WILLIAM EDWARD CLARE.
A CERTAIN very clever writer once described a newspaper as the sounding board which made audible to its readers the voices of all the world. Then he went on to say that it was the great magician which annihilated the separating power of space, and made its readers in Australia the spectators of a battle in Central Africa, or of a shipwreck in the Mediterranean, or filled their ears with the echo of a debate in the House of Commons and the tumult of a presidential election in the United States of America.
Greenham & Evans.
WILLIAM EDWARD CLARE.
There is no enterprise in the world so fraught with vicissitude and novel experience as newspaper management. We are all familiar with Mark Twain's inimitable sketches of journalistic experiences in America, and his Tennessee troubles have caused many people to seriously doubt, in honest scepticism, his many adventures in the newspaper world. But we have in the biography of Mr. William Edward Clare a narrative, firm in fact, unique even in journalism, and rugged in picturesque experience.
William Edward Clare is a native of St. Helens, Lancashire, and was born in 1863. Leaving school, he decided to enter the ranks of journalism, and became attached to the staff of the Birkenhead News, upon which he remained until he was twenty-one years of age, when he embarked for Australia from Tilbury Docks. On arriving at Melbourne he spent several months in holiday-making, and deciding to go to Tasmania, he cast in his lot with the North-Western Chronicle, published at Latrobe, on the north coast. He remained here about eight months, and returned to Melbourne. In 1892 he came to Western Australia, and soon after Arthur Bayley discovered the sensational Reward claim, he set out for that glorified arena. It was no popinjay's mission; rather was it one requiring nerve and resource. Taking the train as far as York, he engaged a teamster to carry his swag, while he trudged along beside the dray. It was a wearying pilgrimage of five week's duration. Round the small tents forming Coolgardie were gathered men of all grades, bent on winning fortune at almost any cost. Mr. Clare did not waste any time, for his treasury could only boast of two shillings and twopence, and he immediately set to work "dry blowing" the alluvial patches round Bayley's Reward. His returns were not commensurate with the energy expended, and he obtained an engagement on the Reward mine soon after Mr. Sylvester Browne purchased it. At about this time Hannan's—now the world-famous Kalgoorlie—was founded by Patrick Hannan. Upon a well-remembered Saturday night Hannan entered Coolgardie, and the news of his rich alluvial discovery was soon circulated among an emotional population. Mr. Clare read, during the same evening, Hannan's notice, posted up at the Warden's tent, of an application for a reward claim at a spot about thirty miles north-east of Coolgardie, and in the first peeps of the ensuing morn, arrayed in all the primitive paraphernalia of the prospector, he was heading his course for the scene of the new find. Thanks to misdirection he was "lost" in the waterless bush—a terrible experience, appreciated only by those who have been in a similar predicament. After much dispiriting groping in the desolate wilderness, he reached his destination at nine o'clock on Monday night, when he presented a woebegone appearance. But next morning he went out "specking," and for the day's work obtained fourteen pieces of gold, the largest of which weighed eleven pennyweights. Soon after this he pegged out a claim below the Maritana Hill, thus following the prevailing fashion, for all the ground around Hannan, Cassidy, and Flannagan was pegged and re-pegged a dozen tines over in the stampede-like rush which had set in. After much laborious effort Mr. Clare reached in his claim a depth o[ eleven feet, where, to his intense pleasure, he struck a two-ounce piece; but, alas, in the first stages of luck the unkindly hand of fever smote his prospects. A faintness came over him; he struggled to his unpretentious little "camp," and consciousness forsook him. When he regained his senses he was in the tent of Police Constable McCarthy, in Coolgardie, down with typhoid. He had been conveyed to Coolgardie by the large-hearted Tom Colreavy, the discoverer of Golden Valley, the pioneer field of the immense Yilgarn district, indeed of all the eastern goldfields. He then passed through those indescribable, and too common, sufferings from fever in a weary land, where physical endurance must fight its own battle without the ameliorating conditions of good nursing and comfortable quarters. Many a time Mr. Clare's life "hung in the balance," but his splendid vitality overthrew the fever, else this story would not have been written.
But his illness had absorbed every shilling he possessed. He returned to Bayley's Reward, and worked as a miner. Here he and his mate established a record, for one hour's work in the cut yielded them eight dishes, containing 300 ounces of gold. Many interesting experiences had Mr. Clare in the matter of gold finding on this famous claim. On another occasion, while working with