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1. CHAPTER I

EARLY LIFE IN AUSTRALIA—1839 TO 1852—THE ANTI-TRANSPORTATION MOVEMENT

ON July 25, 1839, a large full-rigged ship, one of the old build, with square stern, high poop, and bluff bows, worked her way up the harbour of Port Jackson and anchored off Neutral Bay. It was the good ship Strathfieldsaye, commanded by Captain Spence, 109 days from Plymouth, with immigrants. I was one among that floating crowd of adventurers; I had spent my twenty-fourth birthday on the voyage, and my young wife had given birth to a child a few days before our arrival. Of necessity we had to remain on board some days. In those wearisome days of vague hope, fitful despondency, and youthful impatience, many hours of the early morning I spent hanging over the ship's side, looking out upon the monotonous, sullen, and almost unbroken woods which then thickly clothed the north shore of the harbour, my thoughts busily employed in


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speculating on the fortunes which that unknown land concealed for me. I knew no single human creature in that strange new land; I had brought no letter of introduction to unlock any door to me; and in this state of absolute friendlessness I and my wife and child landed in Sydney, which great city I was thirteen years afterwards destined to represent in the Legislature. One of the last books I had bought in London was a cheap edition of Campbell's Poems, and I had committed to memory the ‘Lines on the Departure of Emigrants for New South Wales’; and often then and in the sad succeeding years of struggle and suffering, when my heart sank within me, I drew fresh inspirations of strength and hope from passages of that, my favourite poem.

The deep-drawn wish, when children crown our hearth,
To hear the cherub chorus of their mirth,
Undamped by dread that want may e'er unhouse,
Or servile misery knit those smiling brows:
The pride to rear an independent shed,
And give the lips we love unborrowed bread;
To see a world, from shadowy forests won,
In youthful beauty wedded to the sun;
To skirt our home with harvests widely sown,
And call the blooming landscape all our own,
Our children's heritage, in prospect long.

In the year 1839, and for years afterwards, all the territory of the colony of Victoria and all the territory of Queensland were included in the colony of New South Wales. In the whole of this vast tract of Australia, 1,068,341½ square miles, there were only 114,386 inhabitants. The price of land was 12s. per acre, and the sales in that year amounted to 152,962l. 16s. 4d. The area of land under crop was 95,312 acres. The wool


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exported was 7,213,584 lbs., valued at 442,504l. The vessels inwards at the port of Sydney were 563, giving a total of 135,474 tons; the vessels outwards 548, giving a total of 124,776 tons. Twelve small vessels were built in the colony, their total burden amounting to 773 tons. The number of vessels registered at Sydney was 79, giving a total of 10,862 tons. The following table will indicate the position of the infant commerce of the country:—

       
—  Great Britain  New Zealand  Other countries  South Sea Islands  Fisheries  United States  Other foreign countries  Total 
£  £  £  £  £  £  £  £ 
Imports .  1,251,969  71,709  504,828  3,863  186,212  23,093  194,697  2,236,371 
Exports .  597,100  95,173  194,684  1,347  34,729  18,568  7,175  948,776 

Three years afterwards, in 1842, the population consisted of

           
Male adults . . . .  75,474 
Female adults . . . .  33,546 
Male children . . . .  20,636 
Female children . . . .  20,011 
____ 
149,667 souls. 

The average number of children attending school was 7,289, but the schools were of a very imperfect character. Four years after my landing, in 1843, the colony possessed 56,585 horses, 897,219 head of horned cattle, and 4,804,946 sheep.

Such, then, was the country of my adoption, and for me ‘life had ample room,’beyond what is in the power of most men to conceive. For many weary days following weary days I searched in vain for suitable employment in Sydney. A severe drought had just passed over the country; the price of bread rose as


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high as 2s. 8d. for the 4 lb. loaf, and the other necessaries of life were correspondingly dear. The first public gathering I attended was a meeting held in the Market to raise subscriptions to establish a soup-kitchen for the poor and destitute. For fully twelve months I could not muster sufficient fortitude to write to my friends in England of the prospect before me. Finding nothing better, I accepted service as a farm-labourer at 30l. a year, and a ration and a half largely made up of rice. Under this engagement I worked for six months on the Regentville estate of Sir John Jamison, about thirty-six miles from Sydney, assisting to wash sheep in the Nepean, joining the reapers in the wheat-field, and performing other manual labour on the property. At the end of the half-year I applied to be released from my agreement, being anxious to try my fortunes again in Sydney, and the superintendent, a Mr. Gale, who at all times treated me very kindly, acceded to my request. Returning to Sydney, I obtained employment first in a wholesale ironmongery store, then in an iron foundry, and, shifting as best I could, I worked on among the unknown crowd of strugglers for several years, during which period I made the acquaintance of several young men who afterwards achieved positions of fair distinction, including Angus Mackay, Minister of Education in Victoria in later years, and Charles Harpur, one of the earliest of Australian poets. For fully eight years I never ventured to take part in public affairs. I watched the course of events with a keen interest from my obscure station; entered into fervent discussions on the topics of the day with my few humble friends; and


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occasionally wrote letters to the papers, always anonymously.

In 1843 a new Constitution for the colony came into force, under which the principle of representation was first introduced, though in a partial and very restrictive form. The Legislative Council consisted partly of members still nominated by the Crown, and partly of elective members chosen by a suffrage based upon high property qualifications. The first election, however, sent into the hybrid Legislature the ablest men in Australia—William Charles Wentworth and William Bland for the city of Sydney; John Dunmore Lang, Charles Nicholson, Thomas Walker among the members for the district of Port Phillip (now Victoria); Charles Cowper, Richard Windeyer, George Robert Nichols, and other men favourably known for country electorates.

The new Council, in which the people of Australia found their first imperfect representation, was opened by the Governor, Sir George Gipps, on August 3, 1843. The opening and the closing paragraphs of the speech alone possess any interest for later times:—

Gentlemen of the Legislative Council,—The time is at length arrived which has, for many years, been anxiously looked forward to by us all; and I have this day the pleasure to meet, for the first time, the Legislative Council of New South Wales, enlarged as it has been under the statute recently passed by the Imperial Parliament for the government of the colony. I congratulate you very sincerely on the introduction of popular representation into our Constitution, and I heartily welcome to this Chamber the first representatives of the people.

The period, Gentlemen, at which you enter on your functions is one of acknowledged difficulty, and it is therefore the more


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grateful to me to have my own labours and responsibilities lightened by your co-operation and assistance.

I shall most readily concur with you in any measures which may be calculated to develop the resources of the colony by calling into action the energies of the people, taking care, however, that we proceed on sure principles, and not overlooking the great truths that the enterprise of individuals is ever most active when left as far as possible unshackled by legislative enactment, and that industry and economy are the only sure foundations of wealth. Great as, undoubtedly, are the embarrassments under which numbers even of the most respectable of our fellow-subjects in the colony are now labouring, it is consolatory to me to think that, grievous though they be to individuals, they are not of a nature permanently to injure us as a community; that, on the contrary, they may be looked on as forming one of those alternations in the progress of human events which occur in all countries, and perhaps most frequently in those whose general prosperity is the greatest.

.....

The Council, Gentlemen, is composed of three elements, or of three different classes of persons—the Representatives of the People; the Official Servants of Her Majesty; and of Gentlemen of Independence, the Unofficial Nominees of the Crown.

Let it not be said or supposed that these three classes of persons have or ought to have separate interests to support— still less that they have opposing interests, or any interest whatever save that of the public good. Let there be no rivalry between them, save which shall in courtesy excel the other, and which of them devote itself most heartily to the service of their common country.

(Signed) GEORGE GIPPS,

Governor.

Sydney, Aug. 3, 1843.

The elections had been attended by much excitement, and in one or two instances riotous proceedings had taken place, and strong animosities had been engendered.


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But the leaders of the Representative division of the new Council set themselves to deal, according to their lights, with the disastrous state of the colony. The first measure brought in was a Bill by Mr. Wentworth to regulate the rates of interest; but an amendment was moved that the Bill be read the second time that day six months, and, for reasons which appear to have been economically sound, the amendment was carried by 21 to 12. This was the first important division in the new House, and, in the popular contentions which followed, it fairly represents the relative numbers,—the nominee element, recruited by timid and weak-kneed elective members, nearly always outweighing the little band of faithful representatives. Within the first six weeks, the question of education was raised by Dr. Lang; the land question was discussed on the motion of Mr. T. A. Murray; a Bill for legalising advances of money on wool and on sheep and cattle was brought in and passed by Mr. Wentworth; a committee was appointed to revive and stimulate immigration; and, on the motion of Mr. Windeyer, a committee was appointed ‘to consider the means of staying the further evil consequences to be apprehended from the monetary confusion lately and still prevalent in the colony.’

Mr. Windeyer's committee took the evidence of several leading men connected with the commercial and monetary affairs of the colony, and in due time the chairman brought up his report. That report reads strangely in the light of monetary science at the present day. It recommended, chiefly on the evidence of Mr. Thomas Holt, that the credit of the colony should be


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pledged to a scheme of monetary relief analogous to the Prussian Pfandbriefe system, thus described:—

A landed proprietor wishing to raise money upon his property applies to a Land Board, which values it, and agrees to lend him the credit of the State for one-half of the valuation. The landowner mortgages his property to the Board, which then gives him a paper called a Pfandbriefe, or pledge certificate, which contains the name of the mortgagor of his estate, the letter and number of the transaction in the books of the Board, and two official signatures. The interest to be received by the holder of the Pfandbriefe is made payable in two half-yearly dividends on fly-leaves called coupons, calculated for two years in advance, which are guaranteed by the Board. These coupons are cut off and presented at the Treasury, where they are paid, as they become due, or they may be cut off beforehand, and circulated till they become due.

Other suggestions were also derived from the law of Prussia, such as the issue of notes of small amounts, made a legal tender, and convertible into coin on demand at the Treasury. A Bill embodying the views of the committee was introduced, and finally read the third time on December 6; but the Governor withheld from it the Royal assent.

Such were some of the proposals brought forward in the first session of the first partly elective Council, at a time of general depression and stagnation in the colony, and they will serve to show the activity and public spirit of that body. It might well have been expected that mistakes would be committed; and some of its measures were seriously in disaccord with sound principles; but that early Council contained men of statesmanlike conceptions and large ability, and its deliberations


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must ever hold a place in Australian history. The Legislature which had birth in 1843 held on its course, with notable constitutional modifications, until the year 1856; and its struggles for constitutional liberty give to that period of thirteen years a memorable character. The model of the constitutions now existing throughout Australia was cast, and the first University was founded, before its labours came to an honourable close.

I had now formed the acquaintance of two men of more than ordinary character and ability, Mr. Charles Harpur, one of the most genuine of Australian poets, and Mr. William Augustine Duncan, then proprietor and editor of the ‘Weekly Register.’They were my chief advisers in matters of intellectual resource and enquiry, when the prospect before me was opening and widening, often with many cross lights and drifting clouds, but ever with deepening radiance. Even then we talked of the grand future and the wonderful changes which a few years would bring. Both men are gone to their great account; but I cherish their memories among the pleasant crowd of associations which have brightened my path since they passed away.

In the latter part of this eventful period I was first drawn into taking part in the public proceedings of the colony. I may say with truth that I was drawn into the turbulent stream of politics rather by the influence of events than by any voluntary step of my own. It was not until the year 1848, nine years after my arrival in Sydney, and when I was thirty-three years of age,


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that I first ventured to speak in public. From the years of boyhood in England I had looked on silently throughout the tremendous agitations for the first Reform Bill, and I was a solitary listener among the 250,000 persons who attended the great Newhall Hill meeting in Birmingham, my whole being stirred by the solemn strains of the Union hymn as they were pealed forth under the thousand waving flags of that gathered multitude. I became a member of the famous Political Union, and wore my badge openly till the Bill was carried into law by the Grey Ministry. I hung upon the voice of Daniel O'Connell with an unspeakable interest, on occasions when he spoke in Birmingham on his journeys from Ireland to London; and the tones of that marvellous voice, and some of the Liberator's images, have never left my memory. But I never dreamed of ever passing the barrier which shut me out from the wielders of impassioned speech. In those days, from the age of sixteen to twenty-four years, I heard frequently Thomas Attwood, who to me was an impressive speaker; I heard Lawless and Shiel, and I felt myself moulded like wax in the heat of the splendid declamation of George Thompson, the antislavery orator. I heard William Cobbett, and that thunderous preacher, John Angell James. I was among the listeners to the wild lectures of Charles Pemberton. These were my teachers, together with the living poets of the time, such as Byron, Moore, Shelley, and Leigh Hunt. I spent the winter of 1838-9 in London; but still in the solitude which a friendless man feels in the crowded streets of a great city. I passed those days


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almost exclusively in the company of my wife, and I have known but few happier days.

When the scene of my life was changed from England to Australia, as already stated, my loneliness and friendlessness were deepened and not soon relieved. But my mind found nurture in observing the public occurrences around me, analysing the characters of conspicuous men, and trying to forecast the developments of the future. Slowly I became acquainted with men iu my sphere of life who thought much as I thought. While the hybrid Parliament was struggling against the repressive powers of Downing Street, and through clouds of error, to solve the problems of colonial freedom, I was growing into a keen critic of the legislative work going on. I and my little group of friends privately discussed every question that arose; of course each of my friends communicated his opinion of me to a wider circle, and by degrees men in higher walks of life made my acquaintance. The time was just coming when I was to make my plunge into the public life of New South Wales.

In the meantime the question of the continuance of the transportation of British convicts to the colony was assuming an irresistible importance; and it is curious to look back now on the effect which that question had in colouring the fortunes of public men of that day. Most of the leading members of the Legislative Council had been all their lives familiarised with the system of prison labour—of assigned service, as it was called, and some of the rougher and more impetuous resented the first murmurings of opposition to


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which the immigrant classes gave voice, by loudly expressing their preference for convicts over free labourers. Others again took the pseudo-philanthropic view that the system was not only beneficial to the colony, but beneficial to the convicts themselves. Hence, then, the anti-transportation cause fell largely into the hands of the new men supported by the free immigrant working classes, and the movement was directed against the popular leaders of the past, with Mr. Wentworth at their head. In 1848, Mr. Wentworth and Mr. William Bland, the late members, were again candidates for the representation of Sydney, and a meeting of electors opposed to their re-election was held, at which Mr. Robert Lowe, afterwards Viscount Sherbrooke, whose death is announced as these pages are passing through the press, was selected as the champion of the anti-transportation and Liberal cause. At this meeting I was nominated on Mr. Lowe's committee, and appointed one of the secretaries. That was the beginning of my political career.

In the election nearly all the men of known influence were ranged on the Wentworth side. They carried out a house-to-house canvass, while the new men had to labour under the disadvantage of Mr. Lowe's personal absence from all the meetings held in his support. Before his own name was brought forward, he had committed himself to another candidate, and, therefore, he declined to take any part beyond appearing on the hustings at the nomination. On the polling day, however, he was returned as the second member by a good majority, defeating the old member, Mr. Bland. I took


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a very active part in the return of Mr. Lowe; the address to the electors was written by me; and I attended all the meetings as the organising secretary. At one meeting I attempted to speak; it was my first attempt, and it was, I think, a sorry failure. Mr. Lowe's election, under all the circumstances of the hour, was regarded as an unprecedented popular triumph.

Under the Constitution Act which came into force in 1843 (the 6 Vict. cap. 76) the elective franchise was confined to householders of 20l. and freeholders of 200l. The household suffrage in England at the same time was 10l. One of my first public acts was to assist in getting the qualification reduced. A Bill was before the Imperial Parliament to confer a more liberal constitution upon the colony, and to provide for the creation of the colony of Victoria. In the beginning of 1849 I and some of my friends got up a public meeting to petition both Houses for a reduction of the suffrage qualification in the new Bill. Our petitions arrived in time, and proved successful. On the motion of Lord Lyttelton in the House of Lords, accepted by the Secretary of State, the qualification was reduced to 10l. household and 100l. freehold. I made my first political speech at this meeting in seconding a resolution which asserted the principle of universal suffrage. I was cordially received, but it must be admitted that my speech was a very weak performance. It contains one sentence, however, which was a kind of prophecy and which, improbable as it appeared then, was virtually fulfilled within the next ten years. Alluding to universal suffrage, I said: ‘The time will come, more quickly


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than some dark prophets could foresee, when it will be in possession of the Australian people.’ I and my friend Mr. Angus Mackay had personally waited upon some gentlemen and written to others, inviting them to take part in the meeting, and the answers we received, warning us of the dangerous ground we were treading upon, were no doubt in my mind when speaking. Our petition to the Commons was presented by Mr. William Scholefield; that to the Peers by Lord Monteagle, both of whom in letters to myself expressed the pleasure it afforded them to be of service to the colony.

The question of the revival of transportation had been raised by an address from the Legislative Council, ‘expressing the willingness of that body to concur in the introduction into the colony of convicts holding tickets of leave or conditional pardons’on condition that an equal number of free immigrants should be sent out at the expense of the Imperial Government. The English Minister did not wait long before acting upon this official communication from the Legislature in Sydney, and though he was not prepared to send the immigrants as asked for, he supplied the convicts in advance. It was long known beforehand that ships were on their way to the colony with English prisoners, and the feeling of opposition discovered itself in murmurous uneasiness and resentment among all classes, the defenders and apologists of the Secretary of State and his policy being confined to individuals and small sections. Little else was talked about for days before the arrival of the first ship. On June 8, 1849, the convict ship Hashemy entered Port Jackson, and anchored off the


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city of Sydney. On the same day, and the following day, several ships with immigrants arrived under the old regulations, the emigrants having left England, it was presumed, in the belief that transportation to New South Wales had ceased. On June 8 the ship Emigrant, with 320 immigrants on board, and the ship John Bright, with 236 on board, arrived in port. On the 9th the Emma Eugenia, with 181 immigrants, the Diana, with 229, and the James Gibb, with 284, also arrived. Thus, to furnish material for the anti-transportation orators, the detested convict ship lay upon the waters of Port Jackson, surrounded by ships full of free immigrants whose total number had reached within the two days 1,250. Immediately an open-air meeting was called to protest against the landing of the convicts; the place chosen was at the Circular Quay, almost in sight of the ships. The day of meeting opened very unpropitiously, heavy rain falling all the morning; but, regardless of the weather, most of the places of business in the city were closed, and the people assembled, to the number of 7,000 to 8,000, in the pouring rain. This meeting was of a character which for its self-reliant spirit and enthusiastic resolve was hitherto unprecedented in Australia, and it was long known as the Great Protest Meeting. The following is a copy of the Protest adopted:—

We, the free and loyal subjects of Her Most Gracious Majesty, inhabitants of the city of Sydney and its immediate neighbourhood, in public meeting assembled, do hereby enter our most deliberate and solemn protest against the transportation of British criminals to the colony of New South Wales.

Firstly.—Because it is in violation of the will of the


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majority of the colonists, as is clearly evidenced by their expressed opinions on the question at all times.

Secondly.—Because numbers among us have emigrated on the faith of the British Government that transportation to this colony had ceased for ever.

Thirdly.—Because it is incompatible with our existence as a free colony, desiring self-government, to be made the receptacle of another country's felons.

Fourthly.—Because it is in the highest degree unjust to sacrifice the great social and political interests of the colony at large to the pecuniary profit of a fraction of its inhabitants.

Fifthly.—Because, being firmly and devoutly attached to the British Crown, we greatly fear that the perpetration of so stupendous an act of injustice by Her Majesty's Government will go far towards alienating the affections of the people of this colony from the mother-country.

For these and for many kindred reasons—in the exercise of our duty to our country, for the love of our families, in the strength of our loyalty to Great Britain, and from the depth of our reverence for Almighty God—we protest against the landing again of British convicts on these shores.

The continued agitation against the renewal of transportation brought together a band of influential men, some of them appearing on the public platform for the first time, others representing old families which hitherto had been little identified with public affairs. Amongst the former were Mr. E. C. Weekes, Mr. W. R. Piddington (both of whom at a later period filled the office of Colonial Treasurer), Mr. T. S. Mort, and Mr. Daniel Henry Deniehy; and among the latter may be mentioned Mr. Robert Campbell (afterwards Colonial Treasurer), Commander John Lamb, and Mr. James Norton. Other men of remarkable ability gave weight and character to the agitation, including Mr. Robert Lowe (Viscount




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Sherbrooke), and Sir Archibald Michie. The proceedings of this new combination of men surprised, and produced something like consternation in the minds of, the old colonial magnates, who hitherto had ruled with a peculiar order of absolutism representing the artificial feeling of domination on the one hand and of submission on the other which characterised old Virginian society. Mr. James Norton, long regarded as the leading solicitor of the colony, was a stately old gentleman of patrician appearance and peremptory manner, who lived on a fine estate a few miles out of Sydney, which is now (1889) a populous suburb. He was unquestionably a person of much consequence in those days. I heard Mr. Norton, addressing a public meeting, describe the effect of the convict system upon the character and morals of the ‘country gentlemen’of the period as similar to that produced by slavery on the slave-holding planters of the Southern States of America. It had enervated their character, depraved their manners, given them false notions of labour and capital, and in many instances had sown the seeds of their own ruin. At first the outspoken sentiments of Mr. Norton and others like him gave much offence to their own class; but a rapidly-forming public opinion had set in, which soon became too strong for any attempt at social ostracism. Nine out of ten of the immigrant classes had from the first joined the movement against the revival of transportation, and most of the merchants and shopkeepers, and the whole artisan body of the metropolis, gave breadth and force to the wave which in a short time swept all before it. On the one side were ranged the


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large country employers—the men who, having obtained free grants of land and free assignments of convict servants, appeared to cherish as the one great end of life the ambition to found families, and, combined with them, the great officials who held their appointments direct from Imperial authority in England, with a few aristocratic sympathisers about Sydney. On the other side were united all the independent elements of the population, and of these it might have been as truly said as of the Romans, that

None were for a Party, and all were for the State.

I have in my possession now a document signed by nearly all the merchants and business men of Sydney, pledging themselves to close their establishments on the day of a great Anti-Transportation Meeting held in the old Barracks Square, that part of the metropolis now bounded by the busy thoroughfares of George, Barrack, York, and Jamison Streets, on September 16, 1850. Fully 10,000 persons attended this meeting. One of the resolutions, moved by Mr. Thomas Sutcliffe Mort, a wealthy and enterprising citizen, was in support of the formation of an association to ‘unite every individual in the colony interested in preventing the revival of transportation,’and declaring that the association should not be dissolved until the question was finally determined. I began my career as a public speaker at the meetings of this stormy agitation; I seconded Mr. Mort's resolution; and I spoke at nearly all the meetings held from first to last. I not only spoke, but I did my best, privately and publicly, writing in the newspapers,


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and encouraging others, to assist in giving intensity and success to the movement. The association formed in September 1850 merged in the ‘Australian Anti-Transportation League,’ which united all the colonies as one in the work of resistance; and the triumph was not long delayed, for the hateful Orders in Council, which authorised the revival of transportation, were finally revoked in 1852. The fair land of Australia was now free for evermore.

It is impossible, in view of the marvellous progress of New South Wales during the last forty years, to overvalue the importance of that first popular movement in Australia. It formed truly a new epoch in Australian life. A people, emerging from the indistinct mists of scattered settlement in a wild country, appeared in tangible form, claiming to be ripe for freedom and representative institutions. A public spirit was awakened never more to be lulled to rest.

I may, I hope, be pardoned in giving one or two instances of my own share in this movement, as it was my first work in the cause of Australian progress. I originated a petition in favour of abolition, which was signed by 12,000 ladies, including Lady Stephen, the respected wife of the Chief Justice. I suggested and wrote the Protest which, on the motion of John Lamb, M.L.C., seconded by Lord Sherbrooke, was adopted unanimously at the Great Protest Meeting against the landing of the convicts by the ship Hashemy. The following are the concluding sentences of Lord Sherbrooke's speech in seconding the adoption of the Protest:—




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They had taken their stand—they had felt that the people were with them, and thanks to the noble declaration which the people had made on this question, that stand had been maintained, and the perfidy and insult which had been endeavoured to be perpetrated had been met and repelled. But he looked not on this question by itself alone—he looked at it in connection with another question, in which the liberties of the people of this colony were almost equally concerned, a question on which, as on this, he hoped the colonists would make themselves heard. He viewed this attempt to inflict the worst and most degrading slavery on the colony only as a sequence of that oppressive tyranny which had confiscated the lands of the colony—for the benefit of a class. That class had felt their power—they were not content to get the lands alone. Without labour they were worthless, and therefore they must enrich them with slaves. He (Mr. Lowe) warned them not to be deluded by the simple aspect which the question had hitherto borne, when argued by those whose interests were involved in maintaining the system. He was for the liberty of all, and he protested not only against deluging the colony with crime, but the insidious attempt to introduce serfdom and slavery amongst them. This was not a question of the injury which the 250 felons on board the Hashemy could do the colony. They would perhaps cause but little evil; but it was a question—a question in which they had a right to be heard in protest—whether the inhabitants of this colony should be subjected to the contamination of trebly convicted felons, and whether they should submit to a measure which was necessary to fill up the confiscation of their lands. He therefore contended that those who branded the people of the colony with mere worldly selfishness in the part they had taken on this question did them injustice. It was not the mere fear of competition amongst operatives that now united them on this question; it was not a mere breeches-pocket question with the labouring classes, though it might be with the employers. It was a struggle for liberty—a struggle against a system which had in every country where it had prevailed been destructive of freedom. Let them not be deluded


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by this insidious attempt. Let it go home that the people of New South Wales reject, indignantly reject, the inheritance of wealthy shame which Great Britain holds out to her; that she spurns the gift, deceitfully gilded though it be; that she spurns the degradation, however eloquently it may be glozed over. Let them send across the Pacific their emphatic declaration that they would not be slaves—that they would be free. Let them exercise the right that every English subject had—to assert his freedom. He could see from that meeting the time was not far distant when they would assert their freedom not by words alone. As in America oppression was the parent of independence, so would it be in this colony. The tea which the Americans flung into the water rather than pay the tax upon it was not the cause of the revolt of the American States; it was the unrighteousness of the tax; it was the degradation of submission to an unrighteous demand. And so sure as the seed will grow into the plant, and the plant to the tree, in all times and in all nations, so will injustice and tyranny ripen into rebellion, and rebellion into independence.

As a sample of my early speeches I give the chief portion of a speech at a large meeting in Malcom's Circus, April 6, 1852, towards the close of the agitation:—

After all the pain and toil of the protracted agitation of this question—after an agitation, conducted with the fullest enquiry and the deepest earnestness, which had stirred the heart of the country to its very core—after these communities, having been polled almost to a man, had declared with one voice against receiving English criminals as an evil which all believed was in the highest degree disastrous to their moral and social interests —a canker eating into their very souls—after all this, they were forced back to its renewed agitation by the perverseness of one obstinate man who happened to hold a seat in the British Government. He agreed with previous speakers that the time for deliberation and argument was past. Why, they had


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deliberated for years, they had exhausted all arguments. The matter now resolved itself into a simple question of natural right, and they had only to consider how best to vindicate that right. No man or body of men could have a right to force upon a community a thing from without which they unanimously refused to receive; which they abhorred and believed would be ruinous to them. Argument and discussion had been of no service to them; their remonstrances and petitions had fallen upon deaf ears. They had done all in this way which men could do, and they could pursue this course no longer. It was a singular and striking feature of this agitation that a very large amount of talent had been exhibited in it. The last debate in the Legislative Council the year before last was one so ably sustained that it would have done honour to the British Parliament. Their petitions from all parts of the country had been able and argumentative documents, and such was their unanimity of sentiment, that when the question was last under discussion in this colony the numbers were 36,000 against and only 500 in favour of the system. But in the face of all this—notwithstanding their repeated protests and petitions —notwithstanding the intelligence which they had brought to bear in the discussion of the question, and the unanimity in the decision which they had arrived at, the tyrannical Minister persisted in thrusting upon them the evil which they were determined not to receive. Well, then, what was to be done? As a free people, as men, they could not retreat from their position; they could no longer go through the farce of remonstrating against an injustice which was persevered in with an utter disregard of their wishes and their interests; they must do something else. He was well pleased to hear their president, Mr. Cowper, talk of fighting. Knowing the mild, affable, and benignant character of that gentleman, he was at first half afraid that he was hardly stern enough for the duties which he might be called upon to perform in his mission to Van Diemen's Land. They had been told that night of the serious consequences which might ensue. Now, he had no desire to bring before them rebellious examples, or he might most properly point to


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the example of the American colonists; for in the progress of events which led to the loss of those colonies there was a remarkable analogy between some stages and their own case. He would pass over this, because he believed the meeting did not need to be reminded of the glorious and successful struggle of men who were treated with contumely and oppressed in a manner similar to themselves. There was, however, a suggestive passage in a speech of one of those early patriots which he would with their permission repeat to the meeting. When young Patrick Henry, in the General Assembly of Virginia, was moving his resolutions in reference to the odious Stamp Act, he exclaimed, ‘Cæsar had his Brutus, Charles the First his Cromwell, and George the Third—’ ‘Treason!’ cried the Speaker. The young patriot, standing up more proudly than ever, and fixing his eyes on the alarmed Speaker, concluded the sentence—‘George the Third may profit by their example; if that be treason, make the most of it!’ He would point to the successful resistance of the American colonists, and in the name of that meeting tell the British Government to profit by that example. He had no treason to promulgate; on the contrary, the man did not breathe whose heart beat with a truer loyalty to the gracious and glorious lady who presides over the destinies of the British Empire. But, as was said by their chairman, there was a higher loyalty than that to any earthly monarch—our loyalty to our own nature and to the all-wise God, who has planted in us pure and holy sentiments, and warmed our being with the love of justice and truth. To fall away from this loyalty would be to debase ourselves before our Creator—to deface the divine impress of humanity which had been printed on our hearts. They must go right onward in their course. There could be no mistake in the matter. If Earl Grey had indeed been deceived and misled, the last elections throughout the colonies would surely undeceive him. Even under a Constitution concocted by his own Government, the people of Van Diemen's Land had in every instance elected anti-transportationists to their representative seats. In that unfortunate island—that very sinkhole of English iniquity,


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where the prison population was so alarming in numbers, and where it could not be doubted many of that class possessed the elective franchise—no representative favourable to the continuance of transportation had been chosen. It was fair to assume that many of the emancipist class in that island had recorded their votes on the side of the anti-transportationists. How could it be otherwise? How could men wish to continue to their children the curse of their own lives? What was it, this desire to get rid of the infamy and degradation of which they had themselves been victims, but the triumph of all that was good and virtuous and lofty and aspiring in the human breast? They were about to send Mr. Cowper as a delegate to the conference of the League at Hobart Town. When he approached the shores of the island-home of these sturdy and stout-hearted patriots, it was to be hoped that the bracing influences of their climate would make him even bolder than he had been in his speech that evening; and that if the Tasmanian colonists should determine to resist the landing of any more convicts, he would solemnly assure them that the inhabitants of New South Wales were ready to assemble again in some place under heaven, where all the people could be gathered to ratify all the acts so done, and to share in all the consequences. The example of the Cape Colonists was before them. The time was come when their only course was to follow that example; and whenever a prison-ship should arrive in the Derwent, or in any other port, to resist at all hazards the landing of the prisoners thus tyrannically forced upon us.

The party brought together by the anti-transportation cause naturally grew in numbers and strength, and extended its operations into other provinces of public investigation and criticism and of urgent demands for reforms. Mr. William Charles Wentworth, then the senior member for Sydney in the old Legislative council, and beyond doubt the ablest man in the colony, had, from association with the advocates of transportation and other unpopular proceedings, become


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the principal figure in support of the old order of things, and no epithet of condemnation was too strong for him and his friends to hurl at the heads of the men who dared to question the wisdom of the colony remaining longer under what was scornfully designated the reign of Nomineeism and Squatterdom. Mr. Wentworth exhausted his great powers of invective in denouncing the new party of reformers as Socialists, Communists, uprooters of law and order, and everything else for which a vile name could be found, though it included many of the most respectable men in the country. I was myself at that early stage of my public life denounced by him from his place in the Legislative Council as the ‘arch-anarchist.’ Before the storm which had thus been created could have time to subside, Mr. Wentworth produced another popular tempest by his proposals in framing his new Constitution Bill. The first draft of the Bill provided for the creation of hereditary titles, an Upper Chamber on a very restrictive basis, the necessity for a two-thirds majority for any subsequent modification of the Constitution, and a very unpopular distribution of electoral power. Public feeling rose at once in strong opposition to these proposals. But the Constitution struggles must be reserved for a separate chapter.

Towards the end of 1849 I established ‘The Empire’newspaper, which continued as a daily journal a little over seven years. The next seven years of my life were mainly devoted to this undertaking; but this part of my public work must also be left for treatment at a later stage.

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