the new-fledged creatures of the day
And drank their slanders, feeling not the shame.

"So ever rise the Feeble 'gainst the Fit;
So ever first the noblest blood is shed;
So surged the angry waters round De Witt:
So tortured France was robbed of Danton's head."

A little later it fell to his lot, as it fell on several occasions
through his eventful life, to make public reference to another patriot,
one of the foremost of those conspicuous in the annals of New South
Wales--Sir James Martin. The reference was made in verse. He had known
Sir James Martin through almost all his life. He had been acquainted
with his early aspirations, and his efforts to improve his condition. He
had been his associate in many of his public acts and proceedings; and
had assisted him to attain the success which he eventually won. In the
first instance, these verses were published in the _Sydney Morning
Herald_, without signature or any information as to their authorship.
They bring out with distinctness and force, the strong characteristics
of Sir James Martin. The struggle of his young life in the immature
existence of the colony, when in no respect were things very bright and
satisfactory, and his dogged persistency in overcoming the difficulties
which then beset him; his indomitable courage when facing the
determined efforts that, at an important period of his subsequent
career, were made to prevent him from attaining any position of
influence; and his ultimate splendid success, are presented in such a
manner as to bring the subject of the poem vividly before the mind,
and to impress the reader with the undeniable greatness of the man the
verses pourtray. There is also about the lines a literary finish which
is very noticeable. They were sent to the _Herald_, written upon a sheet
of notepaper, in the curiously rugged and somewhat unreadable
handwriting of the author; and, as they are an interesting specimen of
this, as well as of his literary style, a _facsimile_ of them is here

In type, they read as follows:-


Nov. 6, 1886

With speechless lips and solemn tread,
They brought the lawyer-statesman home;
They laid him with the gather'd dead
Where rich and poor like brothers come.

How bravely did the stripling climb,
From step to step, the rugged hill,
His gaze, thro' that benighted time,
Fix'd on the far off beacon still.

He faced the storm that o'er him burst,
With pride to match the proudest born;
He bore unblench'd Detraction's worst,--
Paid blow for blow, and scorn for scorn!

He scaled the summit while the sun
Yet shone upon his conquered track,
Nor falter'd till the goal was won,
Nor, struggling upward, once look'd back.

But what avails the "pride of place",
Or winged chariot rolling past?
He heeds not now who wins the race,
Alike to him the First or Last.


SCARCELY had three months passed after the resignation of the seat for
Tenterfield, than there arose circumstances which recalled Sir Henry
Parkes to public life. The "breach" to which he alluded when
addressing the Orangemen of the metropolis, in the Masonic Hall, on his
return from England, had appeared, and he at once stepped forward to
occupy it.

The Soudan Contingent movement had commenced. Suddenly, without the
publication previously of even a hint of what was going to be done, the
country learned that an offer had been made to the Imperial Government,
by the Government of New South Wales, of two batteries of artillery and
a battalion of infantry, for service in the Soudan. The death of General
Gordon had just been announced; and a suggestion, made in a letter to
the press, that New South Wales might patriotically offer the assistance
of troops to England, had been seized and acted upon by Mr. W. B.

The announcement of the offer was received by the public with
enthusiasm. The same spirit which manifests itself in England, on an
approaching outbreak of war, was apparent through New South Wales from
one end of the country to the other. There was no question of the wisdom
of the proceeding, no counting of the cost. Fired with the desire to
assert the power of the nation, the British courage of the people urged
them to action. England was not really in need of the proffered
assistance, but would, doubtless, be glad of it; and New South Wales, by
her offer of troops, would exhibit to the world the wide-reaching
strength of the British Empire and the imperishable virtues of the race.
Everybody seemed either to want to go to the Soudan as a soldier, or to
applaud and to assist those going. Those who could not be expected to
bear arms, were disposed to lavish time and money in promoting the
success of the movement. The colonies adjoining New South Wales,
catching the fever of the time, telegraphed to England offers similar to
that sent from Sydney. Canada followed in the same direction.

A few persons kept cool during the general excitement; and one or two
were venturesome enough, after the first outburst of popular feeling,
to utter a word of warning. They saw the seriousness of the proceeding,
and, beneath the glamour of it all, the probable ultimate difficulties,
debt, and disaster.

But, of those who raised their voices or used their pens in protest,
none was so prominent or pronounced as Sir Henry Parkes. Loyal to the
backbone to the old country, he yet saw, in the step the Government had
taken, a serious inroad upon the constitution, a danger to the
well-being of the people, and a very probable legacy of future trouble.

England, he pointed out, was not in want of the troops, and the offer of
them was, therefore, unnecessary. Further, without the authority of
Parliament, and in the absence of the head of the Government--for
Parliament was not in session at the time, and Sir Alexander Stuart, the
Premier, was in New Zealand travelling for the benefit of his health--it
was unconstitutional for the Government to raise a body of troops, and
more reprehensible to send them for service out of the country. It was
inconsistent, he also urged, to send men away from the colony when we
were, by our system of immigration, anxious to bring people here. The
result must, inevitably, be largely increased and unjustifiable
taxation, to provide, first for the expenditure on the equipment and
maintenance of the troops, and afterwards for the effects of casualties.

He did not want the country, he said on one occasion, to make a
reputation on a military basis. He wanted it to establish its reputation
"by the splendour of its resources, by the soundness of its commercial
policy, by its efforts at planting a free people within the land, and by
its sober spirit in avoiding any meretricious military display." He
desired it to be known as "a community of solid sensible British
people, where the people of the three nations may mix as British
Australians, and where their object will be the industrial progress of
the country."

The objections put forward to the raising and despatch of the Contingent
were undoubtedly forcible; but the martial fever of the time was too
high, to allow of them having any great effect in the direction sought.
People read them, or listened to them, and, for the most part,
pooh-poohed them. If Sir Henry Parkes had only found the opportunity, it
was asked, would he not have seized it with more than Mr. Dalley's
alacrity? It was envy, not a desire to serve the country, it was said,
that had prompted his protests.

Yet there were some, even among the members of the Ministry, who were
not wholly in accord with Mr. Dalley in the step he had taken.

Mr. Dalley did not anticipate an acceptance of his offer. It would be a
splendid thing for the country to make it, and he had consulted the two
officers at the head of the military forces as to the men and material
that, if wanted, would be available; but he thought it extremely
probable the offer would be declined with thanks. When the telegram from
England, announcing the acceptance of the troops, was received in
Sydney, Mr. Dalley was at Burrowa, and it was sent on to him there. "I
hope", he wired back to the Minister in Sydney, from whom he had
received the news--"I hope to God the Contingent will be forthcoming."

It was forthcoming. In a marvellously short period of time, the force
was organized, equipped, and sent away in a manner which would have done
credit to any Government and any country.

Once the colony was committed to the proceeding, the desire to make it
a thorough success was practically universal. Ministers united in
pushing it forward; the press heartily gave it support; and the people
joined almost as one man. The unconstitutional nature of the proceeding
was condoned by Parliament, in a special session convened for the
purpose. The evils which Sir Henry Parkes pointed to, as likely to
result from casualties in the force, did not appear, for the reason
that, by the time the Contingent arrived at the seat of war, most of the
fighting was over; and a patriotic fund, which had been raised in
Sydney, was more than sufficient to meet all claims for gratuities or
pensions. Furthermore, the _éclat_ of the whole movement was so
pronounced, that undoubtedly the general result to New South Wales was
very beneficial.

But this did not alter Sir Henry Parkes' opinion of what the Government
had done, nor induce him to withdraw, in any respect, from his attitude
of disapproval. Convinced that the Government had acted unjustifiably,
and deserved censure, he determined to seize the first opportunity for
testing the feelings of the people, upon the subject, at the polling
booths. This, if he succeeded, would bring him back to Parliament,
against his recently-expressed intentions to remain away; but it would
have the effect of showing that the public were not altogether against
him, in the course he had taken. That would be a great satisfaction; and
he felt certain, that in their calmer moments, when excitement had given
place to sober reflection, the public generally would be found on his

The opportunity to test the feeling of the electors presented itself at
Argyle, in March, 1885; and thither Sir Henry Parkes went, as an avowed
opponent of the Government in the matter of the Soudan Contingent.

His chances of success did not appear to be very bright. The widespread
popularity of the step the Government had taken, seemed much more than
sufficient to overshadow the comparatively few expressions of
disapproval, even though they came from such an important source as Sir
Henry Parkes. He, in fact, by his opposition, had apparently made
himself very unpopular. The press attacked him very severely. Public
opinion, to judge from the conversation and exchange of views in places
where people meet, unequivocally condemned him. For a time, he was very
much in the position of one without friends or apologists. Yet, in spite
of all, he vindicated himself. He was returned for Argyle, though he was
strongly opposed; and the principal question upon which the votes of the
electors were asked, was the despatch of the military force to Egypt.

The Argyle election took place on 31st March, 1885; and, on 8th
September, of the same year, Sir Henry Parkes took his seat, as Member
for Argyle, in the Legislative Assembly.

No sooner did he do so than he found himself called upon to answer a
charge which, if endorsed by the House, and carried to a legitimate
conclusion, involved his expulsion from the Parliament to which he had
just been returned. His address to the electors of Tenterfield was
brought under the notice of the House by the Premier, Sir Alexander
Stuart. The statements in the address, reflecting on the conduct of
members, seemed to Sir Alexander Stuart to be of a character which
compelled him to draw attention to them, and he did so as a matter of

As results showed, the proceeding w r as not a wise one. Sir Alexander
Stuart was of opinion that Sir Henry Parkes should be afforded an
opportunity, and should be called upon, to explain, if he chose to do
so, what he had intended to convey by the objectionable statements in
his address; and that the House should then consider whether, and by
what means, it should purge itself of the charges made against it.

Sir Henry Parkes admitted the questioned statements; contended that he
had said no more than had often been said in English parliamentary
circles of political conduct strongly disapproved; and declared that he
had nothing to retract or to say in qualification of his language. He
had not reflected on the Assembly as a whole; he was very careful in
explaining that. He was as anxious, he said, to preserve the character
and independence of the Assembly, as any one; but he could not shut his
eyes, or close his mouth, to the proceedings of a considerable section
of the Assembly, if he thought proper to condemn their conduct either in
the Assembly Chamber or out of doors. As a citizen of the country, he
pointed out, he had, in a matter of this kind, a privilege outside
Parliament, equal to the right of criticism and complaint he would
possess as a member of Parliament.

It is scarcely necessary to consider whether his view of his rights, in
this respect, was correct. If, as a private citizen, he were not able
to go so far, in his criticism of parliamentary proceedings, as to say
that political character had almost disappeared from them, and that
personal objects had to a large extent taken the place of deliberation
and legitimate debate, then there can be no justification, on the part
of the public, to express disapproval, in any way, of anything
associated with politics.

Sir Alexander Stuart, ill-advised, having drawn the attention of the
House to the matter, was bound to go on with it. Sir Henry Parkes not
only admitted publishing what had appeared in his address, but
reiterated it. The words were sufficiently plain, he said; sufficiently
clear to convey his meaning. That was his meaning then; it was his
meaning now; and he saw no reason to say anything in qualification of
it, still less to withdraw the words. Sir Alexander Stuart moved a
resolution, affirming that the words were a gross libel on the House;
and, after considerable debate, in which the peculiar position of the
Government in the course they had taken was forcibly shown, the
resolution was passed by a majority of four votes, in a division of
thirty-one to twenty-seven.

The natural sequence to this was a motion proposing that Sir Henry
Parkes be expelled. He had been adjudged guilty of grossly libelling the
House; the step now to take was to expel him from Parliament. Sir Henry
Parkes snapped his fingers at the resolution carried by the majority of
four, and dared the Government to proceed with his expulsion. The
Government proposed to let the matter rest at the point it had reached.
They had succeeded in their course so far; they were doubtful of success
if they proceeded further. The House, knowing Sir Henry Parkes'
popularity in the country at any time, were not likely to send him back
to his constituents only to be returned again, probably in a manner
severely condemnatory of themselves. But Sir Henry Parkes urged the
Government to do so. If they stopped at the resolution which had been
passed, they were making a laughing stock of Parliament. "I snap my
fingers at the motion," he declared, "and I appeal from you to your
masters, the electors of the country."

Still the Government made no sign of going further. The indignation of
Sir Henry Parkes, and the taunts of other members of the Opposition,
were alike unavailing. To have secured a vote which declared the veteran
ex-Premier to have grossly libelled the Assembly, was satisfaction
enough for one sitting. It was something like an adequate return for the
denunciations of the Ministry, in which the honourable member had been
indulging, not only in the Tenterfield address, but on various occasions
between the publication of that address and the Argyle election. To
attempt anything beyond this might result in failure, which would
destroy the effect of the motion already carried. So the Government
could not be induced to stir from the position at which the House had
arrived. One of the supporters of the Ministry gave the House the
opportunity which Sir Alexander Stuart had declined to give, and moved
that Sir Henry Parkes be expelled; but no one voted for the motion
except the mover and the seconder. The Government voted against it.

As Member for Argyle, Sir Henry Parkes resumed in the Assembly his old
habit of activity, and, though Sir John Robertson was still leader of
the Opposition, a position of influence.

This influence, however, was more in relation to the business of the
House than upon members personally. His long experience and extensive
political knowledge were always of great assistance, and his speeches,
more than those of any other member, were instructive and useful; but,
with all this, he attracted to himself very few members as close
associates. With a man like Sir John Robertson sitting on the same side
of the House, in the position of leader of the party, it was not easy
for another to make headway.

At the same time there was nothing to indicate that Sir Henry Parkes
entertained any desire to displace Sir John Robertson. Being in
Parliament again, and having resumed his wonted activity, it was natural
to consider that circumstances must arise, sooner or later, under which
he would once more be called to the first position in the ranks of his
party; but for that he was content to wait. Not much more than a year
was to pass before he was again the acknowledged leader of those with
whom he sat, and but two years before he was at the head of another
Ministry; but during that short period, as events transpired, there were
three changes of Government, and the honourable gentleman had some
curious experiences both inside and outside the Assembly.

In October, 1885, Parliament was dissolved; and the Stuart Government
coming to an end, through the illness of Sir Alexander Stuart and of Mr.
Dalley, a reconstruction of the Administration was carried out by Mr. G.
R. Dibbs. This reconstruction was effected immediately after the
prorogation preparatory to Parliament being dissolved. The Prime
Minister, at whose instance the prorogation took place, was not the
Prime Minister who brought about the dissolution. The first was known to
Parliament; the second was not.

Sir Henry condemned this proceeding as unprecedented and revolutionary.
No such thing, he contended, had ever before occurred in either New
South Wales or England; and in a letter sent by him to the press, he
used words of censure upon the Governor, Lord Augustus Loftus, for being
a party to it.

The "Ministerial metempsychosis", as he styled it, determined him to do
his best to defeat the new Government in the elections; and he announced
himself as a candidate for St. Leonards, in opposition to the Premier,
Mr. Dibbs. Broadly stated, the issue put by him before the electors was,
whether the free institutions of the country were to be worked out in
accordance with constitutional Government, or at the instance and in the
interests of a particular set of men.

But he adopted other tactics also. They were condemned in some quarters
at the time, and notably by the leading journals, as tainted by
inexcusable localism.

An interesting question at St. Leonards in those days, as it is now,
though not so prominent now as then, was the connection of the North
Shore with Sydney by a bridge. Sir Henry Parkes, of course, knew this.
He knew also that the people of the electorate were anxious for a
railway to open up the district. They have the railway now, but then it
was a matter of talk and promise. Sir Henry Parkes advocated both bridge
and railway, particularly the former, in a manner that caught the
approval and support of the electors completely. It would not be correct
to say that his condemnation of the Government, on constitutional
grounds, did not carry with it great weight. Sir Henry Parkes never
spoke on constitutional questions or procedure in any part of the
country, at any time, without being accepted as an authority entitled to
speak, whose views might be regarded as sound. But the North Shore
bridge and the railway were matters which appealed to the every day
convenience and comfort of the residents, and his attitude in regard to
those works had a marked effect in the election. Parodying the
well-known lines of Macaulay, he exclaimed at the nomination
proceedings, amidst the cheers of the populace:--

"In that straight path a thousand
May cross as soon as three,
Now who will stand at my right hand,
And build the bridge with me?

Out spake the bold electors,
Four thousand strong are we;
We'll all abide on every side,
And build the bridge with thee!'"

The appeal was irresistible. The announcement of the result of the
polling showed Sir Henry Parkes to be at the top, 476 votes in excess of
the number recorded for Mr. Dibbs, and that gentleman defeated. Mr.
Dibbs' defeat was not a matter of general satisfaction, and it was with
pleasure that the public soon afterwards learned of his return for the
Murrumbidgee; but the triumph of Sir Henry Parkes was unmistakeable. It
constituted him the chief figure in the elections. There appeared to be
a very fair prospect of his becoming again, in a very short time, the
head of a new Government. To this he told the electors he did not
aspire, though, if the position came to him in the natural course of
events, well and good; but he was ambitious of being the leader of the
country, in the contests proceeding in the choice of the new Parliament.


THE new Parliament opened on 17th November, 1885. The Government had
suffered severely in the elections, and it was scarcely possible they
could remain in office. Many persons had expected their resignation
before Parliament assembled; but, notwithstanding the reverses he had
experienced, Mr. Dibbs declared his intention of meeting the new House,
and definitely testing, there, his position.

Some of the opponents of the Ministry taunted them with a desire to
retain their offices long enough to receive Lord Carrington, who was
about to arrive in Sydney, as Governor of New South Wales.

If the near arrival of Lord Carrington had any influence in this
direction, the circumstance, to a certain extent, was excusable. Never
before had an expected Governor been regarded with such widespread and
engrossing interest. The appointment, and the landing in Sydney, of
Lord Carrington, may be said to have marked an era in the history of the

Lord Carrington was the successor to Lord Augustus Loftus; and his
antecedents, and the manner in which his appointment had been heralded,
raised the expectations of the colonists to the highest pitch. It was
the first time a rich, fashionable nobleman, fond of gaiety, and with a
disposition to spend money freely, and live in the best style, and
withal strive to make himself popular, had been placed in the vice-regal
position. Government House had been occupied previously by noblemen; but
they had not been in touch with the people, and their expenditure had
been of such a nature that it had created impressions the reverse of
complimentary. The most absurd stories had been current of the manner in
which some Governors had lived. But, with the appointment of Lord
Carrington, an entirely new style of things was anticipated. He was
known to be an intimate companion of the Prince of Wales, and a
personage at Court; and, therefore, one who moved in the best society in
England. He was a thorough sportsman. He liked horseracing. He was fond
of driving, and his horses and equipages were of the best description.
He had an income of £40,000 a year, it was said; and he was prepared to
spend the whole, or most of it, during his stay in the colony. His wife
was described, by Lord Rosebery, as an English lily, delicately
nurtured, sweet in disposition, everything that an English lady ought to
be; and, it may be said at once, she justified every word that had been
said in her praise. Previous Governors had been content with one
aide-de-camp. It was announced that Lord Carrington would have four. So
numerous in fact did they and the household generally of the new
Governor appear, that it became a habit, when referring to them, to
discard the term "staff", and speak of them as the Governor's
_entourage_. Certainly there was some reason why the Ministry should
desire to remain in office, long enough to receive a Governor of such
unusual importance.

A week after Lord Carrington arrived the Dibbs Ministry resigned.

The determined opposition Sir Henry Parkes had shown them in the
elections he continued in Parliament; and the strongest speeches against
them were spoken by him. But Sir John Robertson was regarded as the
leader of the Opposition, and he was commissioned to form the new
Government, His chances of success depended upon Sir Henry Parkes.
Knowing that without Sir Henry's assistance, he might as well abandon
his commission, he offered him any position in the Government he cared
to choose.

Sir Henry Parkes declined to rejoin Sir John Robertson. Though willing
to support the new Administration, if its composition and policy should
prove such as to meet with his approval, he was not prepared to become a
member of it. He was not, at this time, desirous of office; but it was
the general opinion among politicians that he could have got together a
capable and strong Government, if the task of forming the new Ministry
had been entrusted to him. As it was, his non-acceptance of a portfolio
with Sir John Robertson was fatal to the new Government. His refusal to
join the Administration was a serious stumbling block in its way; the
circumstance, that, on its formation, and the announcement of its
policy, he found that he could not give it his support, materially
assisted in bringing it to an end. He found it necessary to vote with
those opposed to it; and the Government was obliged to retire, the
course taken by Sir Henry Parkes giving rise to bitter feelings on the
part of Sir John Robertson.

The retiring Ministry had lasted two months, and was then succeeded by
an Administration at the head of which was Sir Patrick Jennings. The
division between Sir John Robertson and Sir Henry Parkes had led the
former, on the defeat of his Ministry, to seek a coalition with Sir
Patrick Jennings; and, for a day or two, it had appeared probable that
the coalition would be effected. If it had been accomplished, Sir Henry
Parkes would have been left on the Opposition side of the House for some
time, with a very small following. But it was found to be impracticable.
At the last moment, a dispute arose in regard to the office of
Attorney-General, and this brought the negotiations for a combination of
the two parties to an end.

In these proceedings there was a strong desire, and a determined effort,
to keep Sir Henry Parkes from power. The Robertson party were incensed
at him, for the attitude he had assumed against them; the party
comprising the main portion of the Opposition disliked him, for the
course he had taken in the elections. Sir John Robertson had greatly
damaged Sir Henry Parkes' chances of favourable consideration at
Government House, by submitting to the Governor a statement of parties
in the Assembly, in which Sir Henry was represented as being associated
with a section numbering seven, including himself. Outside Parliament,
there were powerful influences at work in the same direction. The
consequence was that, when Sir Patrick Jennings had formed his
Administration, which he did from the portion of the Opposition that
had been part of, or had supported, the Dibbs and Stuart Ministries, Sir
Henry Parkes was left on the Opposition side of the Assembly, little
more, for the time, than a unit among those antagonistic to the new

But a change very quickly took place. Considering what had occurred, it
was scarcely possible for Sir John Robertson and Sir Henry Parkes to
again work together with anything like cordiality; it was quite
impossible that they could ever again join in the formation, of a
Government. It was equally impossible for Sir John Robertson to succeed
in the formation, or the carrying on, of a Government, without the
assistance of Sir Henry Parkes. Apparently recognising this, Sir John
Robertson, a few months after the entry into office of Sir Patrick
Jennings and his colleagues, resigned his seat in the Assembly, and
finally retired from parliamentary life.

Thus the way was once more cleared for Sir Henry Parkes. He became
leader of the Opposition; and immediately there opened a period of his
career which for vigour, brilliance, and success was unsurpassed in his
history. Yet at this time he was 71 years of age.

The Jennings Ministry remained in office for a little less than eleven
months. The year was one of financial need, and, for revenue purposes,
Sir Patrick Jennings and his colleagues introduced in Parliament, and
passed into law, a Customs Duties Bill, under which an _ad valorem_ duty
of 5 per cent, was imposed, and the tariff altered in relation to
certain specific duties.

The appearance of this measure aroused a storm of indignant protest and
opposition on the part of Sir Henry Parkes, and of the party of which he
was leader. With the exception of about a dozen Members, the whole House
professed the principles of free trade; but, while the Opposition
declared the proposals in the bill to be of a protective character, the
Government denied that they were, in any sense, associated with
protection. They could have no protective effect upon industries, it was
argued, and they were not of a nature to cause any disturbance of trade.
They were, however, supported by the protectionist Members of the
Assembly, and regarded by them as the first instalment of a protective
policy. Thus the Government were charged with "sneaking in protection";
and, for the time the bill was before the House, Ministers found the
proceedings hampered by every method of resistance which the rules, or
the practice, of Parliament, permitted. The sittings became unexampled
for length, and notorious for scenes of excitement and disorder. For the
first and only time, in the history of the Assembly, a sitting of the
House extended to Sunday morning. Determined to destroy the bill, if
that were at all possible, the Opposition laid hold of it at every point
that offered; and, at every step, intercepted its progress. Quite as
firm as their opponents, the Government were resolved to defeat these
tactics. So the struggle went on.

Eventually the bill was passed, and the new tariff enforced. It cannot
be said that it did any immediate harm. The _ad valorem_ duty was not
appreciably felt, and protectionists were not, in any material way,
benefited. But the duties were not regarded with satisfaction. The
press, as well as the Opposition in Parliament, kept the objections that
might be fairly raised against them, well before the people. There was a
feeling abroad, through the colony, that the tariff under which the
country had lived, and, on the whole, prospered, having been one of free
trade, there should have been no alteration in a direction in which the
general advantage was, at least, very doubtful; and, before long, it
became apparent that this feeling would manifest itself unmistakeably
at the next elections.

Rather more than three months after the Customs Duties Act had been
assented to, the Jennings Ministry retired from office; ostensibly
through a disagreement between Sir Patrick Jennings and Mr. Dibbs, but
largely owing to fiscal differences between the head of the Government
and some of his colleagues.

Lord Carrington then sent for Sir Henry Parkes, the summons reaching him
late on a Saturday afternoon. The Governor's aide-de-camp, Lord Bertie,
had been looking for him all day; but, as he was spending the day at the
Blue Mountains, did not find him until his return. At this date he was
living at Parramatta; and Lord Bertie met him on his way back from the
Mountains, in the train, at Blacktown. He saw Lord Carrington at 9
o'clock in the evening of the Saturday, and, by Monday evening, the new
Ministry was virtually formed. By Tuesday everything was complete.

The House met on that day, and Sir Henry Parkes, through Sir Patrick
Jennings, sought to obtain from the Assembly the supply necessary to
cover the period which would be occupied by the re-election of the new
Ministers. Sir Patrick Jennings, friendly enough to the incoming
Ministry, endeavoured to do as he had been requested; but some members
objected. The names of the new Ministers had not been announced to
Parliament, and this was used as a reason why the House should refuse
the request for supply. It was used also for another purpose. The new
Government were in the peculiar position of being, as far as parties in
the Assembly existed, in a serious minority. Sir Patrick Jennings had
retired from office, while having a large and loyally working majority
at his back. Some members professed not to be able to see how, in the
existing state of things, Sir Henry Parkes was going to make any
headway. In their opinion, it was but trifling with Parliament for him
to attempt to form a Government. The first test motion, which they
considered was sure to come, would, they argued, result in sending him
back to the Opposition benches, with the comparatively small party
which, since Sir John Robertson's retirement from public life, he had
been leading.

He, and those who could intelligently read the situation, knew better.
That he and his party in the House were in a minority was undeniable;
but it was equally plain that he could not have accepted the Governor's
commission, to form a new Administration, without an understanding with
his Excellency, that, in the event of an adverse vote or serious
obstacle to his proceeding with business, the House should be sent to
the country.. He had a dissolution in his pocket, in fact, from the time
of leaving Government House on the Saturday night. Some members opposed
to him either could not, or would not, see this. They persisted in.
objecting to the supply asked for being granted, and it was refused.

The following afternoon Sir Henry Parkes appeared in the Assembly.
Anticipating some such course as the House had taken, he had, for the
time, refrained from having himself sworn in as Colonial Secretary; and
he took his seat, still as Member for St. Leonards, and as
Vice-President of the Executive Council. Naturally there was some
outcry, and his right to appear in the Chamber was challenged. But it
could not be denied. Remaining there, he demanded the supply he had
asked Sir Patrick Jennings to procure; he dared the House to refuse it;
and he told honourable members, that, granted or not, they would be sent
before their constituents.

There was in this much that irritated many, and not a little that
savoured of dictatorship. But there was some excuse for it, especially
as most of those who were the cause of it were in no sense friendly to
the change of Ministers. Supply was granted; Parliament was dissolved;
and the country was immediately stirred by a general election as
exciting and significant in its results as any which had preceded it.

It was a long time since the country had been so agitated by political
questions. The composition of the Ministry was as follows:-

SIR HENRY PARKES, G.G.M.G. ... Colonial Secretary and Premier.
MR. J. F. BURNS            ... Colonial Treasurer.
MR. W. J. FOSTER           ... Attorney-General.
MR. T. GARRETT             ... Minister for Lands.
MR. JOHN SUTHERLAND ...    ... Minister for Works.
MR. WILLIAM CLARKE         ... Minister of Justice.
MR. JAMES INGLIS           ... Minister of Public Instruction.
MR. FRANCIS ABIGAIL        ... Secretary for Mines.
MR. C. J. ROBERTS, C.M.G.  ... Postmaster-General
MR. J. E. SALAMONS, Q.C.   ... Vice-President of the Executive Council,
                               and Representative of the Government in
                               the Legislative Council.

On the publication of the names of the Administration, some doubt was
felt as to its free trade principles, for among the Ministers were at
least three reputed protectionists. But the doubts quickly disappeared.
There could be but one opinion of the Ministerial policy, from the
moment it was announced definitely. Two plain general issues, as Sir
Henry Parkes described them, were submitted to the people: "the
restoration of their affairs to an economical, pure, and sound
constitutional state of Government, and the restoration to the colony of
the old policy of free trade." The Free Trade Flag was to be nailed to
the mast, and carried to victory. "The Ministry", wrote the leading
journal, "is worthy, in our opinion, of the confidence of the country,
and the country, if we are not mistaken, will give its confidence."

Sir Henry Parkes' address to his constituents at St. Leonards, and
manifesto to the country, was an eloquent and stirring appeal. "I have
undertaken the labours of office", he said, "at a time of unexampled
difficulty." Four years previously, when retiring from office, his
Government had left in the Treasury a surplus of nearly £2,000,000. Now
he returned to power to face a deficit, as he stated in his address, of
at least £2,500,000, a public expenditure which had increased more than
50 per cent, and a public debt which, under £19,000,000 when he last
left the Treasury benches, had become £41,000,000. Of course these
sensational increases in the country's liabilities were capable of
explanation and defence, but, regarded alone, they constituted a
formidable indictment against those mainly responsible for them.

The first duty of the new Government was to be to extricate the country
from "its deplorable condition", and to "restore it to a position
worthy of its splendid resources and the generous spirit of its people".
An amended Land Act, to facilitate permanent agricultural settlement,
and to secure, in an improved manner, the rights of the pastoral
tenants, while, at the same time, getting adequate revenue, without
charging excessive rents or imposing oppressive conditions, was
promised. There was also to be introduced a Railway Bill, which would
effectually withdraw the railways from political influence. The Civil
Service was to be inquired into and reformed; and the question of the
"unemployed" was to be dealt with. "In a land", wrote Sir Henry
Parkes, "where, on all sides, nothing is so much needed as human
labour, no pair of healthy human hands ought to be seeking employment
in vain", and "in dealing with the temporary dearth of employment
amongst the working population, the Government will avoid giving any
measure of relief the character of pauperism, and will endeavour to
absorb this spasmodic labour in some form or other of permanent value."

Town and country flocked to the free trade standard. Protection was more
noticeable in some of the constituencies than at any previous election,
but with little chance of becoming formidable. The prominence into which
the protectionist proclivities of the Jennings Ministry had been brought
by the criticism of their opponents, had imparted to protection a
stimulus that had lifted it into more notice than had before been given
to it; but no one believed that it had any considerable hold in the
country. Still it was necessary to fight it.

From the sounding of the first note of the bugle of free trade, Sir
Henry Parkes was at the front, and in the thick of the conflict. It was
wonderful how he managed to find the physical strength necessary to
the work he accomplished. It was remarkable how the constituencies
turned towards him, and hailed him as the statesman and leader that was
wanted. They were for free trade and prosperity, with the few and
convenient fiscal burdens which are associated with the liberal policy,
but they were as strong, or stronger, for Sir Henry Parkes. His
personal popularity at this time, was surprising. So pronounced, in
fact, was public approval in his favour, that very quickly it was
recognised by candidates for the new Parliament, that supporting Parkes
was the high road to success, and disapproving of him certain defeat.
This had a somewhat demoralizing tendency. There were, of course, men
above attempts to gain a seat in the new Assembly by simply attaching
themselves to the Premier's coat-tails, but there were many others,
whose principles were much weaker than their desire to be elected by
whatever means the election could be brought about.

Sir Henry Parkes, himself, flitted from one electorate to another, with
extraordinary rapidity. Tonight he would speak to the electors of a
metropolitan constituency; tomorrow night he would address the people
in an electorate hundreds of miles away in the country. In all
directions he travelled. No distance was too great; no obstacle too
serious. Everything gave way to his desire to assist the Government
candidates by defeating their opponents. Most of his speeches were
admirable in matter and style. Some were blurred with personal attacks
and references which might very well have been, omitted. These did not
meet with general approval. But as he who delivered the speeches was
received enthusiastically, almost everywhere, success to the Government
candidate rarely failed to follow as a consequence of his efforts. The
failures were chiefly in districts which may be said to have been
protective by nature as well as by politics. "The old worn-out
empirical doctrine", as he termed protection, had its grasp on some
parts of the colony, and the time had not arrived for that grasp to be

Victory for Sir Henry Parkes and free trade, through the constituencies
generally, was assured from the opening of the struggle; the people
triumphantly declaring for government by a statesman understood and
appreciated, and for unrestricted commerce. As usual, at that period,
the elections were carried out in batches; and the first day's polling
showed the Ministry to be a long way ahead. Out of twenty-six seats,
twenty-four were won by the free-traders, and the other two were lost for
reasons not connected with the fiscal question. The majorities gained in
the voting were overwhelming; and the success in the metropolitan
constituencies paved the way for successes in the country. When the
elections terminated, the Free Trade Party returned to the new
Parliament were, compared with the protectionists, as two to one. Of
124 members comprising the Assembly eighty-three were classed as free
traders or ministerialists, and forty-one as protectionists. The
majority for the Government was consequently very strong.

The protectionists were a much larger body than at any previous general
election had been returned to Parliament; and, for the first time in New
South Wales' history, they were likely to act as a united and compact
party, carrying with them some weight if not exercising much influence.
In this position, while it was improbable they could do any harm, they
could not fail to attract attention.


THE Ministry remained in office for two years. They commenced well, and
went on well; retiring, eventually, on a very simple matter connected
with which their resignation was neither desired nor expected, but was
brought about by the punctilious regard Sir Henry Parkes always had for
the duty of a Government, when they had been attacked and beaten on a
vital question.

The two years constituted one of the most important and interesting
periods in the colony's history.

A return to free trade was, of course, the necessary consequence of the
Ministry coming into office. The protectionist policy of the Jennings
Government was reversed, and once more freedom reigned at the Custom
House, as far as, under the circumstances of the time, it could be
brought into operation. Contentment and gradual progress became
apparent. There was a serious difficulty existing in relation to the
unemployed; but no time was lost in dealing with it, and arrangements
were made under which employment was found for men out of work in
clearing Crown land, which, afterwards, in its more valuable condition,
by reason of having been cleared, could be sold to public advantage. In
some respects the scheme was beneficial; but the general result was
unsatisfactory, and was the cause of some unpleasantness both inside and
outside Parliament.

The Civil Service was taken in hand by appointing a Commission, whose
duty it was to inquire into the condition of the various departments,
with a view to the necessary improvement. In this matter also, the
success desired and expected was not achieved. It was found that while
there was no difficulty in learning the state of the departments, and in
making the necessary recommendations regarding them, it was not
practicable to publish the evidence upon which the recommendations were
based. The only way, apparently, in which the truth and the whole truth
concerning the service could be obtained, was by getting each officer to
speak freely; and this freedom of speech depended upon a guarantee, that
what an officer stated to the Commission should go no further.
Consequently all the Commission did was to hear the evidence, have it
recorded for their own information and discussion, and make their report
upon it. The record of the evidence was destroyed. A state of things was
thus brought about which made the proceedings of the Commission useless.
The reports, as they were drawn up, were sent to the Government, and
remained with them. Members of the Assembly demanded that they should be
laid before Parliament; but Ministers declined to produce them without
the evidence, and, under the compact of the Commission with the
witnesses, the evidence was not available. The reports have, therefore,
never been made public. In a few instances, recommendations made by the
Commission were acted upon by Ministers, in a rearrangement of their
departments, but the bulk of the recommendations in no way emerged from
the paper upon which they were written.

But, though the results of the measures taken to deal with the
unemployed and with the Civil Service, were not satisfactory, there was
much else in these two years of administration of the affairs of
government which met with approval.

One matter was that of effectually regulating the Chinese question. At
this time, as throughout his political life, Sir Henry Parkes was
opposed to aliens of inferior race coming to New South Wales in
excessive numbers. Population, to any extent, was welcome from any part
of the globe, so long as it was of a kind that could satisfactorily
merge itself in the community already in the colony. In his eyes, the
Chinese were incapable of mixing with a British population without
causing it to deteriorate. They were not, in his opinion, less
law-abiding, industrious, or thrifty than British colonists; but he
maintained that, in a country like New South Wales, the type of the
British nation should be preserved in the people, and, therefore, that,
for no consideration whatever, should there be admitted into the country
any element that, in an appreciable degree, would lower that type.
Further, he held that there should not be admitted any class of persons
to whom the community were not prepared to give the full privileges and
rights of citizenship; and he saw how unfairly, considering their manner
of life, the Chinese competed with the population of the soil in the
labour market. The Chinese, he had made up his mind, must be kept out of
the country. They were here in large numbers; if allowed to come
unrestricted they would be here in numbers much greater, and would
probably overrun the country. For some time signs had been apparent, in
all the colonies, of a serious increase in the number of them coming to
Australia. The matter had become one of urgency. Popular agitations on
the subject made it the more necessary for the different Governments to
take action.

New South Wales, while, to a certain extent, acting in concert with its
neighbours, took an independent course. Chinese passengers to
Melbourne, quarantined there with the object of forcing them away from
Victoria, and afterwards compelled to leave that colony, were refused a
landing when the steamers, on board of which they were, arrived at
Sydney. The Government were warned that they were acting illegally, and,
that if applied to, the Supreme Court, under the existing state of the
law, would authorise the landing. Sir Henry Parkes declared that, until
the question was decided by the Supreme Court, no Chinaman should set
his foot on shore.

He sought the aid of the Imperial Government, in preventing Chinese from
coming to the colony. The Imperial Government seemed more inclined to
listen to the Chinese Ambassador in London, than to the Prime Minister
of New South Wales; and Sir Henry Parkes sent to London, a message
declaring that, at all hazards, the Government here would put an end to
Chinese immigration. His attitude in this respect was not approved by
some persons, and led to notice being given in the Assembly of a motion
of censure by a prominent member of his own party; but he had the public
with him, and he carried his determination into effect.

A bill was passed containing stringent provisions against Chinese coming
to the colony; and, from that time to this, it has been the law of the
land. China protested a little; Great Britain viewed the matter
dubiously. But the relations between the two nations were not affected
by what was done, and, undoubtedly, New South Wales has benefited.

Though earnestly desiring to preserve the integrity of the Empire, Sir
Henry Parkes could not see why he should not be faithful to the
interests of his colony. "We must be loyal to ourselves", he said, when
speaking on the subject in the Assembly; "we must be loyal to the
constitution under which we live; and the only way in which we can be
true to ourselves, as Her Majesty's free subjects, is to show that we
have a lively appreciation of the great liberties, of the great
privileges, which we possess, and which we will never forfeit, nor
suffer to be impaired."

Payment of members became a prominent question during the period in
which this Government was in office. Sir Henry Parkes, as he had always
been, was opposed to it; but, to a considerable extent, the
constituencies were favourable, and there was a strong majority
supporting it in the Assembly. In a sense, the Government were forced to
bring the question forward, and give Parliament the opportunity to vote
upon it. A few days after they were sworn in, a motion in favour of
payment of members, introduced by a private member, was passed by a
majority of twenty; and the Government were placed in the position of
deciding either to bring in the bill, or to resign their offices. In the
circumstances, resignation of office would have been highly injurious
to the country; and the only other course was to bring in the bill.

Ministers were divided in their attitude towards the measure, the
majority being opposed to it, Sir Henry Parkes made it known that, for
his part, if it had not been for other considerations, he would much
rather have left office than be a party to the introduction of the bill.
He could neither see that it was necessary, nor admit that it would lead
to an improvement in the representation of the constituencies. In his
view, the proposed payment was inadequate as a salary for parliamentary
services, and, as a means of introducing men of value to the public life
of the country, who otherwise would not make their appearance, would be
an entire failure. The character of Parliament would not, by it, be
improved one whit.

The argument that, to pay members a salary, would have the effect of
raising the tone of Parliament, by bringing into the Legislative
Assembly the most capable men obtainable, was the highest ground taken
by the friends of the bill. There were several other reasons, which did
not reach this standard, for the support given to the measure. A
conversation between a member of the Assembly and an acquaintance,
during the time the bill was under discussion, imparted to the claim for
payment an aspect both significant and amusing.

"We must have payment of members", said the member emphatically; "Oh!
we must have it. Do you know my correspondence is so great that it takes
up every moment of my time."

"I have no doubt of it", it was remarked.

"Oh! every moment of my time."

"But you mean to say", the member was asked, "that you attend to all of

"Attend to it!" he exclaimed; "Of course I do. I have to. First you
will have a long letter from a fellow who wants a billet; then another
from a rascal who has got the sack, perhaps for being drunk--he wants to
be reinstated. Then another writes, Asking for the cancellation of a
lease; and another scoundrel wants his lease extended. So it goes on."

"It really must take up all your time."

"Take up all my time! My feet are actually sore walking about the
Government offices."

"They must be if you attend to everything that is asked of you in that

"I must attend to it, you know, or I should be simply kicked out at the
next election. Oh! there ought to be payment of members, and there must

The bill providing for payment ultimately became law. Some obstacles
stood in its way in the Legislative Council; but, eventually, it was
carried through the necessary stages, the opponents of the measure in
the Upper House making an unsuccessful effort to secure the important
point of restricting the operation of its provisions to future

But the _magnum opus_ of this Government was the passing of the
Government Railways Act and the Public Works Act, two measures which
have done, and promise yet to do, as much for the colony, in the public
interest, as any legislation effected in its history. They may even do
more. Dependent as the country is upon the successful working of its
great railway system, for the maintenance of its chief asset, and upon a
judicious carrying out of large public works, these Acts have had the
result of removing the railways from the baneful effects of political
influence, and placing them under an administration based upon business
principles; and of subjecting public works proposals, the expenditure
upon which is estimated at or beyond £20,000, to the keen scrutiny of a
committee elected by both Houses of Parliament. Had these measures been
in existence fifteen or twenty years ago, the results from railway
construction and management, and from the prevention of unnecessary
expenditure on public works of one kind or another, would be
represented now by a very much smaller debt than that which confronts
the colony, a much easier burden of taxation than the people at the
present time have to bear, and an absence of some works, constructed
under the old system, which have been little better than millstones upon
the necks of the general community.

The colony of Victoria had placed its railways under Commissioners, with
a view to removing their administration from political influence, before
the idea assumed definite form in New South Wales; and the measure
which Sir Henry Parkes introduced, and carried into law, was preceded
by one brought forward by the Minister for Works in the Government of
Sir Patrick Jennings. That, however, was different in some essential
particulars. It followed very closely the Victorian Act. Sir Henry
Parkes adopted some portions of the Act of Victoria, but added new and
effective provisions of his own. He saw weak spots in the Victorian
system, and avoided them. Visiting Melbourne, for the purpose of
inquiring respecting the new law and its operation, he conferred with
both the Government and the Railway Commissioners; and, having learned
all there was to learn, returned to Sydney, and framed his bill upon the
information he had obtained and his own conception of what the New South
Wales railways needed.

The Public Works Act he claimed wholly as his own. Certainly there is no
such Act in any other colony of Australasia, and probably in no country
outside Australasia. The Standing Committee, which each parliament has
appointed under the provisions of the measure, may be somewhat similar
in form to a Grand Committee of the House of Commons, but, in the main,
its functions are distinct from those of any committee in any other
parliament in the world. Nothing has shown this more clearly, than the
applications which have been received from all quarters, for copies of
the New South Wales Act, in order to learn its provisions, and of the
reports of the Committee, to be informed as to its method of work and
the results of its operations.

Under the Railways Act, three railway commissioners were appointed, the
Chief Commissioner being obtained from England, the second found in the
person of one who had been some years previously in a high position on
the railways of Victoria, and the third transferred from one of the
principal offices in the New South Wales Civil Service.

The appointment of the second commissioner brought about
unexpectedly--it may almost be said accidentally, for this result from
it was not desired--the defeat and resignation of the Government. Rumour
associated the second railway commissioner with practices, in connection
with railway freight on wool, which had led to the prosecution of a
well-known commercial firm; and this rumour was brought under the notice
of the Legislative Assembly. Though satisfied of the commissioner's
integrity, Sir Henry Parkes promised that inquiry should be made; and
inquiry confirmed him in the belief that the character of the
commissioner was above reproach. This, however did not satisfy
everybody; and the matter was again referred to in the House. Sir Henry
Parkes was annoyed. Having, after much consideration and trouble,
secured for the position of railway commissioners three gentlemen whom
he believed to be admirably suited for it, and then, when the character
of one of them had been assailed, proved by careful inquiry the
falseness of the allegations made, he resented what seemed to him to be
unreasonable persistency in a course unjust to both the commissioner and
the Government. The matter was brought before the Assembly on a motion
for adjournment; and, indifferent as to what the result might be, Sir
Henry Parkes remained silent, and allowed the motion to go to a
division, which placed the Government in a minority of fourteen, and
induced Sir Henry Parkes to resign.

The Ministry had done good work in the two years of their existence, and
they had done their work in the face of many obstacles and trials.
Opposition from their opponents on the other side of the House was
natural. But difficulties arose from other sources than the action of
the Opposition. They made their appearance among the Ministers
themselves. The Attorney-General threw up his portfolio, because he did
not receive an appointment to a vacant Judgeship to which he considered
himself entitled; and his successor resigned, after nine months of
office, on the ground that the remuneration attached to the position
was insufficient. The Minister for Lands, the ablest parliamentarian in
the Legislature, so neglected his duties that he endangered the
existence of the Government, and was obliged to retire. In addition to
this, allegations of an unpleasant and damaging kind were made in
connection with the course taken by the Government in relieving the
unemployed, and in relation to some other matters of administration.

No Government in New South Wales is free from charges of this nature. At
one period or other of the existence of all Ministries, acts savouring
of corruption are alleged against them. The charges are not proved;
except, perhaps, by those whose natures prevent them from thinking
anything but evil of their fellows, they are not believed; but,
nevertheless, they do a certain amount of harm. They give rise to a
feeling of dissatisfaction and of unrest, and they assist all movements
of a directly hostile character against the Government. They assisted
in the division connected with the case of the Railway Commissioner.

But that, which, in these proceedings, struck the public more forcibly
than anything else, was the inglorious ending, brought about by the
defeat on the motion for adjournment, to the proud career which had
marked the life of the Government, from their triumphant return from the
elections to the passing of the two great measures which, more than
anything else, particularise this period of the colony's political
history. The flag of free trade, which had been raised so
conspicuously, and around which so many of the constituencies had
rallied, seemed to disappear in an atmosphere of indifference.
Free-traders complained; and there were those who blamed Sir Henry
Parkes for allowing the motion for adjournment to go to a division. He,
himself, charged some of the Free Trade Party--those who had voted for
the adjournment, and there were some who took that course--and those who
were not in the House to vote against it--with a want of loyalty which
justified him in the action he had taken.

From whatever point of view advocates of free trade may regard the
situation, it was not satisfactory. The state of parties in the House
still showed the free-traders to be in a large majority; but, Mr. Dibbs
being commissioned to form the new Government, an appeal to the country
was inevitable; and, in the peculiar circumstances of the time, there
was no saying what the result of that appeal might be. As it happened,
Sir Henry Parkes was brought back to office.


THE month of March, 1889, saw Sir Henry Parkes in the position of Prime
Minister of New South Wales, for the fifth time, and the champion of
Australian Federation.

The general election, which followed the resignation of the Parkes
Government, and the entry into office of a Government under Mr. Dibbs,
made the two parties in the Assembly almost even. The free-traders were
still in the majority, but it was very small."

Through the elections, there had been apparent a feeling not as friendly
to Sir Henry Parkes as formerly; for, rightly or wrongly, he was blamed
in many of the constituencies, as he was by many of his immediate
friends, for having abandoned the free trade position, and thereby
seriously injured its chances of a long and progressive prosperity. It
is, of course, easy to condemn, and there is nothing more common than to
overlook circumstances which may very well justify the proceedings
complained of. Yet he had to listen to many well-grounded expressions of
regret at the course he had taken, and to much rebuke. He was still
popular wherever he went, and whenever he spoke; but there was not, at
this time, noticeable, the enthusiasm manifested two years before, when
he was attacking the protectionist strongholds in all quarters of the
country, and leading his party to victory. Now, as then, he achieved
successes; but, in many places, he was weak where before he was strong;
and, when the elections terminated, so much had the protectionist party
advanced, that there was but a difference of two or three between them
and their opponents, who were in the majority. This did not prove the
existence of a desire on the part of the people of the colony to abandon
the policy of free trade, but it indicated an important advance of the
advocates of protection, with a material strengthening of their

The Dibbs Ministry were defeated in the elections, on the question of
protection; but this did not prevent them from making an effort to
continue in office. It seemed possible to proceed with general
legislation for the time, and to deal with the fiscal question later on.
At any rate, they thought that course might be fairly taken, and they
made the attempt. They proposed to "sink the fiscal issue", or, in
other words, deal with general legislation, and leave the tariff alone.
The attempt failed. Conscious of their majority, as shown by the
election returns, the free-traders were sanguine that a test motion
would remove the protectionist Ministry from office, and bring about
their own return to power; and they determined to try the strength of
the Assembly without delay.

Sir Henry Parkes was not inclined for another term of office. He was
anxious for rest; and he regarded the circumstances that had brought
about the defeat of the Government, in the matter relating to one of the
Railway Commissioners, such as to justify him in refusing to re-occupy a
position in which he might be again subjected to this objectionable
treatment. He expressed himself as unwilling to be other than an
ordinary member of the Free Trade Party. But the party wished a
continuance of his leadership; and, as they unanimously re-elected him
leader, he accepted the situation, and, moving by way of an amendment on
the Address-in-reply to the Governor's speech at the opening of the new
Parliament, a direct want of confidence in the Government, he found
himself, within a few days, at the head of his fifth Ministry, one of
the ablest that have held office in New South Wales. Members of the free
trade party, who previously had no desire for ministerial position, had
consented to take a share in the work of government, for the purpose
of safeguarding what they deemed to be the policy favoured by the
country; and a Ministry was formed individually capable and collectively
strong, The list was as follows:-

SIR HENRY PARKES, G.C.M.G. ... Colonial Secretary.
WILLIAM McMILLAN           ... Colonial Treasurer.
JOSEPH HECTOR CARRUTHERS   ... Minister of Public Instruction.
ALBERT JOHN GOULD          ... Minister of Justice.
GEORGE BOWEN SIMPSON, Q.C. ... Attorney-General.
JAMES NIXON BRUNKER        ... Secretary for Lands.
BRUCE SMITH                ... Secretary for Public Works.
DANIEL O'CONNOR            ... Postmaster-General.
SYDNEY SMITH               ... Secretary for Mines.
WILLIAM HENRY SUTTOR       ... Vice-President of the Executive Council.

Taking office on 8th March, 1889, the new Ministry remained in power
until 22nd October, 1891. Their career was eventful. Commencing under
fair auspices, they went on with little difficulty for twelve months;
passing, during that time, the Land Bill which established the present
Land Appeal Court, and carrying out various other important matters of
legislation as well as of administration. Then they received a serious
check by Sir Henry Parkes meeting with an accident, which broke his
right leg and incapacitated him for many weeks from legislative work of
any kind.

The accident happened on the 18th May, 1890; and, for several weeks, Sir
Henry was confined to his bed. A fortnight previously he had moved, in
the Legislative Assembly, resolutions approving of the proceedings of a
Conference on the subject of a federation of the Australasian Colonies,
shortly before held in Melbourne, and appointing himself, and three
other members of the Assembly, delegates to the Federation Convention
which sat in Sydney in 1891; and the House was in the midst of the
debate upon the resolutions when he was stricken down.

All his public life he had been an advocate of federation. Recognising
to the full, the obstacles to provincial prosperity, as to national
progress, which the disunion of the colonies promoted, he had, at
various times, pressed the advantages of federation upon the attention
of the public of his own colony; and, as far as practicable, upon that
of the Governments and people of the other colonies. During the
editorship of the _Empire_, he had, on several occasions, raised the
question of the ultimate federation of Australia; and it was he who
first applied to Albury the name of the Federal City. In 1867, while a
member of an Intercolonial Conference, held in Melbourne, at which all
the colonies but West Australia were represented, he urged that the time
had arrived when they should be united by "some federal bond
connection". During the same year, at the instance of the Government of
Sir James Martin, in which he was Colonial Secretary, the New South
Wales Parliament passed an Act authorising the Government to appoint one
or more of its members to represent the colony in an Australasian
Federal Council, whose duty it should be to arrive at an understanding
on the subject of mail communication with Great Britain. In 1881, at an
Intercolonial Conference held in Sydney, Sir Henry Parkes framed a set
of resolutions for the creation of a Federal Council; and, the
resolutions being adopted, he drafted a bill to make them law. This
bill, after further consideration of the whole question, he became
convinced would prove a failure, and, so far as he was concerned, it was
abandoned; but it was taken up at another Conference, held in Sydney in
1883, while he was on a visit to England, and the present Federal
Council came into existence, under an Act which, though of wider range
than the draft bill of 1881, was, in some important respects, very much
its counterpart.

To him, as to most persons in New South Wales, this Federal Council was
never attractive; for, while it possesses certain extended powers of
legislation, it can exercise no executive authority to give the
legislation due effect. In his view the creation of this body was a
false step; and, at the first opportunity which presented itself, he
endeavoured to effect a remedy.

In the early part of 1889, he proposed, to the Premier of Victoria, the
creation of a Federal Parliament of two Houses, with an executive
Federal Government; and, later in the year, in consequence of a report
by Major-General Edwards, C.B., on the military forces of the colonies,
and the necessity for legislation to ensure combined action in time of
war, he invited the Governments of Victoria, Queensland, South
Australia, Tasmania, and New Zealand to send, through the Parliaments
of those colonies, representatives to a National Convention empowered
to frame and report upon an adequate scheme of Federal Government. This
invitation resulted in a conference at Melbourne known as the Federation
Conference of 1890, and this conference led to the resolutions moved by
him, in the Legislative Assembly of New South Wales, shortly before his

Previous to 1889, it had appeared to him that matters were not ripe for
"the construction of a Federal Constitution with a Federal Parliament",
but, in that year, he was convinced the time had arrived when this
should be done.

Military defence, and such organization as would provide for the
effective employment of the troops of all the colonies in any part of
Australasia, in periods of necessity, were, in his mind now, the primary
reasons for federal action; but he did not fail to recognise that there
were other important matters, with which a Federal Executive could deal
with advantage to the colonies as a whole. Great benefit, he was aware,
might be expected from the control by a Federal Government of the
railways, in the direction of a uniformity of rolling stock and
permanent way, the classification of goods, and the arrangement of
rates. The rich fisheries, in the seas which wash the Australian coasts,
required development and protection, and only a Government of all the
colonies could do this. Further, there was the necessity for
establishing a Federal Court of Appeal, and for combined action on the
questions of the influx of foreign criminals and of aliens of inferior

One great Commonwealth, under one flag, and one Government, based on the
experience gained in Canada and the United States--"a union under the
Crown": this was his proposal. There would be a Governor-General, and an
Australian Privy Council, a Federal Parliament, consisting of an Upper
House or Senate and a Lower House or House of Commons, and an Australian
Judicial Court of Appeal. Such a federal system would provide all that
was requisite for the government of Australia, or Australasia, as one
great community, and yet in no way limit, or impair, the rights and
powers of the several provincial governments and parliaments in relation
to matters of purely local concern. They would deal with their own
affairs as now; the Federal Government would "simply rise to a higher
level, and do the great things required to be done by Australia as a

And how improved would be the position of Australia with federation!
"We should have a higher stature before the world. We should have a
grander name. We should have an outline of empire such as we could never
hope for as isolated colonies; and our place would be admitted in the
rank of nations, under the noble and glorious flag of the mother land."

Logical, as eloquent, throughout the earnestness and activity he
displayed in bringing this great subject under public attention, he
convinced the majority of those who heard or read his speeches, and
impressed all. The obstacles in the way he regarded as trifling; the
advantages to be gained immense.

"We know", he told the people of Melbourne at a federation banquet given
in the Queen's Hall, Parliament House, "it is a wise dispensation that
these large colonies sprang into existence, and we admired them when
they were fighting their own battles and working out their own
prosperity independently, of New South Wales; but the time has now
arrived when we are no longer isolated. The crimson thread of kinship
runs through us all."

For his own colony he sought no selfish advantage; he proposed no
conditions. Aware of the transcendent importance of bringing the
different provinces together, he was content to leave those matters
in which New South Wales might be specially interested--such as the
tariff or the question of the Federal Capital--to the wisdom and
patriotism of the Federal Government and the Federal Parliament. The
question of a common tariff of free trade, or of protection, he said on
many occasions, was a mere trifle compared with the great overshadowing
importance of a living and eternal national existence.

Strong free-trader as he was, he was prepared, AS he put it, to go into
this national union without making any bargain whatever, without
stipulating for any advantage for New South Wales, but trusting to the
good faith and justice of a Federal Parliament for a right decision upon
all questions with which the mother colony was particularly concerned.
Let the colonies federate, and he did not fear that the national fiscal
policy would be opposed to that which New South Wales had chiefly
favoured. Federalist first and free-trader afterwards, he was anxious
that those who joined in the federal campaign should move, untrammelled
by anything which could well be laid aside, until the great object
in view had been effected; and, therefore, he saw no reason why
free-traders and protectionists should not, in this sustained effort for
union, go hand-in-hand.

The news of the unfortunate accident of May, 1890, startled the
community. The sudden and serious check, which it indicated, in a long
public career, now more than ever attracting attention, aroused
universal regret. The debate upon the federation resolutions in the
Legislative Assembly was in its initial stages, and the feeling of
sympathy for Sir Henry Parkes prompted a suggestion that it should be
adjourned until he was able to return to the House. He, however, was
anxious that it should proceed; and this course was adopted.

Meanwhile, he lay enduring the pain and the tedium of a slow recovery.
Messages, and visits of sympathy and encouragement, were constant. Lord
and Lady Carrington were, in many ways, most kind. Every morning, an
orderly from Government House visited Hampton Villa, the residence of
Sir Henry Parkes at Balmain, with a kind note of inquiry, and, more
frequently than not, some little present suitable to the sufferer's

Most people regarded the accident as the close of the aged statesman's
career; but those who knew of his splendid constitution, and his
remarkable will power, were not afraid that he would not resume his
place in Parliament and in public life. Ill, as he was, he transacted on
his sick bed, day by day, the ordinary business of the Chief Secretary's
Office; and, from the beginning to the end of a great strike of seamen
that took place in 1890, he controlled the operations of the police and
the military. His jealous regard for his right to exercise the powers of
his Ministerial office, caused him, in response to an intimation from
the Colonial Treasurer to a deputation, which seemed to him to trespass
upon his position as head of the Government and Chief Secretary, to
administer so sharp a rebuke that the Treasurer tendered his resignation;
and the existence of the Ministry was, for a time, threatened.
Happily, mediation and explanation removed this difficulty; but the
determination to personally do the work pertaining to the office he
held, was apparent throughout his long illness.

Fourteen weeks after the date of the accident, on August 27th, 1890, Sir
Henry Parkes reappeared in the Legislative Assembly, a large House
according him on the occasion a great welcome. He walked with crutches,
and had to be assisted to a specially prepared seat by the
Sergeant-at-Arms and a private attendant; but, apart from this, and a
paleness of face, the result of his long confinement indoors, he looked
well, and, in a few words of acknowledgment of the consideration shown
to him by the House, spoke well.

"For more than a hundred days", he said, "I have suffered from an
accident which, to me, has been a heavy misfortune, but which placed me
in the far more painful position of holding a great public office that I
felt I could not resign with honour, and yet the obligations of which I
had not the physical strength to perform. Throughout that time no breath
of impatience has been evinced by this great House; and I have received
an amount of consideration which I trust will never fade from my mind,
and which I shall endeavour to so utilise as to soften, and, I hope,
give a high tone to, all my intercourse with hon. members."

One reason for his return to the Legislative Assembly, at this time, was
his desire to bring the debate upon the federation resolutions to a
close. The members of the House, with a few exceptions, concurred in the
proposals, so far as they related to the subject of federation, but
there was a strong feeling, on both sides, against the exclusion from
the delegates who should represent the colony at the proposed
convention, of the leader of the Opposition, Mr. Dibbs. Sir Henry Parkes
had maintained that, in view of the attitude Mr. Dibbs had assumed on
the federation question, he could not possibly have nominated him; and
he held to this opinion. A majority of members thought that, friendly or
unfriendly to federation, Mr. Dibbs should be appointed a delegate as
the rightful representative of the Opposition side of the House; and
this difference of opinion, between the Premier and the friends of Mr.
Dibbs, interfered with the otherwise harmonious course of the debate.

Fortunately, the difficulty was surmounted, by submitting the choice of
delegates to the ballot; and the way to this was smoothed, by
circumstances, connected with Sir Henry Parkes' illness, preventing him
from attending in the Assembly, to speak in reply, when the debate upon
the resolutions came to an end. His absence was a great disappointment,
for it was felt, by all, that the opportunity presented for a great
speech was unique, and that he might never again be able to appear to
such advantage; but an unfavourable condition of a wound in his heel,
arising from the fracture in the leg, confined him to his bed, and
compelled him to remain away. A division on the resolutions was taken on
the 10th September, with the result, after deciding to appoint the
delegates by ballot, that they were passed by ninety-seven votes to
eleven. The delegates chosen were Sir Henry Parkes, Mr. McMillan, Mr.
(afterward Sir) J. P. Abbott, and Mr. G. R Dibbs; and they acted in the
convention with three delegates appointed by the Legislative
Council--Mr. Edmund Barton, Sir Patrick Jennings, and Mr. W. H. Suttor.

Satisfaction at the favourable ending of the proceedings in the House
was expressed on all sides. Lord Carrington, ever observant of public
affairs; and an ardent supporter of federation, wrote on the morning
after the division--

"My dear Sir Henry,

It is with very great regret, I heard last night, that you did not feel
equal to winding up the Federation debate in the Assembly. It is indeed
hard, and must be a great disappointment; but still you now have the
satisfaction of seeing your own project passed, and passed with
enthusiasm by all the Australian Parliaments. The good seed which you
have sown, is fast springing up; and you (and you only) will for ever
live in history, as the originator and creator of the movement which
will change these colonies into a nation.

We have all been thinking of you for the last two clays. Your courage
and endurance of pain are a public example; but still it must be
terrible to bear. Mr. McMillan writes that Dr. MacLaurin has been called
in to consult by Dr. O'Connor. I am glad of this, as though the case has
been very well treated (as the healing of the fracture shows), still
fresh advice may bring relief.

Lady Carrington and the children send every kind message, and the
inquiries last night, at St. Vincent's Ball, were incessant. The public
sympathy is a direct evidence of the gratitude which the colony owes to

Is there anything that we can do? I can only trust you are a little
easier today, though I fear last night was a bad one.

Yours most sincerely,


Very complimentary also, were the comments of the newspapers, on the
services which the suffering Premier had rendered to the great cause.
"Even the hardening influence of political antagonism", the _Herald_
wrote, "could not render men insensible to what the cause of
Federation owes to the initiative, the great power, and the influential
personality of Sir Henry Parkes." All would rejoice, it said, to find
him aiding by his great ability, experience, and force of character, in
carrying on to its end the work he had so successfully begun; but with
a foresight, remarkable when considered in the light of subsequent
events, it pointed out that all must be prepared to see the work drawn
out into length, and to move very slowly, and that though the movement
had been commenced, and commenced well, it would be vain to speculate by
whom, or in what form, it would be ended. "But", the paper added,
"when it is brought to a happy issue, and the new Australian union starts
out on its life as a great federal dominion, then will be the time to
remember, and to remember with patriotic recognition, what the great
work owes to the strong initiative, and compelling impetus it received
from the hand of Sir Henry Parkes."


A YEAR had not gone by before, in the light of events, it was apparent
how correctly the newspapers had forecasted the probable progress of
the federation movement. Six months after the passing of the resolutions
in the Legislative Assembly, the National Australasian Convention,
presided over by Sir Henry Parkes, sat in Sydney, and adopted, in the
form of a draft bill, a constitution for a proposed Commonwealth of
Australia, with the understanding that, as soon as possible, it should
be submitted, for approval, to the Parliaments of the several colonies
favourable to federation; and another month saw the great question
relegated to a position of seclusion from which it has only recently

The Convention was the most distinguished gathering, political or
otherwise, that had met in any of the Australasian colonies, at any
period of their history; and its work attracted attention throughout the
civilised world. In the future it will rank with those great Assemblies
which brought into existence the United States of America and the
Dominion of Canada. Sir Henry Parkes entered it with the same
liberal-mindedness he had previously shown. Though, in no respect
indifferent to the interests of New South Wales, he recognised the
necessity for compromise, and materially assisted in bringing about the
results which were the outcome of the Convention's labours. To him fell
the duty of moving resolutions that, with some amendment, formed the
basis upon which the draft constitution was afterwards framed; and,
in speaking upon the occasion, he appealed to the representatives of
every colony to meet the work, then about to begin, in a broad federal
spirit, losing sight of local interests, and keeping in view only the
better government of the whole Australian people.

"One People one Destiny", was the toast at a great federation banquet
held in the Sydney Town Hall, during the sittings of the Convention, and
attended by the Governors, as well as by the principal statesmen, of the
different colonies; and the sentiment could not have been more
cordially received. Sir Henry Parkes, adopting it as the subject of one
of his sonnets, asks;-

"One People working out one Destiny,--
Shall we not live within the ample shores
Of our fair land, with no remembered sores
Of once-distempered blood; no enemy,
Nor speech nor hearts divided; earth, sea, sky,
Our own; the coming Nation's plenteous stores
Of courage, richer than her golden ores,
Expanding with her fame and industry?
Name of the Future, to inspire and charm
The teeming emulous people of the West,
To fill the Orient with her peaceful rays,
To lead the King-Apostles to disarm,
To teach the Masses to exalt the Best,
To herald in the round of happy days."

The work of the Convention was undoubtedly well done, but it did not
meet with the approval of everybody. In a matter connected with which
there was necessarily considerable conflict of opinion and clashing of
claims, compromise was unavoidable. But this compromise was the very
thing that raised, in some minds, feelings of alarm. While in Sydney,
and through the colony of New South Wales, there were many persons who
warmly approved of the efforts in the direction of union, there were
others in the position of active opponents, and very many who were

One of the strongest of those who opposed the proceedings was Sir John
Robertson; and he, at this time, was a political sage, exercising great
influence upon the minds of younger men more or less prominent in public
life. In his view there was neither desire nor necessity for federation.
The people, he was convinced, did not want it, and those trying to force
it upon them, would, if successful, permanently and largely injure the
colony's interests. No prospect could he see from it of anything but
evil. "What does Sir Henry Parkes mean by what he is doing?" he asked,
hotly, on one occasion. "What does it all mean? The whole thing comes
from England. That old Derby commenced it." And then, waxing hotter as
he proceeded:-

"Look at the number of boy-governors they are sending out here now,
everyone of them supporting Parkes' policy. The fools! They think there
will be Imperial federation, and they will find a United States of
Australia and separation. Then see", he said, as a parting shot at the
New South Wales federalists, "if federation should come about, what a
howl there will be here when the seat of government is removed to
Melbourne, as it certainly will be."

Two others almost as antagonistic as he to the federation movement at
this period, were Mr. G. H. Reid and Mr. J. H. Want. The former, while
not opposed to federation if it could be effected without injustice to
New South Wales, objected strongly to the bill drawn up by the
Convention, and vehemently denounced it; the latter, believing that the
progress and prosperity of the colony depended upon its remaining
unhampered by the obligations of union with the sister states, and
therefore with no wish to see the colonies federated, disapproved of
the whole proceeding. Mr. Reid opposed the bill in public meeting, and
then carried his opposition into the Legislative Assembly. Parliament
met, after the close of the Convention, on 19th May, 1891, and, on the
Address-in-Reply to the Governor's speech, he moved an amendment hostile
to the Commonwealth Bill, and of such a nature that, if passed, it would
have caused the Government to resign.

This course of action was variously received. Some applauded it, but
more condemned it. Generally there was a feeling through the community
in favour of federation. No enthusiasm was noticeable; but people were
beginning to think on the question, and to recognise that, in this
direction, the destiny of Australia lay. The amendment was defeated by a
large majority, with an expression of opinion from almost all the
leading members of the House strongly in favour of union.

At once the way appeared clear for dealing with the draft federal
constitution, and, as far as the Parliament of New South Wales was
concerned, for determining the basis upon which, with the approval of
the public, the colony should join in the proposed scheme. Everything
seemed favourable for proceeding to the desired end. Everybody looked
for the next step, which should show New South Wales to be undeterred in
the resolve to lead the other colonies in the work which, more or less,
all had in hand.

Yet scarcely a week had elapsed, before Sir Henry Parkes announced to
the House, that, in view of the action of the mover of the amendment on
the Address-in-Reply, and the delay thereby caused to public business,
the Government had decided to withdraw from their original intention to
proceed with the subject of federation as the first business of the
session, and to postpone it until a local or district government bill,
and an electoral bill, had been dealt with. After the trial of strength
upon Mr. Reid's amendment, the Government, he announced, did not
consider themselves justified in delaying several measures which the
country urgently wanted, and which Ministers desired to bring forward
and to pass into law without having in their way the disturbing
influence of a second edition of the feeling displayed in the recent
debate. They proposed to pass a bill to provide for adequate municipal
government, and another to amend the electoral law so as to establish
single constituencies and bring into operation the principle of one man
one vote. Sir George Grey, who had attended the Federation Convention,
as one of the representatives of New Zealand, had aroused the populace
to enthusiasm on the one man one vote question; and legislation in that
direction was imperative.

An outburst of anger, inside and outside Parliament, followed this
announcement. No good reason could be seen for delaying what seemed easy
of accomplishment. Put federation off, it was said, and it might never
again be seriously taken in hand. Push on with it at once, and there
was every prospect of its being carried to the desired conclusion.
Without, perhaps, adequately reflecting upon the causes which led Sir
Henry Parkes to alter the course of procedure laid down in the
Governor's speech, he was denounced as the betrayer of the cause of
which he had been the champion; and, seizing the opportunity, the leader
of the Opposition, Mr. Dibbs, moved, in the Assembly, a motion of want
of confidence which, defeated only by the casting vote of the Speaker,
resulted in a dissolution of Parliament.

When the circumstances of the time come to be fully examined, there will
probably be found sufficient reason for the Government's apparent
change of front. Even from what is known now, it is easy to see how
difficult it was for Sir Henry Parkes to adhere to his original
programme of proceeding with federation before anything else. His
Ministry was a strong one individually. Most members of it were men of
opinions, and of backbone. With little experience of office, their
strength of character and impetuousness sometimes led them to courses
of action which did not promote harmony between them and their chief.
Kicking over the traces, was, according to common report, much more
frequent than running quietly in harness. The Cabinet, it was said, were
not a united body on federation. Some of the more prominent of the
Ministry did not approve of federation being pushed on to the delay of
other business, and several went so far as to disapprove of federation

The general election ended unfavourably for the Government. After two
attempts the Postmaster-General failed in obtaining a seat; and, in a
comparison of the relative strength of the two principal parties in
Parliament, the Ministerialists were in a minority. But a labour party
had been returned,--to some extent a result of the great strike which
had shortly before raged in Sydney, though more as a consequence of the
introduction into parliamentary life of the principal of payment of
members; and it was thought, by the Government, quite possible to
secure from that quarter sufficient support to enable them to proceed
with public business. The policy of the labour members was support for
concessions, but this it was considered might be accommodated if not

Difficulties soon appeared, however. The attitude of the labour section
of the House, towards the Government, very quickly had upon Sir Henry
Parkes and his colleagues a very irritating effect. Without their
support the Ministry were powerless; with it, they were humiliated. For
a time the situation was accepted, and the Government strove to make the
best of it; but, sooner or later, it was certain to become unbearable,
and, in a little more than three months, they cast the yoke from their
necks and set themselves free.

A strong effort was made to push on with general legislation.
Federation was laid aside, awaiting a more favourable opportunity. No
lack of earnestness in the cause existed on the part of Sir Henry
Parkes; but the difficulties of the Ministerial position made it
impracticable to proceed with federation until other questions had been
dealt with. The speech at the opening of Parliament indicated the
intention of the Government to pass, among other measures, an Electoral
Bill which was to abolish plural voting, a Local Government Bill, a
bill to put an end to labour disputes by establishing courts of
conciliation, a bill for the regulation of coal mining, and bills to
provide for mining on private property and to regulate manufactories
and workshops.

Such a programme of legislation, in the interests of the working
classes, could not but be acceptable to the Labour Party; and their
approval of it was very soon shown by the support which they gave the
Government, in rejecting an amendment, on the Address-in-Reply to the
Speech, moved by the leader of the Opposition. Regarding this as an
assurance of continued support, general business was pushed forward; but
obstacles appeared, and grew as the work of the House proceeded. No
opportunity was lost by the Labour Members to assert their independence,
and their determination to give their support only so long as they
received for it an adequate return. To the Electoral Bill and the Coal
Mines Regulation Bill they gave special attention; and, in connection
with the last-mentioned measure, a clause was carried by them limiting
the hours of labour in mines to eight, and making an infringement of
that or of any of the other provisions of the bill, penal. This brought
about a crisis. Strongly opposed to the compulsory time limit of work,
Sir Henry Parkes desired that the bill should be recommitted so that the
objectionable clause might be reconsidered, and warned the House that,
if an adjournment to enable this to be done were refused, the bill would
be abandoned. The adjournment was refused; and the Government resigned.

The situation was a serious one. By their demands, the labour members
had aroused a feeling of alarm. Many of those who had watched the course
of politics feared that existing institutions were about to be
undermined. Lord Jersey, who at this date had succeeded Lord Carrington,
in the Governorship of New South Wales, wrote to Sir Henry Parkes, on
the morning after the division upon the motion for the adjournment of
the debate upon the Coal Mines Bill:-

"Last night's vote was extraordinary, or, at least, seems so to me who
have only read the circumstances as reported in the papers . . . . I
shall be here all the morning; but, unless you specially wish to see me,
I think that I had better wait to hear from you the result of the
meeting of the Cabinet. The position of affairs seems doubly acute. I
need not, I feel sure, express to you my readiness to do anything in my
power to lessen the tension, and to assist in preserving the principles
of good government. If, therefore, you are of opinion that a
conversation now can be of service, I am ready to see you. I admire your

The Government were not long in deciding upon the step they should take.
Their position had become intolerable, and resignation was the only
means of relief.

To Sir Henry Parkes, the situation had been far more unpleasant than it
had been to his colleagues. Outside the Cabinet, he had endured the
irritating proceedings of the labour members; inside, he had been
subjected to the annoyance caused by the independent attitude of some of
his colleagues towards important portions of the Ministerial
programme. For some time he had contemplated resignation, and
retirement from political life. In the early part of 1889, he had
distinctly refused to place himself in any position which would entail
the responsibility of leadership upon him; and, prior to the elections
in 1891, he had asked his colleagues to consent to his retirement from
the Government. He was getting very tired of it all; and, on the
occasion of his setting out on an electioneering tour to some of the
southern electorates, said that when the elections were over, he should
give up his position as Premier, and let some one else take his place.
His idea was that, should he take this step, it would be open to the
Governor to send for Mr. McMillan or Mr. Brunker to reconstruct the
Ministry, so that the Free Trade Party in the House need not suffer by
the change. Both worried and ill, he longed for rest; and he had
determined that, if he retired, his retirement should be permanent.

During September, of 1889, he wrote to Mr. Brunker a letter, which
pathetically indicated the nature of his position, in office, at this
period. He had not been feeling well--his heart was showing signs of
weakness--and his colleague, an old and valued friend, had written
inquiring after his health. His doctor had made a careful examination,
and had found things "not so bad as they might have been". On previous
occasions of a similar character, he had remarked "it is all right";
now, the opinion was "it is not so bad", or "it might be worse." And the
letter went on to say that the writer knew of no parallel instance, in
English public life, of a person remaining in active work, in office, as
Premier, at his age, except the cases of Lord John Russell and Lord
Palmerston; and they, in their later years, did little, and were
pampered and looked after in every way likely to contribute to their
comfort. Mr. Gladstone was another instance that might be mentioned,
"but he", the letter said, "nurses himself in every way now."

Just at this time Sir Henry Parkes was reading the life of Mr.
Gladstone, written by Mr. G. W. Russell; and his perusal of the book had
filled his mind with curious reflections.

"I was thinking, when reading it," he said in conversation shortly
afterwards, "of a comparison between Mr. Gladstone's life and my own.
When he was at Eton, preparing himself for Oxford, enjoying all the
advantages of a good education, with plenty of money, and being trained
in every way for his future position as a statesman, I was working on a
rope-walk at fourpence a day, and suffered such cruel treatment that I
was knocked down with a crowbar, and did not recover my senses for half
an hour. From the rope-walk I went to labour in a brick-yard, where I
was again brutally used; and, when Mr. Gladstone was at Oxford, I was
breaking stones on the Queen's highway, with hardly enough clothing to
protect me from the cold."

The relief which the resignation of the Government brought him was very
great. A published extract from his private diary shows how keenly he
relished his freedom. At the Cabinet meeting, held to consider the
position of the Ministry, after the unfavourable vote upon the Coal
Mines Bill, and at which their resignation was decided upon, he pointed
out, that though, under the circumstances, their retirement was not
necessary, yet it was quite open to them to take that course. They had
gone as far as men could go, without losing all sense of honour and
self-respect, to meet the demands of the labour party, and he could not
see that they were called upon to go further.

"As we had not a majority without their inconsistent votes, coupled
with their rapacious demands," his diary record stated, "the course
best calculated to maintain our own reputations, and to serve the public
interest and the true cause of parliamentary government, was to tender
our resignations." His colleagues unanimously concurred in this view;
and the Governor, while expressing his deep regret at the step taken,
acknowledged it to be one which, under all the circumstances, honourable
men were justified in taking. In the Legislative Assembly, Sir Henry
Parkes announced the resignation, "and went home happy". Next morning
he arose early, "after a long night's refreshing sleep", so different
"from the weary waking after a tumultuous night in the Assembly"; and,
home again from the House before six in the evening, free from the
burden and cares of office, his diary gives vent to his feeling of
satisfaction in the exclamation, "What a blessed change!"


WHILE Sir Henry Parkes was struggling against the difficulties which
beset him during the later part of the period comprising the existence
of his Ministry, it again fell to his lot to see pass away from this
life, some of those who had been his contemporaries in the great
political contests of the early days. Others had gone before; more soon

Frequently, in the course of his career, it was, for him, a melancholy
occupation to reflect upon the number of instances in which old faces
and figures, well known to him in his younger as well as in his more
matured political life--some of them opponents, some friends--had dropped
out of sight, disappearing in the darkness of the tomb. Almost every
year someone had gone. In 1888, Mr. W. B. Dalley and Mr. James Squire
Farnell passed away; in 1889, Mr. John Sutherland; in 1891, Sir John
Robertson and Sir William Macleay. The battles had been fiercely fought;
the warriors had fallen on this side and on that; and he, white-haired
and old, left on the field almost the sole survivor.

Of late years, Mr. Dalley had been more of an opponent than a friend;
but Sir Henry Parkes had always recognised the abilities and services of
his fellow commissioner of 1861, and admitted the distinguished
position he had attained. The success of the Opposition party in the
elections of 1882, which preceded the entry into office of Sir Alexander
Stuart, was largely due to Mr. Dalley; and very hard he worked as
Attorney-General of the Stuart Ministry, and, subsequently, as the
counsellor and assistant of Sir George Dibbs in the first Dibbs
Ministry, and of Sir Patrick Jennings in the Administration which
preceded the fourth Ministry under Sir Henry Parkes. Yet his help to the
opponents of Sir Henry Parkes did not push him to an attitude of
personal enmity. Sir John Robertson, was a much closer associate than
Mr. Dalley had ever been. Many times he had opposed Sir Henry Parkes,
and used unfriendly language towards him; but their coming together in
the same Government, and the four years' association which that brought
about, removed the effects of the former want of political agreement;
and, when Sir John Robertson died, Sir Henry Parkes was able to speak of
him as a friend of forty years, who, though not without defects of
character, had done so well as to entitle him to the veneration of

Three months after the death of Sir John Robertson, there assembled at
the residence of Sir Henry Parkes, by his invitation, a singular
luncheon party. Fourteen persons sat round the table, the remnant in the
colony of those who, in one way or other, were prominently associated
with the introduction of constitutional government into New South
Wales, or with the progress of the colony under constitutional
government from the time of its introduction. United, their ages
represented 1,100 years; and ten of them have since died. Sir John Hay,
Sir William Manning, Mr. Richard Jones, Mr. Geoffrey Eagar, and Mr.
Peter Faucett were among them; and they have gone. All these were in
the first Legislative Assembly, some in the earlier mixed Legislature;
and all were Ministers in the young days of responsible government. Fond
of preserving recollections of the past, Sir Henry Parkes had brought
his guests together; he, with them, a group of aged men "standing within
the shadows of another world", under circumstances and surrounded by
recollections, it was remarked at the time, such as could not apply to
any other fourteen men in all the population of Australia. They
feelingly honoured "the memory of the early friends of Australian
Freedom", and now most of them also live only in the memory.

The resignation of Sir Henry Parkes from office in 1891, would have been
followed by his retirement from parliamentary life, but for some
obstacles unexpectedly appearing in the way. One of these was a
strongly expressed desire, on the part of leading persons among his
constituents, that he should refrain from taking the contemplated step.
Though extremely anxious to retire, he could not altogether disregard
the wishes of those who had elected him to the Assembly; and, in the
end, he gave way to them.

Some of his friends thought that, in contemplating retirement, he must
be conscious of some regret. But in reality, it was otherwise. "Why
should I?" he asked one day, when the matter was mentioned to him.
"Because you have been in Parliament so long; you are so identified with
the place; you are so wedded to it." "I am not wedded to it." he replied
quickly, and with some severity. "That is a great mistake. I am not
wedded to it, and never was. I never really liked it. I never was so
tired of anything, and shall be exceedingly glad to get away from it."

The leadership of the Free Trade Party was not retained by him. In his
desire for rest, he was now averse to occupying any position which would
entail the necessity for prolonged parliamentary sittings and extreme
physical exertion. If he remained in Parliament, he wished to do so, for
the present at least, as a private member, with no responsibility upon
him other than that associated with private membership. At the same time
he was not pressed by the Free Trade Party to remain as their leader.

Latterly, he had shown signs of much physical weakness, the outcome of
his accident of the previous year and of his advancing age; and a
feeling existed, in the minds of some of those who had supported him,
that he should be replaced by a younger and more active man. In the
ordinary course, on the the retirement of the Government from office, he
would but cross the floor of the House from the head of the Government
benches to the head of the benches used by the Opposition, his right to
continue his leadership unquestioned. Now, his contemplated early
retirement from Parliament, as well as the feeling amongst his party,
was regarded as sufficient justification for making a change. Some
deference, however, was due to him in view of the position he had
filled; and a deputation waited upon him, at his private residence, to
obtain from him a definite statement of his intentions respecting his
future relations with his party. His reply was by letter; and, in this,
he distinctly declined to resume the position of leader. The leader of
the Opposition, he explained, should be not only a man of great
political capability, but one prepared to remain at his post throughout
the sittings; and he feared that one of that kind would not be found in
him at his time of life.

But, irrespective of the state of his health, and the inconveniences
arising from his accident, there were other and weighty reasons which
led him to decline the position under existing circumstances. These
other reasons he did not explain; but they were to be found in the
annoyance and worry to which he had been subjected, and a repetition of
which he feared, from the peculiar condition of the Assembly in
consequence of the presence there of a third party.

He did not say that if circumstances of difficulty arose in the future,
sufficiently serious as to justify the step, he would not again accept
the burden of office; but, he distinctly declared that, as things were
at this time, he wag anxious to avoid any position of responsibility,
other than that of a simple member of Parliament. He afterwards said
that one reason for his declining to lead the party at this date, was
their determination to immediately attack, with a view to upset, the
Government which had come into power under Mr. Dibbs. The coming into
office of that Government he regarded as perfectly constitutional, and
he refused to do anything to dislodge them. He therefore stood aside,
and Mr. G. H. Reid was elected to take his place.

This election of Mr. Reid was not expected, and, to Sir Henry Parkes,
was anything but agreeable. Promptly and publicly he intimated that he
would not follow the new leader; and some scenes of considerable
bitterness between them occurred, in the course of debate, in the
Assembly. The leadership of Mr. McMillan, or of Mr. Bruce Smith, would
have been much more acceptable.

Regarding Sir Henry Parkes as in very much the same position as Mr.
Gladstone when his retirement, through ill health, becoming necessary,
the Marquis of Hartington was temporarily elected leader of the English
Liberal Party, some persons thought that, as in the English case, when a
change of Government came about, the Marquis of Hartington stood aside
for his great chief to form the new Administration, so the new leader of
the Free Trade Party might very well, when the time came, make way for
Sir Henry Parkes. Naturally, it would have been agreeable to Sir Henry
Parkes if matters could have been so arranged. But though, in view of
his distinguished public services, and long experience at the head of
his party, there was much to recommend such an arrangement,
circumstances generally were unfavourable for it; and the relations
existing between him and Mr. Reid, rendered it practically impossible.
So he fell away from the main body of the Free Trade Party, and assumed
an attitude of independence.

A striking feature in his career, at this period, as indeed it had been
throughout his life, was the unsatisfactory condition in which he stood
pecuniarily, and the disregard of this circumstance which was apparent
in his public acts. Retirement from the leadership of his party, as
resignation from office, meant a state of circumstances in his home and
amongst his family, which, at times, bordered upon poverty; but, in his
strong adherence to the principles of sound parliamentary procedure,
this did not cause him to hesitate in taking what he considered to be
the right course. The path of duty was to him ever preferable to that of
convenience. Straight ahead he always went, without a thought of the
troubles in the way, influenced only by his belief in the soundness of
the step he was taking, and its value as something which, in the public
interest, might, in similar circumstances, be followed with advantage in
the future.

In the desire to so act in public matters that his action should be a
safe precedent for the future, no one has stood higher in general
estimation. "When I left office lately," he said one day, talking to a
friend, "if you will believe me I had scarcely £10 to my credit. I have
no money. I am a poor man." During the previous week he had sold some of
his household goods. He had always been in the habit of getting together
little treasures of one kind and another, very valuable in themselves to
him; and he had been obliged to sell some of them "to get bread", for
he had "the butcher and the baker to pay, and mouths to feed." Just at
this time he had found a purchaser for a valuable collection of
Australian autograph letters, many of them those of prominent men of the
early days, and for some other interesting relics that had adorned his
home, for which he had received a hundred guineas,--a fairly large sum;
but more satisfactory to him than the money, was the assurance that he
had parted with the letters and the other articles to a gentleman who,
he was confident, would take care of them.

In the situation of a private member of Parliament, attending the
sittings of the Assembly, and taking a fair share in the debates
associated with its business, and, outside the House, interesting
himself in public affairs as they came under notice at public meetings,
Sir Henry Parkes passed the period which marked the life of the Dibbs'
Ministry--a little less than three years. In August, 1892, his
disapproval of the visit of Mr. Dibbs to England, and his view of the
principles of parliamentary government, led him to intimate an intention
to move a motion of censure upon the Government; but, learning that a
similar proceeding was intended by the leader of the Opposition, he gave
way, and allowed the other motion to be made, he speaking and voting in
favour of it. Of the general policy of the Government he did not
approve, and he gave it his strong opposition, moving on one occasion in
Committee of Ways and Means a motion which, if carried, would have
resulted in their downfall; and, in the early part of 1893, he joined in
a movement of the Free Trade Party to bring about a dissolution of

His usefulness in the public life of the colony as an authority and
critic on constitutional procedure was, at this time, very noticeable;
and, as by his isolated position in the Assembly, he had little or
no chance of office, he was secure from the accusation of condemning the
Government for personal advantage.


IN 1889, Sir Henry Parkes published a collection of his poems under the
title "Fragmentary Thoughts", and in 1895, a small volume of "Sonnets
and Other Verse". The former was dedicated to the late Lord Tennyson.

"Permit me", Sir Henry Parkes wrote on the page preceding the preface,
"to dedicate this volume to you, in remembrance of golden hours of life
spent with you in various ways. Our happy walks together, in the groves
and over the downs in the neighbourhood of Farringford, and through the
bowery lanes and across the green fields around Aldworth; the hours of
rare enjoyment vouchsafed to me when, under your honoured roof, I have
listened to your reading of your immortal poems; the delicate kindnesses
extended to me by the gracious lady who, for so many years, has made the
spiritual sunshine of your illustrious life all remain to me as memories
whose beauty can never die."

Charmed with this gracefully-worded compliment, the Laureate wrote, in
reply:--"I send you from over the convex of our little world, which you
are doing your best to make better, my choicest thanks for your volume
of poems and your kind and affectionate dedication, and, moreover,
congratulate you that you have, not unsuccessfully, interwoven the
laurel of the Muses with the civic wreath which you wear as a

Reproduced as it came to Sir Henry Parkes, the letter was in the form
shown in the illustration.

Thomas Woolner, referring to the dedication, in a letter acknowledging
the receipt of a copy of the book, wrote:--"Allow me to say that though
the dedication to Tennyson is not in the form of verse, it is so true,
genuine, impulsive, and so beautifully expressed, that it seems to me
almost like one of the illustrious poet's immortal poems. I do not
wonder that he was much pleased with it, for such a compliment from any
man would naturally be welcome, but from one who has so many claims upon
the gratitude of mankind, it must be doubly dear."

The book, the author stated in his preface, he sent into the world like
a friendless child, with no claim to notice and no expectation of
favour, but with all the fond attachment of a hopeless parent, If the
quality of poetry were denied to it no one would take the trouble to
question the verdict, the object of its publication being something
different from the establishment of a poet's reputation. Careless of
public praise, no more was desired than that the verses should go forth
as they were in themselves, with their excellence or their blemishes as
the lines portrayed them, a curious feature in the author's hard and
chequered life, a part of himself.

"They have been written", he informed his readers, "on occasions which
have been as breaks in the chain of nearly sixty years of incessant
labour, and struggling effort, in fields far removed from literary
study. They form, in some measure, the broken record of the inner life
of a busy public career, which men, at times, have treated too
indulgently, and, at other times, have blindly and perversely
misjudged, but which few have critically understood." Imperfect
expression had been found in them for "the hidden burning passion, the
pulsations of prescient thought, the unsullied yearning for the higher
part, the involuntary scorn of worldly-mantled meanness, the better
aspirations of the unsatisfied spirit." To those who desired to know the
author in his political character, it was explained, they would have an
interpretable interest, and in the investigations of the curious, they
might serve to throw light on transactions and proposals which are now
as little heard of as if they were forgotten.

Most of the poems were culled from the volumes which saw the light from
1842 to 1885. Others were new. One, "To a Beautiful Friendless Child,"
elicited some criticism from Woolner. The poem was suggested by a visit
to Sir Henry Parkes, while Colonial Secretary, in 1888, of a poor man,
whose wife had recently died, with an adopted child--a boy--whom, no
longer able to support, he wished to hand over to the care of the
Government, under the system which operates in New South Wales for the
maintenance of destitute children by the State. The boy, a fine looking
little fellow of four years, excited the admiration of both Sir Henry
Parkes and his colleagues, and the feelings of the former found
expression in these verses, one of which reads:

"What need of star or coronet,
Or dross from India's mines?
On thee, in rosy splendours set,
God's stainless order shines."

Alluding to this verse, Woolner, in a letter to Sir Henry Parkes, said
"There is one point that struck me in the 'Beautiful Friendless Child',
on page 20, which I thought it worth while bringing under your notice.
You say,--

'What need of star, or coronet,
Or dross from India's mines?'

"Meaning that the child lives in such rosy splendours he has no need
of such adventitious decoration. But surely no one would expect dross to
add to any one's splendour; and why call a lovely gem dross? Doing so
weakens your own beautiful idea; whereas if you call the gem by its true
name you assist your idea, and the lines would read more musically and
with sweeter cadence.

"What need of star or coronet
   Or gems of Indian mines?
On thee in rosy splendour see
   Immortal glory shines."

"By thus slightly changing the last line you avoid the sibilant, and
remove the notion of 'order 7 which is unnecessary in the first line,
and interferes with the largeness of the conception; moreover, it
sounds more poetical because more suggestive, as immortal glory could
come only from God. Pray pardon my bold criticism," he continued, "but
as an old versemaker I feel jealous and anxious that my friends should
polish up theirs to the highest pitch. The poems, as you suggest, give a
most interesting glimpse of your inner aspirations, and, above all, the
warm and passionate desire you have always felt to improve the hard fate
of the poor, and bestow upon them your sympathy, which, in some
respects, is by them even more highly valued."

But, perhaps, the most interesting communication Sir Henry Parkes
received in relation to "Fragmentary Thoughts", was a letter from Sir
Charles Dilke. In his work "Problems of Greater Britain", he had made a
somewhat contemptuous reference to Sir Henry Parkes' poetry; and, on
the publication of "Fragmentary Thoughts", Sir Henry sent him a copy
without letter or comment. Sir Charles Dilke acknowledged the gift by a
graceful explanation of the unpleasant passage in "Greater Britain,"
which changed the objectionable allusion from a sneer to a compliment.
"I am touched and charmed", he wrote, "by your sending me the volume of
poems. I have no doubt that you saw the 'impertinent' adjective I
applied to your earlier poems; but you must excuse me, if I repeat,
that even pretty poems seem to me 'trashy' if weighed along with your
services to what we hope will soon be the Australian State."

At the time of the publication of his "Problems of Greater Britain", Sir
Charles Dilke had observed, in a letter to Lord Carrington, in Sydney,
accompanying a copy of his book--"I am told that Parkes will not like
what I have said of him; but, in reality, what I have said I meant for
high praise, for I consider Parkes and Macdonald the two biggest men in
the Empire after Mr. G."

"Sonnets and Other Verse" is the title of a little book, published in
London, and representing the poetical compositions of Sir Henry Parkes
during the spare hours of the years 1894 and 1895. It appeared about the
middle of 1895, and was dedicated to "The Right Honourable Hallam,
Lord Tennyson, with kindest regards." The contents are varied, but
chiefly of a political character, several of the subjects rather old.
One of the strongest of the sonnets is entitled "The Glory of

"The twenty years of Bonaparte, O God!
What matchless meanness, unexampled crime,
And shameless pomp defamed that fateful time!
O'er Freedom his devouring armies trod,
And men and nations trembled at the rod
Of the destroyer! Hofer's death sublime
Attests how bravely heroes, in their prime
Of courage, fought to free their native sod.
But Bonaparte! what his absorbing aim
In all his blind destruction unwithstood?--
To conquer, subjugate for worthless ends,
Make to himself a world-resounding name,
And found a Dynasty in tears and blood!
How swiftly Heaven the dread Avenger sends!"

Some lines entitled "Unfit for Freedom", present a striking picture of
human nature as it is in Australia, in common with other countries the
ambitious strivings of the wealthy, the hard lot of many of the poorer
classes, the debasing effects of the struggle for that which never rises
above the level of selfishness.

"Inscrutable and Omnipresent God!
Who dost behold, as Thou sustainest, all;
With Thee it will not weigh, or great or small,
Or rich or poor. Thy creatures plan and plod
In building temples, while the labourer's hod
Hard grinds the shoulder's flesh. On Thee they call,
When terrors in their worldly path appall,
But few devoutly kiss Thy chastening rod!
A people poor in heart, O God of Truth!
Not fashioned like our fathers for great deed,
We know not how nobly to live and die:
Of different clay were men in the world's youth;
Too much of knowledge and too many creeds
Have we, unawed by Freedom's majesty!"

One of the sonnets was written to mark the author's eightieth birthday.
The lines are not strong and attractive, as are the verses written ten
years before under the title "Seventy"; but they are interesting,
inasmuch as they indicate that, even at eighty years of age, Sir Henry
Parkes was unconscious of any noticeable sign of decay in himself,
mental or physical.

"I count the mercifullest part of all
God's mercies, in this coil of eighty years,
Is that no sense of being disappears
Or fails--I see the signal, hear the call,--
Can calmly estimate the rise and fall
Of moth-like mortals in this 'vale of tears'."
. . . . .

The volume closes with some verses entitled "Weary", plain enough for
anyone to understand to whom they refer.

"Weary of the ceaseless war
   Beating down the baffled soul,--
Thoughts that like a scimitar
   Smite us fainting at the goal.

"Weary of the joys that pain--
   Dead sea fruits whose ashes fall,
Drying up the summer's rain--
   Charnel dust in cups of gall!

"Weary of the hopes that fail,
   Leading from the narrow way,
Tempting strength to actions frail--
   Hand to err, and foot to stray.

"Weary of the battling throng,
   False and true in mingled fight;
Weary of the wail of wrong,
   And the yearning for the night!

"Weary, weary, weary heart!
   Lacerated, crush'd, and dumb;
None to know thee as thou art!
   When will rest unbroken come?"


FREE from the trammels of office, or the obligations of Opposition
leadership, Sir Henry Parkes now determined to devote the remaining
years of his life to the cause of Federation.

Before everything else he intended to place the union of the colonies.
In his eightieth year there was no time to lose; and less because of the
dilatoriness in the national work, apparent in the action of others.
Many were now the supporters of union, but few were the active workers;
and none saw, as he did, the limited period and opportunity for doing
what required to be done, while his life lasted. The safer, the more
progressive, the higher existence which federated Australia would enter
upon, transcended, in his mind, all else. While still as earnest as
ever in promoting the interests of his own colony, he was, without
detriment to New South Wales, federalist first and a citizen of the
mother colony afterwards. No injury to her from union could he see; and,
free-trader as he was, he was content to leave the question of free trade
to the Parliament which would be elected by the federated states,
convinced that its action in framing a national fiscal policy would be
in the direction of commercial freedom.

Federation he put in the forefront of his address to his constituents at
St. Leonards, at the 1894 elections, and federation was his political
cry ever afterwards. "We have reached a period in the history of
Australian growth and development," he said in that address, "when these
colonies present to the world all the proportions of national life, and
when their coming together, under a federal form of government, is a
question pressing for settlement, in the realm of practical politics."
So most men believed; but party considerations often thrust conviction
aside, and aim at nothing but party interest.

"The formative stages of federal opinion are passed," he wrote, "and
the national sentiment is alive and strong in the hearts of all thinking

He himself was convinced the country was in accord with his views; that
the best, and the majority, of the people were ready, and anxious, to
support him, in his efforts to bring the colonies into union; and from
what was indicated by the attitude of the press, the tone of public
meetings, and the expression of individual opinion, there was much to
justify his conviction. Yet under a system of parliamentary government,
such as operates in the Australian colonies, the opinion of the thinking
portion of the community, or, it may be, of the majority, is not always
the strongest factor in politics. Of this he was well aware; but,
believing that the country as a whole was in favour of federation, he
resolved to push on.

Nothing could drive from his mind the incalculable advantages of
bringing the colonies together. Other measures for their advancement
were necessary, but none so essential as the first great step which
would make them one.

"The inviolability of the soil as the home of one Australian people," he
said in his address to the electors of St. Leonards, "the restriction of
inferior races, the opening of new fields for the employment of the
people and for the investment of capital, the lighting of our coasts,
the improvement of our harbours, the avenues of enterprise in
connection with the commerce of the South Seas and of neighbouring
markets, the name and influence of Australia among the nations of the
earth: these, and a crowd of federal questions, are waiting for the
consummation of union."

Much, during the period occupied by the 1894 elections, he did to bring
this great question before the attention of the people; arid, everywhere
he went, his utterances met with approval. The elections resulted in
favour of the Free Trade Party, and, as he and many others believed, in
support of federation first and free trade subsequently.

But the after circumstances were disappointing. Mr. Reid was still the
recognised leader of the free-traders; and, having been in the front of
the party in the elections, he had a claim to prominence in the victory,
which it was difficult to overlook. Sir Henry Parkes was the more
conspicuous figure in the contest and its result; Mr. Reid, the one who
really held the position when victory was assured. Sir Henry Parkes,
driving through the streets of Sydney on the night of the declaration of
the poll, was overwhelmed with popular applause; Mr. Reid, when the
beaten Protectionist Government retired from office, was sent for by the
Governor and formed a new Administration.

This, in Sir Henry Parkes' view, indicated another check to federation,
though it was not necessarily more than one of a temporary character.

Federation was included in the programme which the new Government put
before Parliament, but it "was not accorded the place desired by Sir
Henry Parkes and those who thought with him; and he "was not satisfied.
To him it was also unpleasant to find that several of his old colleagues
and friends had joined Mr. Reid in his Government, and therefore, to
that extent, severed their connection with him. This naturally tended to
further alienate him from the Ministry. Regarding them with strong
disfavour, he refrained from occupying the position of a supporter of
them; and their efforts, in due course, to alter the existing
protectionist tariff to one of almost absolute free trade, led him, in
the interests of federation, to make a determined attempt to drive them
from office.

Justifiable though this was, in the light of his long professed
intention to press forward federation before free trade or anything
else, it brought upon him much obloquy. Yet he went on. A champion of
union, such as he had long been, he could, in his position, be no
partisan. Federation not being a party question, it did not seem wrong
to look for its supporters among the protectionist members of the
Legislature, any more than to find them among the free-traders. All he
wanted was earnest men in the cause, from whatever quarter they might

A suggestion was made that, if a policy of federation were put before
the House, the protectionist party, as well as many free-traders, would
vote for it. The chief members of the protectionist party were ardent
federalists; and it was known that some of the party supporting the
Government were not pleased with the proceedings of the Ministry in
relation to this question, and were disposed, if the opportunity
offered, to transfer their allegiance to Sir Henry Parkes.

Mr. Reid had brought about, and attended, a meeting of the Premiers of
the different colonies, at Hobart, to consider the question of union;
and a plan had been agreed upon, by which the whole question was to be
considered by the several Parliaments _de novo_. An influential portion
of the Press described this as breaking wholly with the past, and making
inadequate preparation for the future; and Sir Henry Parkes, comparing
the Hobart conference with the convention which sat in Sydney in 1891,
likened it to a _coterie_ of mice claiming for itself the mastery over a
gathering of lions.

Strongly in favour of the basis for federation set forth in the draft
bill of the convention of 1891, he resented any attempt to set the
labours of the past aside; and he listened to the overtures, which came
to him, of support, to overthrow those whom he regarded as enemies of
the cause to which he had devoted the remainder of his days.

The protectionist party, it need scarcely be said, though ready enough
to vote for federation, had in view interests of their own. The
continuance in power of the Free Trade Government meant the abolition of
the tariff which the Dibbs Ministry had introduced, and which helped to
keep certain industries alive; a policy of federation would leave things
as they were, until a Federal Parliament should be in a position to deal
with the tariff question as it affected outside trade.

To Sir Henry Parkes the intended alteration of the New South Wales
tariff, to one of free trade, appeared a serious blow to the prospects
of federation. New South Wales, Mr. Reid had declared, was going to
sail into the port of federation with the flag of free trade flying.
Suppose, asked Sir Henry Parkes, the colony of Victoria should declare
she intended to sail into the same port with the flag of protection
flying:--what chance would remain for federation, on any terms? Instead
of union it must be perpetual disunion; and, recognising this, he saw
the wisdom of letting the tariff, though it was that of a Protectionist
Ministry, alone, until the colonies could be brought together, and the
matter dealt with in the interests of them, all, as one nation.

"The question of a fitting Government for an intelligent,
rapidly-growing, aspiring people", he wrote, "is far above any fiscal
considerations, or the adjustment, in a code of policy, of any economic
principles." The young states, if they meant to achieve success, must
"meet in the spirit of brotherhood; each respecting the other, and all
admitting the ground of equality." And, where all met as equals, there
could be no attempt to stipulate for special advantage, or to lay down
conditions of favour to one or more.

As he had told his constituents at the election of 1894, the time had
passed for an "unwholesome conflict between free trade and protection";
and, free-trader himself, he called upon all free-traders to reserve
their strength, for the advocacy of their cause, in the election of the
Federal Parliament. On that battlefield, he said, he should use all his
faculties of mind and body, all his energies and all his courage, "to
fight the good fight of free trade, and to crown the struggle with
victory in the House of Representatives." That the protectionists would
do their utmost, on the same field, to ensure the adoption of their
policy, he of course expected; but he did not, on that account, despise
their assistance in the work of establishing the union.

In this spirit, and under these circumstances, he fell in with the
movement which arose among the federalists of the Legislative Assembly,
in February, 1895.

Soon after the assembling of Parliament in 1894, he was urged to confer
with Sir George Dibbs on the situation, in order that a basis of action
against the Reid Government might be discussed and agreed upon; but he
declined, neither of them, at this time, being disposed to act with the
other. For years previously they had not spoken to each other, some
circumstances in their political strivings, not clearly known to either
them or their friends, having led to the suspension between them of the
ordinary courtesies of life. So they remained aloof. But, in the
meantime, friends of both kept alive the idea of bringing them together;
and several attempts were made, to induce them to sink their differences
and join their forces. In the early part of 1895, the prospects of their
coming together seemed more favourable; but subsequent events showed
that it was yet too soon for anything of the kind. In a position in
which, if the hostile movement against the Government should be
successful, one must give up the leadership of the new Administration to
the other, and both desired it, united action was exceedingly difficult.

Sir Henry Parkes was conscious of the necessity for some definite action
against the Government, but showed considerable reluctance to enter upon
the struggle. Writing about this time, he said: "Although, to my mind,
the confusion of government business is the deeper the more it is
examined, still the question comes out of the very examination, am I the
man called upon to kill the rattlesnake? Is it that I who was betrayed,
deserted, and thrust aside, a few months ago, by those who owed me
allegiance, should leap into the gulf now?"

But the year was still young, when, appealed to by a number of members
of the Assembly, to submit a motion of want of confidence in the
Ministry, and, believing from the representations made to him, that a
majority of the Assembly were favourable to such a proceeding, he
drafted a resolution expressing dissatisfaction at the state of public
business and distrust of the future.

Those who heard of the contemplated step, were of opinion that there
were reasonable grounds for thinking the Government to be in danger.
From one cause and another, public business had not proceeded with the
expedition that had been expected; and doubt existed in the minds of
people, outside the House as well as inside, as to the chances of the
Ministry doing much in the future.

The draft resolution met with the approval of Sir Henry Parkes' friends,
and might have been moved; but, before any definite action could be
taken upon it in the Assembly, notice of a motion of censure, against
the Government, was given by Sir George Dibbs. This, necessarily,
prevented any similar proceeding on the part of Sir Henry Parkes, as,
without the approval and support of the leader of the Opposition, any
motion of the kind would be regarded by the Government as that of a
private member, and treated accordingly.

It was in the month of May before the opportunity for action, on the
part of Sir Henry Parkes, came.

The motion made by Sir George Dibbs received but scant support; and, on
its failure, the attention of the opponents of the Ministry was once
more directed to the only man considered likely to be successful. Again
it was urged upon the recognised leader of the Opposition, that if
anything effective was to be done against the Government, and its
policy, Sir Henry Parkes was the only man to do it. The matter had
become one of urgency. So earnest were some members of the Opposition in
regard to it, that they talked of leaving the protectionist party as it
existed, and going over in a body to Sir Henry Parkes. But this was not
necessary. Having himself failed, Sir George Dibbs was now ready to give
his support to anyone likely to succeed. The success of a hostile motion
against the Government would be as beneficial to the protectionists, in
the maintenance of their tariff, for a time at least, as it would be
gratifying to the advocates of federation, who saw, in the wished-for
victory, only the interests of the great cause they had at heart; and
the Opposition leader no longer held back. A meeting of the Opposition
was held; support to Sir Henry Parkes was agreed upon; and he was
informed of the turn things had taken.

Two months before, in a letter to the public press, he had made no
secret of his intention "in the lasting interest of good government" to
get rid of the Ministry, and he had invited men from all sides, who
believed in the objects associated with federation, to join him "in
rendering this service to New South Wales and Australia." He, therefore,
showed no reluctance to accept the proffered support of the
protectionist party, as a response to his invitation; and, with the aid
he expected from a number of free-traders, he determined to challenge
the Government.

On 16th May, 1895, he made a motion of censure, to the effect that the
continuance in office of the Government would retard the progress of
much needed legislation, and seriously prejudice the cause of Australian

The occasion was a great one, and the proceedings aroused widespread
interest. In ordinary circumstances, coming from the source it did, the
motion might have succeeded; at least it would have fared better than
was actually the case. But, from physical weakness, Sir Henry Parkes was
not effective in his speech; and, the announced intention of the
Opposition to support the motion, raised loud and bitter cries of
disapproval at what was termed an unholy coalition. That, in face of his
life-long advocacy of free trade, Sir Henry Parkes could join the leader
of the protectionists, in an attempt to overthrow a free trade Ministry,
was what the newspapers, with one or two exceptions, from one end of the
country to the other, professed their inability to understand, except on
the ground that Sir Henry was a deserter from the ranks of free trade,
and now a protectionist.

Though, in reality, he was but acting consistently with the course of
action he had, for three years past, laid down for himself, and many
times had explained publicly, he was denounced in the strongest terms.
Federation, and a cessation of fiscal strife until the tariff could be
dealt with by the Federal Parliament, instead of altering the tariff
now, and, by that alteration, raising a formidable barrier to union:
that was his aim. But his opponents in the press, concerned only for the
existence of the Ministry, shut their eyes to his consistency, and
refused to see, in the course he had taken, anything but perfidy. And,
while he was bitterly assailed, those free-traders who were likely to
give him their support were warned of the dire consequences likely to
fall upon them at the next elections. Naturally this had its effect.
Only two members of the Free Trade Party voted for the motion, and they,
with the protectionists, were so insufficient to effect the object
sought, that the motion was defeated by a majority of nearly two to one.

The result was more disappointing than was apparent merely from the
numbers in the division; for the position of the federal party was now
worse than before. The Ministry were strengthened most materially. From
the representations made to Sir Henry Parkes he had counted upon
defeating the Government easily. Instead of that his motion had shown
what before was not evident--that they had behind them a large and solid
majority, determined to assist them in carrying out their policy; and
that policy they immediately began to press forward, with increased
energy and confidence.


"THERE are times," wrote Sir Henry Parkes to a political acquaintance,
in the course of his efforts to place Federation in advance of all other
questions in the public policy of New South Wales, "when men are called
upon to sacrifice everything--life itself--for their country"; and,
though defeated upon the motion he had made in the Assembly, he was not
turned from his purpose. The one remaining object of his life, it was at
the same time the greatest, and, in any circumstances, it was worth
fighting for.

In the light of a conviction, which nothing could drive from his mind,
that the country was with him in the matter, that the decision of the
Assembly upon his motion was contrary to the wish of the people, it
would have been traitorous for him to abandon his work. It was
inevitable that he should go on. Like the famous American President,
when he only was not disheartened at failure after failure of the
measures taken to preserve the Union--an example often quoted by Sir
Henry Parkes--he must "keep pegging away."

For some little time an organization, known as the Federal League of
Australasia, had been in existence. It had been formed by Sir Henry
Parkes, and consisted of some of the more ardent supporters of
federation, in the Assembly, and advocates of the cause outside
Parliament. In numbers it was not large; but it was regarded as the
nucleus of something more extensive in the immediate future, and, for
the present, it was expected to assist in carrying the federation
movement forward. The members of it were known as Progressive
Federalists. By means of this organisation, Sir Henry Parkes determined
to keep the work of union before the people, and to continue to advance
its interests. The leading provisions in the programme of the League,
shortly stated were:-

1. The Federation of Australia to be held first, above and before all
   other questions.

2. The trade between the Australian Colonies to be absolutely free.

3. The customs tariff of Australia to be left unconditionally to the
   Federal Parliament, without reference to or in any way fettering the
   opinion of individuals.

4. Their territorial rights and possessions to be secured by the Federal
   Constitution to the respective Colonies.

5. The Colonies separately to have the rights of taxation over land,
   personal income, negotiable instruments, and individual property of all

6. The main trunk lines of railway to be at the service of the Federal
   Government for Federal purposes.

And in respect of New South Wales as one of the Union States:-

(a) Compulsory local government embracing the whole territory under
   Divisional Councils.

(b) Labour Colonies to be founded and governed on the principle of
   remunerative improvement, where all persons in want of employment may
   earn, by regular labour at equitable rates of wages, the necessary means
   to support themselves and families, while establishing, in the interest
   of the State, industrial communities.

(c) The gradual cessation of public borrowing outside the Colony.

(d) In the Civil Service, the inhabitants of the Colony to have the
   preference, all other things being equal in all appointments and

(e) The Defence Forces--under whatever designation--to be formed from the
   young men of the Colony.

The members of the League met frequently, and arrangements were made for
giving life to the movement throughout New South Wales.

Meantime, political matters were approaching a crisis. The Legislative
Council had shown signs of an indisposition to sanction the direct
taxation policy of the Government, and it was soon evident that, when
the opportunity should arrive for decisive action on the part of that
House, the financial measures, which the Government desired to pass into
law, would be rejected. An opening for the advance of the federalists
here seemed probable.

Quite consistently with his repeatedly announced opinion that the time
was inopportune for making tariff alterations, and, by so acting,
raising additional barriers against the union of the colonies, Sir Henry
Parkes did not view with disapproval the course the Upper House appeared
disposed to take; and when, by its rejection of a bill providing for the
machinery necessary for the collection of land and income taxes, a
crisis arrived, he closed up the ranks of his party, and prepared for
the general election that was unavoidable.

Parliament was dissolved on the 5th July, and the arrangements for the
elections quickly followed.

For some days Sir Henry Parkes quietly watched the form the elections
were taking. Arrived at a time of life when extreme physical exertion
must, as much as possible, be avoided, it was not to be expected that
he should plunge into the contest with the promptness and vigour of the
earlier years; and there were other reasons which discouraged activity.
But everybody anticipated action of some kind, and waited for it with
impatience. Though not regarded as a probable source of much injury or
inconvenience to the Government, whatever course he should take his
position was certain to impart to the struggle an interest which only he
could give it.

His chance of being re-elected for St. Leonards was viewed by many as
doubtful. Some of the more prominent of the electors, who had previously
supported him, disapproving of the attempt, with the aid of the
protectionists, to upset the Government, had announced their intention
to oppose him; and, though he might not be defeated, it was evident he
would, at least, have to fight very hard for the seat. This was not
likely to trouble him, for there were several electorates that would be
glad of the opportunity to return him; and anticipations were abroad
that, in any case, he would, in this election, abandon St. Leonards, and
come out for the constituency in which he could appear as the leader of
the side opposed to the Ministry.

Writing to one of the members of his St. Leonards Committee, he said
that, for many reasons, he could wish to be relieved from parliamentary
obligations altogether; but then he knew that there were duties which
must be undertaken, and public work which must be done, and naturally
men who, like himself, had steadily endeavoured to enforce the true
principles of free government in the work of legislation, hesitated to
abandon the direction of political affairs to hands that might be
incompetent or untrustworthy. He could not say he might not be
influenced to seek a seat in the new Parliament, if it should appear to
him that his services could be of special value to the cause of good
government, but he had decided not to be a candidate for St. Leonards.
No doubt was in his mind that, if he presented himself for re-election,
he would be returned; but, as he was then situated, he was not prepared
to go through an unpleasant contest that could have no wider result than
his personal success.

He was not indisposed to engage in the elections as duty might call him,
but he was not likely to do it with anything approaching the old

Domestic affliction was, at this time, so affecting him, as to make
politics far more of a burden than a source of pleasure. For some months
previously; there had been signs about his home of the approach of the
dreaded last messenger to one who was very dear to him; and now the
shadow was deepening, and the end very near. His wife was dying.

They had married late in his life, and she had been his devoted
companion for six years. She had brought him both happiness and trouble.
His home was very bright with her presence and her tasteful ways.
Throughout his long confinement from his broken leg, she had nursed him
with all tenderness. She had been a sympathiser and a helpmate in his
work, inside and outside Parliament. A natural cleverness and cheerful
manner, made her, to all, a pleasant acquaintance; a kind heart and a
generous disposition proved her a good friend. Her husband's books and
pictures contained many tributes to her worth. Yet, though he was happy
in her presence and affection, and though all who knew her intimately
were drawn towards her by her good qualities, she did not secure the
goodwill of Society. Where, before their marriage, her husband was the
principal figure, he was not now seen. She was not invited, and he
remained away, In May, 1889, replying to an invitation from Government
House, he wrote to the Governor, Lord Carrington:-

"Sir Henry Parkes regrets that he cannot accept the invitation of his
Excellency the Governor to dinner on the 24th May. He owes it to his
wife, whatever may be the occasion, not to enter the door which is
closed against her; but he desires at the same time to be understood as
not seeking a reversal of her exclusion, while he insists upon sharing
any indignity to which she is subjected."

From that time until after the death of Lady Parkes, except on one
occasion, in the period of the Earl of Jersey's stay in Sydney, when the
Governor having been present during the day on the grounds of Sir Henry
Parkes' residence, at a fête given to the boys of the training school
ship Vernon, he returned the courtesy by attending the Queen's Birthday
dinner in the evening, Government House, during any of its
entertainments, was not visited by Sir Henry Parkes.

This denial of the social recognition due to him, as much as to his
wife, was as annoying as, in some respects, it was unjust; but, in his
published collection of sonnets, it finds fitting answer in indignant
and touching lines.


"And thou bast suffer'd bravely, tender Heart!
But well thou know'st the world is not for them--
The social nonconformists who contemn
Or disobey the whitened laws, that part
The saints from sinners, in its painted mart.
Be thou content with Jesus' apothegm;
And whoso comes from out Jerusalem
To stone thee, stand the woman that thou art.
Thou, who would'st give thy last sore-needed crust
To feed the hungry in thy woman's pity,
Stand with thy noble boys at Jesus' feet!
Pray they may join the army of the just,
To serve this land, this sorrow-laden city,
And that beyond the grave we all may meet!"

In the midst of the trouble caused by the rapidly approaching death of
his wife, it was urged upon him that he should allow himself to be
nominated as a candidate for the King Division of the city of Sydney, in
opposition to the head of the Government, Mr. Reid.

Popular as the policy of the Government was, the opponents of it, inside
and outside Parliament, were very anxious to find a strong man to put
forward against the Premier. Several persons were approached, and among
them Sir Henry Parkes. He hesitated; advanced objections to such a
course; promised to think over it; and, finally, mentioned the matter to
his wife. She counselled him to do as he was urged.. There was no
possibility of her sharing the satisfaction of victory, if the election
should be won, or of being there to condole with him in defeat. But,
while she lived, she could, as she had always done, advise him; and,
with all the strength she could bring to bear, her advice was that he
should enter the contest as proposed, and, unmindful of her condition,
fight with the earnestness and vigour necessary to ensure success.

Next morning his candidature was definitely announced; and, at once, the
King Division became the centre to which public attention was directed.
The contests in other electorates faded from notice. All eyes were fixed
on the fight which, by the defeat of the Premier, must inflict a fatal
hurt upon the Government, or, by his victory, exclude Sir Henry Parkes
from the new Parliament, and, perhaps, close his parliamentary career.
However the election might end, the issues must be momentous; the
struggle, therefore, "was certain to be severe.

Both candidates buckled for the fray. Putting before the electors a
federalist manifesto, in which he declared that, in view of the early
federation of the colonies, nothing whatever ought to be done which
would create obstacles to union, Sir Henry Parkes entered upon the
contest--the thirty-sixth in which he had engaged--with confidence and
energy. So energetic in fact was he, that, at the first meeting of his
committee, he announced his desire to direct the plan of operations
himself, and direct it he did until the election was over.

His attitude presented a unique spectacle of courage and pathos.
Vigorous, eloquent, and vituperative at his meetings, his language in
denunciation of Mr. Reid equalling in bitterness anything he had said at
any time during his public career,--in his home he was never free from
the harrowing sense of the rapid approach of death to his suffering
wife. Alarming phases in her illness interrupted the work of his
committee by preventing his attendance; and, in the midst of their
preparations, she died. Yet, though stricken by this calamity, he was
not disposed to withdraw from the struggle he had entered upon. Let him
bury his "dear dead", he wrote to his committee, and he was ready to
return to his election labours at once. He was prepared to resume the
fight immediately after the funeral. Up to the last moment of
consciousness, the counsel of his wife had been--no surrender; and, apart
from his grief at her death, there was no reason why he should not
continue to be as active as the necessities of the case demanded. Few
things in political history, it was remarked at the time, are more
pathetic than the advice and encouragement of the dying wife to her
husband in this election.

He followed the advice to the letter. The day after the funeral he was
again at work, almost as active as ever, the excitement of the contest
proving to some extent an antidote to his trouble. Ably supported by
some of the foremost men in the public life of New South Wales, he now
addressed meeting after meeting, amidst popular excitement, uproar, and
enthusiasm. To rally round the cause of a United Australia and of New
South Wales as one of the sister states, was what he urged upon the
electors;--federation, instead of trifling over a provincial fiscal
battle which could have no result when union should take place. It was
the same high topic upon which he had often spoken, and he pressed it
upon public attention now with the same sincerity.

But though many listened and applauded, few were influenced. The policy
of the Government, supported as it was by a majority of the
newspapers, including the most influential, was too attractive among
the masses to be easily set aside, and the popularity of the Premier,
Mr. Reid, too great for anyone to make much headway against him.

The friends of Sir Henry Parkes were sanguine of success, but their
hopefulness was based upon information which, ultimately, was found to
be unreliable. The reports of the canvassers promised not only victory;
it was to be victory by a considerable majority. But, in a parliamentary
election, there is no certainty of success until the votes have been
polled, and the numbers are known; and, once more in political
experience, promises proved very different from performances. On the eve
of the polling, so favourable did the prospects of the contest appear to
them, the committee of Sir Henry Parkes were unanimous in believing he
would be elected on the morrow,--that he could not fail; and, when the
morrow came, and the poll was declared, he had been defeated by 140

With the recollection of the hot fight, and the indications all through
it of probable success, this was hard to bear. Sir Henry Parkes bore it
best. At once he imparted to the situation a tone fully in keeping with
the great cause which, as a candidate in the election, he had advocated.
Compared with the importance of that question, the result of the
election was to him nothing. "Think no more of the result," he urged
upon his committee; "think of the cause we have in hand." There was no
need, he said, to concern themselves about him. He was nobody in the
matter. He would pass away. But they would remain, and, taking up the
question where he had tried to place it, must carry it on.

As one of the public journals observed, his defeat contributed to the
election an element of tragic pathos, for his domestic affliction had
enlisted public sympathy, and his absence from the new Parliament, at
his great age, was indicative of the close of his active public life.


THE lost election and the death of his wife were borne by Sir Henry
Parkes with fortitude; but, together, they, for a time, had a very
depressing effect. A return to the Legislative Assembly, flushed with
the achievement of having defeated the Prime Minister, would have kept
his mind from dwelling too much upon his domestic trouble, and would
have rekindled in him some of the old fire which, in the parliamentary
battles of earlier days, had made him the chief figure in the country's
political life. But defeat, and of so decided a character, looked like a
peremptory dismissal from politics, and the end of his career.

Most persons were of opinion that he would not again be seen in
Parliament. He, himself, though, at times, despondent over the change
in his political fortunes, never thought his popularity had lessened,
nor doubted that, before long, he would be at the head of his sixth
Ministry. "If I live and my "health does not fail," he said to a friend
one day, "you will see me in power again within two years." Sanguine
always as to his political future, it never occurred to him that in his
way were obstacles insurmountable.

His defeat in the election for the King Division took place in
September. In a little more than six months afterwards, his future was
decided by the end coming, not only to all hope of further service in
Parliament, but to his life. And what an eventful six months these were!
In the short period of time which they represent, he appeared as a
candidate at two more elections, from one of which he retired, and in
the other was again badly defeated; he contracted a third marriage; he
returned to Government House and to Society; he became so destitute of
the means of living as to be obliged to sell most of his books and
furniture, and to seek a grant of money from Parliament; and, finally,
he died in absolute poverty, lamented by everybody, and reconciled to
his great political opponent, Mr. Reid.

His poverty was the saddest feature of the last few weeks of his life.
More or less, he had always been in want of money, but, in one way or
another, had managed to get along. "How strange it is," he once wrote
in reply to a letter sent him with a present of wine on his birthday,
"that I should occupy the high position I do, and be so poor as to be
compelled to receive presents from my friends!" A serious decrease in
the amount of income which he derived from money collected for him by
public subscription in 1887, and invested by trustees in bank shares,
was the principal trouble. From £540, it had dwindled to £212, and this
was all he had to provide for his household, afford some assistance to
relations outside his immediate family circle, and pay some of his
debts. "The diminution of my income, which I foolishly calculated upon,
and of my strength to earn money," he said in a conversation last
December, "is making things harder with me than they ever were in my
life." Only by selling the valuable little articles he had collected in
past years, and by borrowing sums of money at different times from
friends, had he been able to live.

It was in December, of 1895, that the movement arose to procure for him
a grant of money from Parliament, and it was this conversation, during
which he explicitly stated his position, and his willingness to accept a
grant, that led to the steps which were taken to obtain it.

"If such a thing as a grant of money had been hinted to me a few years
ago, I should have rejected it with something like utter disapproval",
he said on this occasion. "It has been several times, in an indirect
way, suggested to me, and once on behalf of the Dibbs Ministry; but I
did not entertain it. Now I am compelled to look for something of the
kind. I cannot throw myself into new employment--I am too old. If I
cared to do so, I have no doubt I could rally the country now, and form
a good party; but as all my old friends are dead, I am reluctant to do
this. I am willing to leave it to the people on the stage to fight it
out as best they can. If this grant were offered to me now, in
consequence of my necessities, I should accept it, and I should consider
that it severed my connection with party strife."

Great indeed were his necessities. He had no money at his command; the
tradesmen who supplied the household were threatening to stop supplies;
and a pressing creditor had taken action which was expected to result in
a bailiff entering the house and seizing the furniture. It was a
question, as Sir Henry Parkes, himself, put it, of his having to go to
the workhouse or accepting the grant of money.

But the grant of money was not made. The Government were willing to
propose it, but the parliamentary session was within two or three days
of its close, and, on members of the Assembly being sounded as to the
prospects of the money being voted, it was ascertained that the motion
would meet with opposition which must keep the House sitting beyond the
time appointed for the prorogation. In view of this, it was thought
advisable to await a more favourable opportunity.

Had the money been voted he might not have died so soon, and his long
and useful life might have closed peacefully and happily, after a few
years well-deserved rest, free from the troubles that attend pecuniary
embarrassment. For, in anticipation of the grant, he had talked of
again visiting England; and his mind was full of literary projects of
one kind and another. As it was, however, he died in circumstances which
made it necessary for the Government to step forward and provide him
with the ordinary comforts of a sick room, and his family with daily

It was in the month of April, 1896, that he fell ill; and though, at no
time, before the end came, was his condition alarming, his great age,
and weak heart, made the case a serious one from the first.

One of the earliest of the callers at "Kenilworth", where Sir Henry
Parkes was lying, was Mr. G. H. Reid. "I have come", he said to Lady
Parkes, "to inquire concerning the announcement of Sir Henry's illness
in this morning's papers. I was indeed sorry to see it. How is he? I
scarcely like to ask him to see me, if he is very ill."

They did, however, see each other, though it took some minutes to
persuade Sir Henry Parkes to receive his visitor, the bitterness of the
political relations between them not having yet been forgiven or
forgotten. The two statesmen met, and the meeting was of a nature worthy
to be recorded by the brush of the painter as much as by the pen of the

Entering the chamber, where the great man lay attended by his wife and
his physician, not more than a day or two from death, Mr. Reid made his
way to the bed; and, grasping the hand extended to him, bent over it,
and touched it with his lips.

This kindly act, which seemed to speak of deep respect, of regret for
the harsh things of the past, and of sorrow for the present illness,
touched the heart of the dying veteran. The feeling which had made him
reluctant to see his visitor melted away; the hand-grasp tightened; and
tears came from the eyes of both. For some seconds,--it seemed like
minutes--no word was spoken; but the heart of each went out to the
other, and, when the visit had ended, and Mr. Reid had taken his leave,
with an expressed desire to call again, Sir Henry Parkes was able to
say, "I am glad he called; I am glad I saw him; I have misunderstood

Each day all eyes were directed to the latest bulletins from the sick
room; all hearts beat in sympathy; and when, on Monday, April 27th, it
was announced that death had come at 4 o'clock that morning, there was
sorrow universal; for the end of this great life was the close of an
epoch of Australian history, and, by it, the people seemed to feel that
they had lost their stoutest champion and truest friend.

"A good soft pillow for that good white head!" The errors which, here
and there, had shaded the deceased statesman's career, were forgotten,
and only his virtues remembered--his public services, the unselfishness
of his career, his sterling worth. Messages of sympathy came from all
the Australasian colonies and from England. The Government offered a
public funeral.

But Sir Henry Parkes had been opposed to public funerals. In 1893, he
made a will; and, so particular was he with regard to the proceedings
which should follow his decease, that, in this document, he enjoined his
trustees that, when death took place, not even the newspapers should be
informed, but that his body should be enclosed in an inexpensive coffin,
and buried in any consecrated ground the trustees should decide upon,
the funeral to be carried out as privately and simply as possible. A
further direction was that, on no account, should the trustees consent
to any monument or other public honour being conferred upon him by the
Government or Parliament of New South Wales. This will lapsed with the
death of Sir Henry Parkes' second wife; but his known opinions with
regard to public funerals led to the offer of the Government being
declined, and to the funeral being of a private nature, though
necessarily attended by a very large number of mourners representing all
classes of the community.

In this form, the last ceremony in relation to the deceased statesman
was carried out; the interment taking place at Faulconbridge, where the
remains were laid by the side of those of the first Lady Parkes, in
ground which, from the time of her burial, was regarded as her husband's
final resting-place.


Nearly half a century has passed since Sir Henry Parkes first appeared
before the public of New South Wales, and, during that long period, no
one in the political history of the colony has presented such a forceful
personality. Had the circumstances of his early life been such as to
have sent him into the House of Commons, he would have excelled there.
But he was better fitted for a House of Legislature in Australia. The
new land offered all the requisite opportunities for the employment of
his faculties. Work of a special nature required to be done, and there
were few capable of doing it. In the public life of England, he never
could have risen to the height he did in New South Wales, where, for so
many years, he was engaged shaping the destinies of one of the most
important portions of what, eventually, will be a great nation.

The work he did has been widely recognised; but, at no time, was he
free from detractors. All do not now praise him. Notwithstanding his
great services, there are some who question their merit.

Often, in the course of his career, he was denied the credit of
originating the most important of the measures he was instrumental in
having passed. Appropriating other men's ideas, it was said, he merely
gave them vital form. To say that he did so, in the spirit in which the
charge has been made, is not correct; but, if the assertion were true,
it could be answered by pointing to the fact that most of the work of
the world has been done in a similar way. If he should have done nothing
more than put into active shape what others had suggested, he did but
follow the path trodden by a long line of statesmen. But that is not
the sum and substance of his work. He himself conceived, and carried his
conceptions into effect to the lasting benefit of his fellow-men.

Had he been born and brought up under circumstances which would have
provided him with a good education and training for the career which,
eventually, he followed, many of his friends are of opinion he might
have been a much more prominent man than he was. Possibly so. But easy
circumstances and scholastic advantages are not, to some natures, the
levers which poverty and the necessity to push one's way have shown
themselves to be. Wealth and education would not have caused the young
emigrant to leave his native land for the little known Australia in
1839. The _Empire_ newspaper would never have entered upon its useful
mission. The Public Schools Act, or something like it, might have been
passed, but probably not quite in the same form nor at the same time.
The Railways Act, the Public Works Act, and a number of other Acts of
the first magnitude which owe their existence to him, might have come,
in the course of years, from other men; but he it was who was
instrumental in making them law years ago, and he it is who is entitled
to the credit arising from their beneficial operation.

It has been said that he might have done more. So it may be said of all
men. Frequently he was charged with promising, year after year,
important legislation which is now as far off as ever it was. Those who
know anything of the difficulties of government, must be aware of the
manner in which the best intentions are upset by unexpected
circumstances. He did what he could--far more than has been accomplished
by any other man, now, or heretofore, in the public life of New South
Wales; and, it has been remarked (with little exaggeration) that if the
measures for which he is responsible were removed from the statute book
of the colony, the pages of the book would be left almost a blank.

Next to his services, a great fact in his career was his pecuniary
condition--his poverty. Though he entered Parliament in 1854, and six
times occupied the position of a Minister of the Crown--five times as
Prime Minister--he was as poor, when he died, as he was the first day he
entered the old Legislative Council. With unlimited opportunities for
acquiring wealth, he availed himself of none. Had he held office in
England, he could, on retiring, have obtained a pension of several
thousands a year. In the colony to which he gave his energies, for the
whole of his life, retirement from office was the cessation of his means
of existence. Yet many as were the charges made against him, no one ever
accused him of clinging to office. On two occasions public subscriptions
provided him with a fairly large sum of money; but, in the first
instance, this was only of temporary benefit, and, in the second,
through the investment of the money proving less fortunate than was
expected, little was obtained from it.

This want of adequate means was a cause of much trouble, and, at times,
exposed him to the charge of seeking office for the sake of its

He was not a man of expensive habits. In only one direction can his
expenditure be said to have been in any degree excessive, and that was
in the purchase of books and works of art. His desire for new books that
are worth having, in the type and binding of their first editions,
filled his library with a very valuable collection of the best
literature, to which additions were constantly being made, and his taste
for artistic work beautified his home with pictures, busts, and other
articles of _vertu_.

His books were the source of his extensive knowledge. Few men were
better read, especially on subjects of a political nature; and his habit
of thinking was apparent, not only in his speeches, but in his
conversation. When speaking to a friend or acquaintance, his utterance
was so deliberate as to at once suggest the idea that he had carefully
thought out the subject before he said a word respecting it; and, with
this thoughtful expression, there went a continuity of ideas which,
however it might be interrupted by an interjected observation from
someone else, proceeded connectedly from beginning to conclusion.

Except when he was called upon by the excitement of the moment to speak,
his speeches were carefully considered. So closely was this practice
followed, that it was even his custom, on special occasions, to prepare
for use certain phrases which, with unerring skill, he employed at the
very moment and in the very parts of his speech where they proved most
effective. This careful preparation was almost necessarily accompanied
by a desire to be reported accurately and fully. So well arranged was
the matter of his speeches, and so well expressed all he said, that he
was one of those very few public speakers, either in New South Wales or
elsewhere, who will bear being reported _verbatim_. As a rule, he spoke
with the assistance of a few notes which suggested the main topics of
his speech, and might contain a prepared phrase or two, and one or more

His speeches have been said to be of that kind described as unadorned
eloquence, but they are more than that. Though, as in the public
utterances of most men, they are not free from disfigurements,
especially attacks upon political opponents, many of them contain
passages that, for oratorical gracefulness and force, arouse the
admiration of the reader almost to the extent to which they must have
moved those who heard them spoken. Up to recent years--say to 1890, the
year of the accident which had so serious an effect upon his physical
activity and strength that, at no time afterwards, was he the same
man--no one who sat in the Legislative Assembly of New South Wales was
more able to hold the attention of a crowded House, to bring it back
from disorder to a sense of its responsibilities, to rouse it to
enthusiasm, or to sway it in the direction he desired. The merit in the
speeches that, in most instances, they can be read in cold type with
admiration, and, in all, with the advantage that they are instructive--
that while they can be admired, much can be learned from them that is
useful and important--is a high test of their excellence, for it places
them far above the level of ordinary public speaking, and gives them a
lasting value. Many of them are text-books upon parliamentary
government, the principles of constitutional rule, and the duties of
citizenship. In this respect they have had, and will yet have, a great
educative effect inside and outside the Legislature.

During the last few years of his life, in order to meet the demands of
the up-to-date journalism in Australia, Sir Henry Parkes, in common with
other public men, sometimes found it necessary to anticipate a speech in
public, by putting forward his views upon certain events or proceedings
through an interviewer; but even these interviews, as they appeared in
print, were not destitute of the signs of the impassioned utterance and
the effectiveness which strikingly characterised what he said upon the
floor of Parliament or on the public platform.

His strong literary tastes not only drew him to his books, but impelled
him to do what was in his power to encourage colonial literature. His
admiration for some of the earlier poets of New South Wales may be
found expressed in some of his poems; and, when Henry Kendall was
drifting down the stream of poverty and neglect, fast bringing to a
close a self-blighted life, a hand was stretched out to him from the
Colonial Secretary's Office, and he was placed for the remainder of his
days in a Government position which not only gave him the means of
subsistence but provided him with an occupation among the woods and
streams, the flowers and the birds, which have enriched his verses with
the beauties of nature as it is in Australia.

Sir Henry Parkes' own contributions to literature include, besides his
poems, many magazine articles, a volume of speeches covering a period of
twenty-five years of his political life, published in 1876, and his
"Fifty Years in the making of Australian History", which appeared in
1892. The speeches met with a favourable reception, but the "Fifty
Years", although well received by the great English journals, raised, in
the colonies, much hostile criticism which the book did not deserve.

As he did that which was in his power for the encouragement of
literature, so he gave a helping hand to art. Through his appreciation
of the educative and refining influences of artistic work, and
especially of its value in a community where time and effort are devoted
chiefly to the pursuit of material wealth, the National Art Gallery
received much assistance from him when in power, and the public offices
and the parks and gardens owe to the same source many of those features
which adorn them and form their principal attractions. The national
gratitude for public services, which finds expression in the erection of
commemorative statues to public men, had a sympathiser in him; and, had
his Government of 1891 remained a little longer in office, he would have
had erected, in the splendid avenue on the north side of the Sydney
General Post Office, statues of three of the most prominent men who have
appeared in the public life of New South Wales--Mr. W. C. Wentworth, Sir
Charles Cowper, and Sir James Martin. It is a defect in the beautiful
city of Sydney, that there is little in the form of statues to
commemorate the services of its public men, beyond some sandstone
figures filling niches in the walls of one or two of the public
buildings; and this defect Sir Henry Parkes showed a desire to remove,
believing that, in doing so, he would but give effect to the wishes of
an appreciative and public-spirited people.

In all things associated with the public life of Sir Henry Parkes there
is much to admire. That his career was not free from circumstances which
may fairly meet with disapproval, or even condemnation, goes without
saying. What man who has engaged in the turmoil of political strife for
nearly half a century has so acted that none of his proceedings are open
to question? Such monsters as perfect characters or perfect statesmen,
it has been well said, do not exist. He made mistakes--many of them. He
himself frequently freely admitted his errors. On one of these
occasions, when acknowledging the approval with which his services had
been received by the people, he remarked that though, at times, he had
been censured when he did not deserve it, upon the whole the judgment
spontaneously and cordially passed upon him was such as a far worthier
man might accept with unbounded gratitude. He never was slow to confess
his faults; but, whatever those faults were, they pale into
insignificance when compared with the good he did.

His presence in Parliament was ever an assurance of unbroken
watchfulness for the prevention of any departure from recognised
procedure, and his entrance into office a guarantee that nothing of a
violent nature need be feared in either legislation or administration.
At no time was this more noticeable than during the progress of labour
strikes and disturbances, when, as head of the military and the police,
he showed, in combination with a due regard for the interests of each
side in the disputes, a moderation that did not interfere with the
preservation of law and order, and yet prevented any resort to extreme
measures which would have resulted in excesses to be never afterwards
forgotten. Able to calmly view the strife, he always understood how best
to bring it to an end, with the least injury to anyone engaged in it. It
was ever recognised by him that, among those taking part in a great
labour uprising, are many of the best of the working population, and
that it is only a question of a little time when their excitement will
pass off, and they will resume the duties of peaceful and industrious
citizenship. While, therefore, he saw that effective measures were taken
by the police, or by the police and the military, no policeman or
soldier ever fired a shot into a riotous crowd, and the trouble ended
without the use of anything more formidable than policemen's batons.

So long was Sir Henry Parkes identified with the public life of New
South Wales, that it is difficult to realise that he will never again be
in the Government, and still more so the existence of Parliaments from
which his venerable and commanding figure will be absent. Yet though the
walls which have resounded to his eloquence shall listen to him no
more, the echoes of his voice remain to teach all who come after him,
adherence to principle, consistency of conduct, patriotism, faithfulness
to the responsibilities of public service.

The story of his life is one from which many useful lessons may be
learned, of importance to all interested in the well-being and progress
of young communities.



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