My Life in Two Hemispheres/Chapter 32

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CHAPTER V


SPEAKER


My election for Gippsland, the "New Province"—Unanimously chosen as Speaker—The functions of a Speaker—Questions in Parliament—Payment of members—Opposed by the Council—Counter coup—Wholesale reduction of officers—My remonstrance—Letter from Mary Howitt—Personal leisure—K.C.M.G.—Literary criticism—Incidents—"Young Ireland" begun—Correspondence with Pope Hennessy—Lord O'Hagan and MacDermott of Coolavin—Futile appeal by the Colony to the Colonial Office—Re-appointment of Cashel Hoey—Loss of my wife—Death of Edward Butler and John Dillon—Rinuccini—Farewell to Australia—The main reason influencing me—Letter from Archbishop of Sydney—The two last decades of my life.


Immediately after my return to Melbourne the representation of Gippsland became vacant by the expulsion of a member who had misconducted himself. It was by a similar catastrophe that Dalhousie was vacated for my election ten years before, and the unwary reader will conclude that expulsions are a very common occurrence in that country; but the unwary reader will be mistaken, for during the five-and-twenty years I was connected with Australia there was not another such transaction, and there were at least as many expulsions from the House of Commons in the same period. Gippsland was by far the largest constituency in the colony, and from its size and importance was commonly called the New Province. When I was Chief Secretary I had proposed a railway, not so much to convenience a long neglected population as to connect the gold-fields, agricultural and squatting districts, lakes and forests of Gippsland with the metropolis, which I suggested would add a new province to Victoria. The name stuck, and when I returned from Europe was in universal use. The new province invited me to become its representative, and although I was suffering from bronchitis caught during my voyage, and could not attend the election, I was triumphantly chosen against a candidate whom the squatters as usual were pleased to send out against me. When I returned to the Assembly Sir James McCulloch was again Premier, and the Opposition was led by my late colleague, Mr. Graham Berry, who had infused a much more democratic spirit into it than existed in my time. An attempt was being made to compel the Government to dissolve Parliament by what was called "stonewalling," that is to say standing as firmly as a stone wall in front of their measures. In spirit and purpose the Opposition was a forecast of the Labour Party which has since arisen. To demolish the Stone Wall the Government established a Standing Order popularly called the Iron Hand, but its authority was seriously damaged by its being used for the first time to authorise an expenditure on the Chief Secretary's constituency, to which decisive objection had been made. In a few months the dissolution 1 came, and I visited my constituents, expounded my opinions, and was re-elected.

When Parliament was about to assemble, Mr. R. S. Anderson came to me on behalf of Sir James McCulloch and his other colleagues to say that they had reason to complain of the part the late Speaker took in a difference between them and Mr. Francis, that they could not support him again, and that if I accepted the office they would support me. At the same time Mr. Berry came to talk over the situation. His party had no doubt a majority, he said, and the battle had been so habitually fought in his name that the leaders of the organisation considered him bound to accept the first place. I told him I was of the same opinion; that after the efforts which had been made for him, he would create just discontent if he shrank from doing so. He then said very cordially that he had the pleasure of offering me any office in the Government I selected. I told him frankly that I was not prepared to act in a secondary position after having occupied the first, and I mentioned the overture made to me by the Government. He said the Opposition would support this proposition and make it unanimous. Before the election of Speaker came off the two parties changed places, but the agreement was carried out, and I was unanimously chosen; and that the exception might not be wanted to confirm the rule, one member of the late Government against whose official conduct I had levelled a vote of censure a few months before, growled that he had not been consulted. When a member of the House of Commons has been raised to the Chair, he has reached a region where criticism does not follow him; the rulings of the private member of yesterday are received as oracular. But in colonies manners are freer, and less punctilious. Two former Speakers had to learn their business after they came to office, and some of their old antagonists were not disposed to make their task an easy one. I had the same experience, but I was long familiar with the law and practice of Parliament. In one respect a Speaker stands at a serious disadvantage. When a judge has to decide a point of law he fixes the time to do so at his discretion, or if necessary intimates that he will consult his colleagues before deciding. But a Speaker's rulings must be prompt and decisive, on pain of forfeiting his authority. I remember still-that it was sport to me, when some mischievous member specified some difficulty which overwhelmed him, to dispose of the matter in a Parliamentary axiom of six words. I laugh still to think of a case in which a Parliamentary gladiator complained in pathetic tones that he was perplexed by two decisions of the Speaker which he could not possibly reconcile, and he besought my guidance in his difficulty. What must he do to tranquillise his mind? He had altogether mistaken the points at issue, and I simply said, "What the honourable member must do is to study the Standing Orders."

In my second year of office a political crisis sprung up of which I was only a spectator; it belongs not to this personal narrative, but to the history of Victoria. This was the trouble:—

Payment of members had been for some years in existence as an experiment, and the period specified in the Act establishing it was about to come to an end. To me it seemed that it was a natural complement of the principle involved in the abolition of Property Qualification, the principle of opening the legislature to the industrial classes. During the McCulloch régime a Select Committee on the subject had been appointed, of which I was Chairman, and its Report exhibited the practice in operation in nearly every civilised country in Europe and America. A Bill to continue the practice was passed by a large majority in the Assembly, but rejected by the Council. Some of the supporters of the principle then demanded that a sum should be put on the Estimates to provide for this service, a method which had already been employed in some British colonies. These gentlemen were sufficiently influential to induce the Berry Government to follow their counsel, and the item appeared on the Estimates, and consequently in the Appropriation Bill. In the Darling dispute the right of the Council to have such novel expenditure submitted to them in a separate Bill had been fiercely insisted on, and the Council refused to adopt an Appropriation Bill containing such an item. A bitter hostility sprung up between the majority of the Assembly and the class who thwarted them. Some members of the Government, generally supposed to be Mr. Lalor and Mr. Grant, proposed a stroke in return which was harsh and unjust. On the 8th of January, 1878, the Government Gazette announced the suspension from office of a serious number of officials, including heads of departments, police magistrates, County Court judges, and a large number of minor officers. It was said the delay of the Appropriation Bill endangered the stability of the public treasury, and justified large reductions, and no doubt it was felt by the Government that the Civil Service had nearly universally been appointed by their opponents, and that their supporters had not fair play. The event belongs to my narrative because some of the enemies which a public man cannot fail to make if he does his duty, raised a report that I had advised this measure. The Chief Secretary, it was said, had been on a visit to the Speaker in the country, and Duffy had taken vengeance on the squatters and their friends. But my relation to the transaction was very different. I had never heard of the project till it became public. I stated at once my entire disapproval of it, and when it was intimated to me that a second batch of removals would include the Clerk of Assembly, Mr. Barker, and the Assistant Clerk, Mr. Jenkins, I went to the Government and remonstrated against this proceeding as gravely injurious to the public interest. As I did not get satisfactory assurance on the point I took occasion, on the next day the House went into Committee of Supply (the only occasion on which a Speaker can with propriety take part in a debate), to call attention to the stroke which was meditated. Mr. Barker, I said, was one of the very best officers in the public service, was, in fact, the pivot on which the business of the House turned, and his colleague a serviceable and trustworthy officer whom we could not well spare. Mr. Barker was a squatter, and a fierce partisan of the squatting interest, but he was besides a patient, reliable, and careful officer, in whose hands the accurate records of Parliament were safe. The Government relinquished the design of displacing these gentlemen. Later I urged, with some success, that a few of the proposed victims might be spared. I have forgotten most of the transactions by this time, as I make no doubt the persons served have also done, but a note of a little later date reminds me of a service I was able to accomplish in the interests of a woman of genius to whom the reader may remember I was under obligations twenty years before, the dear, genial author of "Tibbie Inglis."

Dutenheim, Burneck, Tyrol, June 5, 1878.

Dear Sir Charles Duffy,—Writing to our son with our warm congratulations on his restoration to work and public usefulness, I cannot but acknowledge, with heartfelt gratitude, the kind part which you have taken in this happy change for him and for us all, for we have deeply felt with him the pain and unnaturalness of his enforced idleness. Now, however, thank God, it is over.

It is curious, but many a time I have thought that surely you would be his friend at a time like this, remembering as I did the kind, sympathetic nature which I seemed to recognise in you. The poetry of the Nation had made me pleasantly acquainted with one part of your character, and now these little green volumes will be additionally valuable to me.

Should you some' winter visit Rome, as so many of your countrymen from old Ireland, as well as from the new land of your heritage do, it will give us great pleasure once more to shake hands with you.

Receive the kindest regards of my husband and myself, and believe me, dear Sir Charles Duffy, yours sincerely and gratefully,

Still the Council would not give way, and as a solution of the difficulty the Attorney- General advised that a deputation should be sent to London, to urge the Imperial Government to limit the obstructive power of the Legislative Council by an alteration in the Constitution. At a private meeting of his Parliamentary supporters, Mr. Berry proposed that the deputation should be composed of the Speaker and the Chief Secretary, to represent the Legislature and the Executive. I read next morning in a paragraph in the Argus that some of the members suggested that I did not authentically represent the democracy, and as I thought their objection a perfectly reasonable one, I wrote immediately to the Chief Secretary that I must decline to act. Mr. Pearson[1] was chosen in my place and the deputation departed for London.

My occupation of the Chair gave me such a release from political contests as I had never enjoyed before. In one respect only I found it necessary to interpose in the current business. The Assembly address the Secretary of State and the Governor, and as such addresses must be signed by the Speaker, I either drafted or revised them that they might contain nothing to which I objected. In other respects my leisure was given to writing either correspondence or history.

Among matters of personal interest I must note that in the November of this year the Governor laid on the table a despatch from Lord Carnarvon, Secretary of State for the Colonies, informing the Governor that the Queen, on his recommendation, was pleased to give directions for the appointment of Sir Charles Gavan Duffy, Knight, Speaker of the Assembly of the Colony of Victoria, to be a Knight Commander of the Most Distinguished Order of St. Michael and St. George.

My diary of this date deals chiefly with literary or social subjects. I borrow a few scraps:—

Read Thackeray's "Philip." The prompter is too constantly making his voice heard above the actors', he plays chorus as well as prompter. And the Thackerayan trick, pleasant enough for once, of exhibiting the author's supposed motives for praising or disparaging the dramatis personæ, is worked to death. The novel is diffuse, overlaid with moralising and banter, and it is nearly as hard to like the tempestuous hero as an associate as to love Dr. Johnson in the same character.

St. Patrick's Day. This is a holiday in the public offices, courts, and banks in honour of the day: a recognition the Apostle does not receive in Ireland. There are outdoor sports and gambols of many sorts projected, for which I find I have no longer the adequate animal spirits, but I will dine with my countrymen in the evening.

The Australians will differ from their progenitors by a more decisive penchant for enjoyment. Marcus Clarke attributes it to the Irish element; but is it not rather attributable to the sunshine? The Irish certainly resemble the continental rather than the insular races. Not merely the Latins, but the Teutons and Slavs, like to live their lives, whereas the English and Americans generally live for some future generation—a practice better for the nation certainly, but is it better for the individual? Seeing we have but one life to live, it may be doubted.

Alas for the poet whose imagination so often outruns his capacity and resources! Orion Home assured me that Leigh Hunt's charming description of artistic breakfasts in summer, which quicken the appetite like one of Walter Scott's banquets, was represented and practised by butter wrapped in paper, carried to the table by a slovenly maid-of-all-work, and similar penury and discomfort in the other constituents. Alas, poor genius! it cannot have both worldly comforts and its share in the empyrean. Home and the school which recognised W. J. Fox as leader came in just as the Lamb and Hazlitt connection was expiring. They were ad interim Radicals before the coming of John Bright, the "crowning mercy," or the swell Radicals Charles Duller, Molesworth, Lytton Bulwer, and the rest. Joe Hume was their contemporary, but not associate. He was a man of one stinted idea, and Roebuck had not the power of associating himself with anybody. Tom Duncombe and Bernal Osborne only masqueraded as Radicals, being merely men about town in want of a sensation.

Had a good deal of talk yesterday with Mackay; like most men he is pleasanter in a tête-à-tête than on his legs. I asked him why the Scotch so habitually hated the Irish who had never done them any harm? He said he believed they were disgusted with the superstition of the peasantry, and their servile submission to their priests. No wonder, I rejoined Burns wished for his countrymen the gift to see themselves as others see them. Buckle declares that the most superstitious race in Europe are the Scotch, and the most prostrate before their ministers. The Spaniard, he insists, do not approach them in either attribute. It was amusing to see Mackay's astonishment.

We have a French femme de chambre who is a curious study of national character. The gardener stepped into the kitchen the other day with his hat on. She inquired if Monsieur had a cold in his head? No! Then perhaps Monsieur will have the goodness to take off his hat. She is learning English rapidly, but when she masters a new phrase she is careful to repeat it to her mistress, in order to make sure she is not learning "kitchen English."

I have been reading the "Remains of Arthur Hugh Clough," the representative man of the upright modern sceptic, who was not betrayed by passion or perversity, but perplexed by honest difficulties unwillingly entertained. The prose is gentle, thoughtful, commonplace, and the early poetry ultra-Wordsworthian in its simplicity. What would Jeffrey or Lord Byron| have said to this—

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"Locked hand in hand with one another
A little maiden and her brother.
A little maiden and she wore
Around her waist a pinafore."

His principal poems arose immediately out of some personal experience as the "Boothie" out of a Highland excursion; the "Amour de Voyage" out of a visit to Rome; and "Dysychus" out of a visit to Venice. They are of the class one reads with certain enjoyment, and does not want to recur to.

The National Gallery gets on slowly. It is impossible to get an adequate grant for it. £1,000 buys only one good picture; but I have been meditating other measures. Every gallery in Europe has duplicates, which could be spared, if we offered them, as we might, stuffed animals and birds in exchange.

Read Rath Mueller's "Life of Alexander Hamilton"; a lively sketch, not overburthened with details, and not sacrificing others unduly to the hero. Indeed I was under the impression that Washington owed more to him as a prompter than is claimed for him here. Slang whangery began early in the United States; Hamilton, after an eminently honourable and useful public life, was habitually assailed by the democratic newspapers as if he had been one of the basest of men.

Re-read the Federalist. Dull, sensible writing, in a whitey-brown style—hard to read and hard to remember.

Marshal Wood, the sculptor, brought me introductions from London and I sent him to Marcus Clarke to ascertain whether the National Gallery could be of use to him.

He seems aware (says Clarke) that solid pudding is [sometimes] the accompaniment to empty praise, and by no means inclines to follow the precept of Ruskin, who says, "Art should be pursued alone, in sorrow, in poverty, and in suffering, practised in divine secret, without fee or hope of reward."

Mr. Wood found his visit to Victoria, on the whole, a success.

I employed the leisure furnished by the Parliamentary recess, to begin a work I had long projected—a history of my own time in Ireland, and a defence of the friends with whom I acted. The recess was spent at Nepean, separated from Melbourne by forty miles of sea, and where the hot winds, which are the plague of the city, after they passed over the long stretch of Hobson's Bay became almost genial. We spent Christmas here on a peninsula which on one side is lapped by the gentle waters of Hobson's Bay, and on the other lashed by the breakers of the Pacific, and bathing was a great enjoyment. One of my correspondents from Ireland declared it made her shudder to hear of baths in the sea, while she saw nothing about her but the snows of Christmas. But custom is the supreme ruler; my children bathed on the beach from which they can see the skeleton of a shark larger than a great bull-dog rotting on a sandbank, and they walk night and day without a thought of fear where we had once or twice killed snakes six feet long at midday. I explained my purpose to John O'Hagan in the following letter:—

I propose to write the rise and fall of the National Movement, which otherwise will probably never be written, and we, and our friends, will be for ever misunderstood. I might do some good in the House of Commons as you suggest, but surely I shall do more good in painting the sins by which our race has always fallen, and the virtues by which it has often risen again. When Goethe, during the French Revolution, shut his ears to clamorous current politics, and wrote books that would live, he set a grand example, which humble people in their humble way may properly imitate. Every one has a good word to say for Young Ireland just now, but the high principles of action which Davis preached are not only not Practised, but apparently not remembered. All is as barren from Dan to Isaac, as from Dan to Beersheba! If we should meet Thomas Davis in other planets, and he demands what we have done with his legions of enthusiastic young Irishmen, we must tell him that they are divided between two leaders, one of whom has all O'Connell's shortcomings without the great qualities that counterbalanced them, and the other is a tame Wolfe Tone, with the daring and brains left out. I will probably call the book "Young Ireland." I am weary of new countries, and long for the green pastures where we wandered of old. I often murmur the soliloquy of Sam Ferguson's "Exile"—

"A plenteous place is Ireland for hospitable cheer,
Where the wholesome fruit is bursting from the yellow barley ear,
And I will make my journey, if life and health but stand,
Unto that pleasant country, that fresh and fragrant strand;
I'll leave their boasted braveries, their wealth and high command,
For the fair hills of Holy Ireland."

As I intended to include in "Young Ireland" a bird's-eye view of Irish History, I was anxious to ascertain what had become of the Irishmen whom Cromwell sold into slavery in the sugar plantations, and whether their descendants were still discernible among the population. I asked Pope Hennessy, then Governor at Hong Kong, but who had formerly been in the West Indies, to obtain this information for me. This was his reply:—

I am away from my Barbadoes notes and can throw no light on the phrase "red shanks." I have, however, written for some papers, and though I fear too late for your purposes, may be able to put together a few details as to the white slaves sent to Barbadoes from Ireland by the great "Protector."

Hennessy's period in Hong Kong was coming to an end, and he told me he had some correspondence with the Colonial Office on getting transferred to one of the great self-governing colonies. My advice was contra:—

Stick (I wrote) to the legislature where you are Speaker, Treasurer, and Premier, like three single gentlemen rolled into one. Trust me you are happier there than you would be in a Constitutional Colony, where your active intellect would have no employment, and where you would be advised by men who, it may be, knew less of the matter in hand than you did. In Australia hospitalities are so constant and so costly that a larger salary is really a smaller income than the moderate pay in a Crown Colony. Sir George Bowen is worried past endurance here just now by the "wealthy lower orders" who hate him for being friendly to the masses; or their leaders, the existing Government. When you change, change if you can to Ceylon. You talk of the H——s coming here to you, when you reach Australia. Do you know that the Governor cannot appoint a policeman; has, in fact, no patronage but his own staff, consisting of a military aide-de-camp and a private secretary, and sometimes both offices are combined. You could not give H—— any employment by which he could live. Had you come here for a political career, you would have had a brilliant one, I have no doubt, but to reign and not to govern is a triste métier. Return to London and Parliament as soon as you can C'est mon avis).

When I am relieved from office by the dissolution of this Parliament, I will go back to the old world. Not to return to the House of Commons—I will never go there—but to live among great thinkers, and great transactions.

My friend replied:—

Government House, Hong Kong, July 20, 1878.

My dear Sir Gavan,—You are right about the "cycle of Cathay," and though you are farther from it than I am, we are both as far as we can well be from Europe. But you must return to great thinkers and transactions, not as you say out of the House, but as the Irish Leader in Parliament. You once gave me a word of encouragement to republish my little sketch of the Literature of the Young Ireland Party. I am thinking of doing so now, and perhaps, if justice is to be done to the theme, it should be expanded into a volume.

Thomas Davis and yourself must be the leading characters; and therefore its value and permanent interest would be much increased if you could give me any letters, scraps, or unpublished facts about the early literary development of yourself and Davis. From the age of twelve and during my boyhood, I was a student of the Nation and of Disraeli's works. Those dear little volumes that your namesake printed, and the prophetic political novel, were my companions in the bohreens about Cork when Father Michael O'Sullivan said I was neglecting the classics in the Mansion House School. No doubt you are answerable for the gross ignorance of Greek that thousands of other boys of that generation in Ireland got involved in. But though I am sometimes ashamed of it, I am well satisfied with the cause, and would not exchange my national sympathies for the scholarship of Gladstone—Always yours,

Pope Hennessy.

In reply to his request for literary aid I said:—

If you expand your lecture into a volume, or better still into two articles for the Fortnightly, and then into a volume, I can give you letters and other materials. I have written the first volume of a big book on the same subject but I will not publish until I can return to Europe, so that you can have the first innings. I have all the private correspondence of the period on public affairs, and it will be a pleasure to share with you.

Among my many correspondents none was so welcome as my lifelong friend Lord O'Hagan:—

19, Chesham Place, S.W., July 9, 1877.

My dear Duffy,—I have been watching your public action with the deepest interest. I need not say that I rejoice at the honours you have won; the spontaneous support of your constituency and your elevation to a post which, in Australia as in England, must be one of the higher distinction. But rry feeling has not been unmixed—I fear that my hope of having you near me for the remainder of my life runs the risk of disappointment. Contracting new obligations and looking to new prospects, you may not realise your promise of return to Europe as your home, and I cannot help regretting that it may be so.

I read, with keen pleasure, the papers which you sent me. They show that your hand has not lost its cunning—they have all the old lucidity and power, and multiply your claims on the country of your adoption.

I have important news to tell you of myself. My little wife promises to give a companion to her daughter, who flourishes extremely: and the sad and sudden death of the heir of Townley will give her, when her father passes away, a third of the old estates which may, I suppose produce to us some £10,000 a year. The change is startling, and, in connection with the antecedents of my life, seems sometimes, to myself the marvel of a dream. God grant that we may rightly utilise it!

Shortly afterwards a telegram brought me the happy new of the birth of a son and heir. In December, '78, I wroto to him:—

Many thanks for your telegram which brought the pleasantest news that has come across the Pacific to me for many a long day. May the young O'Hagan be as wise and patriotic as the Brehons of Tyrowen, and a prosperous and consistent as the old steadfast Townleys. To train him for a public career will be a pleasant task for the rest of your life. But for the next half-dozen years he will belong to his mother, and I congratulate her with all my heart on the gift Heaven has sent her.

I fear there will be now little chance of your venturing on a long voyage till Thomas II. is out of his long clothes; else here is still the southern world worth exploring.

Of the few hereditary titles in Ireland which have survived the ages of ravish and ruin, one of the most noted is the MacDermott of Coolavin. The MacDermott of that day sent me a young man of our common race who was welcome on his account.

Although we have never met I claim you as allied to our ancient House still subsisting and likely to live true to the family motto! Had I no such claim, have I not, as an Irishman a potent claim on one who has by his talents and magnanimity shed lustre on the Celtic race, and made Ireland prominent—famous let me say—in many a clime and country by his courage and abilities. I make bold therefore to recommend to your notice the son of a peasant patriot, Mr. Thomas Roland, who first emigrated to Queensland but left for Melbourne. I undertake to assure you you will find young Roland worthy of any support you may give him directly or indirectly by patronage or counsel. Your compliance will confer a favour in" your friend and admirer,

Macdermott of Coolavin.

P.S.-The enclosed letter will convince you that application and signature are genuine from the Head of the House of Moylsey.

The accompanying letter was from the O'Conor Don, whom Irishmen hold to be the undoubted heir of Rhoderic O'Conor the last native king of Ireland, and it illustrated the pathetic tenderness with which historic memories are preserved among the descendants of the Celtic nobility that the letter to the MacDermott is addressed "My dear Prince."

The appeal which Mr. Pearson and Mr. Berry made to Colonial Office has been the subject of several Blue Books; this is the upshot: the Imperial Government received them graciously, but in the end intimated that the Victorians must settle their local quarrels at home. Ir. Berry and Mr. Pearson returned to Melbourne, and tough they had not been able to accomplish much were received in triumph by their friends. Some weeks later, Cashel Hoey sent additional news which seemed to intimate that the Imperial Government though unwilling to take any decisive step sympathised with the resistance to the Council.

To-day, April 10, '78, the Colonial Secretary has brought Sir G. Bowen's telegram of the day before down with crushing effect on a deputation of sympathisers with the Upper House, organised by Mr. Denistoun Wood, who has been prime, almost sole mover in all proceedings on that side here. Sir M. Beach has behaved uncommonly well. I think the perfectly polite, very complete way he sat upon this deputation is praiseworthy. He had excellent advice of course from Mr. Herbert and Mr. Branston. But he consulted Mr. Childers, who knows him very well, on some debatable points, and they were points on which he was able to speak with no uncertain sound.

I had strongly urged upon Mr. Berry to do justice to Mr. Hoey by reappointing him to the position from which he had been unfairly removed, and Hoey informed me that Mr. Berry had reappointed him temporarily and promised, if his colleagues assented, to make the office permanent, which he did, and Mr. Hoey held it through many administrations down to his death. In other respects I had fallen upon evil days. This extract from my diary tells its own sad tale:—

Sept. 23, '78.—To-day we laid my dear Susan in the grave, my companion and counsellor for more than thirty years in all the joys and troubles of life. How patient and helpful and loving she was no one but I can know. With what truth and feeling her sister, Ellen Hall, says of her: "She was always so gracious a creature, so unaffectedly sweet good and loving, with a nature so simple and true that every one loved her." The affection and care of her children during her sickness was something of which I had no previous example. I saw nothing like it before in life, nor read in books, so constant, tender, and untiring.

I have lost the relish and enjoyment of life. Nothing interests me, my strength fails, and my appetite is gone. To arrange my affairs in the way most satisfactory for my children and to finish my book on '48 are the only objects for which I feel it possible to work.

In June, 1879, my friend of many years, Edward Butler died. When the news reached Europe his old comrade Cashel Hoey wrote me:—

Butler ought to have outlived us all. He was strong, sober, diligent, placid, prosperous. Why am I, who solemnly promised to relieve you all of the nuisance of my acquaintance twenty years ago, still cumbering the earth, and he underground? I thank you with all my heart for the note of his] which you enclosed me in your last letter, by which I know that he held me in such affectionate remembrance to the last. The day on which I heard of his death was one of those on which in the words of a Latin line that is often on my lips, mentem mortalia langunt. Thank God, that I can read between the lines of his letter to you, he was prepared to die, the one worthy object of all human genius and industry.

Another and still closer friend was lost to me at the same era—John Dillon, a stroke as tragic as the death of Davis.

While I was Chief Secretary Mrs. Hutton, the mother of the gifted girl who was to have been the bride of Thomas Davis, wrote to me about a translation of "Rinuccini's Nunciature " in Ireland, which she was about to publish. It had been partly translated by her daughter, and completed by herself. As no publisher would undertake the book on its own merits, it was published by subscription, and my help had been asked through Mr. D. R. Pigot. I replied that I would gladly co-operate. If the book reached me before I left Australia, I would undertake to sell fifty copies of it, and if it did not reach I would at all events engage a dozen of my colleagues and friends to become subscribers. Mrs. Hutton wrote:—

Your assistance is invaluable, and has given me great encouragement, and I am most grateful to you. I was much urged to bring it out, and now I thankfully consider it a memorial of my daughter and of him who suggested the translation and who was to have been my son.

But years passed, and I heard no more of the subject. Finally the book was brought out by the most unsuitable of all possible publishers, Mr. Thorn, the official printer of the Irish Government. After I left Australia Mr. Thorn sent out a case to my address containing the fifty copies I had promised to take, and along with them the alternative dozen intended for subscribers in case they could only be sent after I had left Australia, and with the case not a scrap of information on the price at which the volume was to be sold or any other subject. Mrs. Hutton must, I fear, have found it an unpleasant experiment if the business was so managed generally; and for my part I found the only satisfactory way out of the difficulty was a cheque for the entire claim as soon as I found that the price of the book was ten shillings.

Of a multitude of farewell letters which my intended retirement produced, I shall quote only one from an eminent man whom I had recently added to the list of my friends:—

Sydney, February 3, 1880.

My dear Sir Charles,—I must send you one line to say "Good-bye"—for though I am in so great a measure a stranger to you, and have not had the opportunity of saying much more than once "How do you do?" still I cannot but feel your going from Australia as a great loss, which will leave a weakness behind.

I wish you most heartily, at the same time as I say "Good-bye, all the blessings "that you most wish for yourself. It will be pleasant for you to go home, I dare say—but I wish home were not so sad as it is at present. Perhaps your influence will help to bring about some radical change which may end the terrible famine once for all.

I am sending you some "lectures" I gave here last Lent, to read instead of the two you have, because they touch on more interesting points, and I think are, perhaps, more generally interesting. What makes me say this is, that they have been republished (on their own merits) in two or three cities in the United States.

I won't trouble you to write again. Think kindly of me, and believe me, dear Sir Charles, yours ever faithfully,

Roger Bede
Archbishop of Sydney.

P.S. "Good-bye," too, to your daughter, whose acquaintance I had the pleasure of making in poor Butler's house.

As the Session approached its close, I announced that I would not again occupy the Chair, or be a member of the coming Parliament. I took farewell of a House in which I had served since its creation, to which I had given without stint toil of mind and body, and which had bestowed on me all the favours it could confer on a public man. I owed it much, and I should probably have finished my life on the scene which had occupied so large a section of it, but that I loathed the task of answering again and again the insensate inventions of religious bigotry. It was a favourite theory with Orangemen and Covenanters that I could not resist the tendency to sacrifice my public duties to some inscrutable interest of the Pope, and though no one had ever produced a single fact to support the hypothesis, and though I exorcised the evil spirit wherever it appeared, yet it seemed to me a pitiful waste of life even to conquer in such encounters. I determined that my public career would end here, that I should never more become member of any Legislature, or ever again mount a political platform.

I had worked incessantly for forty years, but I was not less resolved to still work provided it should be at tasks free from the onerous necessity of attending at a particular place at a particular hour every day. Some of the unfinished designs of early life might be taken up and completed for work which did not aim to serve Ireland had no attraction for me. To be content and long for no change, " to pay court to no one and expect it from no one," to cherish the fruitful leisure in which thought is ripened and reverie is born—this was the condition I desired. If heaven gave me the capacity to work, gave me—

"Silence, leisure, and a mind released
From anxious thoughts how wealth could be increased,
How to secure in some propitious hour
The point of interest or the post of power"—

I would ask no more. Power had nothing to bestow for which I cared a bean blossom, and the popularity which was dear to me was the confidence and affection of the men with whom I had lived and laboured. How my last decades were employed I may some day write for posthumous publication, but my public life in two hemispheres closes here.


  1. Mr. Pearson had been a professor in the Melbourne University before entering Parliament, and was afterwards author of the remarkable volume "National Life and Character."