The Dictionary of Australasian Biography/Deniehy, Daniel Henry

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Deniehy, Daniel Henry, a brilliant but eccentric littérateur and publicist, was the son of Daniel Henry Deniehy, and was born in Kent Street, Sydney, N.S.W., in 1828. Having been educated at a private school and at the old Sydney College, he continued his reading in French and Italian literature. In his fifteenth year his parents took him to England with the intention of placing him at college at Oxford; but his age and diminutive appearance prevented his immediate reception, and he was left in charge of a tutor, with whom he read classics for some months. Weary of his isolation, he visited his relatives in Ireland, and became acquainted with some of the leading members of the Young Ireland party, in whose enthusiasm he participated. On his return to Sydney he became articled clerk to Mr. N. D. Stenhouse, a man of great literary acquirements and generosity of disposition. During the time of his clerkship Deniehy contributed sketches, verses, and criticisms to various newspapers, all of which were received with favour on account of their freshness and vigour of style. At this period he was an unwearied student of the best authors both English and foreign, and in 1853 he delivered a series of lectures on modern literature at the Sydney School of Arts. He also met with popular acceptance as a speaker on the great political topic of the day, the Constitution Bill. In 1856 he was returned to the Legislative Assembly of New South Wales for Argyle, and soon gained a reputation for debating power. He was returned by the electors of East Macquarie in 1858, and kept his seat till after the passing of the Reform Bill in the following year, when he voluntarily withdrew from public life. During his Parliamentary career he invariably took the Liberal side, and was one of the authors of the selection clauses of the Robertson Land Bill, which is regarded as the Magna Charta of agricultural settlement in New South Wales. Meantime he practised at Goulburn as an attorney, but the time he devoted to his Parliamentary duties seriously interfered with his business. In 1858 he returned to Sydney and devoted himself to literature, contributing essays, critical and æsthetical, to the newspapers. In 1860 he became one of the founders of the Southern Cross, to which he contributed brilliant papers on some of the most distinguished writers of the century. On the invitation of Sir Charles Gavan Duffy and others in Victoria, he went in 1862 to Melbourne, where for nearly two years he edited the Victorian newspaper, a Roman Catholic organ, which has been asserted to be one of the most vigorously written political journals ever published in Australia. It succumbed, however, to bad management, and Deniehy returned to Sydney broken in health and hopes. He contributed admirable critical essays to the Sydney Morning Herald at this time (1864-65). In the latter year, acting on the advice of his friends, he removed to Bathurst, N.S.W., where he renewed the practice of his profession, but under depressing circumstances. He died in the hospital of that city on Oct. 22nd, 1865. Deniehy married in 1855 Adelaide Eliza, only daughter of John Cassima Hoalls, of Kellsthorpe, Notts, England, and grand-niece of Lord Gough. This lady, who survived him, was disinherited by her father for what he regarded as an unsuitable alliance, contracted without his consent. In 1884 the "Life and Speeches of Deniehy" were edited by E. A. Martin and published by George Robertson, of Melbourne and Sydney.