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II

After my experiences in the Federal Parliament I resumed my ordinary occupation, and took charge of the daily and weekly Kalgoorlie newspapers in which I had a proprietary interest. I worked hard, but ultimately had to go into hospital. After that, acting on medical advice, I sailed from Australia for a prolonged visit to Europe. It was a holiday trip. I arrived in the early European spring, and, with two Australian friends, I left the steamer at Marseilles and went to Monte Carlo. It was the height of the season; the place was crowded with visitors from every country in the world. All was gay.

My companions had a wonderful system for breaking the bank. Had we played it long enough the bank would have broken us.

When we arrived we pooled some money and decided to test the system, which was worked in series. The objective of each series was to win a certain amount. We backed the red against the black—an even money chance. The system worked splendidly for a couple of evenings. Slowly but steadily we won. The first night we more than doubled the amount in the pool. There were even better results from the second and third nights of play.

We thought we had got an excellent system. Alas!


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The fourth night about seven blacks turned up in succession.

Monte Carlo was decidedly interesting. The well-dressed crowds were the most remarkable mixture of young and old, staid respectability and adventurous rascality, virtue and vice. At the tables were fresh-complexioned English girls, full of fun, brushing shoulders with other women looking just what they were. Then there was the wizen-faced, hook-nosed old habitué of the Casino watching eagerly the turn of the wheel. Monte Carlo's glitter, its bands, its brilliant cafés, its fine hotels, its beautifully kept streets and drives, its gardens, its trees and its green, well-grassed plots, the blueness of the Mediterranean and its wonderful picturesqueness could not but attract. Still, with all its beauty, it was a place suggestive of the disappointments, failures and tragedies of life. Nice and the whole Riviera were, however, all that could be desired.

One evening after reaching London I was in the gallery of the House of Commons when the House was in committee dealing with a Bill of a non-party nature. The proceedings were business-like. I was specially interested in a clean-shaved, boyish-looking young man on the Opposition side who evidently knew more about the Bill than anyone else, not even excepting the Minister in charge. He spoke frequently—perhaps half-a-dozen times in the course of an hour—but it was not too often. What he said was always short and to the point. No one could say he


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once spoke except to throw light on the meaning of a clause, or to make a suggestion in the direction of improvement. His ability, his mental alertness, his clearness of expression, his facility of language and his knowledge of the subject impressed me. I asked an attendant for his name. It was a newly elected member for a division of Liverpool—Mr. F. E. Smith, later Earl Birkenhead, who became Lord Chancellor when forty-seven years of age.

At a banquet I attended an incident occurred in which another famous statesman figured, Winston Churchill, then quite a young man. He had just been appointed Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies, and he was not popular with Australians in London because of his fierce attacks on Mr. Joseph Chamberlain, whose preferential trade policy found much favour with them. Mr. Churchill was invited to attend the annual Western Australian dinner. A few Western Australians, whose ideas of the fitness of things were somewhat imperfect, thought he should not have been asked.

When the night came and as the representative of the Government he rose to speak, the coldness of his reception seemed to freeze the atmosphere. It was an immense gathering, and the few who cheered out of courtesy made the silence of the others present the more noticeable. He was not disconcerted. His speech was decidedly the best and most effective I have heard him make. It was not long before it won the audience to him. He dwelt on how it was by giving the Colonies freedom to go their own way that Britain had won


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their love and affection. It was not any attempts to bind them closer to the Motherland that kept them within the Empire—such attempts always resulted in disaster—but it was by saying to all parts of the Empire, “Do what you like, how you like and trade with whom you like,” that the wonderful unity of the Empire was achieved.

The effect of the speech was that men who went to the dinner ready to curse Churchill were led to cheer him with the wildest enthusiasm, and at his conclusion he was given a tremendous ovation.

Then a dramatic thing happened.

One Australian present, who had slept peacefully through the address and consequently could not be influenced by it, was awakened by the cheering. His view regarding Churchill had not changed though the views of the others present had. When the cheering subsided he staggered to his feet, raised his glass, and in a loud voice that filled the hall said, “Rise and drink long life, health and success to the greatest living statesman, the Right Hon. Joseph Chamberlain.”

There was consternation. Then cries of “Throw him out” from those who felt the toast was intended not to honour Chamberlain, but to insult Churchill.

The interrupter's friends induced him to leave.

The Agent-General, Sir Walter James, who was in the chair, rose and, remarking that they had better adhere to the programme, called on the next toast, and the incident was not reported in the Press.

One experience was a visit to the fiords of Norway. I had a day on shore at the old historic capital of


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Norway, Bergen, which was founded in 1070 and is distinctly unlike other European towns. There were the remains of the factory established there in the fifteenth century by the Hanseatic League. The steamer penetrated through the fiords into Gudvavgen, which is eighty-eight miles from the sea; Loen, which is sixty miles; Mesole, which is seventy miles; Nais, which is sixty miles; and Odda, which is a hundred miles. In places the fiords are very narrow, and on either side are towering mountains with occasionally immense waterfalls and cascades splashing down from unseen snowfields. Houses were sometimes built on ledges, and the only access to them was in boats, ladders leading upwards from the water. Mothers on these inhabited ledges tethered their young children to prevent them falling down the cliffs. The fiords went through fertile valleys extraordinarily beautiful and where there was meadowland there were long fences on which the hay was hung to dry. Norwegian peasant women say that women and men do the same work, for while the women hang out clothes to dry, the men hang out hay. I had many trips on shore, travelling considerable distances inland, meeting the picturesquely dressed peasantry and getting into the regions of giant glaciers, rushing torrents, immense pine forests and snow-clad peaks.

We voyaged far north to the land of the midnight sun, where at midnight on deck I read without artificial light. Ice and snow could be seen everywhere in the Arctic regions, but the weather was not cold, as the twenty-four hours of continual sunlight kept the temperature from becoming very low.




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I spent a few months in Germany in the Rhine Valley, travelling by steamer up the river, viewing its shipping, its high vine-clad banks and the amazing Gothic cathedral of Cologne with its lofty spires, which took six hundred years to complete. What interested me more was the church of the Eleven Thousand Virgins, which was erected in memory of the massacre by barbarians of Christian women pilgrims to Rome. Wherever we looked in the interior there were rows and rows of grinning skulls—thousands of them. It was a truly gruesome sight that gave a feeling of gloomy depression similar to what I felt when I visited the vaults of a church in Dublin close to the Liffey, where human bodies buried fifty and a hundred years have not decayed and the features remain clearly recognisable. It was ghastly, but neither what I saw in Dublin nor Cologne created in me quite so revolting a sensation as when, in Bombay outside the Towers of Silence, I saw, quietly perched on tree limbs, huge, fat, hideous vultures waiting to feast on corpses left for them to devour by the relatives of the dead.

Specially interesting were the “castled crags of Drachenfels”; Coblentz, with its statue of William the First; Ebrebreitstein, Stolensfels, the castles of the hostile brothers; Rheinfels; the Lorelei Rock; the Mouse Tower, Bingen; and the scenes of many other wild legends of the long ago. A few weeks was spent at Wiesbaden, a city of mineral waters and invalids.

One Sunday in London I went to Farm Street Church to hear the Rev. Bernard Vaughan deliver one of his great sermons denouncing the sins of the


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smart set. I found outside the church rows and rows of carriages in charge of liveried servants. The entrances were blocked by fashionable crowds. The smart set had swarmed to hear about their sins.

There was no room for more people, and I was turning away disappointed when I met a priest, told him I was from Australia and might never have the chance of hearing Father Vaughan again. He courteously brought me through the vestry and gave me a chair in front of the pulpit.

Father Vaughan looked the aristocrat that he was by birth and training. Tall and of striking appearance, his voice, his accent and his diction commanded attention, and he gave unexpected endings to his sentences. No wonder he drew crowds to hear him. The sermon was free from cant; none who heard it could forget it.

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