― 207 ―



AMONG the subjects which engaged my attention on my first entrance into public life was the care and treatment of the sick and the insane in the Government asylums. There was at that time but one general hospital in the city of Sydney; and that was under a very unsatisfactory system of management, or, speaking more correctly, it was under no system at all. An influential friend brought under my notice the case of a young man who had been admitted into the hospital from one of the ships in harbour, and whom I found, on visiting the building, in a pitiable state of neglect and suffering. This circumstance led me to a personal inspection of all the wards and the condition of the inmates, and to enquiries as to the staff of attendants and the general treatment of patients. As the result of my investigations, I sent a communication to Miss Florence Nightingale requesting her services in engaging a staff of trained nurses for the colony. That

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illustrious lady immediately took up the cause, and in due course a staff of nurses selected by her arrived, under the superintendence of Miss Osburn, a lady admirably qualified for her important office, who endeared herself to all by her amiable character and her many accomplishments. Miss Osburn remained in the service of the colony for a number of years. She had to contend against the usual difficulties which beset persons engaged in any great change from a bad state of things to a better; but she steadily pursued her quiet and unassuming course of usefulness, regardless of the prejudices of old-fashioned doctors, and some slights not always easy to bear. To Miss Nightingale the colony is deeply indebted for the practical interest she has taken, not only in all questions relating to the construction and management of hospitals, but in all matters concerning sanitation and the public health. For many years, after the introduction of the trained nurses, she did me the honour of frequently corresponding with me on these subjects; and one of the honours I have received on which I set a high value is a gift-book from her bearing the following inscription in her handwriting: ‘Offered to Henry Parkes with Florence Nightingale's earnest sympathy for all his good work for human welfare, and especially for depauperising work. London, April, 1875.’ When I was in England in 1882, I had a long interview with Miss Nightingale in her sick-room, where her afflictions resulting from her noble labours among the sick and wounded soldiers of the Crimea, now kept her a prisoner. Her graciousness and deep Christian goodness were visible in every word and every

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look; and that sweet refined presence has come to me hundreds of times since then in my struggles and failures. I venture to give the following letter from her hand, selected from many, in illustration of her abiding interest in Australia:—

April 29, 1882.

My dear Sir Henry Parkes,—Your kind note of April 15 was forwarded to me. (I had that very day been obliged to go out of London for a few days' total silence and solitude.)

I will try for the ‘documents’you ask for; namely, ‘On Hospital Management,’‘On Health Provision for Towns,’and ‘Any manual suitable for the guidance of persons in charge of Country Hospitals.’In these latter we are singularly deficient —as also indeed in the first. In the second not so deficient.

How soon do you leave England? As, if you return to Sydney before I can obtain a suitable list, I should like to be able to send the documents after you, seeing that I have been so (unwillingly) impotent in doing as you desire.

I trust that you are not over-fatigued with your having to see and to be seen so much. England has been so glad to bid you welcome.

St. Thomas's Hospital and St. Marylebone Infirmary were particularly honoured by being inspected by you. I hope you found them satisfactory.

I must not trouble you with a long note farther than to give you joy, or rather to give ourselves joy, of your revisiting the old country. I fear I shall not see you again before you leave England for Sydney. May your days be long in the land to which you have secured such blessings. And may her future be a glorious one is the earnest prayer of

Your ever faithful servant,


In the introduction of the hospital nurses I acted without the sanction of Parliament, as I regarded delay

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as unjustifiable in the interests of humanity, but I had the cordial support of my colleagues, and when the expenditure was submitted in the next Session, it was voted without exception being taken to what had been done. Indeed, I may fairly claim that the course I adopted in this instance, nearly a quarter of a century ago, was the first step in establishing the system of trained nursing which now prevails in all the hospitals of the colony, and, I believe, throughout Australia.

35 South Street, Park Lane, London, W.

October 24, 1866.

Sir,—I beg to acknowledge your letter of July 21, relating to the selecting and engaging of four trained and training nurses for the Sydney Infirmary.

Let me, in the first place, assure you that all that I can do shall be done to forward your kind and wise intentions, and that, so far from your application to me requiring any ‘apology,’it has, on the contrary, a claim upon me, for Australia has always been a powerful patroness of mine, and I hardly know how to thank you as I could wish for asserting that claim.

You are perhaps not aware that after the Crimean War, a fund was raised, called the ‘Nightingale Fund.’Australia interested herself very much in this affair. I applied this Fund exclusively to the training of matrons and nurses for the sick poor, and especially for hospitals. But the demand is always larger than the supply, even for England alone. We are generally engaged years deep in training. We have always more posts to fill than, alas! persons to fill them, and we have never a supply of this valuable article ready on hand. Persons fit to be engaged always are engaged. And it is only within the last ten years that means have been taken to ensure a supply at all of trained persons fit to take charge in hospitals.

You see that it is I who have to begin with an ‘apology.’I would fain repay part of my heavy debt to Australia, according

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to my powers, but I shall have to crave your indulgence and time, if we are to supply you with such persons as, after training them, we could recommend.

Your plan is, if I may say so without impertinence, wise, benevolent, and well digested, namely, to begin in the Sydney Infirmary a Training School for Nurses (people so often fancy that hospital nurses can be trained outside a hospital), and gradually to extend it so as to become a training school for nurses for other institutions in the colony.

Of course, upon the receipt of your letter (of July 21) I immediately put myself, and also Captain Mayne, in communication with Mrs. Wardroper, the valued matron (superintendent) of our Training School for Hospital Nurses at St. Thomas's Hospital, in order to see how far we could meet your wishes, and how soon, and also carefully to consider Dr. Alfred Roberts's excellent business-like memorandum. I shall venture to ask you to give your consideration to the details which Captain Mayne and Mrs. Wardroper will give concerning what I have submitted to you in general in this letter. We think that it will be necessary to have a matron for the Sydney Infirmary, trained in the same school that the ‘four sisters’asked for are trained in, and we think the staff of assistants proposed rather small.

We venture to lay these things before you, because we always try to obtain for the success of those hospital nursery staffs which we send out, the conditions which in our judgment will alone ensure success.

But I leave Captain Mayne and Mrs. Wardroper to enter into further detail. We shall then trust to receive from you further instructions, and I will now only add, without vain words, that I am deeply touched and pleased at your claiming my poor services, and that

I am, Sir, with great truth,

Ever your faithful Servant,


N.B.—I do myself the honour of sending you by this mail the last edition of my ‘Notes on Hospitals,’not expecting that

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you will have time to look into it yourself, but hoping that those who have more immediate business with hospitals will glance over what I have said as to the construction necessary to ensure good nursing and administration. I am sure that it will be a great advantage for our nursing staff, should we be fortunate enough to supply you with one, to work under Dr. Alfred Roberts.

I would also say that I am an invalid, entirely a prisoner to a couch, but, I thank God, still able to work, and that no delay shall proceed from this circumstance. I did not receive yours of July 21 till October 4, but I had already received notice of its advent from Captain Mayne on September 21. Some little delay, but not much, has occurred in our reply from this circumstance.

F. N.

Colonial Secretary's Office, Sydney,

December 24, 1866.

Madam,—I was much gratified to receive your letter of October 24, and to learn from it that notwithstanding the multiplicity of engagements on your hands, and the unfortunate state of your health, you could find time to take an active interest in the subject of my communication to you. Be assured that your pure Christian services in this matter, as in all others, will be appreciated by your countrymen and countrywomen in Australia, who treasure your name as a noble part of their national history.

You are pleased to allude to the movement in Australia in behalf of the ‘Nightingale Fund’some few years ago. Perhaps you will pardon me in saying that, so far from being unaware of what was done on that occasion, it was my hand that wrote the address that was presented to you from this colony. It was my knowledge of your life of great virtue and labour which made me apply to you in the present case with a feeling that I had no right to ask you to undertake an additional burden, and I am happily surprised to find that you so readily devote yourself to this new duty on behalf of suffering human nature in this remote part of the world.

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I shall of course be guided by your suggestions in carrying out our plans, and by the outgoing mail I shall cause our Agent in London to be instructed accordingly. Any matter of detail as to the number of ladies which it may be expedient to engage, the time of their departure, or the terms of their individual engagements, is felt to be unimportant in comparison with the complete accomplishment of what we aim at—making the best provision within our power for the efficient management of our hospitals.

The Sydney Infirmary is a large building, but having been erected in the early days of the colony, it is somewhat irregular in its arrangements, but still it is capable of being made a noble institution. It is beautifully situated on an eminence in the very skirt of the city, the back windows overlooking one of the most glorious landscapes in the world. The hospitals in the country towns are comparatively small, as we have only five towns over three thousand inhabitants.

By the mail of January I will forward to you a parcel of public documents that will afford you full information respecting the colony.

I now tender to you the thanks of this Government, and I am sure I might add, of the whole people of New South Wales, for the devoted interest you take in our welfare as a part of the English nation.

I remain, very respectfully,

Your faithful Servant,


Miss Nightingale.

In a former chapter I made reference to the outrages committed by bushrangers in the years from 1862 to 1867. When I entered upon the duties of office, one whole district in the Southern part of the colony, embracing an area nearly as large as Ireland, was held in a state of terror by a desperate gang of bushrangers, headed by two brothers named Clarke. The district

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was full of police, certainly three times the numbers ordinarily stationed in the several localities, but the bushrangers eluded all their vigilance and activity. Their system of ‘bush telegraph,’of word of mouth communication, in which women and girls were often the most active agents, was organised and kept up with a completeness and success perfectly surprising. In this the daring horsemanship of the bush boys and girls connected with some of the bushrangers was very striking. A certain class of the small settlers notoriously harboured the offenders. For a time it seemed as if half the population was in league with crime against the defenders of law and social security. The police were outwitted in stratagem and outstripped in speed in their efforts to arrest the criminals.

As the police force was under my Ministerial control, I felt very keenly my responsibility so long as this state of things continued. I lost no time in pressing upon the Inspector-General the necessity for the utmost effort to cope with the wide-spread lawlessness, and I required him to report specially from day to day. Offers to form special parties for the capture of the Clarkes and their criminal associates were made in different quarters. One of these offers was made by John Carroll, formerly an officer of police, and at this time an officer of Darlinghurst Gaol, a man of very considerable experience in dealing with criminals. His conditions were that he should be allowed to select his companions, should be armed in accordance with his own choice and discretion, should be placed in a position independent of the regular police, should be secretly

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accredited to certain magistrates resident in the district, and should, if successful, receive certain compensation and privileges. After consultation with my colleagues, I agreed on behalf of the Government to these terms. Carroll selected his comrades, three men named Patrick Kennagh, Eneas McDonnell, and John Phegan; the four men came before me and each individually volunteered to serve in the hazardous enterprise, the three latter agreeing to accept Carroll as their leader. After consultation with the Attorney-General (Mr. Martin), I despatched this volunteer party on their mission on September 22, 1866. The following report from Carroll, dated October 7, will read, in the light of the tragic story soon to be told, as a page from a wild romance.

Mr. John Carroll to the Colonial Secretary.

Braidwood, Sunday, October 7, 1866.

Sir,—I have the honour to report, for your information, that, in accordance with an arrangement previously made, I and party pitched our camp within one mile and a half north-east of Clarke's house, ostensibly for the purpose of surveying. We were delayed in Braidwood waiting the return of Mr. Rodd a week, but in the meantime one of our party (Phegan) had been three times to Mrs. Clarke's and her daughters'. At first he was received with a degree of suspicion, which, however, wore away on his second visit. They (the Clarkes) got Phegan to write out a petition for their son, James Clarke, now on Cockatoo Island. Since we were camped as above, Phegan, accompanied by Kennagh, made another visit, and were received kindly. Altogether our plans were progressing most favourably. On last Wednesday morning Tommy and Johnny Clarke passed about 200 yards from our camp, in the direction of their

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parents' house. They were well mounted, and we were not in a position to pursue; nor could the pieces we had (revolvers) carry that distance with any certainty; so that, on that occasion, we were compelled to let them proceed unmolested. On the same afternoon two of Clarke's girls rode round our camp, and had a good survey of it and ourselves. You will please remember that until this the Clarkes did not know our position, although they understood that Phegan was employed by a survey party. The girls went past us in the direction of a range in our rear, and shouted as if rounding up a mob of horses. We watched them narrowly, and shortly after they returned towards home we saw two of their dogs coming down the range near which the girls had approached. On the following morning, early, we surveyed the range in twos, and came across a bark gunyah, constructed in such a way as not to be noticeable until one would be right on it. The gunyah presented the appearance of being very recently occupied, and we found two empty bottles in it. From the circumstance of the two bushrangers having been seen by us coming from that direction, and of other collateral evidence, we had no doubt of this being one of their rendezvous, and of being able to secure them in it before long; but we had a better plan in view at the time, and we were waiting its accomplishment or failure before trying their capture as before described.

I have now to relate a most providential escape we all had from being shot, and perhaps riddled to death. We had been surveying a flat near our camp, from 9 o'clock on Friday morning till about 4 in the afternoon. At 4 o'clock we went in a body on a neighbouring range, where we could reconnoitre well. We returned to camp about 6, and had just finished our teas and were standing round our fire, which we always allowed to die out, when, all at once (it was very dark) we heard the report of a musket or rifle about 100 yards from us. The ball passed right between us, and entered the tree against which our fire was made, just on a level with our heads. We had our arms out in an instant, but before we could discharge them we were fired upon from two opposite directions. Thank God,

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none of us was touched. We each discharged a shot in the direction of the explosion by the bushrangers, for we had no other guide in aiming, owing to the night being so very dark, which was rendered denser by the mizzling rain which had been falling all day. Our first object, of course, was to get out of the glare of the fire, which was still burning sufficiently to afford a good aim at us by the bushrangers. The Clarkes, and whoever were with them, had evidently lain on the ground, behind trees. I would suppose there were, at least, four of them. We kept up random firing for about five minutes, closing by degrees on the first position taken up by the bushrangers, who always retired on our approach, and in opposite directions. I cannot speak too highly of the courage displayed by the party under my charge. They acted most zealously; indeed, under the circumstances, I thought rashly, in pursuing under such disadvantages. About 8 o'clock we found that our ammunition had been inadvertently left in the tent, and to return to it, from its colour and position, so close to the fire, which would throw the shadow of anyone passing so clearly as to afford a good mark for the fire of the bushrangers, appeared certain death. Kennagh, however (and I cannot speak too highly of his courage), without a moment's hesitation, made a rush to the tent, under cover of our fire, and secured the ammunition. The bushrangers now directed their firing to the tent (which is riddled), but without effect. Kennagh returned to us unharmed. After this the bushrangers ceased firing, and as we had no further clue to their position we remained in ambush the whole of the night, expecting every moment to see the tent attacked, or to be passed by some of the bushrangers. No further attack was, however, made, and when daylight came no traces of them could be found, if I except some balls and a flask half full of powder, which had been dropped by one of them. How we escaped being at least wounded is a mystery; to God we must be thankful, for a narrower escape or a more dastardly attack is not in my recollection.

I am at a loss to know why we should have been so attacked, for, on the last visit of two of my party to Clarke's house, the

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remotest suspicion of who we really were was not entertained. I am inclined to believe that we were observed tracking the bushrangers on the mountain and discovering their shelter. However that may be, it has been found necessary to abandon our first plan.

On Saturday morning we went to see Mr. Stewart, J.P., and took him into our confidence. He was very kind to us, and promised to be able to give us valuable information. I may here mention that our firing was distinctly heard at Mr. Stewart's station, which is about the same distance from our late camp as the Police Station at Wallace's. We were nearly a week camped as described, and with the exception of the Clarke's family, never saw any person. The police ride frequently to and from Braidwood, but we have never met them off the main road; and that the Clarkes should infest that immediate neighbourhood with such impunity and so frequently, without being captured, would require some explanation. I have every hope, that when we have a supply of rifles, to bring in, dead or alive, one or the whole of the gang within a month.

Mr. Rodd, who has been very courteous to us, has already written for the additional pieces and ammunition, which I trust will soon arrive.

I hope shortly to be enabled to report to you our success in the expedition.

I have, &c.


For the next three months the doomed men continued their efforts to circumvent the outlaws, moving about as a surveying party, in the wild Tingera district. On January 10, 1867, all four of them were shot dead by the bushrangers, who appeared to have fired from an ambush behind some large trees. For ninety days and nights—since the night skirmish described in Carroll's letter—while the special constables were

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tracking the marauders, the marauders must have been more closely watching them. What incident or new suspicion, or revelation of lawless spy, determined the savage murder at last, will never be known, for it is morally certain that the lips which might have told the dreadful secret are now sealed for ever. No attempt had been made to rifle the bodies of the dead men; what money or other property they had on their persons was left untouched; and in the case of Carroll, a bank note, not corresponding with those in his possession, was found placed upon his breast, apparently in mockery of his expected reward.

The reign of terror in the unhappy Braidwood district went on under darker distrust and forebodings. Honest men feared to travel the highways by daylight; traders stole forth under cover of night on their business journeys; and insecurity was felt in every home. Increasing the regular police seemed barren of effect. About this time I was invited to visit Mudgee, where I was entertained at two public dinners. On my return journey by the main road (there was no railway in those days) Senior Constable Wright relieved my escort at Keen's Swamp. He accompanied my carriage for many miles; we stayed at a roadside hotel for the night, and his escort continued for several hours the next day. I thus had some opportunities of judging of Wright's character. He was a smart man in personal appearance, and he was singularly alert in observation, noticing the slightest sign of unusual circumstance along the road. I held little chats with him about his experiences in the force, and in the evening I watched

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his intercourse with the wayfarers at the hotel. The result was that I inwardly formed the purpose to enlist Wright's services to capture Tommy and Johnny Clarke, the Braidwood bushrangers. The next day we met the relief escort in a lone part of the road; I left the carriage, and Wright dismounted; we walked to the edge of the forest, and improvised a sort of bush council of war. I asked the senior constable if he had heard of the depredations of the Clarkes—of course he had; if he knew the Braidwood district—he had never been there. I finally asked him if he would be prepared to go in charge of a picked party of police to attempt the capture of the notorious bushrangers. He promptly replied that he should be glad to be so honoured and trusted. I gave him orders to report himself in Sydney, and resumed my journey. When I reached Sydney I immediately sent for the Inspector-General of Police. I said, ‘You have a man named Wright stationed at Keen's Swamp?’ ‘Yes,’said he; ‘one of the smartest men in the force—a capital officer—an invaluable man!’ ‘Well,’I replied, ‘I have made up my mind to send Wright in charge of a select party of police to attempt the capture of the Clarkes.’‘Oh, that will never do!’ exclaimed the Inspector-General; ‘it would demoralise the whole force; he is, I assure you, quite unfit for it!’ I merely remarked that he had just told me that Wright was ‘one of the smartest men in the force.’‘So he is,’replied the Inspector-General, ‘in his proper place; but he is quite an illiterate man, unfit for command.’ ‘Very well,’I rejoined, ‘we cannot discuss the matter; I represent the Government,

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you are an officer of the Government; Wright is to go on this service, and you must assist the Government by assisting him in the undertaking.’ Senior Constable Wright selected his men, and went to the scene of the long-continued outrages. In the course of time—not a long time—he tracked the Clarkes to a lonely hut where they were occasionally harboured. For some hours shots were exchanged by the small band of police and the desperadoes in the hut. Wright and his party closed in upon the hut; the brother outlaws were secured, and shortly afterwards they were brought to Sydney, tried, convicted, and hanged. With other arrests and convictions the colony was soon freed from the ravages of the most bloodthirsty gang of bush-rangers that ever disgraced it.

Sorely against the wishes of the Inspector-General, but with the hearty concurrence of my colleagues, I made Wright a sub-inspector, but he had to bear the cold shoulder of officialism all his life, which was not a long one. My experience is that it is often a mistaken kindness to advance any man in the lower grade of a departmental service without the approving intervention of those above him.

The visit of His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh to Sydney, in the Galatea was unhappily marked by a tragic occurrence which gave me, in common with the whole community, much concern. Prince Alfred, as the people of that day delighted to call him, received a magnificent welcome; triumphal arches of costly and artistic structure, brilliant displays of fireworks, houses aflame with flags, were only

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in harmony with the exuberant loyalty of the people in proclaiming his landing upon our shores as a memorable event. The young sailor was the Queen's son, and that was enough.

On March 12, 1868, a picnic was given at a favourite marine retreat called Clontarf, in support of building a Sailors' Home. His Royal Highness had accepted an invitation to be present. The following description from the ‘Sydney Morning Herald’of the chief feature in the preparation for the festivity will show the interest it had evoked:—

About 11 A.M. the R.S.Y. Squadron rendezvoused in Double Bay, and soon after stood out under the command of Commodore Dangar, whose fine yacht, the Mistral, led the fleet, followed by the Xariffa, Vivid, and eleven others, under fore and aft canvas. When off Bradley's they eased off, ran up the harbour, and rounded H.M.S. Challenger, saluting Commodore Lambert's pennant as they passed. They then hauled on a wind and worked down the harbour for Clontarf, where their arrival was watched with great interest. The squadron was the largest ever seen in this harbour, and their appearance, when anchored off the spit dressed with flags, was extremely pretty. The yachts of the Prince Alfred Club, ten in number, made the trip to Middle Harbour separately, took their positions abreast of the senior club, and dressed with bunting in a similar style. Seen from the shore the effect was striking; the twenty-four yachts, decorated with flags of every hue, and numerous other sailing boats anchored about the bight, with the steamers City of Newcastle and Morpeth moored at the end of each line, produced as pretty a sight as has ever been witnessed in the harbour of Port Jackson. On the ground a large marquee, neatly fitted up, was added to the permanent buildings on the ground as a luncheon saloon. A handsome tent, with suitable appointments, was pitched on the side of the

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dell opposite the beach, for the convenience of His Royal Highness and suite. From as early an hour as ten o'clock, when the first steamer departed, it was very evident that the visitors would be very numerous, and when the last boat landed its passengers there were between two and three thousand persons present.

His Royal Highness left the Galatea shortly after one o'clock in the steam yacht Fairy, and as she passed, about two o'clock, between the steamers and yachts which had been drawn up in two lines near the Clontarf jetty, they saluted by dipping their flags. He was received by a number of gentlemen, members of the committee, and escorted to the marquee, where luncheon had been provided. With His Royal Highness were his Excellency the Right Hon. the Earl of Belmore, and her Ladyship the Countess of Belmore, Viscount Newry, the Hon. Elliott Yorke, Miss Gladstone, Captain Beresford, Mr. Toulmin, and Lieutenant Haig. Places at a central table were reserved for them, and here they were joined by, among others, Commondore Lambert and Mrs. Lambert, his Honour Sir Alfred Stephen and Mrs. Stephen, Mr. Charles Cowper, Captain Lyons, Mons. Sentis (French Consul), and the Hon. John Hay. Sir William Manning was in the chair, on his right His Royal Highness and on his left his Excellency the Governor.

On leaving the luncheon table His Royal Highness gave Mr. William Manning a donation towards the erection of the Sailor's Home, and was standing in conversation on the subject, when a person who had recently arrived in Sydney, named H. F. O'Farrell, walked deliberately to within two yards of him, and fired a shot from a revolver, which struck the unsuspecting Prince a little to the right of the spine, and traversed the course of the ribs to the abdomen. The bullet was eventually extracted, and His Royal Highness recovered. But the dastardly attack upon the Duke

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of Edinburgh's life produced a strange lurid glare in the political atmosphere, and engendered feelings not simply acrimonious and bitter, but almost deadly in the depth and colour of their hatred. Holding the office of Colonial Secretary, and having in my hands the administration of the police, I naturally came in for a little more than my share of the adverse criticisms on the rumours and transactions which followed the attempted murder. The criminal O'Farrell was seriously maltreated by the infuriated crowd at Clontarf, and if he had not been protected by the police and speedily got away from the scene, it is not improbable that he might have been lynched on the spot. All kinds of secret conspiracies were conjured into instant existence. Panic seized the imaginations of sensible and sober-minded men. Even the Premier (the late Chief Justice, Sir James Martin), who was by no means a timid man, went about armed, and had his private residence guarded at night by armed men. Nothing is easier than to smile at all this from a comfortable distance of time or space. But the mingled feelings of indignation, uneasiness, and alarm were all but universal, and were contagious to a high degree, and spread widely amongst those who woke up afterwards to affectedly condemn the proceedings. In proof of this state of excited feeling I need only cite the facts that on March 18, Mr. Martin moved in the Legislative Assembly: ‘That the Standing Orders be suspended with a view to the passing through all its stages in one day of a Bill for the better security of the Crown and Government of the United Kingdom, and for the better suppression

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and punishment of seditious practices and attempts.’ That this motion was carried by forty-four to two votes; that the Bill was passed through all its stages, sent to the Legislative Council, passed in the same rapid manner by that body, and returned without amendment to the Legislative Assembly before eleven o'clock at night. Even the persons who a few weeks later did their utmost to make political capital out of the occurrences of that disordered time, voted in this precipitate manner for the Treason Felony Act, including Mr. William Macleay. The author of this measure was Sir James Martin, who framed it and conducted it through the Assembly without, as I believe, a single suggestion from any of his colleagues.

I now come to what I think must be regarded by everybody as a painful question—as to whether O'Farrell was insane, or in any degree unaccountable for his actions. After twenty-three years I feel bound to place on record my belief that he was perfectly sane. On the day of the attempted assassination, the police, under the direction of a highly responsible officer, searched the house where O'Farrell had lodged on the previous night, and found in the pocket of an article of dress thrown off by him in his hurried preparation to attend the picnic at Clontarf, a diary, kept in pencil in his handwriting. The genuineness of this diary has been attested on affidavit by the police-officer who found it, and I give the form of attestation in full:—

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New South Wales, Sydney to wit.

I, HENRY WAGER, of the city of Sydney, in the colony of New South Wales, the Officer in charge of the Detective Police, in the city of Sydney, in the said colony, do solemnly and sincerely declare as follows:

On the twelfth day of March last, I, by the direction of the Honourable the Colonial Secretary, proceeded, in company with Alexander Baikie, a Sergeant of Police in the Police Force, Sydney, to the Clarendon Hotel, kept by one David J. Powell, and situated in Hunter and George Streets, in the city of Sydney, and from thence to the Currency Lass Hotel, kept by one Daniel Tierney, and situated in Pitt and Hunter Streets, in the said city.

I visited these hotels for the purpose of making search for and taking possession of any books, papers, and other personal effects of Henry James O'Farrell, who had been then recently apprehended, and was in custody upon a charge of wounding His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh.

At the Clarendon Hotel, at which place I was informed the said Henry James O'Farrell was residing, I took possession of certain books, papers, and other personal effects belonging to him; and amongst the articles so taken possession of by me were the loose leaves of a private journal or diary, in the handwriting of the said Henry James O'Farrell. The leaves of the said journal were in the pocket of a waistcoat which I was informed and verily believe was the property of the said Henry James O'Farrell.

I have carefully compared the handwriting in the said leaves of the journal with the handwriting of the paper given by the said Henry James O'Farrell, as his dying declaration, as to the commission of the said crime of which he had been found guilty, and have no doubt they were written by the same person.

The Honourable Henry Parkes, then Colonial Secretary, and the Honourable the Minister for Works, were present at the time I made search at the said hotel, and when I took possession of the said books, papers, and personal effects.

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I read and examined the leaves of the said journal immediately after I had taken possession of same, and I yesterday carefully examined the said leaves of the said journal;—they are in the same state and condition as when the same were so taken possession of by me as before mentioned. The printed paper, hereto annexed, marked as exhibit ‘D,’is a true and exact copy of the said leaves of the said journal.

And I make this solemn declaration, conscientiously believing the same to be true, and by virtue of the provisions of an Act made and passed in the ninth year of the reign of Her present Majesty, intituled ‘An Act for the more effectual abolition of Oaths and Affirmations taken and made in various Departments of the Government of New South Wales, and to substitute Declarations in lieu thereof, and for the suppression of voluntary and extra-judicial Oaths and Affidavits.’


Declared and subscribed before me, at Sydney, in the colony of New South Wales, this 18th day of September, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-eight.


I extract from O'Farrell's diary the following remarkable passages. Some words had been expunged from the manuscript before it fell into the hands of the police, and then followed these abrupt sentences:—

How if I should fail, quod avertat Deus, I should never forgive myself. Fail! but I cannot; I am alone, and surely I can trust myself. Oh! that the Orangemen would rouse up the apathetic Irish of these parts; one good effect would follow in English capitalists losing heavily by the depreciation of colonial debentures, and the failures consequent on the colonies being in a state of anarchy. If I had had my will, every English ship in these colonial ports should have been destroyed. Shall I

  ― 228 ―
write once more to the dear nine? No; you have written once, and that is once too often, for the P.O. officials are not over-scrupulous about opening letters. Be wary, be loyal to them and to yourself. To think I have not one relation that knows of my proceedings! What will they say? Threaten to inform against me, I'll be sworn. Go in for the Church! The idea disgusts me. That is what they would have me do. And yet I cannot get money unless I lead them to believe I am studying for the Church. I did think of doing so once, and it plunged me into fever—the having to decide on loyalty to a Church or to country. What sums I have sent home, and now to be so pressed for money! Still I have enough, with care and common prudence. There is no tædium vitæ in me, and yet I am to die in a few days;—let me see;—in two weeks from this, and in tolerable company. It will be a fine soul race to somewhere, or more probably, nowhere, or nihil. What nonsense it is to write like this, and yet I find a grim satisfaction in thinking of the vengeance. How the nobility of the three countries will curse me, and the toadying, lickspittle Press hunt the dictionaries over for terms of abhorrence! But vengeance for Ireland is sweet. Woe to you, England, when the glorious ‘nine’carry out their programme. There was a Judas in the twelve—in our band there was a No. 3 as bad, but his horrible death will I trust be a warning to traitors. Such another I am confident is not among the nine. Oh that I were with them! For, after all, this thing I have to do for vengeance, and to rouse the Irish here, will cost too dear, as I know I could have done so much more in England. But it is my duty to the R., and I will, if able, do it. What is there to prevent me?

After some further wild, irregular writing, giving vent to his suspicions of persons with whom he had been in communication, and to his apprehension of the police, he expressed his sense of horror at the task assigned to him in the following language:—

That noble nine! Alas, that I should be left behind, and

  ― 229 ―
for such a purpose. Oh, for a gallant cavalry charge, not such a thing as this! Oh destiny! It must be done! and it must be done! Fate, fate! A life in irons, in torture, would I rather have had than that the lot should have fallen on me. Was Washington criminal for hanging poor Major André? Was he, seeing he did it in retaliation? He did it for his country, and it checked the cruelty of the English. Three of us butchered at Manchester! So some hundreds of the ‘98’ patriots were shot down like dogs in the seething lazar-house. Woe to thee, England, or rather to your accursed oligarchy! It is well.

O'Farrell's conduct in prison was uniformly that of an intelligent, fairly-educated, quietly-behaved man, in the perfect possession of all his faculties, but suffering from the remorseful sense of relief from some unlawfully imposed obligation. He spoke freely at all times of his condition, and the circumstances which led to it. Some of his conversations were taken down in shorthand, and they were all of the same tenor and consistency. There was no hesitation or variation in his statements, nor the least evidence of an attempted hoax.

Under the law of New South Wales, wounding with intent to murder is a capital crime. O'Farrell was tried, convicted, and sentenced to death. Some efforts were made to obtain a commutation of the sentence; but the Executive were firm and unanimous in their decision to allow the law to take its course. Shortly before his execution, O'Farrell wrote a brief confession, the object of which was to unsay—to wipe out as with a sponge—all which he had so persistently and consistently said since the day of his arrest.

  ― 230 ―

The head of the police at the time was a retired military officer of high character and undoubted ability and vigilance. The following is his report on the whole case:—

Police Department, Inspector-General's Office, Sydney,

August 10, 1868.

Sir,—I do myself the honour to transmit herewith the only papers remaining in my possession having reference to the case of the executed convict H. J. O'Farrell, and take the opportunity, in doing so, to express my views respecting the crime for which O'Farrell was convicted, and my reasons for the conclusions I have arrived at.

My opinion, as I have informed the Government from the outset, is that the attempted assassination of His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh was not the unaided act of one individual, but the fruits of the treasonable organisation commonly known as Fenianism; this opinion has been strengthened by after occurrences and disclosures.

Before the arrival of His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh, the Government were in possession of intelligence, certainly not of a very definite character, that persons ill-disposed towards the English Government would take the opportunity of the visit of His Royal Highness for outrage of some kind; and you will no doubt remember more than once enquiring the nature of the precautions I proposed to take, and whether it would not be practicable, by the means at the disposal of the Government, to obtain more precise information with regard to any seditious movement on foot.

Various means were employed to obtain information, but the result, though placing it beyond doubt that many disaffected persons, Fenian sympathisers and agents, were in the colony, fell short of evidence definite enough to warrant prosecution.

Corroboration of this, to a great extent, was to be found in many matters noticed by the Press; some attracted more than passing attention, and the publications of an unconcealed treasonable

  ― 231 ―
tendency in the ‘Freeman's Journal’ were viewed with general disapprobation, participated in by leading members of that party whose organ the newspaper was supposed to be.

The outrages that had taken place elsewhere, avowedly sanctioned by Fenian leaders, and the sympathy such atrocious crimes evoked amongst a certain class, gave rise, no doubt, to many of the surmises that some blow would be struck in the cause during the visit of His Royal Highness to these shores.

Following upon the attempted assassination was the culprit's own statement of the object of the attempt, and the circumstances which led to it. This confession agreed with his private entries in the pocket-book afterwards found by the police, and was also quite in accordance with the plans and organisation of similar plots elsewhere, and having an aspect of truth which in my opinion has not subsequently altered.

Whilst there can be no room for doubt that a large class of persons in New South Wales and the adjacent colonies openly sympathised with the Fenian movement, and had no hesitation in avowing their disaffection, yet there are, in my opinion, no grounds for supposing that O'Farrell had accomplices amongst the residents of New South Wales. There are sufficient grounds for concluding that there were Fenian agents visiting the colonies, and correspondence carried on with centres in Ireland and America; and amongst such persons, I believe, O'Farrell's accomplices would be found.

Many persons were known to be active in the openly expressed object of raising funds in the Fenian cause, under the cloak of applying such contributions for the benefit of the widows of Fenian ‘martyrs,’and many were leaving for the States. One man, whose property was searched on the eve of his departure for America, by authority of a search warrant under the Treason Felony Act, openly avowed himself a Fenian, but stated he had taken good care not to bring himself within reach of the law. He had a considerable sum in American gold coin, and was, he stated, an Irishman—naturalised in the United States, to which country he was returning. His papers left no

  ― 232 ―
doubt he was a Fenian. The attached extractnote from the log of the Panama mail steamer Rakaia, and communication from the purser, will confirm what I have stated.

The numerous letters threatening assassination, received by gentlemen occupying the highest public stations, shortly following the attempted assassination, must not be forgotten; nor the fact that the threat in one such letter was carried into effect by the attempted assassination of a gentleman whose principles were known to be hostile to those of the extreme Irish party. The other intentions of a similar kind may possibly have been frustrated by the precautionary measures taken.

The last statement made by the convict O'Farrell before his execution is, I think, inconsistent with itself. It has, however, been already the subject of much criticism; and I need only record my belief, founded upon long experience, that dying declarations, made under such circumstances, are seldom to be relied upon.

I have, &c.


Inspector-General of Police.

Some months before the meeting of Parliament in October 1868, I visited my constituents at Kiama, and, in the course of a speech which I delivered, I said that I held in my possession, and could produce at any moment, evidence attested by affidavits, which left on my mind the conviction that, not only was the assassination of the Duke of Edinburgh planned, but that some one who had a guilty knowledge of the secret, and whose fidelity was suspected, had been foully murdered. In another part of my speech I expressed the opinion that the same evidence would carry conviction to the mind of any other impartial person. These expressions

  ― 233 ―
were seized upon by certain newspapers that were hostile to the existing Government, and were made the groundwork of the fiercest and most unscrupulous attacks. I had resigned office on a disagreement between myself and colleagues about the dismissal of a public servant. But, having regard to the violent attacks of my opponents, and their noisy demands for fuller explanations, I took all the papers in my possession to the Assembly on the opening of Parliament, on October 13, to meet any question that might be raised. On that day an adverse amendment on the Address was moved by Mr. Robertson, which, although negatived by the casting vote of the Speaker, ultimately led to the resignation of Mr. Martin's Ministry; and, in the debate on Mr. Robertson's motion, several members alluded to my position, but only for the purpose of showing that my retirement had greatly weakened the Government. Not a single word was said respecting the statements which had been made at Kiama. The Assembly met for a short time on several subsequent days in October, and on all those occasions I had the Kiama papers in the House, but no one asked for them.

The new Ministry was formed, and it obtained an adjournment of six weeks for the re-elections; and, before the House re-assembled on December 8, I had been chosen by the Opposition to move a vote of want of confidence. It was then, and not till then, that the storm about the Kiama statements commenced. Questions were asked and motions made which clearly showed that the Colonial Secretary's office had been

  ― 234 ―
thrown open to Mr. Macleay, the principal mover in the matter, and that this honourable member and the Ministers were acting in close concert. I met the attack by offering to lay the papers on the table of the House, explaining, at the same time, that this could not be done for a few days (the papers being at my residence in the country). But on the 15th, Mr. Macleay moved for a Select Committee, on which he placed, besides himself, Mr. Robertson, Mr. Forster, Mr. Samuel, Mr. Hoskins, and Mr. S. C. Brown, all of whom had declared their personal hostility to me. The other members were Mr. Martin, Mr. Eagar, Mr. John Stewart, and myself. In his speech in support of this motion, Mr. Macleay prejudged the whole case, and indulged in a strain of violent abuse. I raised no objection to the proposed committee, nor would I have offered any objection had it been composed entirely of my personal opponents, as I felt confident that my character could not suffer from enquiry into my official conduct.

Throughout the subsequent proceedings Mr. Macleay had everything his own way. As he had chosen his own committee without question, so he decided on his own plan of enquiry. In good time he framed his own report (in which worthy work it is believed he had able assistance out of doors), and he selected his own plan of operations in the House. The day for the consideration of his report was also fixed by Mr. Macleay himself, without the slightest regard for the wishes or convenience of other persons.

In due time Mr. Macleay submitted [my writing at this time] in the Legislative Assembly a series of resolutions

  ― 235 ―
purporting to be based upon the evidence given before his committee, which were intended to blast my public character for life. The following is a copy:—

That this House—having duly considered the Report of, and the Evidence taken before the Select Committee, appointed on the 15th day of December last, ‘to enquire into, and report upon, the existence of a Conspiracy for purposes of Treason and Assassination, alleged by a former Colonial Secretary to have subsisted in this country, and to receive all evidence that may be tendered or obtained concerning a murder, alleged by the same person to have been perpetrated by one or more of such conspirators, the victim of which murder is stated to be unknown to the police,’—resolves as follows:

(1) That there is no evidence to warrant the belief that the Government was aware of any plot or intention to assassinate His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh, before his arrival in this country, or at any time previous to the attempt upon his life.

(2) That it does not appear that any extraordinary precautions were taken for the preservation of the life of His Royal Highness, either on the occasion of his landing, or at any period during his stay in this country, up to the moment of his attempted assassination.

(3) That there is no evidence to warrant the belief that the crime of O'Farrell, who attempted to murder the Duke of Edinburgh, was the result of any conspiracy or organisation existing in this country, or, as far as the Government had or have any knowledge, the result of a conspiracy or organisation existing elsewhere.

(4) That there is no evidence whatever of the murder of any supposed confederate in the alleged plot.

(5) That the foregoing Resolutions be embodied in an Address to the Governor, with a request that His Excellency will forward the same to Her Majesty's Secretary of State for the Colonies.

  ― 236 ―

The mover made a long and acrimonious speech in support of his resolutions. I rose immediately upon his sitting down. I did not ask the House to simply negative the motion, but I asked it to omit the resolutions, and substitute others in their place, condemning the report as containing ‘numerous statements and inferences not warranted by the evidence;’ and I asked it to expunge the report from the proceedings of the committee. The following are my counter-resolutions:—

1. That all the words after the word ‘That’in the first line be omitted, with the view of substituting the following:— ‘The Report of the Select Committee, appointed on December 15, 1868, to enquire into the existence of a conspiracy for purposes of treason and assassination, presented by the chairman on the 3rd instant, contains numerous statements and inferences not warranted by the evidence, and is made an instrument of personal hostility against a member of this House, in disregard of the authorised objects of the enquiry, and manifestly for party purposes. 2. That the evidence shows that several principal officers of the Government—who, from their official position and experience, were best qualified to form a correct judgment of the occurrences, and the state of public feeling during the time of excitement previous and subsequent to the attempt to assassinate the Duke of Edinburgh were and are still of opinion that meetings of seditious were and are held in the colony; that the criminal O'Farrell was not alone and unaided in his attack upon the life of His Royal Highness; and that persons openly sympathised with the attempted assassination. 3. That the evidence shows that rumours of intended violence towards His Royal Highness, more or less definite, were in circulation before March 12, 1868; and that some of such rumours have proceeded from sources unknown to the Government at the time, and that, therefore, they supply independent evidence in support of the statements of the

  ― 237 ―
official witnesses. 4. That the important results of the enquiry set forth in the preceding second and third resolutions, and also other matters of serious moment, which ought to have been faithfully represented to this House, have been either set aside altogether or improperly and prejudicially dealt with in the report. 5. That this House expresses its disapprobation of the said Report, and directs that it be expunged from the proceedings of the Select Committee.’

I spoke at considerable length, and replied very unreservedly to the mover's charges, concluding with the following sentences:—

In conclusion, I shall content myself with nothing less than what is set forth in my resolutions. I will not submit to having a report so dishonest and so scandalous as I have shown this to be still remaining among the records, to be unfairly quoted at any moment by persons whose capabilities of unfairness we have so often witnessed—to be made a handle of in a nefarious way at the general election, when it is desirable that the verdict of constituencies shall be honestly taken. I take my stand upon this ground, that I am above reproach in this matter—that the committee, with all its malignity and ingenuity, has failed to substantiate a charge against me, and that the charges recoil upon themselves by the unanswerable testimony I have adduced before the House. The laws of honourable dealing are against the authors of this report. The law of God declares ‘Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour;’ and I will not submit to that which would stamp our proceedings with disgrace, and which, if I submit to it, may at some future time fall upon the head of a worthier man.

My resolutions were substituted for those of Mr. Macleay, and passed by the Legislative Assembly by thirty-two to twenty-two votes amidst tumultuous cheering, the members immediately afterwards rising to their feet and giving three cheers for the Queen.

  ― 238 ―

Though it was three o'clock in the morning a large crowd waited outside the House for me, and cheered me to the echo. So ended the ‘conspiracy’of bitter sectaries and personal calumniators to destroy me in connection with the unhappy O'Farrell case.

In a book like this, whatever I may have wished to do, I could not omit this passage in my life. There were two objects to be served—to vindicate my own reputation, which I now leave with the facts and explanations placed on record, and to give a clear and definite character to the attempted assassination. It seems to me beyond dispute that the attempt upon the Duke of Edinburgh's life emanated from a plot. It is impossible that O'Farrell, a young man in the prime of early manhood, without any known vicious propensities, rational in all his conduct and conversation apart from this criminal act, without any individual motive to commit the crime, not goaded on by cruel or desperate feeling, could have deliberately made up his mind alone, unaided, and unabetted, to shoot the Prince. On the contrary, his own explanations were rational and clear from first to last, if due allowance is made for the state of mind which any man would be in who had taken an oath to abide by the lot, if it fell to him, to commit a murder. As to the existence of such plots at different times the evidence that has existed is overwhelming. To disprove that O'Farrell was the instrument of some such plot the most tortured construction must be put upon evidence, and belief must be refused to explanations for which no other explanations can be substituted. I do not seek to connect his crime with

  ― 239 ―
any party or section of people; his confederates may have been hare-brained visionaries; but that he attempted to murder the Duke of Edinburgh in obedience to an injunction from others, which horrified his soul, but which he felt must be obeyed, is to my mind abundantly clear.

As I have said, this lamentable occurrence had a thoroughly bad influence on the political life of the country. Crimination and recriminations arising out of it have not yet lost their effect. In our elections thousands of votes have been given under the dead weight of prejudices contracted from the rancorous animosities of the period. Men who were friends before were never friends afterwards. The one person who remained untouched by sinister influence and free from the ravages of distorted passion was the victim of the outrage, whose conduct under his suffering was in the highest sense commendable from first to last.

I copy in this chapter two letters from Mr. Carlyle which touch upon the chief features of my first months of Ministerial life, including the Edmonton struggle:—

Chelsea, October 22, 1867.

Dear Sir,—Several weeks ago there arrived from you a pleasant and very kind letter, testifying in various ways that you held me in good remembrance, and announcing, especially, that a colonial gift from your hand was on the road for me. Last week, after some little delay, due to certain British railway people, the munificent Sydney box was accurately handed in here, ‘completely safe and correct in every particular’(as I could now inform the punctual and obliging Mr. Buchanan), ‘and franco from the Antipodes to this door!’ So that all this is now a thing successful, faithfully achieved; and I am now in

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possession of my beautiful ‘Possum rug,’which I not a little admire, both as a specimen of useful peltry (probably enough ‘one of the best rugs’ ever made), and on other still more human considerations, for all which kind benefits, and for the warmth they are all suited to yield me in their various ways, please to accept my grateful acknowledgments and the best human thanks I have. You owed me nothing for 1862, it is rather I that owe you. There are traits and words about those innocent evenings you spent with us which I shall never forget. Your face is still present to me as if I saw it; and beautiful wise things said of you, by one whom I shall now behold no more!

Of the books &c. I made a cursory examination, and have them lying within reach when time allows of more. I had heard, long since, of your official position; which, I can now flatter myself, is of more stability than usual, and likely, on that and other grounds, to be of far more utility perhaps! Everybody seems to believe that whatever lies in you of real service to the colony and its best interests will be strenuously done. That is all that can be required of a man; and that is required of every man, in office or not in—tho' so very few even try to perform it!

By the newspapers that came with your letter, I see what babble and bother (about Irish priests, and other mane objects) an official man is exposed to; like a rider on express, by village dog's barking; but he ought to ride on, as nearly as possible ‘all the same,’with the due flourish of his whip, and (if it must be so) with the due passing salutation or lifting of the hat to said village dog, and, if possible, arrive before ‘the night’do!

I have been greatly shocked and surprised to hear that there is now—owing to abuses of the land law, and to internal intriguings—next to no immigration to your huge colonial continent of late; and that your majority by count of heads don't want any! I could hardly be brought to believe it; but it was from a reporter who had evident facilities for seeing, and who had just returned from a long stay in the country.

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Nowhere in all my historical enquiries have I met such an instance of human meanness, short-sighted, barefaced cupidity, and total want of even the pretension to patriotism, on the part of any governing entity, plebeian or princely! King Bomba, the Grand Duke, Great Mogul, and even the King of Dahomey, may hide their diminished heads! I hope always it is not quite so bad as reported.

A week or two ago I sent off to your address a pamphlet that had been worked out of me (for I live quite silent for above a year-and-half gone), which would show what my degree of admiration was of the great things we have been performing here lately, with a view to improve Government! Mr. Duffy had another copy, and I sent no third.

Adieu, dear sir; I wish you all success and prosperity, official and other, and beg a continuance of your regard.

Yours sincerely,


Chelsea, April 27, 1868.

Dear Sir,—Two days ago I received your obliging letter; and am glad to hear that all goes on well with you. By the newspapers you send I sometimes notice what provoking obstruction there is from the Irish Priest species, but rejoice to perceive you can patiently deal with it, and victoriously do some good in spite of it and other anarchisms and deliriums! For your two Enactments about Schools, it is certain all men are obliged to you more or less, and above and before all, your own colony in its present posture.

Poor England will have to prepare herself for quite other disasters, atrocities, and brute anarchisms at home and abroad …!—Did you see in the last Westminster Review an amazing and indeed quite unique Article on the Colony of Victoria? If any of your Melbourne &c. Newspapers can essentially contradict and extinguish it, by all means let the feat be done! Hardly elsewhere in this universe have I seen, both as regards ourselves and those ‘patriotic’Melbourners, a more accursed-looking

  ― 242 ―
thing! But I had better hasten to do the small bit of service you ask, and shut up the Pandora's Box in other respects.

Here are two Photographs; one of which you are to choose for yourself; the other by some opportunity you may convey to Mr.—

With many kindly regards, and best wishes for your prosperity, official, domestic, and personal,

Yours sincerely,


One of the early matters that attracted my attention in office was the condition of the asylums for the insane. Books on the treatment of lunacy, prison discipline, and the care of destitute children, had found a place in my general reading, and had awakened in my mind a deep interest in the consideration of such questions. The principal asylum was situated on Turhan Creek, about eight miles from Sydney. I visited this institution soon after my assumption of office. There was no sign of garden, or cultivation of any kind in the grounds surrounding the building; the building itself presented some features of architectural design, but the first noticeable evidence of the condition of the interior was seen in locked doors and barred windows. I had sat on committees of the Legislature where evidence had been taken as to the management of this institution; but such enquiries had been almost wholly confined to trumpery charges of peculation in the stores, or official favouritism, or negligence in appointments. Inexperienced as I was, it struck me at once that the root of the evil was much deeper, and that the management was radically wrong. The prison-like

  ― 243 ―
condition of the whole establishment was to me appalling.

About this time, a gentleman who held the position of surgeon on a ship of war in the harbour applied to me for an order to visit and inspect the asylum. This was the present Inspector-General of the Insane, Dr. Frederick Norton Manning, whose services in the humane cause of the proper care and treatment of the insane have since made his name eminent beyond the colony of New South Wales. In several conversations with Mr. Manning, I became convinced that he was the sort of man which the Government wanted in carrying out a thorough reform in our methods of treatment, and I proposed to him that he should obtain his discharge from the service to which he was then attached, and accept the principal office in our department of lunacy. This he assented to. In the first place, however, Mr. Manning was commissioned to visit Europe and America to enquire into, and report upon, the whole subject of the care and management of the insane as illustrated by the plans of construction, economic arrangements, and systems of treatment, in the best-known asylums. His instructions were full and precise in these respects; and he was accredited to the Imperial Government with a request that he might be officially introduced in foreign countries. Without loss of time Mr. Manning proceeded on his mission, and, having faithfully accomplished it, in due time he returned to the colony. He returned just as I was quitting office, through an unfortunate disagreement with my colleagues about the dismissal of a civil servant where I thought a wrong to

  ― 244 ―
an upright officer had been done; but the work so well begun was carried on with a noble purpose and singular aptitude by Mr. Manning. His report has been acknowledged by eminent authorities as an able and a valuable work on the subject.

In 1868, when Mr. Manning took charge, the Government had two asylums, one at Turhan Creek and one at Parramatta, and a private asylum had just been opened under authority. The total number of inmates was 1,230; their unhappy condition has already been indicated.

Dr. Manning, with whose valuable services and successful work we have now to deal, soon discovered a fine taste and a well-informed judgment in treating the natural surroundings of the asylums, as well as great skill and activity in reorganising and systematising matters within. He proved himself to be a man of much culture and refined habits of thought, whose heart was in his work. When he took charge, in 1868, to quote his own words, ‘the buildings used for asylums were grim without and comfortless within’; to a large extent they consisted of erections in former times for prison purposes. These have now been wholly abolished, and the new buildings which have taken their place, or occupied new ground, have been erected on the most improved plans, with a view to the healthful care and comfort of the inmates. The dormitories are airy and pleasant; the living rooms are enlivened with pictures and singing birds. All the courtyards contain pet animals and birds. The surrounding grounds have been converted into beautiful gardens, and the outside walls

  ― 245 ―
of the buildings are aglow with the bloom of luxuriant creepers. Spacious rooms have been built, where on the Sunday religious services are held, and frequently in the evenings of the week concerts or other entertainments are given to the patients, who are allowed much freedom, many of them engaging in light employments. In their out-of-door life they are permitted and encouraged to take part in innocent games.

On November 30, 1891, the total number of insane persons in the asylums of New South Wales was 3,151; but relatively to the increase of population there has been no positive increase, while in England and in other countries during the same period the relative number has increased absolutely. Throughout the period since 1868, the proportion of insane persons to the general population has remained about one to 380. Much has been done, under the supervision of Dr. Manning, in the classification of patients, and in the separation of distinct classes, such as criminals, confirmed idiots, and chronic cases of suffering. In the system established there has been a marked improvement in methods—the patients are more individualised, and the whole treatment adopted is based on hospital rather than on asylum principles. Few things have been more creditable to the colony than the thorough reforms of the last twenty-five years in this province of administration.

During the first period of my official life, it became my duty to give effect to the Industrial Schools Act passed in 1866. I purchased the merchant vessel which for the last twenty-four years has borne an honourable reputation as the Nautical School Ship

  ― 246 ―
Vernon, still floating on the waters of Port Jackson, but shortly to be replaced by a finer and more roomy ship. This Institution has been the means of educating and starting in a safe course of industry many hundreds of boys who, it is almost a certainty, would otherwise have perished amidst the haunts of vice and misery. Fortunately, from the first it has been under excellent superintendence; and few visitors ever leave it without a good word for the admirable training which the boys receive. The Vernon has sent out into the world 2,348 destitute boys (December 31, 1891), of whom less than 10 per cent. have appeared as the subjects of bad or doubtful reports afterwards. An industrial school for girls has not been so successful, though it has done good work in the rescue of female children from neglect and ruin. Soon after the establishment of this last-named institution, a revolt occurred among the inmates, and I quote here a letter which I directed to be addressed to the superintendent on the occasion as containing my views of the character and objects of the school and the qualities necessary for its conduct and success:—

Colonial Secretary's Office, Sydney, July 22, 1868.

Madam,—I am directed to inform you that the Colonial Secretary has had under his consideration the case of insubordination among the inmates of the Industrial School of which you are Superintendent and the conduct of yourself and the other officers in relation to this occurrence. He has read the documents noted in the margin and has taken much trouble to obtain a correct knowledge of the cause of the late disturbance, in order that the most effectual measures may be adopted to guard against any similar disorders.

Mr. Parkes regrets that the evidence before him leads to

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the conclusion that throughout these unfortunate occurrences much blame is justly attributable to yourself as Superintendent. No person who has not fully considered its objects is justified in undertaking the management of an Institution like that which has been committed to your charge; and the person who accepts so serious a responsibility ought to keep its objects always in view. Representations of the bad behaviour of the inmates cannot be received in apology for the injudicious conduct of the officers. Sufficient self-restraint should be exercised at all times to avoid irritating language or inconsiderate punishment in the treatment of these children. Hurry of the moment, heat of temper, or personal annoyance on the part of the Superintendent is no excuse for ill performance of duty. The school has not been founded for good and obedient children. The Superintendent is not wanted to take charge of children who have been properly instructed and trained. The Legislature wisely sanctions the large expenditure required for its support, to provide a home for the homeless, to establish a moral authority over those who, it may be presumed, have hitherto known little of parental control, to instruct by precept and example a class of helpless young creatures whose only title to be received into such an Institution is that they have been neglected by their natural protectors and allowed to sink into a state of ignorance and vice.

If this is a correct view of the objects and character of the Institution (and the Colonial Secretary does not think that you will take exception to its correctness), much of what you have said in explanation of the late disturbance and of your own conduct must be held to be of little value. It explains nothing to say that the difficulty of management lies in the vicious dispositions of the inmates, for it is in dealing successfully with those vicious dispositions that the Institution has its use.

The Colonial Secretary is not disposed to attach undue weight to the statements of the refractory girls that you on several occasions upbraided them in unbecoming and unseemly language. He has not failed to notice that in the worst expressions complained of, supposing that words of the kind were used, the

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meaning may have been easily misunderstood or perverted by the class of minds to whom they were addressed; and, knowing the high character you have borne, he cannot bring himself to the belief that you could be provoked into the use of language so unwomanly and gross as is attributed to you in some cases by the testimony of these girls. But the fact that charges of so unseemly a character have been made against you should convince you of the necessity of being at all times circumspect and self-respecting in the language you address to the inmates and in your whole conduct towards them. In a manner unknown to themselves they look to you for an example. If not to you, to whom can the poor creatures look? One of these young girls, in her evidence before the Inspector of Public Charities, expressed herself in touching terms of reproach. ‘We thought we came here to be reformed!’ So it will ever be, if the thought is suffered to find a resting-place that they are not treated in accordance with the professed anxiety of the State for their moral improvement.

Mr. Parkes is of opinion, however, that the evidence before him shows that your language to the inmates has often been hasty and inconsiderate, and sometimes petulant and unnecessarily harsh. To upbraid these unfortunate girls with their former courses of life or the failings of their parents would be heartless and cruel, and could have but one tendency—to harden them against all amendment and to embitter them against their instructors. Though you deny that you have done this in the direct phrases attributed to you, I am to express regret that there appears to be ground for believing that the feeling must have made itself evident in some form or other in your intercourse with the girls. Mr. Inspector Walker reports that some of the girls made these complaints with unfeigned reluctance and grief; and it cannot be easily believed that girls, however abandoned, would invent charges of this character.

It is observable also from the evidence that there has not been sufficient regularity, order, and decision in the arrangements of the Establishment. The duties of each office should be clearly defined and should be of a character not to interfere

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with the duties of any other. In no case should you as Superintendent give an order without seeing that it is carried into effect, but you should be very careful not to give an unnecessary or an imprudent order. The whole of the officers should be enjoined to conduct themselves at all times with a due regard for the usefulness of the offices they respectively hold, and without any undue familiarity with the inmates; and to maintain authority and command obedience more by a consistent observance of the rules of kindness and humanity than by resorting to means of coercion and punishment. And it is thought that in so commodious a building the means of classification might be devised by which the elder girls could be separated from the younger ones. Any such arrangement would be salutary in its effects.

Mr. Parkes is glad to observe that the faults in your management are for the most part errors of judgment. No one charges you with inhumanity or neglect of duty. For this reason, and also in consideration of the difficulties inseparable from the organisation of a new Establishment, you will be retained in charge of the Institution. But I am to direct your earnest attention to the suggestions of improvement which have been made with a view to more effective discipline.

I have the honour to be, Madam,

Your obedient servant,


Under Secretary.