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I. Worshipful Masters




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1. Chapter I Charles Badham

MY first public dinner was a banquet given to Dr Badham on his seventieth birthday in the vestibule of the Town Hall. The toast of the guest was given by William Bede Dalley, “whose friendship,” said Badham, “has sweetened and aromatized my life here from beginning to end.”

Dalley belonged to a generation that was full of men who, without university training, went far through liveliness of intellect, fondness for culture, and an ambition to excel in literary skill. Perhaps the man who best of all deserves the name of genius in these regards was Daniel Henry Deniehy, a young Irishman who in his earliest days stood side by side with Parkes and Wentworth in the demand for self-government for the colony. Deniehy's literary remains, affectionately gathered together by Miss Ironsides, to whom he had been at one time engaged, disclose a wide range of reading.

His masterpiece “How I became Attorney-General of New Barataria” is a very brilliant political satire which won Bulwer Lytton's admiration,


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and, if the personages had been known to European instead of to Sydney politics, would have become a classic of the language. The very title is a brilliant conception. A famous episode in Don Quixote is that in which a practical joke is played on the peasant Sancho Panza, who is duped into believing that the King has made him Governor of an island called Barataria. In reality all the honour and luxury by which the jokers surround him is staged in an obscure part of Spain, and the fun of the story is in the promotion of such a misfit to a station where he proceeds to make of government a topsy-turvy imitation of the legitimate thing. Deniehy's suggestion that New South Wales had been made a New Barataria where an ignoramus could be set to rule was a fine stroke of literary suggestion with which to punish the Government that had made the appointment Deniehy wished to ridicule. Dalley figures in the sketch as “Little Tip Top,” a term calling up the vivacity and the dressiness of Dalley, always faultlessly turned out, always with a flower in his buttonhole, and generally with a neatly rolled umbrella. According to Deniehy's biting story Little Tip Top had a very keen nose for the aroma that surrounds “a good English family.” What happened was that a certain Holyoake Bayley, an obscure barrister who had come out to the colony, was suddenly made Attorney-General,


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and Deniehy describes Dalley's obsequious but gay insistence on the surprised visitor's acceptance of the post. Dalley calls on him in his empty chambers, shuts the door, peers into the cupboards, and then sits down on a chair with his arms folded across the back, as cavalry officers do. A shrewd thrust is given here when the narrator of the story (the Attorney-General speaking to his English cronies in a London club after his return) condescendingly comments on Tip Top's aptitude in picking up the ways of gentlemen.

Dalley, however hurt at the time, was (as J. A. Froude, who met him in Sydney, well said of him) “a man at all points,” and he not only forgave Deniehy but befriended him in the misfortunes brought on by sociability carried too far. In their last conversation, when Deniehy was dragging about the streets of Bathurst, the fallen star of democratic oratory quoted bitterly:—

The dog that's lame is much to blame,
He is not fit to live.note

Deniehy's statue, forgotten among the absurd


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abominations that deface the Lands Office, happens to possess a singular quality of realism. The shrinking slender figure, the bent shoulders, and the pathetic droop of the head as if overladen with thought and sorrow, accord well with all one hears of this bright meteor so soon extinguished.

Dalley's statue, too, in Hyde Park, has a truth and character of its own. The confidence and bright gaiety of pose, the persuasive smile, and the debonair gesture belong to Dalley in his best days. It was my misfortune to see him only twice—once when (as I have said) he proposed Badham's health on his seventieth birthday, and was visibly weighed down by ill-health, and again at Badham's funeral, when his sensitive face was refined into a more engaging humanity than that of the dashing man-about-town of his earlier photographs. His latest photograph shows him as I saw him then, the consciousness of approaching fate seeming to prompt the thought in him as in Keats

that I must die
Like a sick eagle looking on the sky.




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Photograph facing p.4. Dr Badham



Dalley's pursuit of pleasure was angrily spoken of by the late Judge Windeyer, but fits of religious contrition alternated to keep his nature from any lasting contamination of the soul. He must have been a man of the most perfect kindliness, for I have never heard of a word or act that spelt ill-will to any human being. A chemist told me that, when he was a youngster at Manly, Dalley wanted some one to poison a favourite Newfoundland which had to be destroyed out of mercy. Dalley could not give the dose himself, but came out on to the lawn, asked the young man if it would be painless and certain, and then, thanking him with a break in his voice, turned away, leaving a five-pound note in his hand.

Even his criticism was without bitterness. When an opponent to his candidature in East Sydney tried to rouse the feelings of the sectarians, Dalley simply quoted the Scotch phrase about “ridin' on the riggin' (i.e. the ridge cap) of the Kirk” and went on to ridicule “this species of ecclesiastical equestrianism.” And when he defended the Sudan contingent sent on his initiative in 1885, he denounced “the parochial circumscription of our politics” without calling his opponents traitors to the Empire.

The Badham Banquet was a great night for a youngster. The tickets cost thirty-five shillings, and I have never yet been able to remember how


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I collected such a sum of money in those days. There were twenty-two courses, and, with Dalley in the confidence of the caterers, the wines came on in orthodox order and profusion. I ate every course, and afterwards walked home to St Paul's College, treading (but treading firmly) on air all the way. At the end of the banquet four of us were left. We elected Edmund Barton to the chair (on which he stood, not sat). We toasted every official of the university down to the Yeoman Bedell—Joe Burrows.

Badham's speech was unforgettable. At the age of seventy his innate talent for acting (which Cardinal Newman admired) was still vigorous. Having compared the praise which he had received to a garment offered him, he said:—

Now, what am I to do with all this praise? Am I to falter and simper, and throw myself into absurd postures of ill-timed modesty, and throw aside the royal robe which you have offered me? No, I will put on the royal robe; I will stand out in the full majesty of self-assertion, so that not a spangle of it or a fold of it shall be hidden by the wearer. What is the first thing I am to do, now that I am endued with this royalty?

At this point he picked up a long carving-knife from the table and held it out while he drew himself up in a kingly fashion, so that he seemed to expand before our eyes, and went on:—

The first thing I do is to extend the sceptre of


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my septuagenarian clemency over all those fools and impostors that have attacked me since I came to these shores.

Among those fools and impostors he no doubt included the bigots of “grammar” and “analysis” who in those days tortured the children of the public schools with fierce schedules in which were tabulated all kinds of long-winded formulas about the parts of speech. In his Open Letter to Dalley on Primary Education, Badham argued that all this pedantry was useless, and that a man might write and speak English admirably without knowing a word of the esoteric terminology beloved at the time by the Education Department.

“What,” said Badham, “does Mr Robertson know about ‘relational adjectives?’ Ask Mr Parkes to analyse any of his own sentences! And yet I suppose Mr Robertson knows what adjectives to use; and when Mr Parkes has a subject in hand you may be pretty sure that the predicate will follow, to the delight of some and the amazement of others.”

One can imagine the old hands of the Australian Club and other men about town chuckling over an allusion from so dignified a source to the “adjectives” in which Sir John Robertson was the recognized expert practitioner. The man-of-the-world touch was characteristic. While Badham's scholarship was accurate and profound no man ever took a more lively and natural part in the life around him. If he was a sage or pundit, he was


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also a gossip. He had been a boon companion of Huxley (who speaks in his journal of sitting up till 3 a.m. with Badham) and was a “clubbable man,” as Johnson says, all his days. But he had a sharp and cynic tongue in worldly matters. A neatly-groomed professor, fresh from London, who was not very welcome, he described as “a dapper little man with all the cleanly instincts of the cat.” When it came to the serious controversies of the University he would denounce in sterner tones. A bachelor clergyman, said to be a woman-hater, who had become conspicuous by an unlucky comparison of some Sydney ladies engaged in bazaar work to the daughters of Moab (because both were employing the allurement of beauty in the service of religion) came under Badham's wrath when he proposed for the Senate a rival to the Professor's nominee. At the convocation of graduates in the University Great Hall, where candidates were proposed as in the old days of hustings speeches, Badham described this amiable parson as one “whose two distinguishing characteristics are a morbid love of notoriety, and a malignity which only sleeps when it is dreaming over fresh fields in which to exercise its diabolical ingenuity!” This astounding sentence was poured out with a mien of patriarchal scorn and in the rich deep tones of a voice apt for all the needs of the orator.

The clergyman thus denounced was Vice-Warden


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of St Paul's College, and there was not a student there who did not love and admire him in spite of certain eccentricities. He had a rooted antipathy to gathering in money for the Church by showman's methods. One of the attractions at Ye Olde English Fayre (the bazaar in question) was a 3 p.m. parade in fancy costumes of pretty society girls serving at the stalls. It takes a long step to cross from this benign procession in the Garden Palace to the plains of Midian where the daughters of Moab stopped at nothing in wooing the children of Israel to give up their orthodoxy for the Moabite “doxy.” Members of the Synod, where the offending analogy was drawn, looked up Numbers XXV. 1 and 2, and were so angered that Mr Brodribb, M.L.C., whose daughter helped in the bazaar told the reverend speaker that if it weren't for his coat he'd be horsewhipped. Synod applauded but the Vice-Warden, shy and kindly as he was, stood his ground on the identity of principle while of course disowning the ridiculous construction put on his words. Still, in the view of Badham, the comparison was indeed odious.

I never knew a public man so open in censure, or so little concerned to dissemble anger. He once said to Dalley that he had hoped to follow a diplomatic career in Europe. His superb linguistic accomplishments and racy wit would have stood him in good stead—but Dalley's comment was a


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shrewd one. “The dear old boy's temper would have been too volcanic.” Dalley knew; for once, when a Senate meeting was held in the Sydney Hospital Board Room, Badham told a certain boisterous Judge “to go to ....

where good manners won't let me tell,”

(as Pope Gregory says to Sir Ingoldsby Bray). He then flounced out of the room, and Dalley followed him into Macquarie Street trying, for a long time vainly, to pacify him.

Strange to say, it was in an outburst of temper that I first saw the G.O.M. of those university days. For matriculation we schoolboys were examined in the Great Hall in company with the first and second year students. These graduates of undergraduate disorder and irreverence began a row, scraping chairs on the marble floor of that noble basilica of learning, banging tables, etc. Naturally the matriculants joined in, though mere novices. Presently a venerable figure hurried in. Plucking at his beard, shaking his fist, and stamping his foot, Badham poured out in his own opulent diction the most dreadful menaces, especially for the “crowning act of contumacy,” of those who were not yet admitted to the University and who, if they persisted in abusing their privileges, never would be. I had gone up to the University with a young prig's prejudice against a man believed, in a Puritan household, to be


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something of a sceptic though a clergyman, and something of a Bohemian though a pundit. And with the cool effrontery of boyhood I thought his tearing of a passion to tatters a little unbecoming. As I was just then feeding on Tennyson with the fresh appetite of seventeen, it was natural to recall his description of the old squire storming at his daughter for loving a social inferior.

a hoary face
Meet for the reverence of the hearth, but now
Vext with unworthy madness, and deform'd.

I was right in part. The whole thing was a splendid piece of theatricals. As soon as he had cowed the crowd, Badham passed into the ante-room where the third year was sitting, and winking at them, observed “That'll keep the youngsters quiet for a while!”

Badham's wink was speech as well as gesture. His face would glisten, lines of mirth seemed to be suddenly limned on his cheek in circle after circle, while the light of genius flashed from the half-closed eye and the broad brow seemed to endow the jest with all the vitality of conscious power. Puns and verbal quips were not proscribed by a soul as free from pedantry as it was rich in culture. Thus, Cicero and other Latin speakers often use the word “Quid?” as a mere stopgap, like the modern dandy's “Eh, what?” “You needn't translate it,” said Badham. Then (putting


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his hand up to his mouth and rolling his tongue round his cheek to suit the words) “the orator simply takes the quid out of his mouth (at this point, he mimicked a sailor passing his “quid” into his hand and throwing it on the deck) and goes on.”

On another occasion a favourite pupil was asked by one of the Badham family whether he knew that the expression “saved by the skin of his teeth” was in the Bible. For once the brilliant young scholar, now the most brilliant of the old scholars, was nonplussed. It happened that he had been brought up as a Roman Catholic, and Badham rescued him by a sly dig at the ponderous Latinized diction of the Douay translation. “Of course Tom doesn't know it,” said “the Old Man,” “he reads the Douay version, which says ‘preserved by the integument of his mandibles.’ ” This, of course, was pure invention.

When I visited Oxford in 1887 I went to Badham's old college. The then Master had not known him, but told some stories of his Bohemian habits and of his repute as an inimitable scholar in his own fashion but something careless of the ways of the schools, and of the set curriculum. In those days the M.A. degree was given on presenting an essay in Latin, the subject being left to the candidate, and one night, when Badham got back to his rooms after a late sitting, he found a visitor waiting


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for him. The young man told Badham that he was in despair about his Latin thesis for the higher degree, and that with this degree he was sure of a church living, and not without it. Would Badham write him one? Normally, nothing would have been easier. Badham was the favourite pupil of the famous Pestalozzi, and had passed most of his boyhood on the continent, acquiring modern as well as the classical tongues as if they were his own. He told Professor Butler that when he came to Eton at fifteen they laughed at his broken English, and I remember him saying to me once that at Eton he would sometimes write Latin or Greek verses on the set subject for each of half a dozen boys in the Sixth Form.

But the circumstances were not normal, and to all entreaties Badham said, “You see how I am!” At last he was persuaded to put a wet towel round his head, and, sitting up in bed, he dictated a complete thesis. This was sent in, and a fortnight later the would-be clergyman was called up to hear the examiners' report. They began by applauding the freshness of ideas, the beauty of phrase, and the elegant Latinity of the proffered thesis. This was too much for the candidate. It might pass as only a pious fraud to be indebted for a church living to a bit of unavowed co-operation, but it was quite another thing to sit and swallow all this honey as if it had been hived in his own garden. He was just


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about to blurt out a confession when the chairman said “Unfortunately, there is one objection to recommending you for the degree on the strength of this thesis, and that is—we think that there is only one man now in Oxford who can write such Latin; Badham of Wadham.”

Readers of Charles Reade's Hard Cash may remember that at the Oxford and Cambridge boat race “Badham of Wadham” presses in upon the hero with some unwelcome exhortations about rowing for the honour of the University and gets snubbed for his pains. I have wondered often whether Reade's introduction of the name was meant to be friendly or not. It is interesting to recall that Badham of Wadham became Badham of Sydney, where he endeared himself not only to the wise among his generation who admired him for his scholarship and for his zeal in spreading culture throughout the colony, but also to his students who loved him for the free fountain in him of human nature and goodwill which kept green and fertile the pastures through which he led his flock.

He was a scholar and a ripe and good one,

Exceeding wise, fair spoken and persuading,

Lofty and sour to those who loved him not,

But to those men who sought him sweet as summer.




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2. Chapter II “Coonamble” Taylor

THE Athenaeum Club of Sydney in the nineties was a real club, most clubs nowadays being restaurants with residential accommodation. The Athenaeum was a place where a young man could hear first-class minds discussing all things under the sun. It had on the literary side brilliant men such as Tom Butler, Professor W. J. Stephens, MacCallum, Alexander Oliver, Nugent Robertson, men among whom Gilbert Parker and P. J. Holdsworth seemed minor talkers, while Barton, Richard (afterwards Mr Justice) O'Connor, Sir William Lyne, and B. R. Wise talked politics, and jolly commercial men like “Bill” Clark kept the ball rolling with good story-telling—the word “good” having here an artistic, not necessarily an ethical, connotation. Learned or distinguished visitors from other States and countries made it a Mecca in this Arabia Felix of the Antipodes.

Robert Louis Stevenson graced its reading-room and Mark Twain its dining-room. The latter, while in Sydney, described an experience


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with Loisette and his Memory System. He laboured faithfully, and at first found his memory so much improved that he gave Loisette a testimonial which was published all over the States. But the effect wore off, and Mark Twain wrote asking Loisette to withdraw the advertisement. He did nothing. A sharper request was also ignored. “At last,” said Mark Twain “I told him that if he didn't withdraw my testimonial, I'd expose his past. That settled him.”

ERNEST BLACKWELL: What was there about his past, Mr Clemens?

MARK TWAIN: Oh, I didn't know, but I knew he must a' had one!

Loisette had at the time been recently in Sydney where he printed a book with the title How to attend and never forget. His printer said that whenever he called to see proofs he almost invariably went off without his umbrella. This difference between precept and practice was like that of the Abbé in Heine's school-days “who had written a book about Universal Peace and in whose class there was more fighting than in all the rest of Dusseldorf.”

Many years after Loisette came a public performer who called himself Datas and had a truly phenomenal memory for dates and names and figures. He and Houdini the “escapologist” who


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could free himself from any ropes or locks with which he was confined, and do this in any position, were in Sydney at the same time and both stayed at the Australia. Meeting at supper after their stage performances their mutual entertainment went on so long that when they found themselves upstairs Datas could not remember the number of his bedroom and Houdini could not get his latchkey out of his pocket.

The Athenaeum ultimately failed, though its members did their best to carry out Barton's financial policy that the club should “drink itself out of debt.” In its palmy days a frequent guest was W. J. Taylor, a solicitor who came from a good practice in the country and was called “Coonamble” Taylor to distinguish him from the celebrated Bohemian politician and bush-lawyer, A. G. Taylor, who appeared in person before the Privy Council and overthrew a decision of Barton's as Speaker, ordering his removal from the House. Professor “Tom” Butler (whose conversation excelled for richness, variety, wit, and warm good-nature anything I have ever known—and I have been lucky), was a devotee of the club so well known to the cabmen's rank opposite as liable on any night to miss the last train to Petersham that they would have driven him home for nothing, just as a matter of professional decency. Indeed on one occasion he hailed a cabby and was


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just getting in, when he found he had no cash. The cabby said, “Oh, bless you, Sir, that's all right. I know you Athenian gents.” A wiser slip was never made, considering that so good a judge of classical learning as Professor Stephens said that, in his appreciations of literature as well as an immense reading in Greek, he was one of the few that had the true Attic salt. A jeweller recently advised me that it is a good thing to wind up a watch in the morning, so that the spring is taut during the principal hours of a watch's exposure to shock, and slack in the slack hours. In the days when you had to get the watch-key into the hole and fit it on to the “pillar” this “Athenian gent” formed the habit of winding up his watch in the mornings for a reason of his own discovery.

Coonamble Taylor was a great loss to the comic stage. A tall, lean, thin figure ended in a keen, small face, the mouth of which was always ready with a sort of choked-back humour, his smile having a mock reluctance about it. He could make you laugh in advance when he stopped you in the street and seemed to be about to brim over with a coming story.

He cultivated David Buchanan, and knew how to draw him out. David also cultivated Taylor, but, so far as briefs were concerned, not very successfully, for Taylor's practice was precarious. My own first brief came from him, and, strange


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to say, so did the fee. I had met him for the first time a few nights before, when Professor Butler, after our serious academic labours with the evening students, was entertaining me on the way home at an hotel in Parramatta Street. That first fee, paid on the spot, provided, on the next lecture evening, effervescence of a higher order than that of the customary and much-praised Bulldog, the bite of which was so much better than its bark.

Though his practice was small, Taylor nursed it very assiduously in some ways. He was often out of the office, which was near Adams' and its Marble Bar then newly and nudely decorated by Julian Ashton. But Taylor had two hats, and if a client or near-client or look-like client came in during Taylor's absence, his clerk would glance at the hat that was in the office and say “Mr Taylor must be in the building somewhere—his hat's in the room.” This clerk was himself a duplicate, indeed a multiple, functionary; Taylor alluding to him as his equity clerk or his common law clerk or divorce clerk or bankruptcy clerk, as the business of the client might require. Solicitors are, as a rule, more resourceful than barristers. The late “Bob” Smith, solicitor to the University, could play golf well with both hands. He went round with two caddies, two sets of clubs, and four sets of language. No barrister could equal this.

Buchanan valued himself for his disregard of


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the conventions, and, coming in to see Taylor one day when both his hats and all his clerks were there at the same time, he discoursed about his high appreciation of solicitors as a class:—

“I tell ye, Taylor, there's a lot of snobbery talked about ‘the lower branch’ of our profession. There's no doubt at all in my opinion that ye'll find solicitors that for learning and sound judgment and honourable integrity are in all possible respects the equal of any man on the barristers' roll, whether he's a Q.C. or a junior.”

It happened that, not long before, Buchanan had been briefed in a criminal defence by a Hebrew solicitor named, let us say, Hartmann, practising in Boree. His brief was marked thirty guineas, but at lunch-time on the second day Buchanan pointed out to Hartmann the “extraordinary deeficulty” of getting the prisoner off, and said he thought he might peradventure succeed, but was certain beyond peradventure that his fee ought to be increased. Hartmann said “Certainly,” and at once altered the marking on the brief to forty guineas.

Buchanan won the case, but never saw either the forty guineas or the thirty or any moiety or other portion or parcel thereof, or any of the rents, suits, and services issuing therefrom. Taylor had heard of this, and it gave him an opening. To Buchanan's eulogy of attorneys he replied by saying, “I quite


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agree with what you say, Buchanan! I've had a letter to-day from a country solicitor who is just what you describe. He has a wonderful grasp of the principles of law, he's a very wise and cautious adviser to all his clients, and you could stake your life on his honourable conduct.”

BUCHANAN: And who might that be, Taylor?

TAYLOR: A man named Hartmann, of Boree.

BUCHANAN: Hartmann of Boree! I tell ye what it is, Taylor! There are some of these rascally creatures who are not content with rejecting the teachings of Christianity, but they don't pay me my fees!

Talking of Buchanan's braggadocio about winning cases, Taylor told a story of Frank Smyth—an affable and rather dandified “elegant” who had not much practice but a good independence and standing that gave him a social entrée every-where. Buchanan and Smyth were travelling on the box-seat of the coach from Orange Circuit Court to Bathurst. Every now and then Buchanan would point out some cottage or house and say something like this: “Smyth, d'ye see yon dwelling? There's a mon there whose wife I defended for aidin' and abettin' in the stealin' of sheep. It was a purrfectly clear case, but I wrought upon the jury with the utmost of all my powerr and eloquence, and I got her off.”

So with other criminal offences. Arson, rape,


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robbery under arms, house-breaking, forgery, embezzlement—all were apparently the rural pastimes of Buchanan's western clients. At this rate, thought Smyth, what is to become of the fine new gaols at Darlinghurst, Bathurst, Goulburn, etc.? The natural increase of our gaol population was being rendered abortive by the misdirected skill of one practitioner.

Smyth was pained to think that the settlement of our great western lands was being left to felons set at large by such a novel form of gaol delivery. He therefore waited for a chance, and said: “Do you see that wattle-and-daub hut on the hill, Buchanan? A client of mine lives there. I was defending him when he lived near Dubbo, and everybody thought he must go up because it was as clear a case as could be. However I pulled him through.”

BUCHANAN: Aye, Smyth; I congratulate ye. And what was the charrge?

SMYTH: Suicide!

Taylor's memory was a storehouse filled from earlier times. Buchanan at Bathurst had been having a story day with Sir Alfred Stephen, then Chief Justice. Toward the evening adjournment things were so warm that Sir Alfred told Buchanan to sit down, and when Buchanan still growled out what he took for argument, threatened to commit him for contempt. Buchanan still fought on, and


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Sir Alfred thought the best thing to do was to adjourn the Court. Accordingly the crier announced: “All persons having any business before this honourable Court depart hence and give your attendance to-morrow morning at ten of the clock, and you shall be heard. God save the Queen!”

Hardly had the words “the Queen” been spoken when Buchanan was on his feet protesting and pressing his contention. Sir Alfred lost all patience.

CHIEF JUSTICE: Mr Buchanan, this is too much! I've warned you over and over again, and you persist in defying the Court. I now commit you for contempt, to be confined in Bathurst gaol as a first-class misdemeanant for seven days.

BUCHANAN: But, your Honour, ye cann't. The Court's adjourned!

Sir Alfred must have looked as the Warden of St Paul's College once looked when a different point of jurisdiction was taken. A number of students, including in all human probability the present Chief Justice of New South Wales, were assembled in their night-shirts—it was before the age of pyjamas—in the room of A. W. Macansh, now a model of the family and company solicitor. The young are often futurists, and we were anticipating the evolution of jazz by the aid of a French horn, a concertina, some fire-irons tied round the ankle for pounding on the fender, and all that we possessed of vocal malpractice, natural


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or acquired. The Warden came in and ordered us to our rooms. Macansh invited us to stay as his guests. The Warden insisted. Macansh objected on grounds of jurisdiction under the by-laws, “Your only power in a student's own room is to order the removal of objectionable pictures from the walls. These gentlemen (!) are not objectionable pictures, and what's more, they're not on the walls.” The Warden might have “demurred” to the first of these allegations, but the second he had to “confess” and was unable to “avoid.” The result was that Macansh signed judgment for want of a rejoinder, and the Warden left us, as Sir Alfred left Buchanan.

Buchanan in the House had a standing feud with “Jack” McElhone, a brainier man than Buchanan and even rougher in the use of his tongue, as he once showed on the East Sydney hustings. He was talking of the necessity of providing work for the children of the country. A woman interjected, “What if you haven't got any children?” “Change the bull!” roared McElhone. A reputation such as his for abusiveness daunted more decent men, but not Buchanan, who after one quarrel in the House followed McElhone into the lobby and challenged him to fight. McElhone came back into the House to complain of Buchanan's misconduct in “the precincts.” Buchanan followed and sat behind him. When


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McElhone was finished, Buchanan got up and said: “Mr Speaker, suppawse ye could encounter in any Parliament of the Empire, in the British House of Commons, if such a thing were possible, a ruffian wholly destitute of every principle of rectitude and integrity and entirely ignorant of the meaning of the same—a man who, being met in the corridors by a member whom he has grievously insulted with the words ‘Hold up your hands, ye cowardly scoundrel, or I'll smite ye to the earth,’ coolly sneaks away and shelters himself under the despicable plea of parrliamentary prrivilege; suppawse, Mr Speaker….” Here the mild and dignified Sir Wigram Allen, the Speaker, rose.

MR SPEAKER: I hope, Mr Buchanan, these expressions do not apply to any member of this House.

BUCHANAN (waving his hand almost down on to McElhone's head): Mr Speaker, to whom should they apply?

The then Sergeant-at-arms, a very handsome figure of a man, “Larry” Harnett to most men, and Lorenzo the Magnificent to the cognoscenti of the Athenaeum, had an excellent actor's memory. He wrote this deliverance down, and it was published as Mr Buchanan's opinion of Mr McElhone in Sydney Punch, which was then running, if so lively a term is applicable to so dull a paper. Harnett met Buchanan and congratulated him on


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the fact that his fine speech had been printed. Buchanan, who had not seen the paper, said “Aye, Harnett, the ruffian affects not to feel it, but 'a' winces under it when 'a' knows that it is hung up in every home in Australia as his true and unmistakable effigy.”

After such utterances no wonder Buchanan gave to a collection of his speeches the title An Australian Orator.

Taylor was an admirable mimic, and one evening at the Athenaeum Club he told us that on his last Sunday before leaving Coonamble he thought it was time he went to church. In the morning he went to Mass, and at the end of his sermon the priest gave out the announcements, among them the following, which was rendered by Taylor with a rich and juicy brogue:—

Next Sunday, being the festival of the holy Saint Michael and all Angels, the devotions of the Portiunculae will be celebrated in this Church. The plenary indulgences thereby obtained will be devoted to the redemption of the souls in Porgatory and to no wann else.

Now, my children, come you early to Mass, and mind ye leave your dogs at home!

By way of the reunion of Christendom, Taylor went to the Anglican church at night. With a few loose sheets of paper he preached a model muddle of a sermon in which the preacher got the leaves of a written discourse all mixed up, the


  ― 27 ―
inconsequent sequence of sentences from wrong pages being wonderfully pieced together with all the frowning sobriety of a parson who has had a drop. This clergyman also had announcements to make. The written ones were all right, but an impromptu addition ran thus:—“Next Tuesda' being Ash Wednesda' there will be pancakes for myself and verger in the vestry at eleven.”

One has to be as lucky or as inventive as Taylor to hear amusing things in church, but I once heard a sermon by Dr David Rutledge which doubled up the decorous daughters of Dr Badham's family sitting in a pew in front of me at St Stephen's, Newtown. The sermon was on very primitive lines about the danger of putting off the hour of salvation, the text being “Behold! I stand at the door and knock.” “Suppose,” said the preacher, “you are sitting by the fireside on a cold and stormy night with a pleasant book. You hear a knock, and you say: ‘Oh! That's so and so, I'll finish this chapter and then let him in.’ You finish the chapter, but read on; the knocking is repeated, and still you give the same response. Ah, my brethren! don't expect, when in your own convenient season you go to admit your friend—don't expect, I say, to find the knocker still there.”

Dr Rutledge obtained his medical degree while


  ― 28 ―
he was curate at St Stephens, Newtown. When he was asked “How do you manage to mug up Gray's Anatomy and preach twice every Sunday as well?” “Oh, that's quite easy,” he replied. “After breakfast on Sunday morning I take down the Old Book, select a text and turn it over in my mind on my way to church. By the time I get into the pulpit I could preach on it for a month.”

When he came to practise in College Street he was more interested in the pathology of his patients' souls than in their other infirmities. Eventually he returned to his sacred calling and in that he often annoyed parishioners by his readiness to minister to their bodily ailments rather than to their spiritual needs. When a clergyman asks one of his followers who has brought him a case of conscience to show him the place where it hurts there is sure to be something in the nature of a difference.

There have been, of course, eminent men who combined religion and medicine. A leading physician in London whom I shall call Dr Ewart was once called in to Queen Victoria with breezy Dr “Tommy” Smith. After examining the patient they went into another room for consultation. Dr Ewart said very solemnly, “Before we begin, Smith! I wish to withdraw for a time and invoke the Divine guidance.”

“Now, Ewart!” said “Tommy,” “None of


  ― 29 ―
that! I won't have any unregistered practitioner brought into this case!”

It was like Barton's princely ways that, when he broke an ankle during his Speakership and was laid up for a fortnight, he thought that every royal invalid ought to have a royal jester, and so invited Taylor to stay with him in comfortable quarters taken for the nonce in Macquarie Street. Taylor was an enthusiast for Barton, but the temperance regime he found too much for him. In the morning rum-and-milk preceded the bath. Then breakfast, with Barton, rosy and genial, asking after Taylor's health. About eleven o'clock Barton would say: “Captain Broomfield sent me over some very fine sherry that has been round the world in the wood as sherry ought to do. I think we might try a glass.” The sherry was brought in, and the “trial,” including some new trial motions, was protracted till past noon. At lunch a quart bottle of stout or beer apiece. At 4 p.m. Frank Rogers, Q.C., or Judge Gibson, or W. R. Beaver, Clerk of the Peace, or some other member of that old coterie, would drop in. The use of tea as a beverage had been discovered many years before, and the afternoon was of course a well-established entity, but I doubt whether before, say, 1890, men in Sydney had combined the two so as to know what was meant by afternoon tea. Whisky à


  ― 30 ―
Pécossaise
—spirit first and water after—or whisky and water or whisky and soda were the fashion, and Barton dealt evenly with each of his guests as they arrived, Taylor doing his best. At 8 o'clock high dinner with two brands of champagne and all the prolegomena of sherry and bitters, while an epilogue of coffee and liqueurs carried on the festive hours till about 10 p.m. An hour later the real and serious business of the day began—a steady irrigation of the alimentary canal with spirits and soda. By one or two in the morning it was considered time for all frugal souls to be in bed. Next morning, rum-and-milk, bath, and at breakfast:—

BARTON (cheerily): Well, Taylor, how are you?

TAYLOR (doubtfully): Very well, thanks. How are you?

BARTON: Splendid. (Then in confidential tones.) The fact is, Taylor, that when I was laid up the doctors insisted on the strictest moderation in the use of alcohol, and I don't mind admitting that it seems to suit my constitution wonderfully.

Sir Alfred Stephen prided himself on writing jeux d'esprit at unimportant moments on the Bench—as, for example, when counsel was addressing him. Quite recently I came across an exchange of epitaphs between Dalley and Sir Alfred of which Taylor may have told me. Sir Alfred began:—




  ― 31 ―

Here lie the Mortal Remains

(Smoke Dried)

of

WILLIAM BEDE DALLEY:

a gentleman distinguished for great Energy, Patriotism, and Eloquence, at the Bar and in the

Senate.

BUT

his Energy, exhausted by constant application to cigars—his Patriotism, exhibited by sacrificing himself to foreign productions—and his Eloquence, at one time fiery, at another balmy and seductive, under the influence of consuming or consumed Tobacco, became

AT LENGTH EXTINGUISHED!

Thoroughly burned up in the Furnace of his own manufacture, embalmed by the essential Oil which he had substituted for the Vital juices, and become a Receptacle for Snuff only, made by the Ashes of his own Pipe, his Pipe is now thoroughly and finally

PUT OUT.

What remained of him evaporated,

At the early age of twenty-nine;

Curling gracefully Upwards

to Mount Vesuvius:

on the summit of which it reposes.

OF THE RESIDUE,

The greater part is with the Tobacconists;

And the Rest lies beneath.




  ― 32 ―

This being handed about in Court at the Bathurst Assizes, Dalley replied thus:—

In memory of

SIR ALFRED STEPHEN, KNT.

Who

Departed this Life on the 19th August, 1904,

at the advanced age of 102 years.

He was a

Great Patriarch, having had nine sons and nine

daughters.

He was also, in some respects a good Judge; and

he perhaps might have been a

Great Legislator,

If the Assembly had not cut short his efforts by

voting that the more a Man knows of our Laws,

the less he ought to have to do with them.

He was, however, returned as

Member for the Western Districts,

in the

First Elective Upper House;

And, although he never could induce his Constituents

to Prefer Colonial Wine to Whisky,

Yet

He did some service, by compelling them to

Eradicate their Beloved Bathurst Burr.

He was not so fortunate in all his endeavours;

For, after forty-three years of writing and talking,

He

Left the Magistracy no better acquainted with




  ― 33 ―

Law than he found them, and he never persuaded

One Prisoner to be altogether pleased with his

Sentence.

He was celebrated

For always doing things the most dissimilar

At the same time:—such as writing begging-letters

for a College,

or an

Epitaph on a still Living Friend,

While

Summing up a Case of Assault or Cattle

Stealing.

But he was more distinguished for dabbling in

ARCHITECTURE:

And he amused himself, at the expense of the

Public, by making and then unmaking so many

Alterations in the Court-house,

That Litigants who once entered there could

Rarely find their way out again!

He wasted (it is said) more breath on the flute

Than he ever did on Counsel or Jurymen.

At last he took to

Keeping Pigs and Poultry in this neighbourhood

Where

He lived eighteen years by the sale of

Eggs and Bacon.

Eventually he died by over-exerting himself in

a game of leap-frog with his great-grandchildren.

REQUIESCAT IN PACE!




  ― 34 ―

The reference to architecture and to alterations in the court-houses was prompted (so my father explained to me) by Sir Alfred's mania for criticizing and improving the sanitary arrangements at every circuit town where he sat. It is curious to recall that Dalley died in 1888 at the age of fifty-seven, while Sir Alfred Stephen outlived him by six years and reached the age of ninety-two.

Here is an illustration of Sir Alfred's composition, said to have been written while listening to a case:—

TWICE NINE

(Judicial Impartiality Exemplified)

Of children this Knight had no less than eighteen,
Twice nine little heads—with a marriage between.
He had nine when a barrister—nine when a Judge;
Then of sex, tho' I daresay you think it all fudge,
Nine exactly were girls—and the other half boys,
An equal division 'twixt quiet and noise:
While, if by marriage the number be reckoned,
There were nine of the first and nine of the second;
Nine in Tasmania—nine New South Wales:
Then, to show with what justice he still held the scales,
Since nine it was clear that he could not divide
(A third sex as yet having never been tried)



  ― 35 ―
Five sons and four daughters in Hobart were born,
And four sons and five daughters fair Sydney adorn!
Twin daughters, twin sons, complete the strange story
Of this patron of wigs, though constant old Tory.

Taylor spent a week in Prince Alfred Hospital as a result of head injuries. He was driving a sulky home to Ashfield when he was capsized. It was a Friday, and he had invited me to come out with him for the week-end and live at the rate of ten thousand a year for two days. I declined, perhaps fortunately for him, for he was rather a frail man to have twelve stone fall on him. When he recovered consciousness, he took notes of his surroundings. His nearest ward-mate was an embezzler who had been about to board a steamer to “do the Pacific Slope,” then a popular resort of criminals who could afford to travel. A steel cable on the wharf broke and whipped round him and broke both his legs. Taylor was most impressed by the devotion to duty of two policemen who sat by the would-be escapee day and night to make sure that he did not leave the jurisdiction.




  ― 36 ―

3. Chapter III A Trio in Denman

ABOUT the time when George Anson was playing admirable comedies in Sydney, full of that “brainstuff” which Meredith thought the taste of his own time rejected in the novel, Mr Justice (then Mr Walter) Edmunds, having a leading junior practice and having made money in the days when Broken Hill first dazzled the world with its silver production, gathered round him in his chambers in Elizabeth Street a number of lovers of the theatre and of fun and of letters, who came to be known as “The Stable.” Here would come some genius of the stage or, perhaps, some clever newsboy that “Walter” had picked up who would entertain The Stable, and any acquaintance who happened to stroll in with a comic song or story. I was not a full member, but was there occasionally.

Photograph facing p.36. Mr Justice Edmunds



On one such afternoon, Anson, in Walter's wig and gown, gave in dumb show a wonderfully vivid sketch of a senior counsel in Court handling different types of witnesses. For


  ― 37 ―
example, a motion towards repose and a whispering attitude somehow told us that he was saying to his junior “You'd better take the next witness.” But the next witness turned out to be a pretty girl, and the junior was forced to sit down as Anson's appraising and enthusiastic eye followed her round into the box. While she was being sworn, Anson got smartly to his feet and snubbed down his junior for trying to take the witnesses out of his hands. So the play went on. Anson was at the time about to leave Australia, and this was his last call on The Stable. In the street outside, when I was saying how much he would be missed, Anson, with an air of coming to his real self after the fiction of the afternoon, confided to me that he left with much personal pain, not only on account of friends such as The Stable, but because of his poor boy whom he had buried here. It was very touching just after the mirthful scene upstairs, and I could only murmur my sympathy as I thought of the old theme of the mummer playing to amuse the world with his own heart breaking. “Yes,” said Anson, “poor Sydney Victor! We called him Sydney after this beautiful capital and Victor after Victoria, where we have had a great deal of success. Poor ‘Sydney Victor’! It was too much for him—he died of the combination!”




  ― 38 ―

Not long afterwards “Walter,” with his best of friends, Frank Leverrier, came over to practise in Denman Chambers, which then housed Arthur Kelynack and Wilfred Blacket as well as Sir Julian Salomons and the genial W. H. Linsley, who was the dupe of a piece of acting equal to Anson's.

Linsley had gone into another barrister's chambers in his office coat. Just as he re-entered his own door a “caller” was passing out wearing Linsley's street coat. Linsley was a man of splendid physique, who dressed in the large simple style that he brought back from Balliol, without (be it added) bringing any Oxford accent or any other irritating attribute of the returned immigrant. His coat therefore “hung like a calf-skin on the recreant limbs” of the sneak thief. Linsley shut the intruder in and sent for a policeman; but the captive pleaded for forgiveness with such fervour and sincerity that his captor relented and sent him off with a sharp caution. The pilferer poured out a torrent of gratitude, bowing again and again as he took his leave with repeated “God bless yous.”

When Linsley set out to lunch, he found a strange hat on the peg. Autolycus, the snapper-up of unconsidered trifles, had been bowing to Linsley with Linsley's own hat.

Denman was a hive of industry, but also a club


  ― 39 ―
of friends. Though he was senior to us all, Walter Edmunds was approachable to any of us, as, indeed, to any human being in the world. There were more and more varied beneficiaries in his chambers than in the probate suit which brought Frank Lockwood, Q.C., his first brief. On that occasion counsel in the case were announcing the interests for which they appeared. “I appear for the executors named in the will,” “I appear for the next friend of Winifred Martin, an infant, one of the residuary legatees,” “I appear for the adult nephews of the testator to dispute the will,” and so forth. The judge, who happened to know Lockwood and wanted to save that awkward moment when a junior is asked his name (vide Mr Monkey in Bardwell v. Pickwick), looked down and said, “And what do you appear for, Mr Lockwood?” Lockwood picked up his brief, examined the “marking,” and said “Five guineas and a ‘consultation,’ my Lord!” thus beginning his career with that useful turn of wit in which he was only once unhappy.

That was in a circuit city, and an ardent non-conformist, Hemmerde, Q.C., I think, was to preach in the Congregational Church. Lockwood rounded up the whole of the visiting Bar, and they sat in the front pew. Hemmerde easily guessed who was the bell-wether of this flock


  ― 40 ―
of black sheep. He went through the introductory part of the service and then said: “Before I give out my text, Brother Lockwood will lead in prayer.” Brother Lockwood thought hard for a moment and then reached for his hat.

He had not the daring, or perhaps it was only that he had not had the dinner, which stood by Walter Edmunds one night when he and the “Athenian” Professor on their way to the train found that they could not catch it. They were then at Goulburn Street, and, seeing the new Salvation Army temple lighted up, went in as spectators. There was some sort of lull after a while—silent prayer, perhaps, or meditation—and Walter stood up and addressed his scarlet brethren and his true-blue sisters. He told them he and “my friend here” had missed the train for Petersham. “But oh! my brethren what is that? Suppose we were to miss the train for Eternity!” (electrical Hallelujahs and Bless the Lords from the congregation). On this text he held forth to an excellent finish, while the Professor sat thinking about policemen and wondering what the sentence was for disturbing a religious congregation.

Among Walter's visitors was a well-known remittance man, an English barrister, Cornewall Lewis. He was the son of that Chancellor of the


  ― 41 ―
Exchequer who was noted for his epigrams—among them the famous “Life would be tolerable but for its pleasures.” His son imitated the gift, and worked his good things off when he was seeking accommodation in chambers. Thus when Mr Blank, a member of Parliament at the time, at last drew the line and would not be bled any more, Cornewall Lewis waited at the street door and said: “Poor Blank! not quite a lawyer, not quite a statesman, not quite a gentleman”—an epigram he shouted out about an eminent judge when he took his seat for the first time on the High Court Bench in Sydney.

A barrister in Denman, who had mended his own ways, endured Cornewall Lewis with a wonderful patience that was at last exhausted. Lewis walked out with his first refusal rankling, but turned at the door to say: “No one is so hard on a practising drunkard as a reformed one.” Every profession has clever characters who have been brought down in the world through some failing. In Melbourne I heard of one strange piece of jetsam,note often sunk and then again towed up on to the beach of the legal profession, who was charged with the larceny of some law books from


  ― 42 ―
a barrister's chambers. His defence was that the charge was wrongly framed, because he had only borrowed them without permission, and therefore, if he was guilty of anything at all, it was of “unauthorized appropriation of personal property.” The magistrate had never heard of this offence (which was invented), so he thought the accused could not have been guilty of it, and acquitted him.

Wilfred Blacket was then doing three or four men's work, carrying a large and varied practice, helping along every junior who was puzzled with some intricacy of the common law system of pleading, educating the children of relatives, and supervising as secretary the work of the Statute Law Consolidation Commission (for which colossal labour he has never received his due meed). He was inexhaustible, whether your need was a good case or a good story.

Arthur Kelynack, a genial soul and one of the ablest of juniors, was also an advocate of Three-Elephant Power, in A. B. Paterson's phrase. His practice was so large that he would sometimes have two or three lieutenants carrying on his cases for him in different jurisdictions on the same day. A more generous mate was never seen, and he was heading straight for the Supreme Court Bench when illness cut short a fine career. Our friendship


  ― 43 ―
was hereditary, for our fathers were great allies both in their church and in private life, and, indeed, his father baptized me into faith and good works. Later on it was my turn to baptize Arthur—into Matriculation Greek. Arthur's baptism was a success.

Arthur had a great fund of humour. I was conducting a private arbitration in my chambers, and wanted a Bible for administering the oath. I sent a boy to scour the other rooms, and he brought me one with this message—“Mr Kelynack's compliments, Sir, and he's glad you knew where you'd be sure to find a Bible.” The only thing I could think of was to send “Mr Piddington's compliments to Mr Kelynack, and he was glad he knew where there would be a Bible that he was sure wouldn't be in use.”

He was an excellent mimic with a delightful voice both in speaking and singing. He would take off Blacket in the act of advising one of us on some difficult point. With his head in the air and tilted a little to one side, and his half-closed eyes perusing, line by line, that wonderfully tabulated Digest of Common Law Cases—his memory—Blacket would say, “That point was left uncertain in Abrath's case, but it came up in Cornforth's Case in the Privy Council. You know—that Cape Town matter. I'm not sure that Dyer v.


  ― 44 ―
Munday, somewhere about 1895, 1 Q.B., doesn't really cover it, and of course Brown v. The Citizens about 1903 would be useful. Then there's that other line of cases—the first one came from Wagga. Fred Gibson was for the plaintiff and came a cropper. Martin knocked him out in short order, but the later cases don't quite agree. I think we'll have a look at Egan v. Flanagan in 13 Weekly Notes, when Fred got back some of his own.”

Blacket's was one of the quickest wits I have known. On one occasion a well-to-do friend mentioned among half a dozen people that he had bought a race-horse and wanted to change its name. But he wanted a name that would suggest “remembering.” “Mindful,” “Souvenir,” “Memory,” “Auld Lang Syne”—he had considered and rejected them all. “Why not ‘Repentance?’ ” said Wilfred.

Sir Murray Coutts-Trotter, Chief Justice of the Madras Presidency, who enjoyed this story, told me of a thoroughbred hunter belonging to a friend, the pedigree being by Diogenes out of Eloquence. “I was asked to name him. I called him Tubthumper. He proved a great winner of hurdle-races everywhere in Southern India.”

In Melbourne once after dinner Blacket told me how he had seen that afternoon on the Caulfield


  ― 45 ―
racecourse the greatest row in all his experience. It appeared that a horse named Downright had been beaten by a short head, but, through some blunder, his name was put up on the telegraph-board as winner. “The crowd went in off the deep end, and kept it up for nearly five minutes till the name was altered. As soon as they saw that Downright was up wrong they were quiet.” His own fine literary gift gave him a great enjoyment of any oddity of language in a court. In an assault case at Armidale Assizes he was cross-examining a prosecutor named Lonsdale—brother of a well-known member of State and Federal Parliaments:—

COUNSEL: Now, Mr Lonsdale, didn't you grossly insult my client before he hit you?

WITNESS (surprised): No!

COUNSEL: Didn't you apply a very abusive term to him?

WITNESS (still “guessing”): No!

COUNSEL: Now, sir, didn't you call him a bastard?

WITNESS (readily): Certainly I did.

COUNSEL: Well, wouldn't you be greatly provoked if a man called you a bastard?

WITNESS: No! (then, ponderingly). I would if he called me a w—'s bastard, because that would be a reflection on my mother!

This well illustrates the fact which so surprised


  ― 46 ―
folk about Australians during the war, that they use the word of base birth without any compunction, whereas this is the one word according to Kipling that a man must not use in the British army unless he is prepared to fight it out with belts.

One of our judges told me as an actual occurrence that a platoon of Australians was paraded before an English captain because one of them had called the regimental cook a bastard. No one would own up, in spite of all objurgations. At last a man stepped out.

CAPTAIN: Well, I'm glad you've had the courage to own up to using this word.

DIGGER: I didn't.

CAPTAIN: Then why did you fall out?

DIGGER: Well, my cobbers thought you were asking us a lot of questions and they'd like to ask you something.

CAPTAIN: Very well, what is it?

DIGGER: You keep on asking us who called that cook a bastard; what we want to know is, who called that bastard a cook?

There is another story of a clergyman employing a Digger to write letters in his name to his parishioners asking them to pay up their pew-rents. The programme was to have a week's experiment in the first instance. The vicar at the end of the week said it was a great success, but


  ― 47 ―
one parishioner, in sending in his dues, asked the vicar how it was that he spelt “lousy” with two s's, and another complained that, properly speaking, there was only one “r” in bastard.

If it is strange that a soldier from Manchester will pull off his belt at this word while a soldier from Bendigo will use it as a term of raillery, if not of endearment, it is more remarkable that fashion should show the same kind of local difference in places as near as Genoa is to Naples. To say Bastardo! in Genoa is to court deadly resentment, while in Naples the term figlio di puttana (puttana being just the kind of woman the witness Lonsdale deprecated for his lineage) is used by all sorts of people to describe a hearty rollicking healthy youngster. The notion at the bottom of this idiom is the exploded fallacy that “love-children” are more vigorous than others. Shakespeare, who, as Coleridge pointed out, always puts any hazardous opinions on morals into the mouth of his bold villains, has expressed this superstition, with an intensity of utterance no where equalled, in Edmund the Bastard's speech (in King Lear):—

Why brand they us

With base? with baseness? bastardy? base, base?

Who in the lusty stealth of nature take

More composition and fierce quality

Than doth etc.




  ― 48 ―

Blacket's “occasional” verse was facile and clever. When the Interstate Commission held its investigation into Meat in 1917, one of Blacket's witnesses named Amos gave a mournful account of his losses in buying sheep for the Homebush market. At the end of the sitting my tipstaff brought me a slip of paper with the following verse:—

Amos bought a flock of sheep
And thought a great deal of it,
But as he did not get them cheap
His was a minor profit.note

The lines were in Wilfred's firm deliberate writing which I knew so well on many a friendly cheque in troublous early days. The paper had been left on the Bar table, he, the said Wilfred Blacket, well knowing of his crafty device and malice aforethought that the said verses would be, as the same in very deed and in fact shortly thereafter were, taken and conveyed by some person or persons to the said Wilfred Blacket unknown into the presence of the said Chief Commissioner and would be there and then by him read, against the peace of our Lord the King, his crown and dignity, and against the peace and gravity of mind of the said Chief Commissioner.


  ― 49 ―
Of all of which let the said Wilfred Blacket have notice by these presents, anything to the contrary notwithstanding.

There was a very good night at the Paris House when the New South Wales counsel for the appellants in a High Court case dined their Victorian allies and found at the next table the counsel for the respondents on the same errand of friendship. Blacket wrote chaffing verses for one table, Mr Stewart (now Mr Justice) McArthur for the other. The Victorian visitors on both sides expected an easy win for their poet laureate, but Blacket, an old-time sub-editor of the Bulletin, kept the honours even.

In all-round intellectual strength and quality Frank Leverrier was easily the finest man at the New South Wales Bar or, in my opinion, at the Bar of the Commonwealth. He first showed it as a Grammar School boy. Those were ambitious days. A predecessor of Leverrier's by a year in the Senior Public Examinations (now displaced by the Leaving Certificate Examination) had been told that the record number of subjects passed in was ten. He took up thirteen, three of which he studied, or crammed, out of school. He passed in all, but next year Leverrier took up seventeen and passed in them all carrying off the medal in a number of subjects. After that the University limited the number that could be taken.




  ― 50 ―

His powers of acquisition were thus seen to be phenomenal, but it was the mastering and clarifying energy of his mind that was even more astonishing. His father's uncle was the great astronomer Leverrier, and Frank had all the gifts that would have made him a great man of science. At the University he swept everything before him. In every branch of mathematics and in chemistry and physics he was a genius and an original one. He possessed, in addition, great mechanical inventiveness and manual dexterity. For example, when at the Bar, he made on his lathe a wooden model which could be taken to pieces to illustrate the working of a gas mantle in the Welsbach Patent Cone. With this he won a difficult patent case. He turned his own screws when he wanted a particular size, and built himself a dynamo. While still an undergraduate, he designed an apparatus that carried a stage farther Blackburn's conjoined pendulum experiment which creates the most symmetrical and beautiful curvilinear designs merely by the action of two pens set swinging over a sheet of paper and having a different length of traverse.

The late Mr H. C. Russell, that genius in stellar photography who brought down, so to speak, from the empyrëan a lustre to the office of Government Astronomer in this country, prepared some large-scale illustrations of the working


  ― 51 ―
of Blackburn's apparatus in coloured ink. The convolutions are of an extraordinary beauty, recalling the whorls and other curved markings of sea-shells. Leverrier's improvement enabled him to discover that, when the ratio of the length one pen traces to the length of the other is a ratio corresponding to those intervals in music which result in harmony (e.g., a third), then the result is a beautiful design. When the ratio is such as in musical intervals would make a discord, then the result is ugly and asymmetrical.

So intimate is the unexplored unity of all beauty in the world!

The best judges speak the most warmly of Leverrier's prowess on the scientific side and think that it was a loss to the world that such a man should have been driven by the lack of opportunity in our early days to take up a liberal profession instead of a scientific career. He has been the Fletcher Moulton of the States in his combination of great legal knowledge and the application of science to patent and other scientific controversies, but he had the high-flying liberty of conception—to modernize slightly a phrase of Milton's—that might have made him a Marconi. He was, in effectiveness with the Court, one of the most brilliant of cross-examiners, though his forensic manner had none of the noise and vehemence of


  ― 52 ―
those who are acclaimed good cross-examiners because they examine crossly. With all this, he was the most modest of men and the most generous sharer of his judgment and erudition with his fellows. If he should ever read these lines, he will know that this is what we all felt, and will know how sincere is the wish that the promising heir to a name so loved will keep green his father's laurels, and add, as seems already certain, some of his own.

Photograph facing p.52. Wilfred Blacket, K.C.






  ― 53 ―

4. Chapter IV George Reid

REID deserved a biography, but all he got was an autobiography. His life as he lived it was full of movement, adventure, and surprise; his life as he wrote it has only the last-named feature—the surprise being that a mind so lively could write a book so dull. In public speech, and even in ordinary conversation, Reid was a master of phrase, but, unlike Newman (who could only think at his best with a pen in his hand), Reid was tongue-tied when he wrote.

Reid's vitality was amazing, but his weight and sleepy demeanour disguised this as they disguised his industry. During the first campaign over the Federal Convention Bill, Sir Julian Salomons contrasted Reid's industry with the indolence of J. H. Want. I had never thought of Reid as industrious, but later on I realized that Salomons was right. His “laziness,” like that of Barton, who would sit up all night overtaking arrears in the Attorney-General's office, and who,


  ― 54 ―
according to R. E. O'Connor, worked the drafting committee of the Federal Convention to a standstill, was superficial only. No one slept more than Reid, or was more wideawake.

He could sleep anywhere. When I was in the House I used to travel home to Burwood with him after a late sitting. On two occasions, sitting opposite him, I caught his top-hat as he nodded off. Of course he needed a seat in the American carriage to himself, but his bulk was far short of that of Sir Thomas Bent, the twenty-stone Premier of Victoria. The latter's Chief Secretary, Mr John Murray, was defending his leader at an election meeting from the charge of rudeness and brusquerie—“Nothing of the sort!” said Murray. “He's really one of the politest men in Melbourne. I've seen him get up in a tram and give his seat to three ladies!”

Reid made great fun of his sleeping habit, and told me that most of the time he had enough consciousness left to feel that something in a debate deserved his attention. But he never practised the clever trick of Chief Justice Coleridge, who used to take his forty winks on the Bench after lunch with some regularity. When he found himself waking, he would sit with closed eyes, as if merely pondering, till he picked up the thread of counsel's argument. Presently he would


  ― 55 ―
open his eyes and say: “That may be all very well, Mr Holbrook, but is it consistent with the decision in Manson and Thurston—I mean the case about the mantelpiece!”

No one resented Reid's sleeping in the House more than Sir John See, who had preceded him as Treasurer. See had never got over the success of Sir George Dibbs, his Premier, in “saving the country during the financial crisis of 1893.” Whenever he rose to speak, it was well known that in ten minutes or so we should hear this phrase. One night Reid dropped off after taking part in the controversy as to what ought to be considered a workshop within the meaning of the Factories and Shops Act. Presently he woke himself with a loud snore. Every one laughed, and Reid said, “That's a workshop!” See was speaking, with Sir Joseph Abbott in the chair. See, in angry tones, wanted the Hon. the Premier called to order. “It was most unseemly for him to be asleep in the Premier's chair in charge of the debate, etc.”

REID: Mr Speaker! I was not asleep. I was merely endeavouring to become mentally oblivious to the honourable and financial nuisance opposite!

It was, and probably is, a custom in the State Parliament for the Ministry to invite all members


  ― 56 ―
to supper at the end of a session. Often this took place at five or six in the morning. There was a programme of music and recitations by members, and it was surprising to find how many had some gift or other in this direction. “We provide the wine, and you provide the genius,” said Reid. On one such occasion, for example, W. N. Willis declaimed the Quarrel Scene between Hamlet and his mother, taking both parts and rendering both characters to admiration. McGowen's beautiful tenor rang out in “The Farmer's Boy,” and J. L. Fegan renewed the triumphs of the Midlothian Campaign, when he had sung to entertain Gladstone's waiting audiences. Reid was the life and soul of the party, joining in choruses with a piercing tenor, a little roughened by an all-night debate, gesticulating with his arms like a tragedian in opera, and calling out his greetings or repartees the whole length of the Refreshment Room. One member that morning sang the Hangman's Song (“Damn your eyes”), a hopeless solecism with that audience, reminding one of Dr Johnson's celebrated comment on The Rehearsal. “It has not wit enough to keep it sweet.”note Cook and Lonsdale,


  ― 57 ―
local preachers both of them, got up and walked out—the rest of us sat it through to its finish in that silence which is a kind of ignominy to a performer. Reid's rebuke was masterly. “I'll ask Mr William Morgan to take a nasty taste out of our mouths by singing “Alice, where art thou?” Even the poker face of the offender winced under the lash laid on so neatly.

This particular (but not too particular) member had a voice well fitted to call the cattle home across the sands of Dee or the electors home across the plains of Monaro. He was to speak one night at North Sydney, and three Labour members went over, took a verbatim note each of different parts of his speech, and then slipped back to the House. When the orator returned he was decoyed up to the refreshment-room balcony, where the three members “happened” to be. They fully persuaded him that his magnificent voice had carried from North Shore to Parliament House. His long hair gave him an unusual appearance, and “Johnny” Haynes, M.P., seeing him standing in a corner in a crowded auction room, slipped out and engaged a carrier to cart home for him “the wooden Japanese idol you'll find propped up in such and such a corner.”

When Reid first became Premier he had little


  ― 58 ―
serious reputation. It had been his fashion, when in opposition, to stroll into the House, sit in top-hat or opera-hat and evening-dress till a chance offered, then rattle in with a broadside of wit and chaff, and presently go off for the night. He came to be looked upon as an amusing buffoon. Accordingly, Crick and O'Sullivan, on Reid's taking office, vied in teasing him, but left off when the pastime proved dangerous. O'Sullivan, for example, put a question on the business paper, which the then Speaker (Sir Joseph Abbott) could not very well strike out under the standing order as being “ironical.” He read it out:—

“No. 8. Mr O'Sullivan to ask the Premier. ‘Will the Government lay on the table of the House a return showing the number of suicides in New South Wales since the Free Trade Government took office?’ ”

There was a loud laugh. Reid read out a reply from a foolscap sheet in the dull perfunctory tones of a Minister reading a reply made up for him in his department but never seen till he picks it up at question time. “I regret that this return cannot be completed until the honourable member and his protectionist colleagues have gone through the ordeal of the next general election.”

This was premeditated wit, but Crick received an impromptu just as good. He asked without


  ― 59 ―
notice whether there was any truth in the rumours of serious Cabinet dissension. Reid looked kindly across and said: “There may have been an occasional ripple to mar the smiling surface of our full content, but nothing more.” This blank verse line, “The smiling surface of our full content,” was novel to me and I asked the omniscient Professor of Modern Literature, now Sir Mungo MacCallum, where it came from. As he did not know, I asked Reid himself, who told me it was not a quotation, “though I may have had at the back of my mind the old gag:—

Now is the winter of our discontent

Made glorious summer by this sun of York.”

See and Copeland (“Battle-axe” Copeland) and, above all, Lyne, belonging as they did to the category of “heavy-bottomed Christians” (to quote with some refining what the cavaliers of Charles I. called the Parliament men), were a natural prey and delight for Reid. Copeland, a man as fat as Reid, growled out upon an adjournment which was granted at his own request because of the poor attendance: “I suppose the Minister will bring the Bill on again when there's a thin House.” “It will never be a thin House while the Honourable Member and I sit in it” said Reid.

“I wonder you can stand so many banquets”


  ― 60 ―
said Earl Carrington when Reid was High Commissioner. “My dear Lord Carrington,” said Reid, “they positively nourish me.”

So far from delicacy in personal allusions, Reid rather cultivated audacity in their use, provided he was given an opening. At an election meeting he stopped to take a drink of water, and did it with his usual absence of hurry. He turned his back on the audience, walked (some would say, waddled) to the table, filled his glass, drank it up comfortably, and came back to the “foot-lights.” A woman in the front row said, “If you were my husband, I'd put poison in your tea!” Reid mounted his monocle, looked the interrupter carefully over, and said, “I'd take it!”

When Kitchener came out here in the height of his career, with a reputation for grim taciturnity, all our public men looked at him as from a distance with a kind of awe. Yet at the Town Hall Banquet Reid, after mentioning their guest's supposed antipathy to women, went on to describe how he had made sure of a good place at the landing so as thoroughly to study his face. “And now that I've seen it, I don't believe a word about his hating women.” The impudence of the thing broke down Kitchener's reserve, and he joined in the roar of laughter. I think grave and reverend seigniors rather provoked this boyish


  ― 61 ―
sauciness in Reid. He delighted in turning Judge Pring's austere court into a circus, and once, when that Judge finally threatened to commit him, Reid, who was then Premier, made the meek reply, “Your Honour is perfectly right. I've been working very hard lately and a month in Darlinghurst would do me a world of good.”

Reid was a man with hundreds of friends but no friendship. When it came to any crisis involving a profound choice, I doubt whether there was anyone to whom Reid would instinctively turn as a man does to an intimate friend for counsel. Yet no man needed this intimate friendship more, because the singular thing about him was that, when isolated from immediate contact with affairs, he was apt to make egregious errors in judgment. Unrivalled as an earth-listener, he yet argued wrongly when he shut himself away from the hurly-burly. His famous Yes-No speech—the turning-point of his career—was due to this. He had not long returned from England, and, still in the glamour of the successes won there, he secluded himself up on the Mountains from all his followers, and resolved upon the course of pointing out all the evils of the Federal Convention Bill of 1898 as a prelude to the staggering announcement that he would vote for it. He told his cabinet, but not his party, what he


  ― 62 ―
had decided. Fortunately for Reid, his condemnation of the bill and not his promise to vote for it, carried the day.

The bill failed, and the question then arose, “Who should lead New South Wales in the effort to get an amended measure?” The choice was obviously between Reid and Barton. Yet, here again, Reid got quite out of touch with reality. He made a speech at Milton about the prosperity of New South Wales under the 1895 free-trade tariff. A few days later he strolled up on the balcony of the Parliament Refreshment Room, and ran into E. D. Millen and myself and a third “partner” of those days. To our amazement he referred to this speech, and said he was going to make the fiscal question the issue of the election! All three were dumfounded, till Millen first found his tongue and suggested that the country wasn't thinking and could not be made to think about the fiscal issue, and had only one thing in mind, viz., the rivalry for leadership in the next move for union. Once the ice was broken, it was easy to drown in argument Reid's fatuous intention. He was persuaded of its uselessness, said he would take up the fight that was inevitable, and, passing his hand over his head with a curious gesture of thoughtful resolve,


  ― 63 ―
he added, “And I'll make it the fight of my life.”

At the general election Barton threw down the gage with splendid courage. He retired from the contest at Bourke and was nominated for East Sydney, Reid's own stronghold. It was a battle-royal of the finest stags of the forest, a duel of chiefs for chieftainship, inasmuch as the victor would be Premier of New South Wales—the keystone State of the movement for union—and so conduct negotiations with the other Premiers for securing an amended bill. With such men and such a topic the debate was upon high ground. Reid spoke indefatigably, and displayed, better than at any other time, the range and variety of his resources. It was his versatility of presentation that won, for there was no comparison between the two men in solid knowledge of the subject or in proven sincerity. Even before the 1891 Convention, Barton had devoted three months of incessant study to the forthcoming discussion, and, as well as a constitutional lawyer's equipment of learning, he had a devotee's love of his cause. He wrote to me, after the 1891 Convention, “My bristles are all up over Federation.” Reid, on the other hand, did not even read Garran's handbook, The Coming Commonwealth, till the Convention was half-way through


  ― 64 ―
its sittings, when he remarked that he was sorry he hadn't known more about the Canadian system at the outset or he would have striven for it! But Reid had the more nimble and mobile mind, and in the end the veteran apostle was beaten by the recent convert.

The sequel was the Premiers' Conference, and the twenty-five years' wrangle about Canberra illustrates very well the weak point in Reid's mental outfit—a kind of incapacity to bring his mind to work within lines of precision. It was this that made him argue a point of law in Court with a disconcerting appearance of being very uncomfortable, and it was this that made him blind to the vagueness of the agreement about the federal capital. Any conveyancer would have stipulated a limit of time, five years or seven or thirty, and a maximum distance as well as the minimum (one hundred miles) from Sydney. But after Reid had succeeded with five opposing Premiers in getting the capital for New South Wales, he seems to have shirked the final effort of thought necessary to secure an effective mandate, and drowsily acquiesced in the present drowsy section, which has meant a quarter of a century's slumber and provided a premium for provincialism on both sides of the Murray.

Though he never appreciated the vital importance


  ― 65 ―
of principle in a leader, his courage, both forensic and political, was unquestionable. It sprang from a personal valour for which he enjoyed as little credit as he did for industry. What tragedies may be at work under a buoyant exterior! After the general election of 1895 Reid's voice gave out. A Sydney doctor told him he had cancer of the throat. Here was a finish to his career of Premier just begun! Reid simply announced that he was going for a holiday, and slipped over to Melbourne to a specialist there, who told him it was nothing but a bad case of “election sore throat.” He was back a fortnight afterwards fully recovered. It was not till years after this that he spoke of the strange episode, and then without seeming to realize what a great proof it was of his own endurance of soul. “We decided not to be rash, but just to act quietly” was all he said. Yet he was keen and observant enough about others' trials. He sympathized deeply with Sir Joseph Abbott going about his public work with a weak heart—“wretched thing to walk about with a shadow like that always following you!”

His action towards Parkes after he had succeeded to the leadership was judicious as well as good-natured. Parkes fretted under his super-session, comparing Reid to the Marquis of Hartington


  ― 66 ―
and himself to Gladstone, who was brought back by his party after Hartington's brief interregnum. But Parkes's journey down the hill followed very soon. He lost his seat, and Reid said to me without any triumph: “One always feels safer when he is in another street.” In the last months of Parkes's life Reid took the lead in kindness to the old man, who was softened into saying, “I have very much misunderstood him.” Perhaps he had, but Reid was something of an enigma. With a wide knowledge of the soul of the crowd, the “root of the matter” was not in him. His great ordeal showed that even in vital questions he was deficient in the feeling that can say warmly “This is right, or This is wrong.” In high politics too much zeal (Surtout, Monsieur, pas trop de zèle!) may be a possession which impedes; too little zeal is a millstone which drowns.




  ― 67 ―

5. Chapter V “Storms” Piddington

IN my father's library was a book with the title The Sailor's Hornbook for the Law of Storms by Henry Piddington. My eldest brother was called after the author, who was my father's uncle. There was little in the book that I could understand, and as a child I opened it only to look at two beautiful charts drawn upon thin, almost transparent, horn. They were about three inches square and rested in leaf-pockets in the inside of the front and back cover. A loop of lavender silk projected from the leaf-pocket when the chart was put in, and with this loop you pulled it out. One chart was for the Northern Hemisphere, the other for the Southern. I thought that these charts were the reason for calling the volume The Sailor's Hornbook.

Forty years and more afterwards, when I had supposed that the work was some dull obsolete affair by the “President of Marine Courts, Calcutta,” I was travelling to Melbourne by the


  ― 68 ―
Marmora and was introduced to the captain by his namesake and relation, Sir Nicholas Lockyer.

Captain Lockyer at once said “Are you a relative of ‘Storms’ Piddington?” and when I said “Yes,” he went on, “Well, there's a coincidence! The other day I was talking to Hunt the Commonwealth meteorologist and asked him ‘Why don't you people give us something useful? Nowadays, when a sailor man strikes trouble, he's only got two things to help him—his own bally sense and Piddington's Law of Storms.’ ”

This made me ask whether the book was still of value, and hearing it highly praised, I sent to London for a copy and got the seventh edition. But a base economy in the interests of production-costs had led to the use of imitation parchment paper in place of horn for the “mignon” little charts of my childhood's recollection—a disappointment made good later by the handsome exchange offered by Mr J. S. Cargill, our Solicitor for Railways, whose father had used the book in his sea-captain days.

It is said that “Piddington's horn cards” are in great demand with masters who ply in Polynesian waters. It may have been from them that Mr de Vere Stacpoole, author of The Blue Lagoon, came to hear of Piddington's book. He writes


  ― 69 ―
thus in illustrating the thesis that intuition is something better than science.

Photograph facing p.68. ‘Storms’ Piddington



When we have learnt to call storms, storms, and death, death, and birth, birth; when we have mastered the sailor's hornbook, and Mr Piddington's law of cyclones, Ellis's anatomy, and Lewer's midwifery, we have already made ourselves half blind. We have become hypnotized by words and names. We think in words and names, not in ideas; the commonplace has triumphed, the true intellect is half crushed.

By the way it is so unusual to call a writer who has been dead seventy years “Mr” that it may be that the novelist, who spent some time in these waters jumped at the conclusion that some living person with the same patronymic was the writer to whom sailor-men referred as “Storms” Piddington.

If scepticism had made me undervalue and forget the work, it was strange how continuously after this reminders of Henry Piddington's work flowed in upon me. A professor sent me a copy of Nature, in which the Presidential Address of the Royal Meteorological Society alluded to Piddington, together with others, as the founders of the science of meteorology. Sea-captains and landsmen often spoke to me about the book. Strange that you no sooner learn of some historical event or natural fact or literary phrase for the first time than it crops up constantly in the


  ― 70 ―
daily travel of the mind. Sir Langdon Bonython, a fine example of a successful newspaper owner who is a patriot and a really generous friend of culture, showed me in his Mount Lofty garden a sundial with the charming “posy” (as they used to call the motto engraved on a ring) “I count the bright hours only.” The sundial was very old and had been brought from the family home in Cornwall. On the way back from Adelaide I opened a volume of verse by a minor German poet, recently sent to me, and the motto at the head of one poem was “Horas non numero nisi serenas.” Yet I can never find any common origin, or indeed any original, for this charming inscription which ought to be more frequent on sundials, as a great improvement on the reminders, sometimes almost coffinesque, of the monkish inventors.

In Hyde Park, for example, there is a sundial with the motto “I count the time; dost thou?” To drive home the lesson, the sentence is written backwards thus—Thou dost time the count I—What a childish device just to draw attention! Imagine the boast “Less for it sell Smith's!”

One Western Australian friend, a great reader, when I first met him, brought up “Storms” Piddington by telling me of an incident he had just read in Keene's book In the Service of the Company.


  ― 71 ―
The writer was a sea-captain employed by the East India Company, and described a voyage from Bombay to Durban somewhere about 1848. Soon after crossing the Equator the sailors vowed they could hear church bells, to hear which when at sea portends, in their superstition, death or disaster, a belief cleverly used by Longfellow in “The Wreck of the Hesperus”:—

“O father! I hear the church-bells ring,
O say, what may it be?”
“ 'Tis a fog-bell on a rock-bound coast!”
And he steered for the open sea.

Presently the indications of a terrible storm sprang up, and they were in the teeth of a circular typhoon. The mate, a studious man, said he had a book on board just written about storms by one Piddington. They got the book and read the instructions.

Now, as I understand it, the essence of Piddington's work was that he either discovered or developed—I think the latter—the theory of typhoons and other rotating winds, which is that they do not travel in a true circle but in a spiral. This spiral works clockwise in the Northern Hemisphere and anti-clockwise in the Southern. The sailing directions in the body of the book taught the mariner to set his sails and his course in such a way that, being caught by the storm


  ― 72 ―
at some point in the spiral, he would be carried round and round in the outward travel of the wind, and ultimately be driven right out of the spiral. If he set his course the other way he would travel to the very centre of the cyclone and probably be engulfed.

Captain Keene and his mate, having read the instructions in the hurry of the crisis, got out the chart and followed the instructions with its aid. They were battered to pieces, and nearly foundered. On the third day they were safe, and only then found that, what between confusion and novelty, they had used the wrong chart, having overlooked the fact that they were across the Equator.

Having read a great deal about what the Encyclopaedia Britannica calls “Piddington's great work on the storms of the Orient,” I received a shock when one day I read this sentence in small type at the head of the first chapter:—

The term cyclone, having been proposed by the author in the first edition as a suitable word to describe any circular storm and having met with general acceptance, will now be used throughout this edition.

The disquieting notion crossed my mind that this relative was wrongly claiming the invention of a word which (I thought) was at least as old as Paradise Lost. I hurried to the Oxford Dictionary,


  ― 73 ―
to find that Piddington was in truth the first to use the word in 1848, and to read in the Hornbook a curious account, not printed in later editions, of his formation of the word:—

Piddington's account of his formation of the word is vague; the sense he assigns suggests that the Greek word he meant was ?????µa, which means inter alia “the coil of a serpent;” hence cyclome occurs as an early variant....

The first quotation given to illustrate the uses of the word is the following:—

1848 H. Piddington Sailor's Horn-bk. 8 Winds Class II (Hurricane Storms .. Whirlwinds .. African Tornado .. Water Spouts .. Samiel, Simoon), I suggest .. that we might, for all this last class of circular or highly curved winds, adopt the term “Cyclone” from the Greek ????? (which signifies amongst other things the coil of a snake) as … expressing sufficiently the tendency to circular motion in these meteors.

But what suggested to Piddington's mind the coil of a serpent in connexion with these ocean storms? Possibly the fact that Vishnu, the second person of the Hindu Trinity in which he is “the Preserver,” has his home in the ocean of milk, where he reclines on the coils of a huge serpent. The snake and the fear of it play a large part in the daily religious life of Hindus. For example, snake-stones on which is carved the image of a serpent are to be seen under many trees by the roadside. These are worshipped by washing and


  ― 74 ―
smearing with sandal-wood ashes made into a paste, and decorating with flowers, the worshippers waving lamps, circumambulating the stone, and bowing before it. The serpent, with its familiar presence and its association with Ocean, was thus a natural enough image for the spiral storm that settles on the Seven Seas.

My great-uncle was not a Greek scholar in the full sense, though he was said by the family to be a good linguist. As he was originally a master mariner this may easily have been. But he was certainly a devoted worker. To him in Calcutta, sea-captains sent their logs whenever they had been in a cyclone, and he wrote scores of papers for the Asiatic Society.

According to one history, his interest in cyclones began when he was nearly foundered in one. He had at first great difficulty in persuading master mariners to send in their logs because of the cost of postage at that time. But the government of India came to his rescue by “franking” all such communications if they were marked outside “Storm Report.” Captains were told that “a gentleman of science” would examine them with a view to extending knowledge. This got over that serious obstacle of those days—the cost of communication.

Piddington seems to have studied every well-reported storm and also made post mortem examinations


  ― 75 ―
of famous disasters which took place before his birth in 1797. An interesting one relates to the sinking of nearly a hundred ships including French men-of-war captured by Admiral Rodney in the West Indies and on their way to English ports as prizes. This was in 1793, and when that Armada foundered the reigning monarch did not repeat Elizabeth's piously triumphant motto about the Spanish Armada—Jehovah flavit et dissipati sunt—for only one man-of-war, H.M.S. Canada, 74 guns, survived, and she was pooped, lost her masts and narrowly escaped going down stern foremost. Piddington notes that of seamen alone over 3000 perished, the largest number of victims ever known till then. The cause of the catastrophe is tersely stated. The fleet had been fully prepared for bad weather and hove to, “but unfortunately,” says Piddington, “on the starboard (which was the wrong) tack.”

As well as compiling, Piddington personally observed. He once went out in the Bay of Bengal in a boat to get the evidence of his own eyes as to certain features in the preliminary stages of a cyclone. The storm came on in advance of schedule, and the President of the Marine Courts was capsized and had to swim half a mile to shore with the evidence in his head. This suggests the odd picture of a judge swimming to the land with an affidavit between his teeth.




  ― 76 ―

It is a strange coincidence that, under the word “cyclone” in the Oxford Dictionary, the last quotation given is from Lockyer's Scenery of the Heavens, so that my voyage to the dictionary began and ended with a relation of my colleague, Sir Nicholas Lockyer. Another sea coincidence came my way when I went to Hobart on the Riverina's last trip. Standing on the bridge as we came up the harbour, something led to my saying to Captain McRae that I was sure many people would rather like to be shipwrecked if they could only be sure of being saved. The captain said that was just what they couldn't guarantee, and a little later urged me not to go back via Melbourne, as the crossing was always bad, but to have a decent voyage back with him. I crossed from Launceston on a moonlit sea as smooth as oil, while the Riverina, through sheer accident, went ashore at Gabo and all her passengers were saved. As I complete this I read that, after being abandoned as a total loss, she brought £310 at auction.

But as Bacon says of prophecies, “Men do mark when they hit but never when they do miss.”

Piddington died in 1858, the year after the Mutiny. My father's sister used to say, with a certain tone of family disesteem, that during the revolt he was put in a hogshead and floated down


  ― 77 ―
the Hooghly to safety. But this learned theorist could hardly overlook when putting the Law of Cyclones into practice the elementary rule “Any port in a storm,” and besides, he was the Coroner of Calcutta, and if he had been killed, who would have held the inquest?

His book has run into many editions and is still, Captain Lockyer told me, “issued” to P. & O. masters on the Eastern routes. When I went to the glorious old house of the Asiatic Society of Bengal, and climbed the noble stairway commanded at the top of its landing by a huge brass figure of Buddha seated in contemplation, I met the President on his way down. As soon as he heard my name, he asked, “Are you related to our great contributor, Henry Piddington?” When I said yes, I was taken in with the handsome hospitality of Science just as Mr Frank Leverrier, a year or two ago, received it at the Mount Wilson Observatory in California. He had motored up with his family to find an inexorable janitor bar ring the way to entry. “It was not a visiting day.” In despair, Leverrier sent in his name to the Astronomer, who at once came out, and finding that Leverrier was a grand-nephew of the great Frenchman who, simultaneously with the Englishman Adams, discovered the planet Neptune, admitted him and personally showed him all the wonders of the famous installation.




  ― 78 ―

At a luncheon next day I met, among others, the senior pilot of the Hooghly, who told me that the Sailor's Hornbook was the first work he had to study and was still the basis of all our knowledge of cyclones. What pleased almost as much was to learn that, while he was acting as secretary to the Society, Piddington inaugurated a permanent benefit fund for the Indian staff and servants of the Society. This fund has gone on ever since.

I gather that, personally, Piddington was modest and sociable. He came to be a recognized scientific authority, but no quarrels or jealousies mar his life of steady labour. He praises other writers, but never blames. He would talk storms with anyone, and gives this specimen of a conversation with a captain of a ship telling of his weather experiences. The writer interrupts:—

Stop! Did you then run on, or heave to?

Oh! I carried on to it of course.

Very good: then you soon found the winds veering to —— and had a larger share of the hurricane than you looked for?

Yes, I lost my mizzen-mast, top-masts, boats, and sails, and had my decks swept, and four feet of water in the hold, but how the d——l do you know that?

In one case, it is said, the law failed. A nephew of Piddington's obtained a post as an engineer in China and on his way touched at Mauritius. The Governor or Administrator, hearing of his arrival,


  ― 79 ―
went down to the ship and called on him. Hearing that he was a relative of “Storms” Piddington he said that the people of Mauritius had profited so much by the knowledge of the way to anticipate cyclones that they would be glad if the voyager would accept a Government post and stay in Mauritius. This he did, and years later he and a friend set out on a journey through a forest, having satisfied themselves that a threatening storm was not a cyclone. They turned out to be wrong; the friend was killed by a falling tree when the cyclone came on, and his house in Port-au-Prince, and the family in it, also perished.

Piddington's book abounds with human and poetic touches, and he had the knack of linking literature with life. He quotes this passage from an account of “the Paquebot des Mers du Sud whirlwind” (for every storm was baptized with the ship's name as well as registered):—

A very remarkable fact is, that while all around the horizon was a thick dark bank of clouds, the sky above was so perfectly clear that the stars were seen, and one star shone with such peculiar brilliancy above the head of the foremast that it was remarked by every one on board.

To this comes the annotation:—

We are forcibly reminded here, and there may be more than a mere poetical figure in it, of that


  ― 80 ―
beautiful invocation to the Virgin by the Mediterranean mariners:—

In mare irato, in subita procella,
Invoco te, Maria, nostra benigna stella.

(In raging seas and in the tempest's war,
We hail thee, MARY! as our guardian star.)

He was, I should say, a somewhat rigid moralist. In an old teak cabinet of his I found a few scraps of his writing, including an extract from Bishop Heber's Journey through India in which the missionary speaks of the rum that is served out to soldiers and to their wives “on the strength,” and denounces its use in the Indian climate. Heber quotes a certain captain who found that strong coffee with a little rum in it was just as good.

But Piddington out-Hebers Heber and writes:—“Why not give the man all coffee and no rum at all?”

Piddington's work had the dual success of widening the domain of pure science and of bringing practical safety to navigation. How many thousands of lives may he have saved! In a preface to the third edition, written in 1858, the year of his death, he avows this latter objective in the ornate and formal style of the middle of last century:—

I have thought, in a word, that the work might lose much of (I trust I may say) its national utility, if written only for the state-rooms of science; and thus I have preferred to seat it at her cabin-table—claiming


  ― 81 ―
only in this respect from those who might wish it otherwise, a moment's reflection on how large a class of our brother-sailors there is, and always must be, who though worthy and most valuable men, have wanted the inestimable advantages of a good education; and might be repelled from the study by the sight of “hard words” and the sound of scientific phrases, however familiar such may be to our ears.

The scientific value of the book may be judged by the following extract from Sir Napier Shaw's Presidential Address to the Royal Meteorological Society in 1920:—

. . . Henry Piddington (1797), merchant seaman, author of “The Sailor's Hornbook,” who made most notable contributions to the analysis of the phenomena of what the latter first called “cyclones” and are now in their various forms the familiar elements of interest in the daily charts of weather prepared by meteorological offices all over the world. William Whewell (1796), the omniscient Master of Trinity, may perhaps be added as representing anemometry, thus carrying on the story of weather science as developed by those born before the end of the eighteenth century, and so bringing the history to the middle of the nineteenth, when the society was founded.

These names and histories show from what various sources meteorology has derived its ideas, its initiative, and its support.

Piddington is buried in the Cemetery of Chandernagore, a French settlement some twenty miles from Calcutta, probably because he married a


  ― 82 ―
French lady. The portrait in this volume comes from a collection of Lithographic Sketches of the Public Characters of Calcutta published in 1840.

In Calcutta I was shown the resolution passed by the Asiatic Society on his death. It concludes with the words, “In him … Science has lost an indefatigable votary.”

What man could ask for a better epitaph?




  ― 83 ―

6. Chapter VI Daddy Hallewell

PUT a jolly Rhinelander's round head and broad face on to the body of Falstaff and you have “Daddy” Hallewell. He was a Yorkshireman; but in the eighties nothing musical was good unless it was Italian or German, and this jovial Englishman with the rotund and ruddy cheeks, spectacled eyes, massive forehead, and hair falling on his shoulders, looked a German professor of singing to the life. When in 1887 I sat at the Kneipe with the students at Bonn-am-Rhein roaring out

Remember then what Luther says—
Who loves not Woman, Wine, and Song,
Remains a fool his whole life long,
And we are no such fools!
No, we are no such fools!

my thoughts ran back to the dear old practising Luther, who was the recognized leader of the “Boys” of the Orpheus Club and was universally known as “Dad.” He was the last of the genuine Bohemians. Though his vocal endowment, commercially managed, would have assured him a fortune, he was always in debt, and yet always had a few sovereigns to jingle in his pocket; he was


  ― 84 ―
wayward in his attitude to more than one of the Commandments; he was gifted and frequent in carousal, generous with his money when he had it and with his art at all times; he was without a spark of meanness or unkindness to man, woman, child, or any living thing.

I first came to know him at all intimately when he sent for me urgently one Friday afternoon. I found this large man in a large bed in a large house, his hair sprawling over the pillow, his face rubicund (“like a full moon on the bust” was one pupil's description) and his demeanour as solemn as a whole bench of bishops drafting a new Prayer Book after a rebuff in the House of Commons. Hallewell's tones were grave; the punster might say, sepulchral. His eyes “registered” rigid contemplation of his visitor. My “intro” follows:—

DADDY (largo): Bertie, my boy, I have sent for you because I am in an important crisis which demands the exertion of a clear intellect, and at the present juncture I cannot truthfully say that such is the condition of my own brain.

PUPIL (allegro): What's the matter, Dad?

DAD (sotto voce): A matter, Bertie, so serious that I hardly like to speak of it.

PUPIL (sempre allegro): Oh, well, let us hear it and see what's to be done.

DAD (with a voice down near Double D.): Do you really not mind my telling you?




  ― 85 ―

PUPIL: Of course not; that's what I'm here for.

DAD (closing his eyes as if not to see the pupil's look of horror, and speaking largo e staccato): Bertie, my boy, the fact is—I feel—you ought—to know—the fact is—there's—a bailiff—in the house!

PUPIL (più vivace e con brio): Good for you, Dad! Where is he? (pulling up his sleeves) Show him to me. I'll have him out in five minutes.

DAD (rallentando al fine): No, laddie, you must not do anything like that! He's over eighty, and besides, (con tutta firmezza) I have never yet met in all my life any man or woman who was his equal in the cooking of a spatch-cock.

The spatch-cock settled it, and we spent a pleasant week-end with the bailiff cooking for us. On Monday followed a liquidation of the crisis, and we began the first of many periods of “batching” together in different parts of Sydney.

When I came back from a trip to Europe, Daddy had blossomed forth wonderfully. His frock-coat was new; new, too, his silk hat, and new his most ample and most flamboyant waist-coat, as also his bright-striped and well-creased trousers, and his patent leather boots. Up from the wharf his basso cantante trolled out—“Jump, laddie! I'll catch you!” I declined the soft adventure and came down by the gangway. On my remarking on all the widespread effulgence which


  ― 86 ―
(as Spenser says beautifully of a woman's face) “made a sunshine in the shady place,” he slapped his chest in triumph and said: “My boy, I am now a director of gold-mining companies!” Luckily for us both, I took no shares, for they all proved duffers. Except for money for the day, coin and Hallewell had no affinity. Yet he considered himself shrewd in business and quite a success as “a director of gold-mining companies.”

Here is an instance of his commercial foresight. He was a great reader and had a fine collection of the best novelists of various countries. I remarked once on these books, and especially on their being all in good bindings. “Ah, laddie, you see there is a purpose in that! You may not know, laddie, but I am that rara avis—a thrice uncertificated bankrupt, and when I buy books, I remember that what has happened three times may happen again. So I buy handsome bindings. You see they will bring a better price next time there is a sale of the effects in the bankrupt estate of F. J. Hallewell, Esq.” The simplicity of this was equalled when he told me that a daughter, who had come out to live with him, was “a brainy girl, a most able girl; really, Bertie, a most able girl. She keeps my accounts.” This was, indeed, proof positive.

Mr George Robertson, who suggested this volume to me was a creditor in the third bankruptcy. His claim ran to some £5, and was put


  ― 87 ―
in only to make sure of there being at least one friend amongst the creditors. Shortly after the sequestration order Dad caught sight of him on the opposite side of Pitt Street and ran over to meet him. He shook hands with the most unrestrained cordiality and said: “Robertson, my dear fellow! I do want you to feel assured that I bear no malice whatever—absolutely and entirely none!”

This was perfectly true, for some weeks before the first Christmas after the arrival of “the brainy girl” he and that capable person came into the book-shop and spent some time at the show-case picking out de luxe bindings for presents to be sent to the rest of the family in England. The forgiven creditor was just behind and saw bad debts mounting up to a pair of “fivers” without demur. “It was well worth it” said he, “just to watch him!”

As a singing-master he was quaintness itself. A pupil learning “The Lark leaves his watery nest” sang the refrain

Awake! awake! the morn will never rise
Till she can dress her beauty at your eyes

very tamely. Hallewell stopped dead. “What's the use of that?” he said. Then, singing the interpolated words on the same note, like a precentor intoning a prayer, “I fancy I hear you singing ‘Awake! awake! I really don't care two—straws—whether


  ― 88 ―
you get up or not. By—all—means stay there if you prefer it. I've got plenty of time, so don't bother about me, the morn will never rise.’ Now that's no matinade or serenade or anything else to court a woman with. Throw yourself into the position—you're down below, and she's up above. ‘Awake! awake! If you don't — get — up — I'll — climb — up — to — that — window — and — drag — you — out — because — I'm — not — going — to — stay — here — any — longer, the morn will never rise, etc.’ ”

The same pupil wanted to learn “Simon the Cellarer.” This was the public's favourite among his humour songs, and Hallewell would teach it to no one. “It's not simply the voice or the singing, or the expression” he said; “it's the tout ensemble, so to speak. You see my facial contour and my figure are adapted to the part. Your figure is not bad”—the pupil was also something of a barrel—“but it's not so bien prononcé as mine.” Bien prononcé is a euphemism worth remembering.

Hallewell's real forte was oratorio. He was brought up in the Handelian tradition, beginning as a choir-boy in York Minster and afterwards becoming a “lay canon” at Magdalen College, Oxford. “Tradition” he thought indispensable. One night I got home from seeing the Agamemnon performed in Greek (with music written by that excellent musician Hector Maclean). It had


  ― 89 ―
been a wonderful performance by students. Hugo Leibius's Cassandra in particular I never hope to see excelled. The audience knew nothing of the words he was declaiming, but they grasped the horror and the meaning of the part from its superb acting. At home I found Mr James Hinchy, a staid treasury inspector with an exquisite tenor voice. They were, and had been for some two hours, at supper, and were in an acute stage of controversy about Greek music. The discussion was none the less vehement because neither of them knew anything about the subject. At last some remark switched Hallewell on to oratorio tradition, and, in a burst of argument, he first of all announced that he could stand on his head and sing the Elijah from cover to cover, and then offered to bet “Jimmy” that “Bertie here, who is trying to pick up the tradition from me, will sing ‘Why do the Nations?’ against you for five pounds a side.” The wager was clinched before Jimmy reflected that “Why do the Nations?” is a solo for bass and that he couldn't sing it at all. The upshot was that Jimmy had to give a jolly little dinner “in honour of oratorio tradition.”

Daddy's mastery of oratorio helped the Sydney Philharmonic Society in a difficulty. When Signor Foli (né Foley, Italianated as were the names of Signor Riccardi and Signor Stefani, who were respectively Mr Richards and Mr Stephens) came


  ― 90 ―
to Sydney, he was engaged to sing the Elijah on two nights. The bass part in the Elijah is written on a somewhat trying level for a true bass. It is not that the high E or F has to be often taken, but the whole texture suits a baritone better than a bass because it consistently calls for the use of notes near the top of a basso's natural register. The first night proved too much of a strain for Foli's voice, and the Society got into touch with Hallewell. He told me that he paced up and down the vestibule of the Town Hall for twenty minutes before the concert because the Committee would not pay his fee of twenty-five guineas and would only give twenty. Ultimately they surrendered, and Hallewell, worked up, as he said, by the excitement of the off-platform dispute, “cut loose,” as he seldom did, for he always sang well within his powers with a great reserve of volume. His own register, though he was a true basso cantante, was so extensive, and his production so easy, that the Elijah gave him no difficulties, and his verdict was that “I got 'em by the wool, laddie.” We may be sure that he forgot all about the Committee's earlier offer while singing the great number “It is Enough.”

It was a good life. Charles Huenerbein (whose early kindness Dame Nellie still remembers—quite recently she told me how he lent her £25 when she came over here, little known, in 1886) would


  ― 91 ―
stroll in and play accompaniments. Kowalski would sit for hours at the piano playing Beethoven to himself as he never could play it in public, when his vanity and ostentation would make fireworks even of “The Moonlight.” Allpress, pale and waxen, with overlarge forehead and soft feminine locks that caressed his shoulders, looking (but only looking) like a Van Eyck saint, would walk up and down fiddling to himself just as Sims Reeves used to sing ballads to himself, so as to catch new meaning in the music, while once a week during a period of plenty there was the “Full Band” of cronies at a beefsteak supper with Barton or Wise or Nugent Robertson to make a speech.

However late the night might be, Hallewell's glorious organ would be heard next morning opening his pipes with a few scales and chords or phrases in D Major—“Bertie, my boy, always open up in D Major. That's the bright key. You can challenge the world in D Major. That's why Handel chose it for ‘The Trumpet Shall Sound.’ Always open up in D Major.”

I remember a tombstone to the parish clerk at Matlock near Derby. The epitaph begins comically:—

The vocal powers here let us mark
Of Philip, our late parish clerk,
In church none ever heard a lay man,
Who with a louder voice said “Amen.”
Who now with Hallelujah's sound,
Like him could make the roof rebound.




  ― 92 ―

But the closing couplet is by “another hand”:—

Sleep undisturbed near to this sacred shrine,
Till angels wake thee with such notes as thine.

When Daddy Hallewell died, there were many to say, as King Henry said of Falstaff, “I could well have spared a better man,” and if I were given a choice, I should be content to wake, hearing none of the angels, but simply Daddy Hallewell opening up in D Major.

There was an easy bountifulness of music in Hallewell's voice which, joined to its noble volume and mellowed quality of sympathy with every kind of feeling, made him the natural singer like the Harper of Goethe's ballad, who refused the King's proffer of a golden chain and asked only for wine in a golden cup; for says he:—

Ich singe wie der Vogel singt
Der in den Zweigen wohnet;
Das Lied das aus der Kehle dringt
Ist Lohn der reichlich lohnet.

(I sing as sing the birds of heaven
High in their leafy dwelling;
The song that from the throat is given
Is prize all gold excelling.)

The character of that old harper was equalled in generosity by Dad, who, in the cause of friendship and good-nature, would sing anywhere for anyone—on the edge of a truckle-bed in the bachelors' quarters of a farm-house, on a tennis


  ― 93 ―
lawn when the players called a halt, in a kitchen when his hostess told him the maids wanted to hear him, just as readily as he would override the professional's normal and perhaps judicious antipathy to singing as a guest in a drawing-room.

A brother of mine told me a story of the famous first tour of Melba with Charlie Huenerbein as accompanist, Hallewell as basso cantante, and I believe Allpress as violinist, and almost certainly “Jack” Lemmone as flute-player for that Crown Princess of Song who, so soon afterwards, was lifted by merit and beauty to be Queen Regnant on the throne of the world for a generation. The party, after a somewhat dismal time at Newcastle, went up the North Coast and were in Grafton on New Year's Eve. The watch-night services were over, and in a night of glory the whole city was strolling about near the river

There to behold the wandring moon
Riding near her highest noon,

And oft, as if her head she bow'd,
Stooping through a fleecy cloud,

—a picture of the mobile empyrëan by night which is well paired two centuries later by Wordsworth speaking of the stars

Which give away their motion to the clouds.

Grafton was laid out by the designer of Melbourne, and its broad streets lined with trees lofty


  ― 94 ―
and rich from a generous alluvial soil must have recalled to Melba (not then so named) her own mother city and to Hallewell the beautiful leaf-age of his English haunts. Dad was smoking his immense pipe in a big armchair on the balcony of the Crown Hotel when some one caught sight of the dome-like head with the joyous chevelure spreading on to his broad shoulders.

“Give us a song, Dad!” he called out, and, without waiting to be urged, Hallewell stepped forward to the balcony rail and poured out to the two or three thousand below him a flood of silver tone to match in amplitude and beauty the silver Clarence flowing on his right. Some instinct made him sing for that folk and in that moment the brave ditty

Like a fine old English gentleman,
One of the olden time!

Old England was in Hallewell's very veins to the last red corpuscle of the last red drop. He told me how, after being a choir-boy in York Minster, his voice changed, and then he used to practise scales and exercises and even scraps of oratorio melodies while walking at the tail of a dray or lorry as it lumbered over the cobblestones of old York, the noise smothering the singer's voice as the roar of the waves did the voice of Demosthenes when he was practising his art. Later, at Magdalen College, Oxford, his mind


  ― 95 ―
and his ear must have been felicitously enriched by a city whose streets are all beauty and whose memories are all nobility.

It may be that his religion only voiced itself in song, but in York and Oxford he gained a kind of affinity with his favourite Handel. Both were men in whom a splendid and hearty physique sustained the multiform vibrations of the musician's emotional energy. Handel, a thorough German, had a German's appetite, and held fast to the German belief (with which I was indoctrinated in the Rhineland by student friends) that beautiful scenery and glorious art are more correctly valued and more thoroughly enjoyed after a good meal.

In England, Handel settled down pretty comfortably as a trencherman. In one village he went to the inn and ordered dinner for five. The dinner was late and Handel rang the bell. The landlord appeared, and Handel said, “Vere is de dinnare I order?” The landlord said, “Very sorry, Sir, but you ordered dinner for five, and I was waiting for the company.” “Bring in de dinnare—I am de gompany!”

Whether it was after or before this that he wrote the “Hallelujah Chorus” is not yet definitely established. But neither need surprise. Certainly Handel must have had a wonderful body and nourished it amply to write the Messiah as he did. I have a copy nearly a hundred


  ― 96 ―
years old, printed before Mendelssohn had orchestrated the accompaniments more fully. It is there mentioned that in a note at the end of the original MS. Handel records that he began the vocal score on 22 August, 1741, and finished it on 12 September, just twenty-one days.

The late Mr G. Neville Barnett, who was organist at St Mary's Cathedral in Sydney, possessed a facsimile of this original MS. of the Messiah. It bears traces of frenzied ardour and haste in composition. The “Hallelujah Chorus” is a series of dots and dashes far too hurried and irregular for anyone but the composer to decode with certitude. In other parts the writing of the score was so rapid that, as you see from the smudges, the bottom of the right-hand page was finished before the ink on the top left-hand corner was dry. The book is of the full size of an ordinary song-sheet and opens with its length horizontal. You can see where the notes in the top left-hand corner have blotted on to the top right-hand corner when Handel, in his rush of composition, dashed on to the next page without using the emery dust that did service before the invention of blotting-paper.

Once at least this ardour was curbed. The recitative introducing the chorus “For unto us a son is born” is in these words—“Behold a virgin


  ― 97 ―
shall conceive and bear a son and shall call his name Emmanuel—God with us.”

Here Handel paused solemnly and wrote the last three words firmly and carefully and twice the ordinary size—GOD WITH US!

It was that grandiose and reverent spirit which gave breadth and weight to Hallewell's interpretation of all Handel's songs. In such a strain as the famous Largo “Ombra mai fu” his voice would sustain a noble evenness of tone “upborne on indefatigable wing,” and in the long roulades with which the Italianate taste of Handel's time ornamented melodies that would have been more beautiful, even if less ornate, without them, Dad knew just how to grasp a climax or shade off a cadence so as to avoid the appearance of stilted vocal exercises. No wonder Frank Hutchinson, hearing him sing church music in a commonplace entourage, wrote of the effect:—“Tinsel and tawdry surroundings were forgotten, and the air seemed full of music and majesty and devotion.”

When he lived in Burton Street near St Vincent's Hospital he had typhoid, and when convalescent he was allowed, according to the starvation tactics of the times, “just three oysters.” He sent for two dozen, on the pretext that the doctor would next day allow him another three; then had them all opened, and defying, as he thought,


  ― 98 ―
the threatened relapse, slapped his great chest, announced that he felt fine, and sent for a large bottle of Bulldog Stout. In the afternoon Professor Butler and I found him decidedly the better for having taken his own prescription. Presently the talk turned on the old Latin hymns of the church—the earliest known instances of rhymed Latin verse. Dad knew them from having been choir-master at St Mary's Cathedral till a certain attachment, which the church thought too little spiritual, led to his retirement. Neither he nor the lady was in mortal sin, but it is one thing in a Catholic church and quite another thing on a Protestant farm for a girl to feel, as the lovely Huldy felt towards Zekel in Lowell's poem “The Courtin' ”:—

She thought no voice had such a swing
As his'n in the choir,
My! when he made Old Hundred ring,
She know'd the Lord was nigher!

Of course Dad's knowledge was not equal to “Tom's” but he could keep up with the topic, and when at last the great chant

Dies irae, dies illa
Solvet saeclum in favilla.

(Day of Wrath, that awful day
When Heaven and Earth shall pass away)

came into the conversation, the singer and the scholar were spark and tinder each to the other,


  ― 99 ―
till at last Dad, fairly catching fire, jumped out of bed for the first time for a month or more and paced up and down the room, filling it with the marvellous great minims and the descending spiral of deep ominous notes in the verse

Tuba mirum spargens sonum
Per sepulchra regionum
Coget omnes ante tronum.

(The trumpet, scattering a wondrous sound through the sepulchres of countries, shall cite all before the Throne.)

As a figure of fun, Dad at that moment could hardly be equalled. His night-shirt, well housed on a girth still bien prononcé after a prolonged low diet, his bandy legs and pigeon toes striding with military rhythm in time to the music, his long locks flung back from time to time in emotion, he was a Resurrection procession in himself. And yet, quaint as the spectacle was, the poetry, the music, the solemn sound and the heroic vast vision of “the tombs of countries”—sepulchra regionum—prevailed with his hearers as the great trump pealed forth its grave compulsion. They were carried away to “that Great Day when we shall all be contemporaries together,” as Addison wrote. They saw, they felt, the Day of Judgment as Tintoretto saw and felt it while he painted in the Ducal Palace at Venice. They heard

. . . the grandeur of the dooms
We have imagined for the mighty dead




  ― 100 ―

preluded as in the prophecy of Milton when at the age of twenty-one, with the music of the Latin Hymn ringing in his memory, that “God-gifted organ-voice of England” added chord upon chord of powerful orchestration to the ancient strain and, using also the brave metallic diapason of the dies tubae cum clangore of the Vulgate, built up the sustained splendour of the great lines

Yet first to those ychain'd in sleep,
The wakefull trump of doom must thunder through the deep,
With such a horrid clang
As on mount Sinai rang
While the red fire, and smouldring clouds out brake:
The aged Earth agast
With terrour in that blast,
Shall from the surface to the center shake,
When at the worlds last session,
The dreadfull Judge in middle Air shall spread his throne.

Photograph facing p.100. Professor Butler






  ― 101 ―

7. Chapter VII Badham II

DR BADHAM was twice married, and from his first wife's sister I heard many stories of his younger days. He was a great favourite of her father, a rich merchant of London who, before he was ruined by a trusted relative, kept high table and fostered high art at Dulwich Hill. A great lover of pictures, books, and music, Badham was in the right atmosphere for happiness in that old English home, where dinners were given with the singers of a glee-club to recall the flute-players and dancers who enlivened the “nights and banquets of the gods” (noctes cœnasque deûm) of antiquity. But he found the palm of all happiness in one of the daughters of the house, and was not long in making his formal proposal to the father for her hand. The old man made no secret of his goodwill to the match, “but, my dear Charles! What are your immediate prospects?” “My Oxford debts,” said Badham in a conquering flash of audacity. “You shall


  ― 102 ―
have her!” said the father with a burst of laughter.

It was a victory for wit, like that which John Wilkes is said to have won in one of the old rotten boroughs. The election was in the pocket of a terrible old Tory squire, and, when Wilkes told his radical friends that he was going to stand, they pointed out the hopelessness of beating the squire, who would “do what he liked with his own,” in the Duke of Newcastle's phrase. “Never mind,” said Wilkes, “I'll call on him and ask him for his vote and influence.” When he did this, the squire, purple with rage, roared out “Vote for a scoundrel like you? I'd sooner vote for the Devil.” “Yes,” said Wilkes, “but supposing your friend doesn't stand?” The story says that the Grand Elector capitulated.

Rotten boroughs must have appeared sound seats for those who sat for them, if not in them. William Wilberforce was one of the best men who ever sat in Parliament, and knew how to combine unsparing devotion to a noble cause with wit and mirth in social intercourse entirely free from the solemn self-esteem customary in reformers. He was driving through Sussex with a friend when at dinner-time (i.e. midday) they came into a tiny hamlet with one inn. They asked the landlord the name of the village.


  ― 103 ―
“Bramber” said the landlord. “Good Lord” said Wilberforce, “I've sat in Parliament for Bramber for twenty years and till now I've never set eyes on the place.”

This kind of “good local member” would hardly do for our modern Commonwealth, though there have been democracies in our time with electoral systems just as simple as that of the ancient monarchy of England in pre-Reform days. An American business man who had interests in the Republic of Mexico for some time told me that on one visit he was the guest of a Mexican merchant in the days of the famous Dictator, Porfirio Diaz. In the morning his host said “Today is the day of the Presidential election. I'm going to vote for Diaz. You'd better come along and vote for him too.” The American said “But I'm not a Mexican citizen; I haven't got a vote.” The Mexican replied “Oh, that's all right! In this country everybody has a vote who's going to vote for Diaz.”

In the family circle at Dulwich Hill Badham's choice was a little envied for her faultlessness— she never seemed to do anything wrong. Being detected once in some mistake, she was swarmed upon by her sisters in waspish triumph. Badham couldn't defend her, but silenced the critics by saying, “Well, thank God, Julia! After all you're


  ― 104 ―
not a Michael Angelo's Moses in petticoats”— the “Moses” being in those days looked upon as an impeccable piece of sculpture, for no Ruskin had as yet arisen to question the spiritual nobility of the sculptor's creations and even to condemn “the dark carnality of Michael Angelo.”

On their marriage, or soon after, Badham, who had taken holy orders, obtained a cure of souls of Surrey. He was so eloquent a preacher that the gentry from miles around flocked to his sermons, and so kindly a pastor that he would stand in the Church grounds after service, simplifying anything in his preaching that needed it to the humbler members of the congregation. I doubt whether much “visiting” or “parish work” was done, and his lifelong indifference to money was already in evidence, tempered by the old Oxonian antipathy—more pretence than real feeling—to the prompt settlement of accounts. He kept his money, like the elder Dumas, loose in the drawer of his writing-desk, and was surprised one day to find only a few driblets left. The volcano, as usual, broke out, and the gentle wife, hearing the eruption, came in and explained that she had taken the money to pay household expenses. “Great heavens! Julia! Do you seriously tell me that you have been frittering away my money paying bills?”




  ― 105 ―

I think Badham rather enjoyed exploding, and often put on a simulated anger for the sake of the things it helped him to say. When he lived in Brisbane House, North Sydney, and rowed himself or was rowed across to Circular Quay, he used to take a bus—“omnibus” he would have said—to the University (not the 'Varsity). His fellow-passengers were amazed at his virulent rhetoric shouted up to the driver if there was any dawdling or touting for customers. Bus-drivers are not (or were not) a silent class under reproach, but none of them cared to argue with Badham. They lacked the savage humour shown by a London driver beside whom the late Mr Justice Higgins sat when first he came to London. There was a block on the way to the Bank which brought that driver vis-a-vis with another bound in the opposite direction. “'Ow's 'emp to-day?” shouted the first man. The outward-bound man stood up shaking his whip and cursing with the utmost fury, which made Mr Higgins ask a fellow-passenger what was the matter. Said the passenger, “Oh, the other driver's brother was hanged at nine this morning!”

Sweetness of temperament was transmitted by the first Mrs Badham to two children well known in New South Wales (the daughter being the


  ― 106 ―
famous headmistress of the Girls' Grammar School here), and then the first wife died.

When Badham came home on his second marriage there was a tragic scene because everything had been left as it was in the room, and Badham had expected to find everything changed. With the second wife looking on, he addressed the life-size oil-painting of his first wife:—“My Julia! my departed saint! have they left you here to see me come back to the same room?” etc., and then poured out a rhapsody of recollected feeling which finds, one may fancy, an echo in his description many years later of Alcestis, who, when she is doomed to die in order that she may save her husband's life, walks through the dear familiar scenes of the palace “crowning with a serene and steady hand the altars of gods, but bursting into tears at the sight of the nuptial couch.”

It sounds like antique times to hear that for the son and heir of the first marriage there was a great christening feast, with a distinguished company whom Badham delighted with his reasons for the names he had given his son. Charles was, of course, the patronymic, and so the stately treasure-houses of the poets were levied upon to adorn the theme of the father's longing for the continuance of his name as well as of his qualities; “Leonard” was in acknowledgment of one of


  ― 107 ―
those warm friendships the making and keeping of which Badham himself nobly illustrated; and “Cobet” was, of course, a prophetic sprinkling of the young forehead with the hoped-for glory of scholarship. Cobet of Leyden and Badham were then probably the greatest living Greek scholars.

Charles Leonard Cobet Badham was a magistrate in New South Wales till his death. But, so far as genius was concerned, the fond eloquence of the young father was destined not to be followed by fruition, any more than was Napoleon's boast as he stood on the steps of the Tuileries holding in his arms the young King of Rome for the nation to acclaim, and calling out, “The future is mine!” (L'avenir c'est à moi!). For the microscopic vanquisher of so many ambitions— the invisible invading germ of tuberculosis, that Captain of the Army of Death—destroyed the Eaglet while the Eagle was caged on the rock of St Helena.

Badham did not live to see (as we can) his “light relumed” by a namesake in the third generation. A year or two before his death, he said rather sadly of his youngest son, a clever doctor who died before he was thirty, that he was the only one who seemed to have his own gift of learning rapidly. “And I'm afraid he's inherited


  ― 108 ―
more than a share of my indolence,” he added. He was then over seventy, still lecturing and examining, but not reading new writers, in whom indeed he would have found little to increase those accumulations of learning which made us feel, when he died, all the tragedy there is in the cruel fact that the best wealth in the world is just the wealth that cannot be left to others. In those days I used to find him in an angle of his lecture-room before the fire, a low shelf of books walling off the draught and making a cosy corner from which every day a strong smell of cigars haunted the whole room. There he would sit reading Plato's Laws, as to which he knew, as he said, that, though plenty of people could write literary criticisms of Plato, no one else knew more about the MSS. and the text of Plato than he did. Certainly no other scholar then working had the special versatility and technique in restoring the Greek text where it was corrupt.

Modern scholarship concerns itself very little with the state of the text of an author—even of an author as high in Olympus as Plato. But Badham's ingenuity in setting right obvious blunders by the monkish copyists of manuscripts was delightful to watch. By a slight change—a missing word supplied, or the suggestion that two or three letters had been misshaped in the earlier


  ― 109 ―
Greek handwriting, or by a correction of spelling or of words copied in the wrong order, and by a sympathy due to assimilation of the soul of Plato or Euripides or Herodotus, as the case might be, Badham often restored a corrupt text so convincingly that later editors adopted his emendation as establishing the authentic utterance of the author. In particular his sympathy with the classic writer's ways of thought, grounded on profound and accurate scholarship, was so perfect that he seemed, when looking for the true text hidden beneath a mass of blundering, to be his author, not to interpret him, just as Moiseïwitch said out here of the pianist Busson, since dead— “he does not play Bach; he is Bach when he is playing his works.”

In the Cambridge Essays in 1856 Badham, dealing with the Text of Shakespeare, suggested many interesting emendations accompanied by some powerful criticism. In my school-days we had to labour through the laborious work of Gervinus, that heavy-witted author of whom Heine said “The task was to express in a big book without spirit what Heinrich Heine had said in a little book full of spirit. The task has been carried out thoroughly.”

With what elation, therefore, did I read in Badham's survey of the periods of Shakespearean


  ― 110 ―
criticism his allusion to the “last and most abject period of all when German metaphysics mumbled by blind idolators has replaced the erect and intelligent admiration of Shakespeare.”

It is a curious fact that not a line of Shakespeare's plays exists in his own handwriting, and often a taker of notes from which the play was printed has misheard what he did not under stand, and so made the nonsense which we still read. Sometimes, again, the printer misreads what he got from the reporter. Theobald's “palmary emendation” of the passage where Mistress Quickly, the eternal good-hearted chatterbox of the old-time inn, describes the death-bed of Falstaff, is a good instance of two or three misprinted letters making meaningless what was a stroke of genius:—

Nay, sure, he's not in hell: he's in Arthur's bosom, if ever man went to Arthur's bosom. A' made a finer end and went away an it had been any christom child; a' parted even just between twelve and one, even at the turning o' the tide: for after I saw him fumble with the sheets and play with flowers and smile upon his fingers' ends, I knew there was but one way; for his nose was as sharp as a pen, and a table of green fields. “How now, Sir John!” quoth I: “what, man! be o' good cheer.” So a' cried out “God, God, God!” three or four times. Now I, to comfort him, bid him a' should not think of God, I hoped there was no need to trouble himself with any such thoughts yet. So a' bade me lay more clothes on his feet: I put my


  ― 111 ―
hand into the bed and felt them, and they were as cold as any stone; then I felt to his knees, and they were as cold as any stone; and so upward and upward, and all was as cold as any stone. —(Henry V, Act II, Sc. 3)

This is all sheer nature except the comparison to “a table of green fields.” We know how sharp a thing a pen is; but how sharp is a table of green fields? An earlier critic suggested that we should read “his nose was as sharp as a pen on a table of green frieze,” as if the homely and garrulous old Mistress Quickly was building up the laboured suggestion that a pen looks sharper when it is lying on a table of green cloth than at any other time. Theobald emended the passage by altering “a table” to “'a babbled,” so that the whole passage reads:—

for after I saw him fumble with the sheets and play with flowers, and smile upon his fingers' ends, I knew there was but one way; for his nose was as sharp as a pen and 'a babbled o' green fields.

This brilliant restoration by Theobald seems so infallibly to be what Shakespeare wrote that later editors simply print it as such. It has the very trick of Shakespeare's voice, touching in another semitone of beauty to that merciful delirium of the dying when even a mind like Falstaff's that had travelled all the slums and alley-ways of vice and dissipation turned back to the innocence of childhood, and babbled about Nature.




  ― 112 ―

Theobald's emendation may be paralleled by a recent suggestion. According to the account in all our history books, Nelson, dying in the cockpit of the Victory, said to his captain “Kiss me! Hardy!” Hardy stooped and kissed him, and Nelson said quickly “Who was that?” It has now been proposed to emend Nelson's utterance to “Kismet! Hardy!” Nelson, it is said, was familiar with the “It is Fate” (Kismet) of the East, and when Hardy misheard this natural acceptance of death and kissed Nelson, the act surprised him. Certainly the original story seems to savour of a feminine softness alien to Nelson and as wide a world away from his masculine tenderness of passion for Emma, Lady Hamilton, as it was from his man-of-war's contempt for the dead when he brought home a Turkish admiral's head in a pickle barrel.

There may still be somewhere in New Zealand a volume of Shakespeare which belonged to a sister of Badham's first wife, and in which Badham had pencilled some of his ideas. My informant remembered only one emendation. A stage direction reads “Enter gentle astringer.” No one knows what an astringer is, and commentators therefore guess that he may have been a servant who administered astringents to hawks and falcons. Badham's guess was “Enter Gent, a


  ― 113 ―
stranger.” The change is simple, the misprint easy to be made.

So, when the mock-saucy Viola dressed as Cesario gets rid of the Clown, she says (Twelfth Night, Act III, Sc. 1, 1.49):—

Hold! there's expenses for thee!

to which after a quip or two the Clown says:—

Would not a pair of these have bred, Sir?

He is looking at a single coin which he tries to cajole Viola into doubling. There is no question of “expenses” in the matter at all, as Viola is simply dismissing the Clown. Badham read:—

Hold, there's sixpence for thee

and the sentence then has sense, as has the subsequent dialogue. Mr Allan Wilkie has adopted this emendation in his production. The Clown gets his sixpence, looks at it in the palm of his hand, and then angles or “wangles” for a pair of these so that they may breed.

This joke of a breeding couple seems to have been in Shakespeare's time a common one among servants when a tip was given. A modern counterpart of such cupidity was seen when a certain Councillor of Ballarat was dealing with a proposal that Lake Wendouree, the artificial lake of that splendid city, ought to be made attractive by importing a gondola from Venice. “Why


  ― 114 ―
shouldn't we import two, and then they might breed?” said the far-seeing alderman.

Allusions to Thackeray and Huxley are sprinkled in Badham's writings and speeches. The former was very averse to the intrusion of nobodies who wanted introductions for the sake of saying they had met him. The noted inventor of Holloway's Pills hung around for a long time with this purpose, and at last his sponsor, detecting, as he thought, a kindly gleam behind Thackeray's spectacles, presented the pill-merchant. “I hope, Sir,” said Thackeray, “you enjoy better health than your patients,” and that was all the conversation he got. In Leonard Huxley's life of his father there are several allusions to Badham—the name being misspelt Budham. We read, for example, of Huxley sitting up till 3 a.m. with Badham, and the latter told Professor Butler that he often spent half the night smoking with Huxley. He didn't add “and drinking,” was the sly reflection of the Sydney disciple.

“Father Prout” (the Rev. Francis Sylvester Mahony), the writer of witty verse in various tongues, who described himself as “an Irish potato seasoned with Attic salt,” was another bon-vivant. He was the original of Thackeray's “Captain Shandon,” the name being given to him because he wrote “The Bells of Shandon.” He invited Badham


  ― 115 ―
and other cronies, including, I think, Thackeray, to luncheon at a London haunt celebrated for its good cheer. The meal and the wines were on the same plane as the company. At the end of it Mahony rose, and when the waiter had helped the guests into their coats and thanked Father Prout profusely for his profuseness, that master turned to his friends and said, “Now, let's foight our way out!”

Among higher names, those of F. D. Maurice and Cardinal Newman, each a sainted memory with his own churchmen, were part of the treasury of Badham's recollected friendships. He had been the headmaster of Edgbaston School at Birmingham, where Newman exercised his ministry. Newman and he used to come to each other's schools when the boys were acting, for Badham loved drama and was himself, in Dalley's judgment, no mean actor in private theatricals. He must have greatly enjoyed not only Newman's exquisite and noble character and his unrivalled mastery of English, but the ready wit with which he defended a serious and sensitive nature from the encroachments of the vulgar mind.

On one occasion a militant nonconformist challenged Newman to a public debate on the errors of the Church of Rome. Newman declined


  ― 116 ―
on the ground that he had “no skill in dialectics” (!), but added that some of his friends were flattering enough to say that he played the violin passably, and he would be very happy to meet his challenger on the platform in a contest with that musical instrument.

More crushing still was the rebuke, which Badham must have relished to the utmost, given by Newman to Monsignor Talbot. This backstairs potentate of the Curia disliked Newman and thwarted him in every way. But the ascendancy Newman won by his spiritual greatness made it at last politic to invite him to preach in Rome during the Lent season, when the city is full of English visitors. The invitation was stated to be with the Holy Father's warm approval, and the blessing of the Vicar of Christ was promised if he accepted. Newman's reply was silent as to that. He wrote simply:

“You invite me to preach to an audience of Protestants which you say would be more educated than could ever be the case in England.

“However, Birmingham people have souls, and I have neither taste nor talent for the sort of work which you cut out for me. And I beg to decline your offer.”

But though at seventy Badham may have thought it indolence to spend his time with his


  ― 117 ―
knees drawn up to the fire pondering over the text of Plato's Laws, he must have worked intensely in his time. To be sure he had an extraordinary memory, for even when he left Eton his mind was already filled with thousands of lines from the Greek and Latin authors. He told me that in those days what he read that pleased him seemed at once to be graven on steel in his mind. It was a common thing, when he came into the lecture-room and asked where we had left off last time, for us to give him the concluding words of the passage, when he would take it up and repeat the next few sentences while he was first finding his book on a very untidy table and then finding his place. But to this phenomenal memory the “labour and intent study which I take to be my portion in this life” of which Milton speaks, were undoubtedly joined.

Among the tributes of great scholars which the learning and devotion of Professor Butler have brought together from many lands, Professor Preller of Jena tells of Badham as examining the manuscript treasures of the Vatican library with unwearied industry (indefesso cum labore). His two lectures on Dante include the translation of some four hundred lines into the terza rima, so difficult to employ in the English tongue. And this, apart from all the wide sea


  ― 118 ―
of history and criticism over which the lecturer travelled. To help the fund for the poet Kendall, Badham prepared these lectures while doing his ordinary university work. He was sixty-nine, and confessed to me that it was “heavy mowing.”

The crown of all Badham's character was his native sympathy with his fellows. It made him the perfect scholar, who can not only “mark every turn of expression, every mode of thought in every author, and discern differences of dialect and differences of epoch,”note but can make literature the very transfusion of the writer's life and feeling into the veins of the reader. It made him the perfect teacher, an inspiration to the quicker minds, a patient fellow-traveller to the slower. It made him the delight of every company he joined. It made him a university statesman, and coloured, as well as engendered, his public work as the founder of the bursary system and of the provision for evening education at the university.

He was over sixty when he set out on “the winter campaign in the Riverina,” as he called it, and on other campaigns, to persuade the rich to found bursaries for students in need of them.


  ― 119 ―
Foul weather and hard work did not stop him from perambulating the country “like a clock-setter on contract.” During many years he set and corrected correspondence lessons for country students. One of the latter has said that without this initial help he could not have reached the university. To have heard that, would have been reward enough for Badham. It is a posthumous added reward to mention that this student was to be Chief Justice of the State and is still Chancellor of the University.

Badham's dearest friendship among many in his Australian life was with W. B. Dalley. Abroad his friendships included many lights in many areas of the spiritual firmament. In the pure serene of Greek scholarship he and Cobet of Leyden shone as the great Twin Brethren, the Castor and Pollux of their section of the sky. In Cobet's circle of friends Badham was, as the former wrote, sodalis dilectissimus—“a most beloved companion.” To Cobet Badham with trembling hand just before his death pencilled the words “Vale, in aeternum vale, omnium amicorum suavissime! Volui te scire me tui in ipsa morte non immemorem fuisse…Saluta dilectam filiam ceterosque. C.B.”note




  ― 120 ―

It was my good fortune three years later to be presented by the dilecta filia to the great survivor, then over eighty, a man of commanding height, with a strong frame like that of a big farmer, but now showing the slowness and weariness of age. He heard with great interest of the brilliant scholar who had written Badham's Memoir and was his truest as well as his most gifted disciple, because, more than any other, he forsook all to follow him. Of Badham himself, Cobet spoke with clearness of grief as if twelve thousand miles of distance and nearly twenty years of absence had made no severance—“Badham était un brave homme!”




  ― 121 ―

8. Chapter VIII Some Masters in Reid's Parliament

REID became Premier of New South Wales in 1894, having won the election with a policy of free trade and land value taxation. The Legislative Council threw out his direct taxation proposals, and Reid, in spite of the intensified unpopularity of a dissolution where there is payment of members, went to the country after a year of office. He came back triumphant, and in the three years 1895-1898 carried his fiscal policy, passed the Enabling Bill which made possible the Convention that drafted the Federal Constitution, took part in the Convention Debates, and passed important acts such as the Land Act of 1895, drawn and carried through by Mr (now Sir Joseph) Carruthers, as well as the first Factories' Act and the first Early Closing Act.

That Parliament contained four men who became Prime Ministers of the Commonwealth— Reid himself, Sir Joseph Cook, J. C. Watson, and W. M. Hughes. No one in the House would


  ― 122 ―
at that time have predicted such a future for any of the four but Reid, who shone “like the moon among the smaller constellations.” Yet it was a brilliant House apart from the names I have mentioned. Of course the old hands bewailed the degeneration of our institutions under Reid in just the same spirit as the reader of Punch who said to its editor, Burnand, “Punch is not so good as it used to be” and received the sly answer “It never was.”

Playing with the same weakness of human nature, Thackeray professes (in his lecture on Steele) that when he met the “head boy” of his school in after life he was astonished to find that he was no more than six feet high.

As well as brilliant men, there were useful men, such as J. S. T. McGowen, the leader of the Opposition, chosen for what is called “soundness.” Undue haste was never one of his faults. On one occasion I had to urge Mr Hughes to spur him to action when we were campaigning for a less provincial type of Federal Constitution. Hughes promised to “light a fire under Jimmy,” but, if he did, no movement resulted. When McGowen became Premier of the State, his power of inertia seemed to be enhanced by his surroundings, and it was said that he was only conscious of the flight of the seasons by noticing that


  ― 123 ―
in the summer-time he lay on the sofa in the Chief Secretary's office with his coat off and in the winter-time he lay on the sofa with his coat on.

Mr John Haynes, member for Wellington, was one of the wittiest in that House. He was a robust man, Irish in every lineament and in complexion, with a fashion of quick snappy utterance when he was delivering a good thrust. He was an ardent free-trader, and the Irish Catholics in the State were then, in the main, protectionists. In one debate E. W. O'Sullivan, pounding the table at which he stood, shouted out, “Protection is founded on a rock.” “Sham rock!” said Haynes.

When the Carruthers Land Act was going through the House, its very able author circulated a number of significant maps showing in red the Crown lands that had been already alienated, and the still available lands in green. The red vastly predominated as a result of the monopolizing tendencies of the big landowners. “Look at this” said Haynes, who was a friend of land nationalization, “the whole country almost sold away already; that red is the blood of the people.” “What's the green, Jack?” said an opponent. “That's the protectionist party” was the answer.

Haynes was said to be a “vert,” that is, a


  ― 124 ―
Catholic who had turned Protestant and, according to the point of view, was a pervert from, or a convert to, the true faith. There was nothing doubtful about Mr Jessop, the member for Waverley, who combined—not inappropriately— the business of a fruit merchant with a leading position among Orangemen. He disliked Haynes's Protestantism, and one evening called out angrily “I've never changed my colour.” “Yes, you have,” said Haynes, “you're always doing it! You buy your bananas green and sell them yellow!”

The controversy over free-trade led to four ardent protectionists leaving the Labour Party, which then adopted the policy of “sinking the fiscal issue” and giving “support in return for concessions” to either government—free-trade or protectionist. About the same time the famous “pledge” was invented (it is said) by Mr Hughes and Mr Holman and Mr Beeby—the last two not yet in the House. This “pledge”—to vote as the majority of the party decide upon all questions affecting the life of a government—stiffened the party discipline beyond the hopes of its inventors, who, indeed, were afterwards politically incinerated by their own contrivance, much as the Sicilians are said to have cremated Phalaris alive in the brazen bull which he had designed to ensure


  ― 125 ―
the stability of his government by roasting all who rebelled.

But the pledge was greatly disliked by lovers of individual freedom. Mr Arthur Rae (now Senator Rae) was heckled by one of these stalwarts when he stood as a pledged Labour candidate. This was the dialogue:—

ELECTOR: Now, Mr Rae, I don't want any “shinanykin,” I want a straight out answer, Yes or No—Are you a free-trader or are you a protectionist?

RAE: Yes!

(Even the laughter that followed did not enlighten the questioner, who held on.)

ELECTOR: You're only beating about the bush, Mr Rae, I told you I want a straightforward answer. Now you just tell me plain Yes or No— Are you a free-trader or are you a protectionist?

RAE: No!

When Mr Sydney Burdekin about the same time got into Parliament as a free-trader for the 'Oxbro (the authentic local pronunciation of Hawkesbury), his protectionist opponent was Mr D. G. Pateson, manager of a well-known company then almost wholly concerned with retailing milk. A distributing company does not start with any natural handicap of popularity among farmers, and Burdekin told them this story from a balcony in Windsor:—




  ― 126 ―
I've nothing against Mr Pateson at all, and am not going to indulge in personalities. (hear! hear!) He's the manager of a company that may be very useful, but some of its ways are peculiar. I have a farm up here run by a delightful old Irish couple (a deft touch for the Irish vote). My manager sends the milk to Mr Pateson's company, and one day he said to me that he couldn't understand how it was that the deductions were so heavy for milk gone “sour in transit.” I said “Well, next week put the milk only into ten-gallon cans and see that each can is full.” At the end of that week the account sales sent to my manager showed that out of one hundred gallons that left Windsor station thirty-seven had gone sour by the time the milk reached Sydney. So I took the bill to Mr Pateson and said, “I'm not making any complaint, you know, but I only want to understand one thing about this account. There were ten ten-gallon cans sent down, and there's thirty-seven gallons ‘sour in transit.’ I can understand that three cans went sour, and that leaves seven gallons in one of the cans. All I want you to tell me is whether you found those seven gallons of sour milk in the top of the can, or in the bottom of the can, or in the middle of the can!

Mr Burdekin was a royal spender and a generous man to his tenants. Years afterwards I was counsel for his executors in a resumption claim. He had owned all the east side of Oxford Street, and I found that he had never raised the rent of any tenant in spite of the ever increasing value of city property. Mr David Scott Mitchell, the founder of the Mitchell Library and donor to the


  ― 127 ―
State of the great collection of Australian manuscripts and books, did the same with the tenants of his large estate in the Hunter Valley.

Mr W. P. Crick was an outstanding debater. He had a contempt for his constituents, and would never have formed one of a party to “educate our masters,” as Lord Sherbrooke said when the 1867 franchise extension was passed. Crick said in the Assembly that he would vote against electors' rights (which had to be signed by the elector) because “most of my constituents can neither read nor write.” At the next election Mr B. R. Wise in the interests of free-trade opposed him in West Macquarie, and, being before all things a cunning disputant, he took Hansard up with him and intended to make great play of this insult to the intelligence of the electors. At his first meeting he read it out with all his oratorical cleverness, and a supporter asked him for the loan of the volume. With this he galloped twelve miles across country to another town in time for the end of a meeting of Crick's. When questions were invited, he asked Crick, who was working the “Country v. City” cry, whether he hadn't said what I have mentioned.

CRICK: Certainly not!

ELECTOR: Well I've got it here in Hansard!

CRICK (wrathfully): Hansard! Everybody


  ― 128 ―
knows that's one of the free-trade rags they publish in the city!

“Jack” Want (whom Crick loathed, and described to Reid in the House as “that square-jawed ruffian, your Attorney-General!”) bluffed a magistrate on the northern coal-fields with equal impudence. He had gone down on a case in which Mr Edmunds (now Mr Justice Edmunds) was opposing him. It turned on the interpretation of a section in the Coal Mines Regulation Act which was identical with that in the English statute of the same name. The day before Edmunds left Sydney, the current parts of the English Law Reports arrived, with a decision of the Court of Appeal directly in his favour. Naturally he thought the decision was already cash in the bank for his side, but when he quoted the august authority of a court which our Supreme Court is bound to follow, Jack Want picked up the paper-covered “part,” glanced at it, slammed it down on the table, and said, “Does Your Worship see what this Sydney barrister is trying to do with you? He comes down here and reads out something from a yellow paper pamphlet, and when I get hold of the thing I find my friend has quoted an English Case!” The magistrate refused to be bluffed by Edmunds and his English case, but of course, on appeal, the Full Court


  ― 129 ―
put Want in his place. Want's principle in cases was always to get a “leg in” when he could, and chance an appeal, which, after all, might never be brought.

The bringing of appeals, by the way, received a great impetus when the High Court first sat and reversed judgment after judgment of the New South Wales Supreme Court. The effect was widely felt. Mr Justice Pring observed (in private) “We can't be always wrong,” while Sir Julian Salomons, coming out of court one day, asked me if I'd heard of the new regula generalis the Supreme Court had adopted. I said “No,” and he explained that its effect was that in future the N.S.W. Full Court when giving judgment would go fully into the case, and then conclude after this fashion:—“For these reasons we are unanimously of the opinion that judgment ought to be entered for (let us say) the plaintiff, but to save the trouble and expense to parties of an appeal to the High Court we order judgment to be entered for the defendant.” One is reminded of a counsel's observation when Kekewich J. had given judgment against him: “Of course there will be the usual appeal!”

A story is told of a bookmaker for whom a famous counsel appeared about this time in a suit that failed in the Equity Court. The bookmaker


  ― 130 ―
appealed to the Supreme Court and was beaten again. He seemed to accept this for a day or two, but, after talking it over with some racecourse lawyers, he came to counsel's chambers, when the following turf consultation was drawn:—

CLIENT: Mr—, they tell me this 'ere High Court bowls the Supreme Court over nearly every time.

COUNSEL: Oh, there have been some successful appeals.

CLIENT: Well, I'd like to have a go at it.

COUNSEL: I think you'd be very foolish. I told you to begin with that I didn't think you had any equity, and when we lost I told you not to waste your money on an appeal. Well, you would go on in spite of me, and we lost again. The best thing you can do now is to cut the loss.

CLIENT: Well, how many cases have been taken up there?

COUNSEL: Oh! by now about twenty, I should think.

CLIENT: How many wins?

COUNSEL: Oh! some twelve or fifteen.

CLIENT: Three to one on! That's good enough odds. I'll give it a fly.

He “gave it a fly,” and won by a short head when a long head thought it wiser for him not to start.




  ― 131 ―

In Reid's Premiership and ever after B. R. Wise was his bitterest enemy. No one ever knew the reason, for they were both ardent free-traders —indeed they had each received the Cobden medal for services to free-trade. Perhaps Wise, handsome as the “radiant ever-young Apollo,” had more than the vanity of Narcissus and, having a full measure of Oxford superiority, grudged Reid his succession to Parkes as the party leader. For Reid had been to no University and made candid fun of his own looks. He would have cheerfully quoted of himself President Wilson's limerick:—

For beauty I am not a star,
There are others more handsome by far,
But my face, I don't mind it,
For I am behind it;
It's the people in front get the jar!

Reid took the hostility very cannily. He never retaliated, and after a time members discounted Wise's attacks as tiresome personal prejudice, and even sympathized with Reid.

Wise had a strong vein of vindictiveness. Once in Court he was begging for an adjournment to which Mr (now Mr Justice) Ferguson on the other side objected because he thought it mere dilatory tactics. The Judge, however, decided in Wise's favour, and Wise, as he gathered up his brief, said “So you see, Ferguson, you've


  ― 132 ―
taken nothing by your discourtesy, and I'll not forget it.” Ferguson had done nothing at all discourteous, but, coming from the Attorney-General (as Wise then was), this threat to a junior struck me as spiteful.

The anti-Reid attitude became an obsession with Wise, and, as time went on, it clouded his judgment and led him into various errors. In the 1894–1895 Parliament Parkes angled for a coalition with Sir George Dibbs and tried to upset the government by moving that Reid's proposed tariff measures be postponed in view of the imminence of federation. Dibbs was no believer in federation, but a firm believer in office. Wise was one of a few in Reid's party who might have just determined the balance. For days, while the debate went on, Wise was flitting up and down stairways and chatting in corridors without a word of loyalty to his leader or to the promises he had given to his constituents. Reid's victory was, as Wellington said to Creevey about Waterloo, “a damn close thing,” but a masterpiece of logic from Mr Ashton, then in his first parliament, silenced Parkes's artillery. In that debate Mr “Alf” Edden, a great-hearted simple man who had won his way to Parliament by sheer weight of metal, held the House enthralled. Alf's theme was the political roguery of lifelong


  ― 133 ―
enemies sinking their principles simply to destroy Reid. “It reminds me,” he shouted in his broad Staffordshire accent, “of a passage in the good old Buik,” and he read out:—“Now on that day Herod and Pilate were reconciled, for before they had been at enmity with one another.”

A voice interjected “Who's Judas?” and every eye in the House and in the galleries turned to Wise sitting next but one to Parkes.

Photograph facing p.132. Julia Lady Parkes with Sir Henry Parkes



Reid and Wise were both in the Federal Convention, Wise being for federation at any price. The cardinal point in the Sydney debates was the equal representation of States in the Senate, which all expected to be, like its counterpart in America, the prepotent partner in the new union, stamping its will on the national legislative progeny. Democrats (and Reid was, in reality, always a man of the people) protested against one voter in Tasmania having the same political power as ten in New South Wales. Wise, in reality, was an aristocrat to his finger-tips, as all his associations and habits showed, for in the political sphere too it is true that a man is known by his companions— noscitur a sociis. (If you pronounce the c as k in the Continental manner you will see that Professor Butler's translation has phonetic as well as worldly truth—“he is known by his socks.”) Naturally, therefore, Wise had a leaning


  ― 134 ―
towards an august super-chamber, and, as he would argue anything, he distinguished himself in this great crisis of democratic right by putting forward the palmary sophism that equal representation of States was “analogous in principle” to “One man One Vote.” He was the only man to reason on such a line. Barton and other honest men accepted the proposal purely as a matter of “practical politics,” since, in their view, it was the only way to get the smaller States to join at that time.

Wise's filial attachment to Parkes and his fortunes was the one unselfish feature of his career. When he arrived from England, flushed with academic and athletic successes, with a vitality, charm, and vigour that made him “beautiful as an army with banners” until you saw the curious insincerity in his bold eyes, Parkes fathered him into and within the Cabinet, and used to stroke his head as he walked to the Premier's seat at the head of the table. But Parkes was a shrewd judge, and he found that, with every other gift to take him to the throne of things, Wise was unreliable everywhere. He continued to use Wise, but spoke of him in terms of contempt. One phrase is famous, but must be slightly changed in deference to that chastity of diction in our time which permits free use of the term “Blackbottom”


  ― 135 ―
for a negro dance but would reject that brief old English monosyllable which was originally added (according to Sir Walter Scott) after “black” in the proverb “the pot called the kettle black.”

In the House one day Wise kept passing from one member to another. Parkes said, “There goes my young friend Mr Bernhard Wise. 'E's a most brilliant young fellow, but he can't stay in one place. Why, he can't even sit still in the 'ouse, he's always changing his seat. I never could understand it till one day I noticed him crossing the floor in a short jacket with his 'ands in his pockets. And then I saw that he's bottle-ended, and that's why he can't sit down.”note

The epithet stuck, and was sometimes repeated with the addition “soda-water” before the word “bottle” to make the meaning clear. Speaking to E. W. O'Sullivan once of this bon mot about a bit of a mauvais sujet, I was corrected. “Parkes,” said O'Sullivan, “was, like myself, an old printer, and he knew that when a type is worn at the sides so that it is rounded instead of striking flat, it's thrown away because it's ‘bottle-ended.’ ”

With all his faults Wise was a delightful companion when once away from his hates. He had a real courage beneath his gallant bearing. He


  ― 136 ―
returned to England to practise for a brief time towards the end of his career. A letter that he wrote illustrates very well his own unconsciousness of his repute out here, where at the Bar neither judges nor counsel could rely on him. A strange instance occurred when he took the fit into his head to go one night to Melbourne and help Mr Deakin, who in his Ballarat speech had just stabbed Reid in the back (as every one thought), though in reality it is now known from other sources that this seeming treachery was due to his splendid intellect being already at the beginning of its sad decline. Wise was leading Mr (now Mr Justice) Ferguson in a High Court case which was likely to be in the list next day. Ferguson was caught at the 4 o'clock adjournment in a part-heard jury case in which he was alone; so Wise said he would get Sir Samuel Griffith to leave the High Court matter out of the list. The Chief had a strong objection to disturbing his list for the convenience of counsel, and when Wise went to his chambers, he was left in the Associate's room while his request was taken in. The curt answer was that any such application must be made in open court. Wise came back to Phillip Street, told Ferguson it was all right, and rushed off to the political intrigues in which he revelled.

Next morning Ferguson, to his amazement,


  ― 137 ―
saw that the High Court case was listed. He asked me to hold his brief for him, but, in order to do so, I had to get a case of my own stood over before a Supreme Court judge. With the opposing counsel's agreement, I saw the Judge, and put the thing as well as I could by saying that apparently between Darlinghurst and Phillip Street Mr Wise became convinced that what he said to Ferguson was a fact. The Judge, with a jovial burst of laughter, repeated, “Yes, he became convinced,” and granted my request.

The point can now be appreciated of Wise's letter from England in which he lauded the behaviour of English judges. “Over here they take counsel's word for what he tells them—so differ ent from the judges out there.” Wise's practice in England, however, had not lasted long when his health broke down. He drifted from bad to worse with pernicious anaemia and exophthalmic goitre. The doctors told him that the end was very near—a week or perhaps two. “If that is so,” said Wise, “I'll enjoy myself.” He had his bed wheeled out into the open, ordered in oysters, fillet steak, chicken, and his favourite “marque” of French Burgundy, and lived for years afterwards, though a wreck, incredibly sad to see, of his former self. He came back here to be befriended by all, but the call of London was


  ― 138 ―
too strong, and he returned to die there at the age of fifty-eight.

If anyone writes Wise's life, it is to be hoped that the writer will show more compunction than Wise did to Parkes's widow. Lady Parkes gave a friend a spirited account of an encounter with Wise, which shows that she could formulate a plan of campaign quite as quickly as he could. “The morning after the funeral” she said “Wise rang me up and said that at his last meeting with Sir Henry he had asked him to take charge of his private papers. When would it be convenient for me to call for them?

“ ‘Why, this afternoon at 3 o'clock,’ said I; ‘but there are four great tin trunks of them and you must bring a lorry with you. Sir Henry never threw away an envelope, much less a letter.’

“At three sharp he drew up in front of the house in a big waggonette sort of thing, with Charlie Lyne sitting on the box with him and the driver.

“Wise and Lyne came up the long flight of steps in front of the house, and soon had the four trunks in the van. Then they were for jumping up on the box seat without even saying good-bye, when I called out ‘Aren't you staying for a cup of tea, Mr Wise?’

“Up the steps he ran, half-way, and said he


  ― 139 ―
had an important consultation to attend, but he would come out and see me soon.

“Then they drove off, and I went into the drawing-room and lay on the floor, rolling all ways, laughing. I'd like to know what Barney Wise said when he discovered that he had captured and absconded with the best part of a ton of billet-wood, and every door-stop in the house!

“Oh, it was hard work getting those ‘archives’ ready in time for him! And not a newspaper, or old rag, or old carpet was left in the house, for those billets had to be wrapped up to keep them from rattling going down the steps!”

The papers Wise thought he was getting are now in the Mitchell Library, the donor having bought them from Mr T. W. Garrett.

Lady Parkes was magnanimous in victory and bore no grudge against Wise. When James Martin, the Government's Trustee for the Parkes children died, Julia, Lady Parkes, called on Reid and asked him to appoint B. R. Wise in his stead.

“No,” said Reid, “you are a young and attractive widow and Mr Wise is a young man. His appointment would not meet with public approval.”

“My blood boiled,” said Lady Parkes when telling the story. “But I did not show it, and


  ― 140 ―
proposed Mr T. F. Waller of the Harbour Trust.

“ ‘Excellent! I shall have much pleasure in appointing him,’ said Reid, and after answering a polite inquiry as to the health of the children, I asked him if he would care to come out to see them. ‘Come on Wednesday to lunch.’

“ ‘I will come with pleasure,’ he replied.

“Then I gave him a Roland for his Oliver.

“ ‘Very well,’ said I; ‘but remembering what your reputation is with regard to women, I shall be glad if you will bring Mr Critchett Walker with you.’

“Georgie (I liked him from that moment) tilted back his chair, put his feet up in the air, and laughed until the tears came. So out he came with Walker, and the children had a great time.”

Mr Alexander Oliver, the accomplished parliamentary draftsman of those days, said that Parkes had brought rudeness to a fine art. He was Premier when a visiting Lord—not now so rare a phenomenon—was announced by appointment. Mr Henry Gorman, a good lender to Parkes and an unchanging friend, was with him at the time. Several times he tried to go, but Parkes kept on for half an hour and then rang the bell to admit the visitor. “It is one of the minor consolations of hoffice to be able to keep these fellows waiting on the doormat,” he said.


  ― 141 ―
On another occasion the Government Printer, Mr Potter, had a scheme for saving some thousands a year, and at long last got an interview with the Premier. He spread out his papers and was warming to his work (as he described the affair) when a shadow cast by the afternoon sun fell upon his calculations. He looked up, saw a “leg-of-mutton hand” stretched out, and heard Parkes say, “Only to say good afternoon, Mr Potter, good afternoon!”

It will be remembered that Dilke in his Greater Britain said of Parkes in his first edition that “neither his debts nor his poetry would ever sink him.” When Dilke's divorce, with its elements of what the Times called “passionless nastiness,” sank that very able man, a kind of compact led to Dilke withdrawing the Delphic phrase from later editions.




  ― 142 ―

9. Chapter IX J. F. Castle

THERE may be an age of innocence. I never found it. At the age of eight and for the next three years I was at Newcastle Public School. This was many years before Archbishop Vaughan denounced the public schools of New South Wales as “seed-plots of immorality and lawlessness.” The phrase was merited, but should not have been limited to any section of schools.

Of late years I have come to know what our schools are since the War loosened every tie, and I no longer look upon Newcastle and my later schools as dens of a particular or a vanished wickedness. Still they were bad enough for me to pick up all the mischief for which I was not too young, and to make me long for the day when I should be old enough for the rest. The rhymes and chanties that trickled into our minds from the scuppers and forecastles of visiting ships per medium of the sons of sailors or of their boarding-house keepers were a veritable anthology of bilge. The legends of a past hero who had thrown an


  ― 143 ―
inkwell at the headmaster's white waistcoat and stalked out of the school never to return; the cheating and lying and bragging of “conquests,” and the regular forced fighting to regale ex-pupils with a free stadium; the stealing from home, and the “wagging it” from school, followed up by forged letters of excuse from the parsonage— these, and hands hardened with daily canings, are my principal recollections of school up to the age of thirteen.

They were chequered in an amazing way with much religiosity and, indeed, religion. We had family prayers twice a day, church and Sunday-school twice on Sunday, with some learning of texts in addition. Doctrinally I was a devout believer and would walk to school in the winter carrying a forged letter of excuse for absence, but praying fervently that I might not be found out, or at least—for the God of childhood is open, in moderation, to bargaining—that I might not be called out for the cane before my hands had had time to get warm. Home “training” was equally penal—but in fact more severe.

My father was passionately fond of us all, but if it was the Lord's will that he should be chastened by having an imp of a son, it was also the Lord's command that he should correct him. At


  ― 144 ―
school the cane, at home the horsewhip, was the curriculum.

The only effect of home thrashings was to breed a mixture of yelling contrition and tacit mutiny, which made my attitude to religion so incongruous that I remember walking about the cliffs of Newcastle during a storm, alternately challenging the Almighty to strike me dead with His lightning and praying fervently for His forgiveness for having been so wicked as to offer up such a prayer.

An episode of conversion at the age of ten during a revival mission gave me as full a measure of freedom from previous misdoings as Christian in the Pilgrim's Progress found when the total of all his sins fell off him in one bundle. Two years later, however, the old Adam in a young body broke out again, but by this time my new school was driving me for examination purposes, and this somewhat restrained rebel propensities.

But “conversion,” with its completeness of renunciation equalling that which Savonarola extorted from the beauties of Italy when he made them throw all their jewels into the treasury of the Dominican Order, has a lifelong influence.

The swift election of final surrender to the Everlasting Yea, the powerful assurance within the soul of unswerving allegiance to an unerring


  ― 145 ―
Guide, these and all the other spiritual governance of that high emotion of faith and vows called conversion, inaugurate a habit of obedience to “the Eternal not ourselves that makes for righteousness” which long years afterwards, when freedom of thought has expelled all superstition as a basis for conduct, repeatedly brings back the mind and will to renounce and refrain and repent. We swing back to the anchor, however wind and tide may turn us.

Thousands of men and women who have long given up both dogma and the practice of any religious observance, will recognize the truth in that daring self-revelation of the noble and spotless Madame Roland, who, after describing the strict religious upbringing of her childhood, tells us how, though after sixteen she was not a believer, yet “The love of God, the sublime delirium of which made beautiful and preserved the early years of my adolescence, seemed to be my constant preserver against the storms of passion from which, having the vigour of an athlete, I with difficulty save my mature age.”

What a lofty humility there is in the present tense—“I save!” written, as it was, in the Conciergerie prison with the shadow of the guillotine stealing nearer every day!

At thirteen I was sent from our home at Goulburn


  ― 146 ―
to Newington College, then on the Parramatta River. I was put into the highest form except in Latin, which I had been “learning” for eighteen months at Goulburn Public School without knowing even the declensions. The explanation was that Latin was taught only once a week and on the same day as the cattle sales. The sale-yard was next to the school. By dawdling at breakfast-time I could get a note saying that I was to be excused, “having been detained,” and with this blank cheque on the bank of time I used to take lessons in the drafting of cattle and calves until the eleven o'clock play interval. My teacher was a splendid yeoman type of farmer, with the bandy legs that all boys then admired as proving that the owner was a good rider. With what delight did I read, later on, Sir Walter Scott's description of bandy legs as a shape in which Nature “takes so much from beauty to add so much to strength!” These sale-yard lessons were much better for me than learning by heart the objective of puella. I learnt how to get over a five-railed fence with a bar on top when charged by a bullock. You spring on to the second rail, drag yourself up till your stomach is on the top bar, then lean your arm down and grab a rail on the opposite side, and so whirl your body over and down, feet first. After all, this was, as Mr Squeers


  ― 147 ―
would have said, practical education—the real way to decline bos, bovis—an ox.

At Newington, then, I was brigaded into a beginners' class for Latin together with a number of divinity students, excellent young fellows all of them, who had had to earn their living before they could afford to study for the ministry. But they were naturally slow at a dead language begun so late, and, when they made mistakes, the tyrannical old Headmaster, unable to cane men of twenty-one or twenty-two, used to come down from his dais and cane me. Mutiny followed, and a crushing imposition for my Saturday. I borrowed half-a-crown from my hero, Cecil Davies, also of Goulburn—I owe it to him still—and absconded. I was away for three days, and was brought back after my father had telegraphed to the President “Inform the police, search the river; if absconded, punish severely”—a characteristic mixture of anxiety, affection, and duty which became widely known, and which has been repeated to me recently in the corrupted text, “If alive, flog; if dead, bury!”

The President, the Rev. Joseph Fletcher, was a jewel of a man for both justice and tact with boys. He gave me as good a flogging as his comparatively feeble physique would allow, and assembled the whole school to hear me read an


  ― 148 ―
apology. But first of all he asked the boys in my form whether they had ever seen me treated unjustly. A manly youth, one of the Bathurst Webbs, said “Yes,” whereupon they all said “Yes.” However the apology had to be made. I remember that I drafted some phrases which I was able afterwards to assure my schoolfellows (who chaired me round the playground) were no apology at all. When I stood up to read it I nearly collapsed for fear of being detected, but I went through without disaster.

Years afterwards I heard that Mr Fletcher told my father that he realized what I was doing and nearly burst out laughing at the trick, but he instantly decided that it would never do to seem “pernicketty” about the words used; so he gravely “accepted” my apology.

As the end of the quarter was near I was not expelled but “withdrawn” from Newington—by arrangement—and was then sent into a kind of exile. But in the interval I was removed from the boys' dormitory for fear of my infecting the others with a tendency to secession and self-determination, and was sent to the “Cottages.” These were a couple of semi-detached cottages with two rooms and a kitchen each. They were convict-built, and were numbered 1 and 5—probably a survival of the time when they were the


  ― 149 ―
convict servants' quarters in the palmy days of Newington, which was the splendid home of the Blaxland family from about 1803. Here the divinity students were quartered, and I looked forward to a miserable stay.

Photograph facing p.148. The Castle family (circa. 1855)



But a discovery awaited me. None of these young servants of the church had ever been to boarding-school, and they knew nothing of the games boarders practise. I got my first start in the teaching profession, and gave instruction gratis in all I knew. The budding ministers were apt and enthusiastic pupils and befriended their instructor in all sorts of ways. Being older, they had more endurance than the mere boys of the dormitory, and water-fights between the occupants of the two cottages sometimes lasted till 2 a.m. On one occasion my side turned out to be but foolish virgins, scripturally speaking. (See Matthew, Chap. xxv. 3.) Their lamp went out for want of oil. But one virgin cut off the band of his only necktie and stuck it as a wick in a bottle of hair oil. In the end we won that night. Our hero ultimately became President of the Wesleyan Methodist Conference. A man may justly boast of precocity if he can say that before he was fourteen he was so advanced as to be able to teach a President-in-embryo of the Wesleyan Methodist Conference how to apple-pie a bed.




  ― 150 ―

The mind deprived of games in childhood craves the experience. Chris Brennan, an aureus ramus of our University who contributed to classical magazines in Europe before he was twenty-three, was once surprised in his study, seated on the floor playing a game with tin soldiers. Just as Goethe went to the battle of Jena in order to experience “cannon-fever,” Brennan wanted to feel what it was like to play a child's game of tin soldiers. I doubt if he would have done it if he had known then that the ex-Kaiser as a tiny child always yelled for “ 'daten” (soldaten—soldiers). For Brennan's Chant of Doom, the finest thing written in English about the exiled Hohenzollern, shows that he would have shunned him as an exemplar for anything.

I left Newington after a supper given me by the church and given in good style with all the honours. I was taken in charge by Mr J. F. Castle, who, having done very well with Calder House, a famous proprietary school at Redfern, had purchased Cavan, a station some fifteen miles from Yass. The day I arrived the fine old man took me for a walk to the Fattening Paddock, and with his arm on my shoulder—a kindness no master had ever shown me before—asked me a few questions about the Latin nouns, which were then my despair. In answering I fired from the hip,


  ― 151 ―
and had a sequence of undeserved bull's-eyes and centres, which led to his saying he was glad I had “got so far!” I sat up for hours that night memorizing the declensions so as not to forfeit the favourable opinion of a man who was treating me with such an unwonted friendliness.

Next day, however, I lost for ever the goodwill of Mrs Castle. She was a masterful lady, wearing a wide crinoline and a dress looped up at the waist so as to leave her ankles free as she plodded round the homestead prying into every one's doings and scolding the maids till her corkscrew curls, shaken in wrath and menace, transformed her fine head into a Gorgon's, bristling with as many snakes as the Medusa's. My offence was this. At tea-time Mrs Castle looked at me very seriously and told that she had two cork legs. It happened that at family prayers in the morning I had had her prayer-book, and while on my knees had peeped into the flyleaf and there read “Eliza Roche, (her maiden name) Cork.” I spoilt the intended hoax, and at the same time my own domestic prospects, by saying “I know why!”

Still it was well for me that Mrs Castle was, as Napoleon said proudly of his mother, a maîtresse femme. It had also been well for Mr Castle because it was her vigilance and firmness alone that had saved him and the station from the


  ― 152 ―
clutches of a designing trickster. I owe perhaps even more to her discipline than to her kindness which was, beneath a surface of severity, real and invariable. The photograph of the family here reproduced was taken some twenty years before I went to Cavan, and was lent me by Mr F. W. Castle Roche, the grandson of Mr Castle and now the proprietor of Cavan.

At Cavan I lived a life of utter isolation from other boys. During my five months' stay I never once went into Yass, and never had my hair cut. Neither did I get any of the station life, though I was mad on riding and longed to help at mustering and rounding up. The station butcher allowed me to help at the week's killing for the homestead, and also occasionally lent me his gun at night to shoot possums, and this was about all I had for recreation. One morning about seven o'clock I went to his hut, took the gun from the corner where I had left it the night before, lifted the trigger, put on a cap, and then for fun pointed it at a little three-year-old named Charlie, the picture son of an immigrant carpenter, saying “Look out, Charlie, I'm going to shoot you.” At the last moment, not out of any qualms or caution, but by the mere mercy of fate, I turned the barrel towards an old stump and poured a charge of shot into it! The butcher had been up at 5 a.m. and put back loaded the gun which I had left


  ― 153 ―
empty. From that hour I could never point even a toy gun in play at a human being.

My studies at Cavan taught me what a difference there can be in teaching. Mr Castle dutifully prepared a full day's curriculum for each day of the week, but this soon dwindled down to an hour and a half of Latin. But what a change! Instead of mere memory labour of declensions and terminations, my host made Latin a living language. He took me away from stupid sentences about the days being longer in the summer and the nights shorter, such as those which made up Dr William Smith's Principia Latina. The very sight of that series of manuals, with their stiff black buckram covers and red-edged leaves, makes one think to this day what a helotism for children is uninspired teaching. Years afterwards, when I met Dr Smith in London and found him dressed from head to foot in black, with ruddy neck and ears and face and hands, a qualm of antipathy rose in me at the resemblance between book and author, and I couldn't even tell him that I had been taught from his grammar-books.

Sidgwick pokes fun at books which ask the pupil to translate “The lion has eaten the gardener, and the gardener's aunt” but that is wild sensational romance compared to Smith's Principia. With Mr Castle I read Phaedrus's Fables and Cornelius Nepos' Lives of Eminent Men, and


  ― 154 ―
had something to think about and enjoy. The canny old schoolmaster never let me grow proud. I left Cavan still with the impression that I was “no good” at Latin. But when I came to the Grammar School, I could have fallen through the floor when A. B. Weigall, its famous chief, told me it was a pity I hadn't begun Greek—my Latin was so good.

Mr Castle lived in his reading, and I think he had some hope of my perhaps carrying on the torch of the Anglo-Israelite League of which he was president. He had certainly found me Ishmael and made me Isaac. He drilled me in Hines' Lost Israel Found, but this theory had not been included in my father's ministerial teaching, and so to every argument I returned a boy's silent, cunning, obstinate, mental refusal. The doctrine is long obsolete—there are too many people about in the business world who know that, to begin with, Israel never has been lost, and never is lost. An aboriginal sprinter in Sydney who was asked why he chose the name of Samuels said that it was because he had noticed that the Jews always got ahead of the Christians.

It was only as this book was in the final stage that I learnt the hidden secret of the love of teaching and the sympathy with the young which so surprised me in those early days. Mr Castle was then a man of wealth, widely esteemed in the


  ― 155 ―
colony, and he must have greatly relished the relief from one of the most exacting of professions. Yet he gave his care to me and, after I left, to others, out of pure good nature.

The secret is that his own childhood had taught him the beauty of service in teaching. He was the son of a Nottingham lace-manufacturer and at the age of three, while playing with gunpowder, he was injured by an explosion which left his sight seriously threatened. He was confined to a dark room for three years, during which time his grandmother, Lady Elizabeth Fletcher, taught him. She must have had something of the passion for learning which fed the greatness of soul in the ladies of the Tudor epoch, for she introduced him into Greek and Hebrew. She belonged in nature to the same race as those fair pupils who (as Macaulay says) “while the horns were sounding and the dogs in full cry, sat in the lonely oriel, with eyes rivetted to that immortal page which tells how meekly and bravely the first great martyr of intellectual liberty took the cup from his weeping gaoler.”

Mr Castle was a bright blue-eyed man of sixty-five, short and broad, with a round farmer's face glowing with health, but yet refined, and a crown of silver hair. He made his own quill pens and tried to teach me to write copperplate as he could do. He was very proud of his school and the


  ― 156 ―
boys he had taught—the three Slys who had all become Doctors of Law (one of them being Mr Justice Sly, recently passed away), and Jack Want, who could have lost all three learned doctors in a jury case or a parliamentary debate. Sir William Cullen and Sir Kelso King were also Calder House boys.

But Jack Want came one day to Yass Circuit Court briefed for a free selector against the station. This seemed a personal wrong, for at that time the bad blood between squatter and free selector was at its worst. Every Thursday (Land Office day) the overseer rode into Yass to find out what parts of the station had been free-selected. What Badham called the intricate and amusing game of “double dummy” went on merrily, blackmailers paying dummy applicants to take up blocks and the dummies taking money from the other side to spoil their application forms. The “free selection before survey” of Sir John Robertson's Act of 1861 was resented by squatters as a repudiation of their leases to the extent of the lands selected. An agrarian war raged for years between the two classes. Simultaneously, rival wool-kings fought over holdings and trespasses thereon, and fought with the vigour of stud rams, from Circuit Court to Supreme Court and from Supreme Court to Privy Council, butting all the time with the animal ferocity of those bred in the open air,


  ― 157 ―
and never leaving off so long as they could meet a banker who would meet them—in the matter of overdraft.

The Land Acts produced chicanery of all sorts and on both sides. In one case it came out that a free selector had taken up four conditional purchases the boundaries of which met at one corner-pin. There was one each for himself, his wife, and two babies. He built his hut on the corner-pin with a room in each block, the measurement of which was the statutory maximum of one square mile. The wife and children were to fulfil the compulsory condition of “residence” by sleeping in their respective selections, and so the father would get command of 2560 acres. But complications sprang up over changes of bed, and, further, as the children had to leave their “residences” every time they wanted a meal, and, when necessity arose, were spanked in whichever selection they happened to be “residing” in, there was a fierce legal fight as to whether they had ever bona fide fulfilled the condition of residence on their respective selections.

A famous squatter litigant, who made a lot of money in spite of making a lot of Crown lands law, once found that a selector's slab hut overlapped his surveyed area at one corner and encroached on the station land. He decoyed the selector away and sent men with cross-cut saws to cut off the


  ― 158 ―
trespassing angle of the hut. Though the men made a neat isosceles triangle of the truncated corner, the owner was not satisfied, and sued the squatter. At a consultation with a junior counsel now on the Bench he showed his concern that there were no witnesses for a particular part of the case. “Young man!” said the squatter, “they tell me that you know all about the Lands Acts; but you're green yet! You tell me what evidence you want, and I'll get the witnesses!”

Mr Castle was not that kind of landowner, and he suffered without retaliation. He consoled himself in his beautiful garden, where I first saw walnut-trees and helped to “thrash” them with long thin poles to bring down the ripe nuts, Mr Castle explaining to me the old English adage:—

A woman, a span'el and a walnut tree:
The more ye beat 'em the better they be!

The English rustic believes that when the nut is brought down and a bit of the stalk is broken off with it, the tree doubles that stalk next season, and so you get two nuts instead of one. A tree bearing a thousand nuts one year would thus yield thirty-two thousand five years later!

I owe Mr Castle a great debt for taking, out of pure kindness towards the family, a young incorrigible as the guest not of his house and table only but of his rich mind and warm heart. But


  ― 159 ―
for him I should probably never have entered the Elysian fields, as they proved to be under Badham's later guidance, of foreign literature, and he made bearable a sentence of banishment from all schoolmates which first made me realize that school was not a place to run away from.

No middy, ordered abroad on war service at my then age of fourteen, could have felt a greater lifting of the heart at the prospect of adventure than I did when word came that I was to leave Cavan and go to the Sydney Grammar School. I had explored parts of Sydney in my truancy from Newington, and I felt the immense attraction of the myriads (as they seemed) living there—“the magnetism of a million hearts drawing one,” to use what Nathaniel Hawthorne said finely of London. I made a vow against truancy and another vow that I would make good in the vast new arena. The first vow was superfluous. The chief, the masters, the “Sergeant,” and not only the boys at the new school, were souls to stay with, not to shun, and it is really to “J. Fred Castle,” as he signed himself in his beautiful hand, that I owed the chance.




  ― 160 ―

10. Chapter X Bapu Gandhi

“HERE is Gandhi speaking to you!”

I turned to see the outstretched hand and quizzical smile of the Mahatma who had with a disciple or two come up behind me and was as amused as a schoolboy to think he had joined me unawares while I was looking for him to arrive from the opposite direction.

I had been told by that charming and famous Indian, Dr Cornelia Sorabji, that Gandhi's smile would captivate me. I cannot say that this was its effect, for in all that I saw of Gandhi there was nothing but the easy transparent kindliness of an ordinary gentleman, English or Indian; never any effort to impress or captivate, still less any self-consciousness or pose. Gandhi is a member of the English bar—he was called in 1891—and is just a plain and sociable man like the rest of his profession. He rather suffers than rejoices in the title of Mahatma or Sage given to him universally in India.

Our meeting was at the Satyagraha Ashram.


  ― 161 ―
The word Ashram—pronounced asaram, the h being merely a suggestion of separation—means asylum or retreat or monastery. Satyagraha means “persistence in seeking Truth,” and one sees in it the word sati—“true.” In printing Hindustani words a custom has sprung up of using the letter a to represent the sound of short u. “Punkah” for example is printed pankha, and “bungalow” bangalo. (The broad sound of a as in father is represented by a.) Thus “sati” is pronounced “suttee” and the widow who was true to her lord showed it by being suttee. The custom of dying to prove true love was swept out twenty years before the Royal Proclamation of 1857, which made India part of the Empire but promised to conserve all religious customs—a promise that nowadays proves in many instances a formidable obstacle to social and hygienic reforms. “Suttee” was abolished in the days of John Company by Lord William Cavendish Bentinck in 1829. This was fortunate, for there are still Indians who consider that when the widow or widows were carried in splendid procession to the funeral pyre, adorned with the finest robes and flowers, and sometimes uttering prophecies in the exaltation of approaching death, this was the one moment of true glory in a woman's life.

Gandhi's name is pronounced with the broad a


  ― 162 ―
as Gahndi, but is printed throughout in the ordinary English spelling.

The Satyagraha Ashram is at Sabarmati on the high bank of the river of that name and about four miles from Ahmedabad, a city of a quarter of a million people and the most active centre of labour and unionist activity in India. The road to Sabarmati, like all the roads around Ahmedabad, and like the city itself, provides plenty of playful proof of the religious customs of the Jains who ruled here for centuries and with whom the kind treatment of animals was a fundamental cult long before Englishmen had founded Dogs' Homes of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. In Ahmedabad it is “Kindness Week” all the year round. At frequent spots in the city you see perched on standards what look like pigeon-houses, but are profusely ornamented with wood-carving, beautiful even without its gay plumage of paint. These are the “parabdis” or feeding-places for birds, to whom the citizens bring food every day. Then there are the “pinjrapols” or resting-places for animals, in one of which near the railway station I saw hundreds of cattle resting and eating hay, just as in the paddocks of Flemington. I took the pinjrapol to be a sort of superior trucking yard or ante-chamber to the abattoirs, but the Hindus never eat beef and retain to an inconvenient degree that reverent attitude


  ― 163 ―
to the cow which has its basis in her tremendous service to man. Thus in Calcutta I have seen at the very portals of the majestical Law Courts, (built as a doubled facsimile of the Cloth Hall at Y pres), Brahmin cows lying comfortably in the fairway. Not even for the High Court judges are they disturbed. They stroll about the streets with more than the assurance of the dairy cows at Blackheath in earlier days. There, one morning, that very learned man, the late Chief Judge in Equity, Mr Justice A. H. Simpson, was at work in his garden wearing his oldest clothes when the local Sergeant passed. The Judge complained of his flowers having been damaged by straying cattle, and asked the Sergeant why he didn't impound them. The Sergeant, who saw not a judge but only an untidy and unkempt householder before him, put his hand kindly on the questioner's shoulder and said, “My good man! If you knew as much about law as I do, you'd know that we can't impound in Blackheath, because it isn't a municipality!”

In Calcutta the Brahmin cows are so sure of their immunity that they not only block traffic, which has to wait for them or go round them, but on the footpaths they gently but firmly shoulder you out of their way. To resent this would be like treading on a soldier-ant's nest. But the same consideration is not shown to the water-buffaloes who


  ― 164 ―
drag heavy traffic about. These often have broken tails where the cruel practice of screwing them has gone too far.

In her Mother India Miss Katharine Mayo recounts many instances of cruelty among a people whose “Light of Asia,” Gautama, expounds the doctrine, wide as the animal kingdom—

Slay not for pity's sake and lest ye stay
The meanest creature on its upward way.

But Mother India is all in one colour—black. It was widely said that the writer was helped in her work by Dr Sorabji, the noble gentlewoman who for years forsook a good practice at the Bar to labour in many languages for the betterment of purdah-nishin women—the “sitters” in purdah— and is the only woman barrister in India, and probably the only woman anywhere, with a D.C.L. degree of Oxford, having received it as a special distinction long before women were admitted to degrees. I asked Dr Sorabji about the rumour, and she denied it completely, but added that it was no use saying anything about it in public though it had hurt her greatly among her Indian friends. She told me that Miss Mayo's statements and statistics were authentic but were presented only from one point of view. “The facts are all right, but the focus is all wrong.” This neat epigram is better in form than Gandhi's comment


  ― 165 ―
that “in India Miss Mayo saw nothing but the drains, and India is not all drains.”

Photograph facing p.164. Bapu Gandhi



At any rate, in and around Ahmedabad I saw none of the cruelty to animals denounced by Miss Mayo, though there was evidence enough of cruelty to man in the cripples, so made while babies that they might earn a living as beggars—if they survived. One case was almost incredible. In the Manik Chauk, the main street, there was a man whose legs from the waist had been bent up so that they grew along his back, his feet being spread, palms up, at the level of his shoulders, as if in an attitude of supplication. He worked his way through the mud and filth using his hands and his buttocks for propulsion, the hands thus becoming huge and sprawling like the paws of a saurian.

The road to Sabarmati is a pleasant drive, with monkeys scampering across the road or dashing up into the trees that line both sides like an avenue. Parrots flit about or dash towards the grounds of the handsome bungalows, or of Indian shrines on a small scale, which are passed from time to time. When we reached the gate of the Ashram I was met by two initiates, intellectual-looking men in spotless white khadi (pronounced kuddee or more often kudder). This cotton fabric has a national import, for to encourage its local production Gandhi has tried to school his nation into reviving


  ― 166 ―
the cottage industry of hand-spinning and hand-weaving.

It is a singular thing, but I had no sooner entered the Ashram grounds than I felt myself in an atmosphere of peace and friendliness very different from the restless crowding and shoving of the Indian cities. The garden itself, glowing with fertility of vegetables and flowers, has every beauty to offer of order without primness. Little children, babies in bronze rather, potter about with tiny watering-pots and show you, with the laughter of gleaming teeth, their skill in planting seedlings and smoothing off with their natty fingers the circular mounds of soil.

I was first shown the workers making khadi and also coarse carpets or mats into which plain patterns in primary colours are allowed to enter. The spinning-wheel was in full career, and, instead of the vast revolving drums studded with bent hooks which are to be seen in the carding-machines of Ahmedabad's cotton-mills, there was hand-carding carried out by striking at the raw cotton with a light steel-stringed bow which gave out a curious musical singing swish as it swung to its work. Here there was plenty of room and light and air—a marked contrast to the cotton-fluff-laden atmosphere where the factory workers, crowded in mills without appreciable ventilation, push their way about amid the clanging and clattering of huge and


  ― 167 ―
multiple machinery. No wonder a man of Gandhi's naturalism feels, as Ruskin felt, that machinery has defaced the beauty and healthfulness of labour, though neither Gandhi nor Ruskin see the solution-point of the service that machinery may one day render to labour itself, by releasing the energy of the worker from its fierce absorption in material production to take part in higher forms of human activity.

From the weavery, where every inmate must, under the rules of the institution, go through a prescribed cycle of training, I was taken to the carpentry, where apprentices were learning how to make spinning-wheels or mend them. The spinning-wheel is almost Gandhi's emblem, and when he reads attacks like Miss Mayo's on his people he says very simply, “I go on with my spinning and speak my message in the whirring music of the wheel.” He has made it a point of national loyalty to avoid using imported cloth, and in Calcutta a month agonote he was convicted and fined eighteen-pence for “being concerned”—the cables did not explain the full depth of his felony—in a foolish burning of some Manchester tweeds in a bonfire at Calcutta. I have met some Manchester men, and am sure they will readily sell their cloth to India, whether it is used there for bonfires or for human warmth.




  ― 168 ―

Nor is it likely that the rough austerely white khadi, or, as it is sometimes called, swadeshi (i.e. home-made) clothing will ever conquer the Indian's intense love of colour in clothing. For the traveller this is a perennial delight. The dress of women, even the poorest, has not only a grace and artistry in shape, but, whether it is of cotton or of silk, a wonderful felicity in the harmonizing of the most brilliant hues. All through India there is this racial instinct for capturing the rainbow. In the south, at Madura, a principal seat of silk manufacture, the train-stop is enlivened by pedlars of silk shawls and other pieces, in which the shot colouring makes a feast of iridescence as the wares are unfolded. Wine-colour drifts or flakes off into peacock green or blue, and what looks one moment like sheer cloth-of-gold, blazing divinely like the Shekinah of the Ark of the Covenant, becomes, with a little manoeuvring into folds, a petty sea of undulating indigo wavelets crested with a sunset phosphorescence. The sari, or single garment worn by women, is more often uniform in colour and is put on in graceful swathes, sometimes being shaped on the head into a hood, sometimes into a shallow turban, and sometimes leaving the smooth hair untouched. It can be arranged in all kinds of layers or pleats, sometimes leaving the back bare between waist and shoulder, sometimes the breasts


  ― 169 ―
covered and then nothing till the waist-line. But the beauty of the sari and the impeccable modesty with which it is worn make it one of the noblest of national costumes, and it is not surprising that, when that high priestess of human grace, Madame Pavlova, was in Calcutta, she gave Indian women an earnest warning never to abandon their native dress for European fashions.

The men, too, in India delight in colour, man being (according to Charles Kingsley) “vainer than woman even as peacocks are vainer than peahens”—though obviously not for the same reason. It is the prince, not the princess, who wears the jewels of his principality. Speaking of ordinary folk, the turban they wear is handsomer than any European head-dress, and the bright shawl slung in folds round the shoulder and across the chest with a deep hem of some pattern in chromatic contrast, with a broad belt of some other colour glittering perhaps with gold or silver fringing, gives a gaiety to their carriage that makes a crowd in their gala clothing a feast for the eye of any artist or any traveller.

It was therefore with something like melancholy for virtue which is destined to failure that I left the weaving-room of Gandhi's institute, feeling that the campaign for swadeshi could not succeed, and that a wrong orientation was being


  ― 170 ―
given to a right ambition—viz., the cult of simplicity and plain living.

In the garden I met again one of my courteous guides, who invited me to rest till the time came for me to see Gandhi. It was then that I asked what was the proper way to address him. I knew that he was spoken and written of as Mahatma Gandhi; I had also heard him called Gandhiji, the suffix ji being a common way of expressing great respect, as “Esquire” was fifty years ago. (You can address a medical man, for example, as Daktarji as well as Daktar Sahib.) And of course there remained as possible the English “Mr Gandhi.”note

The answer was that I might call him any of these; so I next asked what he was called by the adherents in the Ashram? “We call him Bapu” was the answer. I said, “I suppose that is a more reverent form of Bap (which means “Father”)? “Not exactly” was the reply. “Well,” I said, “is it more familiar?” “No,” he said, “it is hard to explain, but it means something of strong affection.” He would not have “dear Father” or “Father dear,” as being too weak and too feminine. It meant something more, something of love but also of pride and trust. At last, therefore, I realized that for Gandhi's friends Bapu means—Bapu!




  ― 171 ―

My companion then took me to a room as severely monastic and primitive as a prison cell, but scrupulously clean. The bedstead was of logs neatly carpentered and solid. There was no mattress other than webbing, and no bed-clothes. The Ashram admits visitors as residents, but they must bring their own bedding. Indeed the Scriptural injunction “Take up thy bed and walk” is very widely honoured in India. The Indians themselves are great travellers in their own country, though it involves a violation of caste rule to cross the sea. Bapu Gandhi himself had to hold various councils with representatives of his caste before he could obtain a crippled sort of dispensation (for the Sheth or chief of the caste actually ex-communicated him) to enable him to go to South Africa, where he received his first baptism of fire in fighting for the rights of his fellow-countrymen within the Empire, and did great service for humanity in succouring the British sick and wounded during the Boer War, when he organized and led an ambulance corps of eleven hundred Indians. It was this corps that bore the body of Lord Roberts's son from the field.

In their travels in India the Indians always carry their own bedding, and, as the trains have no bed equipment even where there are sleeping-berths, you must provide yourself with sheets, towels, blankets, and, except in winter, mosquito


  ― 172 ―
nets, to which a valuable addition is a rezai or quilted cotton eiderdown with a gay cover. The rezai is thin enough to be an extra coverlet in cold weather and thick enough to serve as an under mattress at ordinary times. The Wanderlust of Indians is extraordinary. On all the principal lines the third-class carriages are packed in normal times as transport is with us on peak occasions. The travellers take with them all their household gods, pots and pans, sleeping-mats, food, and, above all, water. Swarming like hordes of gipsies, they squeeze into the carriages, and lucky is the early comer who can climb up into the long luggage racks (as they seem to be) running lengthwise of the carriage, and so have sleeping room. The others crowd or huddle or twist into any attitude, and sleep with complete unconsciousness of discomfort.

A remarkable thing about Indians is their bodily suppleness. This comes from many causes. One is that there is no loss of dignity in lying down or sitting down or squatting down in any position at any hour of the day. Every man, woman, and child seems to have by nature the flexibility which a professional European dancer acquires by intense practice. On the forecastle of a steamer you will see a mother with a child or two arrange the family limbs in any posture on a pocket-handkerchief allotment and doze off with all sorts of human and


  ― 173 ―
other packing material wedging them in. Women especially have this adaptability, which in both sexes is no doubt fostered by daily labour not confined to a set position or series of movements as in organized factory or office work. Especially does the carriage of burdens on the head contribute to this elasticity. From the train windows you see women in the fields with heavy bundles of grain or grass; on the roads, with bulky packages of household goods or of village fabrics such as pottery stacked in a column; on the way from the well or tank with glorious engraved brass or white metal pots full of water. All are carried on the head, and this habit, by throwing forward the bust and strengthening the neck to a columnar beauty, gives Indian women the figure and grace of walking caryatides. Indeed, the fancy often strikes one that, just as the caryatides of the classic buildings of Greece support the edifice of religion or of palatial pleasure, so the Indian woman as she walks is the support of the Indian home and the Indian family.

I have mentioned the fact that the travelling Indian always carries water. The lotah is the vessel. It is a handsome brass pot carried by a handle and having a cup or beaker which fits the top when inverted and is used for drinking when taken off. The vessel itself may hold a quart or thereabouts. One striking custom throughout


  ― 174 ―
the country that makes the lotah necessary in travel is the invariable washing of the teeth and mouth at least every morning. In the dim dawn, outside every hut or bungalow and every hovel in the streets, the Indian plies his tooth-brush as if his life depended on it, and, if he is too poor to have a toothbrush, uses a pointed stick or a forefinger. Another universal rule, infringed only by the lowest of the low, is that, as a matter of religious observance, the body is washed from head to foot once every day. I do not know what Arhat, or Swami, or Yogi, or Sanu, or other inspired teacher launched this ritual which 350 millions of people follow, but it must have greatly contributed to the health of the race in such a climate as that of India, just as the hygienic regulations of Moses have given the Jews their tenacious physique, and as those of Mahomed have done the same service for Arabs and Moors and Turks. Moreover, the Indian washes whenever he can in, or with, running water. He pours it over his body and hands and uses neither bath nor basin. Outside Madras I saw a sheet of water where clothes were being washed, as usual, by slapping them on flat stones. At the same time women were filling their water-pots. I asked my driver if this was for drinking-water. He said “Yes, this is clean water.” It was clean


  ― 175 ―
because it was moving, being part of a sluggish stream.

In Gandhi's Ashram, of course, all is truly hygienic, not merely superficially and ritually correct. They grow their own vegetables, and their water comes from wells sunk in the river-bank, which acts as a filter-bed, as indeed it does for the whole water-supply of Ahmedabad. Foreigners are told never to drink unboiled water in India. An exception is made for sodawater, which is the only form in which water is drunk on the trains, many Europeans using it even for washing the teeth—such is the taboo on mere “water.” A big bottle of sodawater costs 4d. and is called “a Bombay.” The theory is that the sodawater factories, being under European management and subject to the possibility, at least, of municipal control, purify the water they use. Let us so believe if we can, and so hope in any event.

In Madras I mentioned to my host, the accomplished Chief Justice of the High Court, that I missed the numerous cases of elephantiasis I had seen in other parts. He told me that this affliction was almost obsolete there because the water-supply installed by Europeans flowed through leaden pipes. The filaria or thread-like bacillus which causes elephantiasis cannot survive lead treatment and so perishes in contact with the slight impregnation of the Madras water with lead. This


  ― 176 ―
reminded me of an experiment shown in a chemistry lecture by Professor John Smith in my student days.

The Professor's experiments were not always successful, but he thoroughly proved his point one day when he set out to show that water drawn through leaden pipes would pick up a certain quantity of lead. “I have here,” he said (holding it up) “a beaker o' watter drawn from yon tap in the wall, and I'll pour a small quantity of H2SO4 (i.e. sulphuric acid) into it, and if lead is present ye'll see a cloudiness indicating the presence of sulphate of lead in the solution, the sulphur and oxygen having combined with the lead.” He poured in the acid and at once a dense mass of white precipitate began to sink to the bottom of the beaker. We applauded vigorously, and the old man, beaming with pride, took his spectacles off and, twirling them round, purred gently, “Yes, the result was entirely gratifyin', but a' may mention that in order to ensure the more complete success of the experiment I tuk the precaution of addin' a little acetate of lead to the watter before pourin' in the acid.” This I have always remembered as an instance of meticulous scientific technique. To make sure that lead would be detected in the water, the trained man of science put it there and then found it.

Professor “Jock” Smith, by the way, was appointed


  ― 177 ―
by the Senate in preference to Huxley, who was a candidate but could not, in spite of the persuasions of the Macleays, win the chair. He retained a strong Scotch accent, and his pronunciation of “watter” brought back to mind the excellent retort of the famous John Clerk when arguing a case as to riparian rights before the House of Lords. Summarizing his case he said, “The pursuer (i.e. the plaintiff, Clerk's client) has always exerceesed his rights ower the watter, and the watter rins that way, and why shouldna the pursuer continue to use the watter?” At this one of the Law Lords said “Mr Clerk! Do they spell water in Scotland with two t's?” to which Clerk replied, “Na! ma Lord! We dinna spell watter with twa t's, but we spell mainners with twa n's!” What a droll apology for shortening the vowel before one consonant, to explain that you lengthen it before two!

Even judicial persons would be more judicious if they allowed imperfect grammar, or spelling, or pronunciation, to pass without comment, as did the Full Court in Sydney when the great Salomons was quoting a case in which a certain gift for a charity had been construed so as to carry out the testator's wishes as nearly as possible, though they could not be carried out literally. This is called the doctrine of “cy-près” (Law French for ici près or “near here”). Salomons


  ― 178 ―
looked up and said he did not know much about this “cypress doctrine”—no doubt their Honours would!

Gandhi himself is over-censorious in one passage of his Autobiography. He describes delightfully a lively Indian friend, Narayan Hemchandra, whom he knew in London and who was “innocent of grammar” and used “horse” as a verb and “run” as a noun. I suspect that Hemchandraji had seen, and Gandhiji had not seen, Dr W. G. Grace getting “runs” at Lords, or that he had been, and Gandhiji had not been, to a London theatre where a play was having a long “run.” Eton boys, again, would know quite well what it is to be “horsed” for a thrashing, while Shakespeare, almost as if with presentiment of the miracle of beam transmission (in which the message is “mounted” on the light-ray) speaks of a transmitting messenger of news being

. . . horsed
Upon the sightlessnote couriers of the air.

In making this citation I can only hope that the superstition of actors that it is unlucky to quote from Macbeth may not prove true, and that if the Mahatma should ever see these sentences he will forgive quia multum amavi.

His own greeting, which begins this chapter,


  ― 179 ―
was given to me at the foot of a staircase on the outer wall of the common dining-room (with a kitchen adjoining) where all the inmates of the Ashram take the first meal of the day at 10.30 a.m., having risen at 4.30 a.m. Shoes and sandals left behind, we mounted and took our places—in all about one hundred and fifty of us—in a long bare hall. Bapu Gandhi sat against the wall on the left of the door-way, I on the right. I was asked if I could squat legs akimbo as the others did, but though I was willing, courtesy spared me, and I had, as did Gandhi, a low stool. A long line of the fraternity stretched away from each of us (the door being in the middle of the wall), and facing us were two other files, the men being opposite my half of the hall, the women opposite that of Gandhi. A prayer was sung in soft beautiful tones quite different from the shrill and wailing noises in a minor key which are the feature of the harsh music of India, and which convince me that, when Shelley gave a title to the lovely song “I arise from dreams of thee,” he would never have called the poem “Lines to an Indian air” if he had heard the ordinary Indian tunes that grate on the European ear. Prayer finished, the meal was served by men and women, who all take their turn at this and at cooking in the roomy communal kitchen at the southern end, in which at the time a big


  ― 180 ―
bearded brother was staring round at me, cooking-ladle in hand, in the very attitude of Vulcan at the Forge in Velasquez' picture.

The meal was, of course, purely vegetarian. The Ashram carries the conquest of appetite even to the length of banning the national drink—tea, though a whisper reached me that visitors (who must conform to all rules) sometimes infringe the order, and occasionally a regular inmate bestows upon himself a surreptitious dispensation. The meal was plentiful and varied. The breakfasters had plates and drinking-vessels before them, a tray being provided for Gandhi and his guest. Tomato broth was brought in big pots and ladled out; milk also was supplied, and the main solids were “double-bread” (i.e. wholemeal bread) and a fruit—called, I think, jamu— with a thick envelope tasting like turnip and a core rather like passion-fruit. There was also a large flat meal-cake eaten with ghee or melted butter, the latter being poured on the centre and then smeared round with the cleanly fingers. Gandhi ate well, but did not speak during the meal, being absorbed in a newspaper which brought a stern and thoughtful look to his face now and then. The men opposite me did not strike me as having anything very spiritual or happy in their appearance, but amongst the women there was far more life and mirth. They chattered,


  ― 181 ―
and laughed, and ate, making in their bright saris and with their smoothly braided hair a pretty picture. I discovered presently that a good deal of the laughter was due to a dainty little blossom of about fifteen, who evidently had a touch of genius about her, for her companions craned their necks to catch the crisp little comments or stories or jests, whatever they were, which this born entertainer was pouring out with all kinds of natural gesticulations and play of the delicate hands. Presently she caught me looking at her, and, answering with a charming half-smile, she brought her hands together in the respectful salaam used when thanking, and added a naive little bow like a young actress applauded during a speech. I could afford to be gladdened at this scene, when I reflected that one bright soul at least was being rescued from the hideous custom of child-marriage which hangs like a pall over Indian life and which patriotic Indians are doing their best to abolish. A fortnight earlier I had been the guest of a high-caste Brahmin, a son of one of the first Indians appointed to a High Court Bench. He had sent for his little daughter of twelve to entertain me in her shy way with a recitation—one of the forest stories so common in India of a tiger cheated of its prey. When she had talked a little and then left us, the father


  ― 182 ―
said, with an unforgettable look of concern and fatalism—“She must be married soon.”

Bapu Gandhi's work as a Teacher is doing much beyond such isolated instances. He has called his autobiography The Story of my Experiments with Truth. “Experiences” would have been a happier word, and was probably what the translator meant, for Gandhi has never “experimented,” after Goethe's fashion, with right and wrong. He has followed right, as he saw it, from step to step, and he says very truly that such political influence as he has is derived from his experiences in spiritual life. These have led him to abjure every bodily enjoyment that clogs that aspiration of the soul to its Maker which Gandhi regards as the chief thing in life. He describes how in his young days he was tempted by a friend into eating meat because, according to a doggerel of Normad's sung by schoolboys, this (and not the Bible) was the secret of England's greatness.

Behold the mighty Englishman,
He rules the Indian small,
Because being a meat-eater
He is five cubits tall.

But Gandhi gave up meat from a feeling that he was deceiving his parents. Later he gave up all condiments and all foods that foster the unruly appetite of sex or in any way make the body the


  ― 183 ―
ready instrument of any sort of unworthy impulse. Ultimately he reached a full belief in Ahimsa, literally “innocence,” and so “non-violence.” Most remarkable victory of all in view of his frank confessions as to earlier life, he took, twenty years ago, the vow of Brahmacharya—complete renunciation of sex and even of its desire.

The doctrine of Ahisma he earnestly instils in his political teaching, and it is curious that in a dialogue in “Indian Home Rule” he calmly discusses an imaginary opponent's suggestion of assassination as a political weapon, and, after pointing out its practical folly, stakes his condemnation of it upon the duty of avoiding all forms of violence because they breed violence. Quite recently he fasted for thirty days as a symbolic act of national contrition after an outburst of mobrioting with many deaths in one Indian city. An army friend, on his way back to the North-West gate to India where the British Raj bars the descent of tribes and, perhaps, of nations upon the ever-tempting prize of India, told me that he saw Gandhi just after this month's fast, and that he seemed “quite an insignificant little chap,” to which he added “you could pretty well see through his ribs.” The photograph here printed was taken, I think, as he was recovering from this penance, which would have killed most men nearing sixty, as Gandhi then was. At Sabarmati this year he


  ― 184 ―
struck me as having the very essence of serviceable health. Though he is spare and was in light condition, his eye was bright, his fine, large, and well-shaped head was poised in easy strength, and his arms, the only part of his body uncovered in the winter, had the fine silky skin of the finished athlete, underneath which was a sinewy strength and ductility of muscle equal, one would think, to a good deal of enduring work. If I had been inclined to regard him as an enemy to the Empire instead of, in the last analysis (that of spiritual kinship in governmental ideals), one of its friends, I should have felt as the Highlander sergeant did at St Helena when he saw Napoleon land from the Bellerophon. “They tellt me he was a sick mon, but the mon has twenty battles yet in his belly—damn him!”

As with political violence, so with political self-government, Gandhi's work probes to the reality and heart of things. He is the soul of Indian Home Rule or Swaraj, but he never flatters his countrymen into thinking that, as they are, they would govern better than Britain does. On the contrary, his work on Home Rule insists on the truth that swaraj must begin in the personal life of the individuals of the nation. He spares his countrymen's vanity not at all. The day of my visit I read in an English paper published at Bombay that one of his co-workers in another


  ― 185 ―
part of India had written to him about the self-seeking and quarrelling of rivals eager to be delegates to the All-India Congress. There was nothing to be gained by this except the distinction, yet the struggle was fierce and ugly. Gandhi's reply was a stern rebuke. “If we fight like this over every small personal advantage while we are shut out of government, how can we ever hope to shoulder the tremendously heavy responsibilities and resist great temptations when our time comes for governing the whole administration?” He has observed, no doubt, the fierce candidatures for Government posts which are such a feature among educated Indians, and is probably just as much alive as any English resident to the fact that University-educated lads resent continuing to belong to the humble ranks of trade and especially of agriculture. Their grievance is, at bottom, not that there is a British Raj, but that it is impossible for such numbers as are turned out from the universities to find places under the British Raj. Instead of hounding them on to rebel because they cannot be government servants, Gandhi practises as well as preaches indifference to all worldly advancement and wealth. In this he reproduces the spirit of the East in its loftiest manifestations, and there may be here a parallel, not yet completed in fruition, between the attitude


  ― 186 ―
of Gandhi and that of the saints and sages of the Orient when the Roman armies swept over it—

The East bow'd low before the blast
In patient, deep disdain;
She let the legions thunder past,
Then plunged in thought again.

So well she mused, a morning broke
Across her spirit grey;
A conquering new-born joy awoke,
And fill'd her life with day.

This “morning” of which Matthew Arnold sings was the coming of Christianity.

But Gandhi, though perhaps more saint than statesman, is no mere dreamer. The Mill-hands' Union in Ahmedabad is the only union with much industrial influence in India, and it is all Gandhi's creation. So, too, his Swadeshi campaign, if it cannot win through as an economic movement, refreshes national energy as well as reviving national feeling. Again, Gandhi has been a successful mediator in industrial troubles. When I saw him, he had just succeeded with a joint arbitration in which he and a leading employer settled a strike at a cotton-mill when it was within an ace of becoming general, and in the forecourt of a handsome building of Ahmedabad I saw that morning a crowd of men and women ex-strikers who were being re-enrolled for duty. It seemed to me in India that the fundamental origin of


  ― 187 ―
dissatisfaction with British rule is not anything oppressive or partial as between two races, but the same economic cause—the struggle between the Haves and the Have-nots—which is found in every modern population.

The plight of the masses in India is incredible. There are said to be six million recognized beggars, the beggar profession being respected because of its frequent association with the profession of holiness. India is not a country rich in natural resources. The staple of plenty, viz. richness of soil, is not there, and, while productivity of nature is niggardly, productivity of population is intense. This is checked by terrible epidemics, against which the masses, ill-nourished and smitten with the Indian fatalism inculcated by the Brahmin doctrine of reincarnation, have no resisting power. During the influenza visitation of 1918–19 whole villages (and an Indian village numbers many thousands) were desolated. The dead lay unburied. The cold winter synchronized with a high price of clothing. The recording of deaths ceased after 8½ millions had been registered, and the Year Book gives from twelve to thirteen millions—twice Australia's population— as “a conservative estimate” of the losses in less than two years. In the inter-censal period 1911–21 the population was practically stationary, the increase for the ten years being only 1·2 per cent.




  ― 188 ―

The cheapness of human life and therefore of labour astonishes an Australian. Yet, though the resident Englishman enjoys abundance of service, it is not because he is an Englishman, for the Indian anywhere above the coolie class has just as great a retinue. On my first visit to India I was the guest of a High Court Justice, who pointed out that there were compensations for the climate and for the toil of British functionaries. Speaking of his own household, he told me that he had twenty men-servants, four of whom, dazzling fellows in scarlet and gold, were provided by the Government. His children being at school in England, he lived in a stately house and grounds fit for, and probably built for, a nabob. He added that when his wife bought a turkey for Christmas one of his peons (pronounced puons) came to him and said “I know the very man to be syce (i.e. groom) for your Lordship's turkey.” The Judge thought it unnecessary, but the peon insisted that the turkey might stray out of the grounds and get dusty in the streets and need to be brushed, etc. A special groom for one turkey is a luxury hardly conceivable, but it shows how over-abundant is human labour that it could have been suggested.

The social question becomes more and more the question in India, and of course it is made more difficult by the divisions of caste. Of the


  ― 189 ―
twenty men-servants just mentioned, fourteen were of different castes and therefore had to have fourteen separate messes and fourteen separate methods of preparing food. Poverty and over-crowding are rank in all the cities of India and Burma. An official Report last year of an Enquiry into the Standard and Cost of Living in Rangoon says: “It is not unusual in lodging-houses registered in the Municipal books to find a tenement room 12½ × 40 ft occupied by as many as forty or fifty people.” This would give each tenant a “home” averaging four feet long by three feet wide. The diagonal of such a space would be five feet, so that a very short man could just lie down if he slept corner to corner. The Report continues—

The practice is for the room to be taken out by a maistry (i.e. a labour contractor) at a fixed rent, and, with a view to making as much profit as possible, he crams it with as many coolies as it will hold. In some rooms there are two sets of tenants, one set occupying it during the day and the other during the night. Families are often found in these lodging-houses, gunny-bag partitions being erected to secure a certain amount of privacy. In the dry season the men usually sleep on the footpaths and pavements and use the rooms only for cooking food and for storing their belongings—usually a deal-wood box. But during the rains they crowd into these lodging-houses until there is hardly an inch of space left either inside the room or outside on the stairs....


  ― 190 ―

The wages of the unskilled labourer who is thus housed amount in the larger mills to 30 rupees (£2 15s. 0d.) if he works for twenty-five days in the month. He thus gets 1s. 5d. per day. “During the slack season there is no regular payment of wages to the coolies. They are given a rupee (1s. 6d.) or two now and then just to keep them from starving.”

Yet in 1925, 288,000 immigrants came from India to Rangoon to get a living, 240,000 returning during the same year.

To bring about the deplorable state of human life in India the British Raj has done nothing. On the contrary, it has done and is doing much to abolish it. For one thing, famine has been banished by irrigation works and railway construction. But when the masses are miserable, the government, whatever it is, of the country is blamed. Thus the British Raj is held up to detestation for causes which are to be found in century-old customs of caste with its dominants and its subjects, of land-tenure with its subjection of the tillers of the soil, of early marriage and recklessness of procreation, of superstition which resists hygiene and modern medicine, of tribute paid to princes and above all to the Brahmin priesthood, and of obstinacy which clings to ancient tools. In the fields of India I never saw a spade or a wheelbarrow, or a steel plough. Nor


  ― 191 ―
is work in the city, except for growing factory production, any better furnished with modern implements, which, an English contractor told me, would not be used if provided. The city population, thus impoverished, is also a population of quick sensibilities and accustomed to giving and taking with the knife. No wonder they are, as a leading official described them to me, “very inflammable—for a short time.”

My conversation with Gandhi was fixed for three in the afternoon. I found him seated on the ground with his spinning-wheel before him in a bright spot of the garden. A few pebbles marked off this modest throne or audience-hall. Before him were a couple of youths and a handsome old Rajput, looking like an old-world Paladin, in rich turban and costume with a silver-mounted scimitar in his belt. They said little, and Gandhi spoke to them in even conversational tones without the slightest air of superiority or teaching ex cathedrâ. At one time in the afternoon two women approached and knelt touching the ground with their foreheads as an obeisance. They were consulting Gandhi on some personal or family matter, and the older woman, evidently the mother, seemed somewhat vexed, or at least disappointed, at the counsel given them, but the younger woman never varied in the happy look almost of adoration with which she regarded her Master. It was


  ― 192 ―
such a scene as might have had its setting in Palestine 2000 years ago. When they had gone, Gandhi said, a little wearily: “There is some inconvenience about this Mahatma treatment, but it cannot be helped.” I recalled this when I read in the Introduction to his Autobiography: “Often the title has deeply pained me; and there is not a moment I can recall when it may be said to have tickled me.”

Our own talk was purely on labour questions, and Gandhi listened with close attention to what I said about the position in Australia and the universal spread here of industrial arbitration. His questions were quick and terse, and he was particularly alert in following the provision made in New South Wales for a living wage supplemented by endowment for children. He explained how they are only just beginning in India to bring the public conscience to examine law as it affects labour. “We have no strong unions here to make possible the organization of regular awards between employer and employed, or compulsory arbitration. But our people is intensely religious, its religion often bordering upon superstition. We are trying to work upon employers from the point of view of religious duty, but this takes time.”

Our meeting at the time was ended by the courteous observation, “And you have come all


  ― 193 ―
the way from Calcutta to tell me all this interesting news about the methods of your country?” To which I could only say, knowing what a vast concern Gandhi handles, “Mahatma, you are a great Teacher, and I would not have wasted a great Teacher's time if I had not thought there were some facts from our country worth his considering.”

I saw Gandhi again the same night, but by a misunderstanding I arrived when evening prayer had already begun. I entered the grounds and found my way, with no one to guide me, by the light of a series of hurricane-lamps set down at points in the winding pathway. The scene was a solemn and yet a homely one. There is no chapel at Sabarmati; the place of worship had no walls but a few flowering bushes, no ceiling but the vault of heaven from which stars strange to me looked down on a mysterious congregation, no music but the scarcely audible hum of the city across the river. Nor were there any seats, except for women, who were in the front rows. All were without sandals (which were piled outside the clearing), and sat shrouded in spectral khadi while facing Gandhi, who, spectacles on nose, looked at them in his kindly way and expounded some scripture which he had just been reading. Then came questions and comment. Gandhi's very voice spoke peace; he answered in quiet


  ― 194 ―
tones and sometimes scored a little with raillery, to judge by the laughter that followed. The language was Gujerati and quite beyond me.

When the meeting was over Gandhi joined me. There was little time except for farewells, for it was my last night in India and I had to join my boat at Bombay. Gandhi said, as if after full reflection in the meantime—“I am greatly struck by the way the wage question is dealt with in Australia, and especially with that separate provision for children of which you spoke. I approve of it thoroughly, and we must see what we can do, bearing in mind the figures you have given me about the local requirements in money.” It was then that he wrote in his Autobiography, with an adherent holding up a lantern, the inscription here reproduced below his portrait. Since he wrote standing with the book held up for him, the unevenness of the script will be understood.

I asked if I might leave with him a greeting for his followers. He said “Willingly,” and I repeated in Hindustani, with the white-robed listeners crowding upon us, the beatitude from Matthew's Gospel: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the sons of God.” Gandhi made me repeat it, and then asked what language it was? I said it was Urdu (Hindustani), from the Bible Society's translation. At this he laughed heartily, as we all did, and he then repeated it


  ― 195 ―
to those around with a change in a word or two and very different pronunciation. So heard, the sentence received a murmured tribute of deeply felt and reverent acceptance. We have so larded over the simple precepts of this chapter that it has lost the plain meaning it still has to virgin minds. When I was studying Hindustani with the help of a Parsee fellow-passenger, I one day brought the Bible (which is always one of the best aids in learning any language) to my kind Munshi (teacher). I read the Beatitudes, and was astonished at the result. I had expected only correction of my pronunciation or some remarks about the words or their forms, or the grammar. To my surprise all question of the language was forgotten, and the lady said in hushed and almost awe-stricken tones, “How beautiful! how wonderful!” over and over again. The elemental beauty of soul in these great edicts of our common humanity was something new, and for the first time my helper heard the real teaching of a religion whose missionaries have been in India for more than a century.

With Gandhi I avoided every political question, except that I told him that Australians as a self-governing people had much sympathy with Indians in their aim at Dominion status as soon as they were able to work with it. I added that from the broad point of view of humanity and


  ― 196 ―
its needs there was an immense value in the grouping under one government of the greatest possible number of consenting people, if only for this reason. While peoples are separated into wholly disconnected national entities, any topic of disagreement tends to be fought out to the bitter end —involving, finally, physical war—as a matter of patriotic pride. We, for example, have at times had lively differences with New Zealand, with the South African Union, and with Canada. Such differences between countries separated as independent nations without any common allegiance may often be magnified and added to until the breaking-point is reached, whereas, simultaneously with complete local freedom of action, the common nationhood of members of the British Commonwealth of Nations secures the adjustment of such differences by peaceful political action. I concluded that total separation of India might easily be a step to international dissension, and without international peace there can be no social or other advancement for any race or country.

To this latter view Gandhi eagerly assented, saying, “Yes, international peace is indispensable for every one,” and his own unselfish life, and that loftiness of soul which makes him master of his thought and motive in a degree not excelled by any patriot in any country, give confidence that


  ― 197 ―
the sweetness and humility of his finished character will lead the millions to whom he is light as well as leading towards the living waters of national redemption. If, as Browning wrote—

A nation is but the attempt of many
To rise to the completer life of one,

there is no man in India (in spite of some human failings of unconscious prejudice towards a race whose nationals have sometimes treated him cruelly as well as arrogantly) whom Indians could better take as their oriflamme. Aspiring to no mastery but only to service, and ignoring caste and social and religious severances, his thought is a slow but sure solvent of disunion and will ultimately effect the cohesion of All India in freedom, action, and progress, as the British Raj has secured it in obedience to law and civil peace.

In the Ashram none is higher or lower than another, and no labour is looked on as inferior, one of the Rules prescribing that each member in turn shall perform the sanitary service which is regarded as the province of “Untouchables.” The Rule speaks of it as “an essential and sacred service.” It is ranked as Activity No. 2, No. 1 being worship. With Gandhi, therefore, as with Wesley, cleanliness is next to godliness.

Gandhi speaks fearlessly against all Indian institutions that hold the Indian soul in bondage.


  ― 198 ―
The practice of purdah, for example, is losing some of its ancient rigidity, and yet is regarded by millions as essential to married happiness for men and—what is a more subtle yet not less powerful persuasive—a mark of social dignity for both sexes. Thus a Calcutta friend of Parsee origin, and therefore immune against the mind-dominating influence of the Brahmins, told me that her parents had a mali (gardener) and his wife working with them for years. Suddenly the wife disappeared. The mali explained that, thanks to their Honours' ever-generous treatment of them in regard to money, his wife could now afford to go into purdah.

Gandhi's protest against purdah has biological truth to back it.

“By seeking to-day,” he says, “to interfere with the free growth of the womanhood of India we are interfering with the growth of great, independent-spirited men. What we are doing to our women and what we are doing to the untouchables recoils upon our own heads with a force a thousand times multiplied. It partly accounts for our own weakness, indecision, narrowness, and helplessness. Let us then tear down the purdah with one mighty effort.”

His followers call him Bapu, as did his little son when he had brought him out of the delirium of fever by his treatment and (as Bapu believed)


  ― 199 ―
by his prayers and faith in God. Millions of Indians speaking different tongues, sprung from different races, practising different religions, yet living in one undivided country, look upon him as the parens patriae—the Bapu of All-India.

“Here is Gandhi speaking to you!”

Photograph facing p.198. Sir Julian Salomons, K.C.






  ― 200 ―

11. Chapter XI Sir Julian Salomons

AS I was looking on in the Banco Court one day, a tipstaff said to me, “What sort of a man would it be if he had all the brains of all those men?” At the Bar table were the solid hard-headed hard-hitting Pilcher, the versatile and nimble Wise, the sagacious and dignified C. B. Stephen, and finally J. H. Want, to whom was paid a few years later one of the finest of compliments. Sir Frederick Darley was no orator, and had none of the admirable literary style which was such an ornament of Gregory Walker's judgments and did not vanish from the Equity Bench in the days of his successor. Yet Darley made a master-stroke when he spoke in his memorial speech from the Bench of “Jack Want, as we all loved to call him.” It reminded many of Peel's famous tribute to Cobden, in which he violated the parliamentary etiquette which requires that a member shall always be referred to by the name of his constituency, and touched the House by the humanizing indecorum of using the personal


  ― 201 ―
name by which the member was known to the people:—

The name which ought to be associated with the success of the measures for the Repeal of the Corn Laws is not the name of the noble Lord, the member for London [Lord John Russell], nor is it my name. It is the name of a man, who, acting as I believe from disinterested motives, has, with untiring energy, by appeals to reason, enforced their necessity with an eloquence the more to be admired because it was unaffected and unadorned—the name which ought to be associated with these measures is the name of Richard Cobden.

Fortunately for clients no counsel has ever had “all the brains of all those men.” Yet in his best days Salomons was worth any three men at the Bar. He had all the vivacity of a Continental advocate, and just as Englishmen, until the late war, never realized the immense patient industry of Frenchmen because of their liveliness and excitability, so not many who heard Salomons storming and declaiming in Court, raising himself on tiptoe, his short round frame quivering like a lance when it crashes home, shouting till he was purple to the ears and seemed on the verge of apoplexy, could realize how many hours of plodding drudgery he had devoted before-hand to the preparation of every part of his case. He told the late Mr Justice Cohen that when he first went to the Bar he resolved to treat every brief as if it were marked two hundred guineas.


  ― 202 ―
To the end of his career he worked up his case like any junior—before the Court sat, during the luncheon adjournment, and at the end of the day. “Gladstone's foot is always in the stirrup” said John Bright, and the same might be said of Salomons.

In Court he seemed to sit on springs, and would shoot up with a protest or an objection and, after pouring out a molten mass of argument, subside into his chair slowly and reluctantly, as if overcoming with difficulty the propelling force that had hurled him at the Court. He was perhaps the finest case-lawyer on the Common Law side, and if we adopt George Meredith's definition of humour as “strength to spare,” he had always mental energy left over for a scintillating wit which made him equally formidable with Bench and Jury. Sir Edmund Barton thought Want a better verdict-getter, but added that Salomons would upset half his verdicts before the Full Court. Yet with juries Salomons scored well, as, for instance, when his prowess saved the Crown tens of thousands in the actions brought after the Redfern railway accident.

For many years before his retirement Salomons adopted a masterful tone with the Bench. It is said that Sir Charles Russell, when a juryman asked an awkward question, rapped his snuffbox with his spectacles and said, “Attend to the


  ― 203 ―
evidence, Sir, and don't ask questions.” Salomons often addressed the Bench with a similar affectation of authority. When he came out of his retirement to argue the question of interference of State laws with Commonwealth instrumentalities, he protested to the High Court that “no lawyer would ever support” the proposition he was opposing. Griffith said somewhat sternly: “You are forgetting that the Judges of this Court have already so held.” Salomons replied, “I did not say no Judge would say so, I said no lawyer would say so.” That Bench could afford to ignore the affront, for every member of it possessed in a high degree the special sense for constitutional questions—a sense not to be won by technical studies alone, but compounded of an historical knowledge of man as a political animal, of expedients to adjust claims at war with one another, and of that feeling for the principles of human government which make it a requirement of the constitutional lawyer that he should be a servant of

Freedom slowly broadening down
From precedent to precedent.

This was the one aptitude that was missing when Salomons, who was prone to surround a constitutional right with the same atmosphere as a commercial contract, was arguing a point of constitutional law.




  ― 204 ―

This master of ridicule delighted in throwing darts at lawyer-authors. Once, with Judge Foster on the Bench, another judge informed Salomons that the view he was putting to the Court was supported by a passage “in my brother Foster's District Court Practice.” Most ungraciously Salomons said “It might be very good law for all that!” On another occasion, when opposed to Mr (afterwards Mr Justice) A. H. Simpson, Salomons quoted a passage from Simpson on Infants and, turning ostentatiously to the title page, he said, “I am quoting from the only edition— no other has been called for!”

Equally he would make fun at his own expense. “You don't need to look at my nose to see that I'm fond of money,” he remarked as a prelude to saying that in spite of this propensity he would gladly subscribe two hundred pounds to defeat the Federal Convention Bill, his great objection to which was the equal power in the Senate of the greatest with the smallest of the States. “Not that I have any hostility to Tasmania,” he explained. “On the contrary, I'm very fond of Tasmania. I spent my last vacation there, and liked it so much that I made up my mind that, if I had a good year at the Bar, I'd buy the island.”

Sir William Owen highly enjoyed forensic


  ― 205 ―
jests, his own being excellent. “Is this the first time this party has had his head in Chancery?” he asked with solemn eyes when a case was called in which the famous pugilist, Larry Foley, was appellant. Salomons scored off Sir William once in a case involving questions of the royal prerogative. Much old black-letter law had been paraded, and the strongest passage against Salomons was found in Bacon's Abridgment. In reply, Salomons avoided all allusion to this passage and was only hoping it might be forgotten. This was not to be, for Judge Owen, finger in page, observed gravely, “But, Sir Julian, if we turn to Bacon”—“I never touch it!” said Salomons.

A happy knack in applying anecdotes was one of his resources, and when it was necessary the anecdote was invented. Once he was in a case where a “marrying parson” insisted on being kept on the register of persons entitled to marry and succeeded in spite of a brilliant effort by Salomons which, the presiding Judge said, “almost swept him off his feet.” During the argument something was said about the absence of precautions against hurried and clandestine marriages in New South Wales. The presiding Judge observed that our marriage laws must be lax because he had heard a colonel on the Orient boat coming out say so.




  ― 206 ―

The next morning Salomons, meeting in Court the opposing junior counsel while both were waiting for another case, took him over to his chambers to show him a useful authority. After the briefest time spent on this purpose Salomons opened up on the proceedings of the day before. Beginning vehemently enough, he increased in pace and fury till he wound up on the top register. “They tell me,” he said, “that you read the classics and know what they say about mental intercourse on the other side of the grave. Well, I don't know how that may be, but all I hope is I won't have to discuss things with that man —! (the presiding Judge of the day before). You can't get reason into his head with a pickaxe; this new stuff they use in buildings—what d'ye call it? Oh, yes, reinforced concrete—is nothing to it! Sitting up there, pouring out his baby inanities on a long-suffering Bar about some colonel, I suppose some American impostor that had bought his commission and was bringing some woman out with him and wanted to seem respectable and started gossiping about the marriage law in New South Wales to a judge! Why, I felt inclined to reply with one of my own experiences, and tell the Court how I was once in the Yosemite Valley and met an American general who said to me, ‘What extraordinary laws you have in your country, Sir Julian!’ I replied, ‘I


  ― 207 ―
don't know anything that can justify such a remark.’ ‘Yes,’ he said, ‘you've actually got a law there that there's nothing to prevent lunatics from sitting on the Supreme Court Bench!’ ‘Nothing of the sort, my dear General, you're quite misinformed. I've been practising there for over thirty years and never heard of such a thing.’ ‘Ah, Sir Julian,’ said the General, ‘you can't impose on me like that, I've been there and I've seen them.’ ”

This story had really been invented overnight after the Court episode, and to match it. I doubt whether the temptation to make such a telling hit would have been resisted had it in fact presented itself to Salomons's fertile imagination during the argument. He once told the Bench that a very bad smell in No. 2 Court was due to the fact that in early times a number of distinguished lawyers had been buried on the site of the Court House, and were turning in their graves at the bad law they heard from the Bar of the present day—“and the Bench,” he added.

Neither wit nor learning nor industry would have made Salomons the man he was without the earnestness which is the terrific gift of his race, whether as prophets or as artists, whether in the professions or in commerce. This was never more nobly shown than in his famous Legislative Council speech in which he vindicated himself from


  ― 208 ―
the charge of mental aberration brought against him in one of the phases of the Dean Case. The members of the Assembly had all trooped in behind the Bar, and I happened to stand next to J. S. T. McGowen. “If this man is mad, I only wish I could have ten per cent of his madness,” said McGowen. The whole speech was a masterly example of the power over an audience which has been exercised from time immemorial by the oratory of self-defence. Matthew Arnold, speaking of Milton, said that “even egoism in some men has a touch of the sublime,” and a man unjustly accused finds that the responsive pulse of every listener feels warmth and movement from the words in which he maintains his own good right.

Sir Julian made a great pretence of being very fond of money. But when his bank smashed in 1893 he was one of the few losers who kept their heads and hearts, and, though he seemed to have lost everything, he spurred on his less courageous comrades to help pull the bank through in a reconstruction.

Nevertheless he was an adept in the matter of fees. He was cross-eyed, and once when a solicitor brought him a brief marked thirty guineas he read the figures with a painful squint and said “You make extraordinary fives, Mr Blank,” and at once altered the three to a proper


  ― 209 ―
five. He told Mr Leverrier, who was his junior in a bank case, “You know, Leverrier, when you're appearing for a bank there is really no need to unduly expedite the conclusion of the case.”

That would not, however, prevent his advice to a bank being sound. A Bank of New South Wales manager told me that in an action brought against the bank by a business woman whose cheque had been wrongly “fated”—i.e. marked with a reason for dishonour, such as N.S.F. etc. —Salomons insisted on all the account books connected with the plaintiff being brought to his Chambers. Accordingly the manager and accountant came up with a cab-full of bulky ledgers, which were unloaded and taken into Salomons' room. This conversation followed:—

SALOMONS: Is there anything wrong about this woman in business?

BANKER: No, she's perfectly straight. It's just a mistake that her cheque was dishonoured.

SALOMONS: Is she a clever woman?

BANKER: Yes, every one speaks well of her.

SALOMONS: What's she like to look at? Is she the sort of woman that dresses well, good-looking, and so on, the sort you'd turn round in the street to look at after you'd passed her?

BANKER: Well, she's decidedly pretty and dresses in very good taste.

SALOMONS: I see. Well, all I can say is—a bank


  ― 210 ―
the defendant, action on dishonoured cheque, business woman, good-looking, dresses handsomely, tried before a jury—settle!

BANKER: Would you like to look through the accounts?

SALOMONS: Not at all—Settle!

When subscriptions were being taken up for the statue to Dr Lang now in Wynyard Square, a collector called, and Salomons was most gracious. The collector was strong on the matter of early memories and the sentiment of Auld Lang Syne amongst public men. Salomons sympathized, took out his cheque-book, and handed the collector a cheque, with the remark “There's a cheque for £30.” The man thanked him profusely and when he got to the corner of the street looked at the cheque with amazement not yet fading. Presently he saw that it had no signature. He took it back and mentioned the oversight. “Oh that's all right,” said Salomons, “you said such a lot about the great men of the past that all I can say is—Take it away and let Auld Lang Syne.”

Salomons did not act on the open door policy with regard to his chambers. He would never have a telephone there, observing that if solicitors wanted to see him they could do as they had done for thirty years—come up and ask for him. His clerk kept the ante-room jealously, but one


  ― 211 ―
morning a rush consultation had to be held before 9 o'clock. Salomons had been briefed at the last minute for an appeal case coming on at ten, and the late Mr Cecil Stephen and Mr Alec (now Mr Justice) Gordon were in the sanctum sanctorum priming Sir Julian as only such clear intellects could have done it.

Suddenly a loud voice asked “D'ye want to buy any Fiji bananas very cheap?” They looked up and saw a hawker with a basket.

Salomons turned in fury. “You impudent blockhead! Here am I engaged with two of the leading fruit merchants of Sydney discussing a transaction for buying fruit on an enormous scale, and you offer me a beggarly dozen of bananas for fourpence! Leave the place this moment!”

Without the slightest trace of excitement Salomons turned and went on with his consultation as if nothing had happened, while it took some minutes for the two leading fruit merchants to regain mentally the status of barristers engaged in a consultation.

Salomons could be generous too. In the leading case of R. v. Kops which was argued before a Bench of five Supreme Court Judges, Salomons, believing the matter one of vital importance as affecting the liberty of the subject, argued the


  ― 212 ―
case without a fee. I like to remember the beginning of our relations. I had brought a suit for infringement of copyright and had obtained a somewhat ambiguous decision from which I decided to appeal. The late Mr H. A. Russell was my solicitor and Mr (now Sir Robert) Garran led by Mr Leverrier, my counsel. We were thus a quartette of old Grammarians all equally fired with an indignant longing for a return match. Mr Russell sent Sir Julian a retainer with a cheque and Sir Julian asked to see me alone in a preliminary talk. He went into the matter keenly and arranged a further meeting. Next time I came he had heard that I was in practice at the Bar. I had in fact been recently called, but was at the stage when many are called but few are chosen. Sir Julian asked if it was a fact that I was at the Bar. I said “Yes,” and he said “In that case I couldn't think of taking any fee from a fellow barrister. I'll send back the cheque Russell sent me, but I'll argue the appeal for you as strongly as if my brief was marked in hundreds. But there's one fee I will ask. I'm interested in the subject and I like your book and I'll get you to give me a copy in a handsome binding to keep as a memento.” This was a crowning kindness and left me receiving a tribute under the guise of paying one.




  ― 213 ―

12. Chapter XII Some Aspirants in English

DURING the general strike crisis in England Mr J. H. Thomas, the Labour leader, greatly overwrought, pressed his hands to his head and said “I've got a 'ell of a 'eadache.” Lord Birkenhead said “You'll be all right if you go to bed and take a couple of aspirates.” Thomas is said to have told his friends that it was an extraordinary thing for a man in Birkenhead's position not to know how to pronounce “Aspirins.”

Those who neglect to cure themselves with aspirates are often unconscious of the malady. In my junior days, listening to a street accident case, I heard a certain counsel of those times cross-examine a blacksmith named Hughes who had described the whole affair. He brought out the fact that Hughes was at the time heating some rivets at his forge, and when he came to address the jury he seized upon this as showing that Hughes could not have seen anything.

“Now what was 'Ughes doing? Why, gentlemen,


  ― 214 ―
'Ughes was eating rivets. Now gentlemen, eating rivets is not an easy job. It's a thing that must take up all a man's attention. A man can't be eating rivets and be watching a collision at the same time, gentlemen! I'm going to ask you to discard 'Ughes's evidence altogether. Either 'e wasn't eating rivets or 'e didn't see what 'e says 'e saw.”

But the presiding judge, a man so gentle that he could not treat even the letter “h” too heavily, improved on this in his summing-up. He detailed Hughes's evidence and then reminded them that, after all, 'Ughes, as the learned counsel for the defendant “very properly” observed, 'Ughes was 'eating rivets.

“Very properly” from His Honour's point of view, or rather of hearing.

In the Full Court, the late Judge Rolin, then Tom Rolin, K.C.—who, by the way, was really Tom and not Thomas, his father having so registered his name—once quoted the case of Hodgson v. Bell in 24 Q.B.D. 525. The judge I have mentioned, who was a mental martyr to case law, instantly beckoned to his tipstaff to bring the volume. When it came, His Honour looked up the page in the index and then said:—

HIS HONOUR: Mr Rolin, I think you've given the wrong reference. There's no case of 'Odgson in this volume.




  ― 215 ―

ROLIN: Has Your Honour got 24 Q.B.D.?

HIS HONOUR: Yes.

ROLIN: That's the right volume, Your Honour.

HIS HONOUR: Well, I've looked in the index, there's no plaintiff or defendant named 'Odgson.

ROLIN (seeing the point): I think Your Honour will find it at page 525.

HIS HONOUR (turning to the page): Oh, I see, Mr Rolin! But you said the plaintiff's name was 'Odgson, and it's 'Odgson.

ROLIN (deftly): I'm sorry, Your Honour, my mistake!

The great Jessel, M.R., had the same weakness and, when Solicitor-General, once said to a French interpreter in an engineering case, “No, no; do tell the man that he don't seize my point. My question has nothing to do with 'eating the pipes.” The interpreter translated the last three words by “manger les tuyaux.”

But Sergeant Parry hit the nail on the head as to the relative value of ability and pronunciation by saying to some one who sneered at Jessel, “Good G—, I would rather drop h's with Jessell than aspirate with you.”

One of our Lord Mayors, though a graduate, was never a master of phonetics or of grammar. He was suspected of being too amenable, in matters of financial policy, to the opinions of Alderman Hughes, M.L.C., a very safe adviser. In


  ― 216 ―
the report of a Council meeting a newspaper stated that the Lord Mayor, in presenting a certain proposal, assured the council that he would not press it “if Mr Hughes was opposed to it.” At the next meeting the Lord Mayor spoke indignantly about this—“As if I did whatever Alderman 'Ughes told me.” He then explained that all he had said was, as they would remember, “I won't go on with this scheme if youse (i.e. the aldermen) isn't satisfied about it.”

Sir Henry Parkes's power over the English language did not depend on fidelity to the letter which we call “aitch,” though it is never sounded as “aitch” unless with the help of the letter “c.” Indeed, Parkes's drawling soft unaspirated sentences seemed to take on a kind of subtler satire sometimes. He went to a northern town shortly before the 1894 election, and his coming was dreaded by the sitting member, who posed always as a fighter, a fine sport, and a real good fellow. They gave Parkes a luncheon, at which he said: “I'm goin' to give an address to-night in the National 'all, but I'm not goin' to say anything about your member, Mr Willie 'artigan, and for this reason. Mr 'artigan did me the honour to wait on me this morning and asked me not to say anything against 'im. And I said I would not and I will not”—having, by this revelation of the sitting member's “smoodging,” said without


  ― 217 ―
either aspirate or any other emphasis the worst thing he could have said.

The best rebuke for a “chestnut” I have heard of was given by Parkes at a luncheon on a new Orient boat. Parkes was Premier, or as he always insisted, Prime Minister of New South Wales— which, by the way, he thought ought to be renamed “Australia,” thus provoking the Bulletin to suggest that if there was to be any renaming, this State ought to be called “Con-Victoria.” The captain of the vessel presided, with Parkes on his right. The leading business men of Sydney were there, and the captain kept on telling yarns while every one was fidgetting to get back to the afternoon's work. At last he told the story of the man who had the bottom cut out of a sedan chair, and, with the doors closed, marched down Piccadilly in the nude with the chairmen carrying the conveyance, thus winning a club bet that he would “walk down Piccadilly naked.” A painful pause followed, and the captain, feeling the discomfort, turned to Parkes and said anxiously “Perhaps, Sir Henry, you've heard that story before.” Parkes in his high languid manner replied, “I've 'eard the story before, but not recently.”

By way of putting things epigrammatically this makes a good pair with Dalley's brilliant characterization of the (old-time) mechanical and fumbling departmental officers. A certain Under-Secretary,


  ― 218 ―
raised to his unfortunate eminence by merit of his family name, was being discussed. “Bobby Mainwaring,” said Dalley, “is really a deah old bay, but he's only got one talent—that of putting letters in the wrong envelopes.”

This same Under-Secretary was in office when Mr (afterwards Sir Edmund) Barton later became his minister and found the department in such a state that he composed, it is said, the following as its working time-table:—

From 10 to 1
There's nothing done;
From 2 to 3
We begin to see
That from 3 to 4
There'll be nothing more!

The climax of this particular Under-Secretary was reached when the Public Service Board, appointed in 1895, made a preliminary tour of the departments. They arrived unannounced at two o'clock and waited in the “deah old bay's” room. At 2. 35 Bobby appeared barefooted with a towel round him. He had been taking massage and pedicure treatment to build him up for his responsibilities. Those were the “good old days” when the son of another high official who had embezzled public money seventeen times was still in the service, and was “still able to be fond of horses,” as, with a different implication, the


  ― 219 ―
lady who maintains that “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes” said to the Prince of Wales.

The Public Service Board had, however, pleasanter experiences. When they came to the room where Victor Trumper was employed, they had with them a list of the occupants and were introduced to each. Hearing the name Trumper, the chairman looked at his list and said “Oh, Victor Trumper! Are you the great Trumper?” “Yes!” was the matter-of-fact reply, reminding one of Punch's picture of the father and son at an Eton and Harrow match, when the boy tells his father what a wonderful bat, bowler, scholar, and rower one of the players is. “What's his name?” says the father. “Pitt” says the boy. “I wonder if he's any relation of the great Pitt?” muses the old gentleman. “Relation?” the boy says in shocked tones. “He is the great Pitt!”

It is time some philologist took in hand the subject of English in the courts as Law Latin and Law French have been treated. Some of the language used by parties, witnesses, and counsel is startling, but of course that used by judges is impeccable. Judge Gregory Walker was a real master of English—dignified and strong, with no ostentation, but with a kind of Roman eloquence at times. A young counsel once traded on His Honour's love of culture in


  ― 220 ―
a case where his witness, the plaintiff, was trying to recover a free selection of 640 acres which she had transferred under the undue influence of her mother. Like all the children of this grasping old German peasant despot, the plaintiff had been kept completely under the mother's thumb. She was brought up a few miles from a lively country town, but could neither read nor write, and at twenty-six did not know the change of a sovereign. She married a German whose land hunger was as keen as his mother-in-law's, and who smelt out the lost free selection. It was counsel's cue to emphasize his client's low mental power, and so, when the plaintiff said she had been taken to Mr Goodman's office, counsel, who knew that the solicitor's firm was Goodman and Son, purposely put this question:—“When you saw Mr Goodman, was it Mr Goodman Senior?”

WITNESS: Whaat?

COUNSEL: You say you and your mother saw Mr Goodman—was it Mr Goodman Senior?

WITNESS: Nao! I seen Mr Goodman!

The effect upon Gregory Walker J. was a hectic flood of repressed laughter at the time and a useful decision later on.

Sir William Owen used to say that the best piece of forensic wit he had heard when on the Bench was at Gregory Walker's expense in another


  ― 221 ―
“undue influence” case. The plaintiff was trying to upset the will of a Roman Catholic testatrix. Gregory Walker for the plaintiff, unable to get any evidence at all that the priest who attended her in her last illness had used any influence with her in the donations she made to Church institutions, fell back upon dignified generalities about “the susceptibility of the female mind to religious impressions; the well-known devotion of the priestly nature to the material well-being of this great ecclesiastical organization,” and so forth. It happened that Gregory Walker was a Fellow of Exeter College, and, when Edmunds followed Barton Q.C. for the defendant devisees, he began by saying that the argument of plaintiff's counsel, bringing in sectarian prejudices to make up for the lack of facts, “savoured rather of Exeter Hall than of Exeter College.” Not long before his death, Sir Edmund Barton told me that he agreed with Sir William Owen that this brilliant repartee was never excelled.

Though, or perhaps, because, he was a model of judicial dignity, Gregory Walker would let things pass that a smaller man would have rebuked. “Jim” Gannon, breezy by nature and made breezier by years of criminal practice, appeared once—I think not much oftener—in Equity. The cool, courteous, noiseless atmosphere


  ― 222 ―
palsied Jim's freedom of speech—“cramped his style” is the correct expression nowadays—and, as he floundered about, he explained very candidly that he was lost “in this whispering jurisdiction.” “What did you say?” asked Gregory Walker with his perfect calm. “This whispering jurisdiction,” said Jim, expecting the heavens to fall. “Oh, you are doing very well!” said Gregory Walker encouragingly.

I think it was this particular faculty of wit, lacking in himself, that led Sir Frederick Darley to hold Jim Gannon, as everybody called him, in such special esteem.

One of the aptest of Jim Gannon's sudden phrases was used in connexion with a country libel case tried by Darley, C.J. He was appearing for the defendant, and in cross-examining the plaintiff he got from him the admission that after the defendant had libelled him in the way described he had accepted the defendant's invitation to a luncheon at the showground. It appeared that the defendant was the president of the Show commitee and was giving a luncheon to all and sundry, as is the happy and hospitable habit in our country towns.

This, of course, was a godsend to Jim Gannon, because he was able to argue to the jury that the defendant's reputation could not have been very seriously injured, nor his own feelings particularly


  ― 223 ―
hurt, if he could accept the hospitality of a man who had injured him. That was not the way in which Jim put it. What Jim said was this:—“Well, gentlemen of the jury, here's my client, a plain country gentleman, but he's thought a lot of by his fellow-men in the district, and they make him the president of the showground committee, and then the plaintiff complains that he ought to be given £2000 because of what the defendant has said about him. Well, what does the plaintiff himself feel about it? We find that after this libel has been published, the defendant, a good-hearted, generous, off-handed sort of man, has a luncheon on the showground, and he invites a number of the people of the district to have luncheon with him.” Then Jim raised his voice and cried out, “And who was the first to line up to the trough? Why, gentlemen, the plaintiff!”

Every one who has been present at one of these “feeds” will realize the graphic touch in Jim's description. There is a long table fixed upon trestles, on each side a low form; the tables are loaded with eatables and drinkables, and men with all the immense appetites of country workers passing their days in the fresh air get to work as hard as they can on the principle that Meredith's English farmer expounded to his hostess at a harvest feast, “Trust me till I feel my buttons,


  ― 224 ―
Ma'am.” The picture which Jim's wit suggested sent the jury into a roar of laughter, and, though there had to be a verdict, it was only for a farthing.

For some seven weeks Jim was Attorney-General of New South Wales. During that time he went up to Dubbo to represent the Ministry at the local show. The late Mr Justice Cohen told me that, being at the Circuit Court at the same time, he and Jim Gannon were the guests of honour at the Show Dinner that night. There had been some athletic events during the day, including a jocular event of a sprint of fifty yards for men over eighteen stone. To better the joke the two competitors—there were only two qualified to enter—were ‘squared’ to run a dead heat. They did this, and then a committee-man raised the point that under the rules a dead heat must always be run off again immediately. So the fun grew. The local baker won.

At the Show Dinner the Ministry's representative bestowed the usual Government benedictions and compliments upon the district, its resources, its potentialities. To this he added high praise of the splendid types of manhood and womanhood around Dubbo. That brought him to the 18-stone event. What a specimen of manly pluck and endurance it was! “When” said he, “these two Dubbo men found that they had to face this


  ― 225 ―
ordeal again, did either of them hang back or blench before the trial? No! They went back to scratch, started resolutely for the prize, put out the best that was in them, and a few feet from the tape my friend, Mr Wilkinson, realizing that it was now or never, summoned up all his energies for one great effort, dashed to the front, and won by a belly!”

To return to Mr Justice Walker's Court. “Coonamble” Taylor once carried off a practical joke in those solemn precincts. A police-court lawyer, A— G—, distinguished as the brother of the Chief Justice of Ceylon, and as always walking with his feet turned out “at 10 minutes to 2”—to quote Jim Gannon's graphic description—had had financial difficulties with various landlords. But he turned their distresses into his triumphs by taking smart points in prohibition proceedings before the Supreme Court. “Coonamble” Taylor, having a suit before Mr Justice Walker, was waiting for it to be called on. He took up with him a volume of Hansard bound in a brown paper cover with a label beautifully hand-printed in large clerkly characters. This he passed round the Bar table, bringing titters to the lips of the Equity Bar. Finally, “careless with artful care,” Taylor stood the book up in such a way that the Judge, who had been mildly


  ― 226 ―
surprised at the laughter, could see the title, which read:—

THE LAW OF ESCAPE

or

WHY PAY RENT

By

A—— G——.

Gregory Walker paid Taylor the compliment of turning purple—not with reproof.

As a judge, Gregory Walker illustrated very well the truth that real ability implies adaptability. I doubt whether he ever held a brief in criminal jurisdiction, yet when he first went on circuit to try criminal cases he would have passed for a master. It happened that I was his Crown Prosecutor. He was not above acquainting himself with the nature of the cases that were coming on, and then frankly looking up the law beforehand. In Court he heard argument with a perfect, decorous interest, gave decisions tersely and pleasantly, and made a summing-up to his juries which was a model. He laid aside what Pilcher, K.C., used to call “the trimmings” of the matter; put the salient facts and the pro and con inferences from them, together with a brief lucid statement of the law, and left the whole matter to the jury without any tutoring. Similarly, when he took the Divorce Court, this expert in the elegancies of his own special subject—Equity


  ― 227 ―
—who lived the life of a refined recluse, with no more participation in common affairs than belonged to a chancellor of the diocese when he is attending the Anglican Synod, won “golden opinions from all sorts of men” by, above all, his knowledge of human nature and of the world.

He was a complete contrast to that amiable man Mr Justice Matthew Henry Stephen, who, though he practised all his life in Common Law, had missed a good deal about the ways of ordinary men. One of the best of Australians, A. B. Paterson—“Banjo Paterson” to the world of letters, “Bartie Paterson” to his schoolfellows—has, I believe, done into verse a story about Stephen J. There was a trial for horse-stealing at Maitland. The accused had run in a lot of foals and fillies and branded them with his own brand. The property was laid by the prosecution in one of the well-known Doyle family. The defence was that the horses were brumbies, running wild and bred from escaped stock. Towards lunch on the second day of the trial Stephen J. began to question the way in which the Crown Prosecutor was spending the time of the Court.

JUDGE: Doesn't this case lie in a very small compass, Mr Magruder? Isn't it all a question of ownership?

MAGRUDER: Yes, Your Honour.




  ― 228 ―

JUDGE: Isn't it simply a question whether the horses are brumbies or belong to Mr Doyle?

MAGRUDER: Yes, Your Honour.

JUDGE: Well surely the case can be shortened. You've called Mr Doyle, why don't you call Mr Brumby?




  ― 229 ―

13. Chapter XIII Sir Samuel Griffith

ONE of the greatest services this eminent man did was that he raised the standard of legal argument in Australia. When I listened to his inaugural speech at Sydney, it seemed somewhat conventional and the manner of its delivery so self-satisfied as to be almost supercilious. Since his elevation to the Queensland Bench little had been heard of him, and I feel sure that at the New South Wales Bar very few had any notion of his strength and range. At that time the State Bench had not the calibre that could put men like the then leaders of the Bar on their mettle.

Sir Frederick Darley was no longer at his best, though he gave of his best. A sound common lawyer, he was never a jurist, and his judgments, careful and conscientious, evince no width of intellect. Windeyer was gone, before whom every man felt he had to do his best to make headway in the judge's esteem, and Sir Frederick at times showed signs of fatigue. Yet he was an intensely devoted public servant. I was in his


  ― 230 ―
chambers one day and was struck with the signs of age and weariness. His face and head seemed to be dwindling, but presently his tipstaff came in to robe him, and at once his whole mien changed, and when I slipped round to the Court I saw him come in, a splendid judicial figure, powerful, alert, with head up and the smiling but dignified gaze, taking in the whole assemblage, that was habitual with him. I forgot for the time the recent phase, and said to Mr Shand, who was at the Bar table, “How the old Chief bears himself! You should see him tramping home up Ocean Street—such a firm, steady tread.” “Yes,” said Shand, “and he has a firm steady tread when he's walking into counsel.” In a few minutes I was furnishing an illustration of Shand's comment.

My first brief in the High Court opened my eyes once for all to the intellectual standard one had to work at with Griffith on the Bench. The matter was a not very intricate prohibition case, and I had had an easy win before the Full Court, largely on the strength of an English case in a Divisional Court, whose decisions are only of equal authority with those of the Supreme Court and therefore do not bind the latter. In this case two English judges had laid it down that when the law is doubtful the Court would not grant a prohibition.




  ― 231 ―

C. G. Wade opened. He was never brilliant or dexterous, but had a kind of massive personal strength which made his careful and thorough work tell. His strength, in fact, was phenomenal, as I had found when we first met. It was in Parramatta Park, when he was playing full-back for The King's School. He was even then famous both for size and shape of limb and for the combination of these with speed which afterwards made him an international player in England. There is a Balliol story that, when he entered there, he was entertained at an undergraduate's supper, where songs were sung and recitations given by the freshers. Wade was called on. He said in a surly bass voice “I can't sing or recite, but I'll show you my leg.” This was voted the best item of the evening. On the Park I got a clear low-down tackle round Wade in one of his runs, and felt as if a tram had hit me. Until then I had met nothing like it.

Griffith on the Bench had been clearly leaning to Wade's argument; so, when I replied, I thought it tactful to lay stress on my English case, and at any rate get the prohibition refused if I could make out that the law was doubtful.

Griffith, with a rather reflective manner, said: “What does that mean—‘when the law is doubtful?’ The law is never doubtful in a Court of Appeal.”




  ― 232 ―

But Griffith, though sure-footed in any labyrinth or over any length of journey, was by no means a “sudden-death judge.” He only meant that the Court was bound to come to one conclusion or another and not seek a way out by a “non-proven” attitude. This was exactly the escape that the judge who had presided in the lower Court had embraced with cordiality. This judge carried “fairness of mind” to the point of an exasperating indecision, so much so that I once heard him say sotto voce just before beginning a judgment, “Well, I suppose I must make up my mind!” Such a degree of vacillation was almost as bad as that of the District Court judge of whom the junior Bar used to say that he kept a judicial penny in his pocket and at the end of the hearing looked at it surreptitiously under his desk. “Heads” meant plaintiff, “tails” defendant.

As a very young practitioner, I had heard Pilcher remark to Salomons in the Banco Court when electric fans were first installed, one at each end of the Bench, that these things were a great improvement to the ventilation. “Oh, no! Pilcher,” said Salomons, “that's not what they're there for. Haven't you heard of the new system to take the place of trial by jury? You put the plaintiff's case into that machine on the right and the defendant's into the one on the left, and whichever stops first wins.” By the time the High Court


  ― 233 ―
was established I had therefore had plenty of reason to recognize the uncertainty of the law.

But uncertainty in law is not favoured by strong judges.

On that first occasion it was not only with Griffith, though with him chiefly, that I felt that for the High Court nothing was any good but the best, as Admiral Patey once said to me about the Navy, when speaking of different kinds of steam coal. The practice was introduced by Griffith of opening out every phase of an argument, while a subtle mind—occasionally, but not often, over-subtle—was unweariedly busy in seeing that no nook or cranny was unexplored. This tendency had the curious result that when, early in the Court's history, American constitutional cases were resorted to in arguments about the Australian Constitution, the custom became universal for the Bar to carry on exhaustive research into American cases.

In a famous case in which Salomons tried to get the Court to follow a Privy Council opinion rather than its own, he underrated the calibre of the new Bench, and relied too much on cleverness, audacity, and the mordant wit that was so successful with the Supreme Court. The Chief's comment when he heard that Salomons was to be brought out of his retirement to argue


  ― 234 ―
the case was: “I suppose he's the only man at the New South Wales Bar who could be relied on to cheek me.” But he took Salomons's “cheek,” which was not measured out in golden scales, with imperturbable calm, and, in deference to his fame as much as to his age, never even flushed as he sometimes did when argument was quite unacceptable. At such times you could see a red point in his eye, reminding you how Cassius saw Cicero

Look with such ferret and such fiery eyes
As we have seen him in the Capitol,
Being crossed in conference by some senators.

Personal interchanges between Bar and Bench were rare in Griffith's Court. The most effective rejoinder I ever heard of was that of D. G. (now Mr Acting Chief Justice) Ferguson. He was always the soul of forbearance and courtesy, and the Bar was surprised on one occasion when the Chief Justice hinted that he had not treated the Court with proper candour in putting the facts of an appeal. “Well, Your Honour,” said Ferguson, “such a remark is intended to hurt, and if it is any gratification to Your Honour to know it, it does hurt!”

Occasionally the elaborate researching of the Bench itself leads to long hearings, and then Counsel, especially Counsel noted for their conciseness and brevity, feel annoyed that there


  ― 235 ―
should be comment from the Bench about “dragging out” an argument. Sir Richard Bethell was once (so Sir Frederick Darley told me) rebuked in the Court of Appeal for too much speaking. The rebuke took the form of the significantly-uttered question, “How long did this case take in the Court below, Sir Richard?” Bethell made a show of whispering with his junior, and then said, “I was not in the case below, Your Lordship, and I'm told it lasted two days, but there were no interruptions from the Bench.” Bethell, of course, was famous for an imperturbable hardihood. When he became Lord Chancellor Westbury, his horses bolted, and his coachman called out over his shoulder, “My Lord, I'm afraid the horses are out of hand, what shall I do?” “Drive into something cheap!” was the callous reply.

Another great service of Griffith's was that he put an end to that taking of technical points which was sometimes a scandal and always a menace to the fair course of the administration of justice. Before his day it was hardly possible for a case to be called on in the Banco Court without there being some “preliminary objection” to its being heard at all. Things had got so bad that a defendant owing ninety pounds on a promissory note escaped payment altogether.

The plaintiff, relying, as he swore, on an agreement with the defendant, filed his rejoinder after


  ― 236 ―
the proper time, and the defendant raced in and signed judgment “for want of rejoinder.” This judgment the plaintiff moved to set aside. His motion was rejected because the ground of bad faith, though it could be gathered from the unanswerable narrative in his affidavit, did not “state” bad faith as a “ground” as the Rules of Court required.

Such victories cannot be won now, and it was Griffiths's contempt for technicalities that broadened out our ideas of procedure. Stephen J. huffily refused to “spell out” the ground, though that was easy enough. He ruled that the ground must be actually “stated.” The plaintiff started afresh, and this time complied with the Rule, but Cohen J. put him out of his money and his misery by deciding that an application once refused on imperfect materials could not be renewed on better materials.

It was not for want of mastery of practice rules that Griffith held them in poor esteem. He told me once that, when he first went to the Bar, he determined to be absolutely armed cap-à-pie in the Queensland Supreme Court practice. “It took me two years, but I did it,” he said. Being thus ruler over small things, he used his knowledge to be ruler over greater things, and admirably forwarded the course of justice by knowing how to mould the proceedings so as to bring out the


  ― 237 ―
substance of the controversy and reach trial and finality.

His industry was phenomenal throughout his life. I heard from a Queensland contractor who made his shelves and furniture for him that, when he was Chief Justice there, he could not, according to his own description, work comfortably at night until the household had retired. He would then set his table just as he wanted it, with everything in its exact place. He began work with a fresh bottle of whisky beside him. When the bottle was empty he went to bed. One is reminded of Addison and his famous gallery in Holland House. When he was composing those famous moral essays of his, he had a bottle of port at each end of the gallery to be sure of a drink whenever he stopped as he paced up and down in philosophic meditation.

Griffith might have cited, however, a precedent more definitely applicable to the discharge of judicial duty. A Scotch judge of the eighteenth century, being asked how he wrote his judgments, said: “Oh! I just read ower the pleadings and let them wamble in my wame with the whisky for twa or three days, and then I gie my ain interlocutor (i.e. judgment).”

“Wamble” seems to be a verb of motion suggestive of alternating currents in an enclosed space.




  ― 238 ―

Griffith had his strong likes and dislikes, and when he went on the Queensland Bench he had his Chambers stripped of shelves, cupboards, and carpet—everything that could remind him of “that man,” meaning his predecessor, Sir Charles Lilley. And though not a man to make much of convention, he could prove obstinate over his own dignity, as was seen at the landing of the first Governor-General in Sydney, when, as “Jack” Want, Master of the Ceremonies, told me, he refused point-blank to attend at all unless he had a carriage with four white horses, though at that time he was Chief Justice of a State only.

His interpretation of the Australian Constitution will some day be the concern of a jurist unaffected by our local views. He upheld the rights of the States strictly and forcibly, and mentioned to me that when he met Mr Andrew Fisher, then Prime Minister, soon after the referendum proposals had been rejected for giving to the Federal Parliament wider powers over legislation, including labour laws, he told Fisher that he was proud to be able to say that he “still belonged to a nation”—a curious inversion of thought, seeing that the lack of sufficient legislative power is the greatest clog we have upon our acting as a nation in affairs that in their nature are fully national and not in the least provincial.




  ― 239 ―

Griffith's fundamental theory of the Constitution has been completely overturned by the judgments of the Court since his death, beginning with the Adelaide Steamship Company's case.

A fortunate early trip to Europe under a travelling scholarship gave him a wider culture than is common at the Australian Bar. He was occasionally inaccurate in Latin, and the Privy Council in one case laughed a little at “the change of gender perhaps due to crossing the Equator” in one Latin word as used by Griffith. His translation of the Divina Commedia was a feat of prolonged industry for so busy a man, but I heard his version satirically praised as a wonderful achievement—“Sir Samuel has succeeded in rendering the poetry of Dante into the language of a Parliamentary enactment.” In making his translation he worked somewhat as Southey did (with his schedule of “History from 8 to 10,” “Poetical Writing from 10 to 1,” “Biography from 2 to 4,” and so forth). Griffith used to memorize three tercets (nine lines) of the original every night, and then, strolling in a garden or some such place, would make the English version. One day Professor Butler met him in the Domain Gardens with Lady Griffith. “I suppose” said the Professor, “that to-day it's Andante” (which in Italian means “walking”) “and not Dante.”




  ― 240 ―

The cleverest thing said about Griffith's version was said by Sir Julian Salomons. When Mr W. M. Hughes became Attorney-General of the Commonwealth, the Bar rather sneered at the idea of a “junior” with not much practice becoming the official leader of the Bar in Australia. But Salomons took wider views, and made a point of “calling on” the new Attorney-General. The two men found plenty to talk about without law, and a cordial liking led to Hughes being invited to Salomons's house. He was shown pictures and curios and books of interest, and presently Salomons took up Griffith's translation of the Inferno.

“Look at this book, Mr Hughes! Notice the inscription! ‘From the author.’ I was very careful to get that put in. You see I'm an old man now, and I don't know what may become of my belongings. I shouldn't like anybody who might pick up this book with my name in it to think that I had stolen it! Still less, that I bought it!”

Apart from his judicial fame, Griffith as a statesman will always he placed high in the memory of Australians. He was the intellectual author of the Constitution and in the most formative years of Queensland an indefatigable legislator and a great champion of self-government.

It is hard to say how Griffith's fame as a judge


  ― 241 ―
will stand in the future, seeing that his judicial life-work in constitutional interpretation has been overruled by later decisions. But his judgments have a granite quality, and, though as a rule lacking eloquence or ornament except that of foursquare logic, they will probably retain for the future critic the impression of stark strength and permanence produced on those who heard them, just as the Pyramids have outlived monuments of man's skill more ornate and more elaborate.

He had a remarkably strong and well-based confidence in his knowledge of the law, as was shown both during the discussion of a case and when his judgment came to be delivered. Though wonderfully patient in hearing argument, he had the greatest confidence in his own knowledge, so much so that Professor Walter Scott of Sydney University, a man of wide scholarship, and one who was as lacking in self-assertion as any I have ever known, when he heard Griffith's name mentioned, said, “Oh, that is the man who knows all about everything!” But in law the confidence of Griffith was based upon exact and careful study carried on with enthusiasm and persistence over a long life.

Barristers in New South Wales, brought up in a narrower and more technical atmosphere in those days, were sometimes surprised at the swiftness,


  ― 242 ―
facility, and resource which Griffith displayed to get over the technical difficulties which he thoroughly understood and therefore frequently despised. Both in his general confidence and particularly in the rapidity with which he could deal with questions of practice and procedure, he reminded one of the reputation of Sir George Jessel, M.R. I have mentioned the saying “I may be wrong, I sometimes am, but I never have any doubts.” At dinner one night Professor Butler repeated this story to Griffith, who at once made the comment, “Well, he could hardly have meant that. He must have meant that he never expressed any doubts, for every judge must always feel some doubts at least until the conclusion of the argument.”

Strange to say, in the most authentic account of the lives of the great English judges, namely, that very remarkable work, Builders of our Law, by Mr Edward Manson, the story of Sir George Jessel runs this way—“I may be wrong, I sometimes am, but I never doubt.” The last three words would be particularly applicable to the meaning which Griffith sought to attach to Jessel's saying. What Jessel really meant was that, when he gave his decision, he gave it unaccompanied by expressions of doubt such as are often found in the judgments even of the ablest judges.




  ― 243 ―

Jessel, too, was a man of remarkable quickness of decision. The late Mr Justice Gregory Walker told me that when Jessel, M.R. sat alone on the Bench he never once reserved judgment, but invariably delivered it at the conclusion of the case. Since I heard this I have often noted, when reading Jessel's decisions, the same thing, though of course it would be impossible without a very long search through the decisions of that famous Master of the Rolls to assert positively that you would never find a judgment of his, when sitting alone, with the mystical letters J.A.V., which indicate judex advisari vult, that is “the judge wishes to take counsel with himself.”

In the Epping Forest Case, Jessel, after listening to evidence and argument for twenty-three days, gave his decision immediately counsel had completed their submissions. Such a judge was not at all likely to crave the presence of other judges on the Bench with him, as was the case with one English judge whose fondness for having some fellow-judge on the Bench led to one of Judge Maule's most bitter sayings. Maule, when at the Bar, was asked by some fellow barrister why—always likes to have somebody sitting with him. “Oh, I suppose,” said Maule, “it's a childish fear of being left alone in the dark.”




  ― 244 ―

Griffith's speed was a source of some trouble to Mr Justice O'Connor, who, though a very able man and one of the soundest lawyers and most impartial and judicial minds on the Bench, was not a man of great quickness, either of apprehension or of expression. “Dick” O'Connor (as the whole profession remember him), in politics, at the Bar, and on the Bench, was a man of extraordinary industry; indeed his comparatively early death was due to the lifelong devotion to his duty, both as a statesman and as a judge.

Yet, painstaking as O'Connor was, I once saw an extraordinary incident in his Court when he was an acting Justice of the Supreme Court. There was an action tried before him for ejectment, and Mr Heydon (now Mr Justice Heydon) was the leading counsel for the plaintiff. The plaintiff put in a large number of deeds and documents all tracing the property in the estate to his client from a grant in very early times. As each document was tendered, or as each witness gave his evidence, as the case might be, Mr Justice O'Connor very courteously invited the defendant, who conducted her case in person, to ask any questions or to raise any objections.

The defendant was a little old-fashioned lady, dressed in black, who sat humbly and patiently in one of the chairs appropriated as a rule by the


  ― 245 ―
Bar, and to each offer from the Judge to make an objection or to ask any questions she replied in a calm respectful way that she had no questions to ask. At length the plaintiff's case came to an end, and the Judge then asked the old lady whether she wished to give evidence, or, if she did not wish to give evidence, whether she wished to address the Court. The old lady said very simply, “Your Honour, I do not wish to give evidence, but I should like to point out to Your Honour that there is no evidence to show that Miss— D—, mentioned in such-and-such a deed, was the oldest surviving daughter of Mr C— D—.” The old lady had touched the matter with a needle—rem acu tetigerat—as the Latins would say, and had found in her own quiet “domestic forum” a fatal flaw in the long chain of titles placed before the Court, and this ultimately led to the plaintiff being nonsuited. In no type of case is it more true than in a case depending upon the tracing of titles, that the strength of a chain is the strength only of its weakest link. The plaintiff's counsel in this case was once described to me by the late Jim Gannon as “a glutton for detail,” and certainly no judge was ever more diligent or watchful than Mr Justice O'Connor. Yet both these experts had overlooked what the old lady treasured in her mind


  ― 246 ―
throughout as vindicating her right to remain in possession.

In the eighties, when he was at the Bar, O'Connor came into Mr Robertson's shop and asked him if he had any book on the anatomy of the horse's foot. Mr Robertson replied “No, but I can borrow one for you.” This he did, and later on O'Connor brought the work back and said “That book won my case, and from now on there's only one book-shop for me.”

There is no doubt that O'Connor died from overwork, feeling unable to retire because at that time there were no pensions for High Court judges. The absence of the provision for pensions in the original Judiciary Act or High Court Act, whichever it is, was due to a singular accident, the origin of which was related to me. In the bill as introduced by the Deakin government, judges' pensions were provided for. There was a hot attack upon the system of pensions when the bill was going through Committee, and the vote in their favour was carried on a Friday. Before the next sitting day, a member of Parliament saw Mr Deakin and said that he was very disappointed at the pensions provision having gone through in his absence, because he had prepared a very good speech about it and wanted to oppose it. Deakin, “affable Alfred,” as he was sometimes


  ― 247 ―
called, very good-naturedly said, “Oh, well, if you feel so strongly about it as all that, I'll have the bill recommitted and we can reconsider that clause in the bill.” The recommittal took place in due course, and on the next occasion the House reversed its decision and rejected pensions by one vote.




  ― 248 ―

14. Chapter XIV Some Pupil Teachers

I hate a pupil teacher.—Milton.


MILTON of course is not speaking of pupil teachers in our departmental sense, i.e. apprentices who are learning how to teach. He is insisting on teachers being masters not only of their pupils but of their subject. “For how” he asks “can a man teach without authority—authority which is the life of teaching?”

The term “pupil teacher” may be used, however, in another way when we recollect how much the adult can learn from the young. The old Winchester maxim “We learn by teaching” (discimus docendo) is based on this; but there is a good deal to be learnt not only in clearing one's own thought while clearing that of a pupil but from the very mistakes that youngsters make.

A certain eminent and serious-minded member of the judiciary is an adept at every kind of humour in the proper place, and is not at all averse to a story which tells against himself. The first time I ever saw him on the Bench was in the


  ― 249 ―
“Vth Grecians” at the Sydney Grammar School. We had as our classical master Mr Meyrick, a very admirable scholar and man of science who afterwards became a leading entomologist in England. In teaching Latin prose his practice was, after we had handed in our compositions, to return them to us with mistakes underlined in blue pencil. It was then our place, if we did not ourselves see what was wrong in what we had written, to ask him, and he would explain. He was a man of very abrupt and brusque manner, but really very kind-hearted, and on one occasion the schoolboy of whom I speak had looked up in the English and Latin Dictionary a complicated English phrase that he had to turn into Latin. He had found the whole phrase ready-to-wear with the magic letters “Cic.” after it, and inasmuch as we were always taught to look upon Cicero as the last word in purity of Latin prose, he thought that he had made a great find, and put the phrase just as he found it into his own version. Something, however, must have gone wrong either in tying up Cicero's phrase with the rest of his own sentence or, possibly, in not adapting some matter of tense or mood. At any rate, the phrase from Cicero came back from Mr Meyrick's hand with a firm blue line underneath it. Naturally, the pupil considered that he had at last caught the


  ― 250 ―
master napping, and when the boys were asking questions as to mistakes that they didn't understand, the friend of Cicero said, “Mr Meyrick, what is wrong with so and so and so and so?” reading out the phrase from Cicero.

“Not good Latin,” said Meyrick, shortly.

“Please, Mr Meyrick, doesn't Cicero write good Latin?” said the schoolboy with universal approval.

“Yes,” said Meyrick, smartly and tartly, “stand up on the form for doubting him!”

This was as clever as the reply of another naturalist—the famous Professor Agassiz. His students dismembered half a dozen different insects and made a composite creature, such as man had never seen, by gluing together the limbs and other fragments. They set it on the lecture desk. Agassiz came in, started at seeing the new “bug” (as Americans call any insect), whipped out his pocket lens, examined every part of the rare species, and then said to the class, “This is wonderful! Here is a bug with the abdomen of the Lepidoptera, the tail of the Centipede, the thorax of the Formicae, etc.” Confident that the trick had succeeded, a student went a step farther:—

STUDENT: And what name would you give to that bug, Professor?

AGASSIZ: Hum-bug!




  ― 251 ―

The attempts a pupil makes at outwitting his masters have at times a greater sharpening effect on his mental faculties than a good deal of his methodical study because, in the personal duel the brain works with a greater intensity and purpose. The same stimulating contest takes place in the examination room, and often the covering up of ignorance, or the need for skill in using half-knowledge, bring into play new powers of ingenuity and invention. The candidate may be plucked, but he has used his brains. The results delight a normal examiner though he never carries his approval so far as did the examiner in Real Property at one of the Inns of Court who explained how he came to pass a very stupid man for admission as a barrister.

“Well,” said he, “I always pass a man on fifty per cent of full marks. There were only two questions in the paper, one was, ‘What was the rule in Shelley's Case?’ The other was ‘What is the difference between an executory devise and a contingent remainder?’ He made a hash of the first, but to the second he answered ‘I don't know.’ This was a perfectly correct answer so I gave him fifty marks and passed him.”

One candidate in Dr Badham's time roused great enthusiasm but got no marks. Our Professor of Chemistry and Physics was Professor John Smith, who came out here as a bachelor and, after


  ― 252 ―
some considerable time in the “colony” (as it then was), married a wife much younger than himself. The lady proceeded to make life somewhat of a burden to him by her great enjoyment of society pleasures, into which she insisted on dragging her elderly husband.

It was about this time that an examination was held for admission to the Civil Service, the then universal portal through which alone persons entered the service of the colony. The examination was conducted by the University staff. One stock question took the form: “Define the following words and write a sentence to illustrate their meaning.” Then would follow a string of words. On the occasion to which I allude, Dr Badham, who set the examination paper, had included in the words to be defined and to have their meaning illustrated the word “paramount.” One candidate replied as follows:—“Paramount—a kind of wife, e.g. John Smith has a paramount.”

The zest of examination stories is in seeing how the candidate has fallen into the mistake. It is unnecessary to point out what the word was which the candidate mistook for paramount, and it is then easy to see that in the innocence of his heart the candidate took the commonest among proper nouns and produced “John Smith” as the proprietor (or the property) of his “paramount.” The answer was at any rate more correct than


  ― 253 ―
that of the youngster who defined polygamy as “the practice followed by some people of having more than one wife. It is the opposite of monotony.”

It is not always easy to see how the “howler” is born. Mr Frank Leverrier was once examining in physical geography, and asked a question about the formation of coral islands. A candidate, after replying, of course, that the coral island is gradually built up by the exertions of the coral insect, proceeded to say with regard to the coral insect that “it has two methods of reproduction, one by budding and the ordinary way.”

The same difficulty of understanding a mistake occurred to me when I was examining in junior English in a year for which the textbook was Tennyson's Oenone. That deserted beauty, in the course of her complaint about Paris's fatal choice, recalls how he had once called her

. . . . loveliest in all grace

Of movement, and the charm of married brows.

The commentators proceed to explain that the Greeks held the view that eyebrows which meet across the top of the nose are a great mark of beauty, and this belief of the Greeks Tennyson has very happily translated into the phrase “the charm of married brows.” One candidate, having to explained the expression, wrote the following:—“The charm of married brows—this means that


  ― 254 ―
you can always tell a married man by the wrinkles on his forehead.” I have never been able to understand where so very young a candidate got so vivid an impression.

The late Senator Millen, when he was Minister for Defence, told me that he had had a very delicate matter to get over with General Bridges. It appears that the General wanted to expel from Duntroon, on the ground of impertinent behaviour, a young cadet who had just gone there. As soon as the teaching began, the first thing done in the English class was to set the new arrivals of a batch of cadets to the task of writing an essay describing their experiences in getting to Duntroon. A boy of fourteen who had come from Melbourne wrote an essay, of which Senator Millen, himself an old journalist, said that it was the brightest piece of writing for a boy of that age that he had ever read.

The boy described how he left Spencer Street railway station, and gave a mock account of the way in which his parents could hardly overcome their grief, nor he tear himself away from them. “Then,” said he, “we arrived at about 3 a.m. the next morning at Yass Junction and got off and walked about in a disconsolate way until an officer came up and surprised us by addressing us as gentlemen.” After that they went to Duntroon, and there, he says, “we were taken at once up


  ― 255 ―
to our bedrooms, where everything was most unscrupulously clean.” Then he went on “We came down to breakfast, and having finished that, we walked up on to the hill at the back of the college, and as I looked down at the scene spread out before my eyes I thought to myself ‘how little can the Almighty have thought when He created all this country which I see before me, that it was destined to become at some distant date the site of the Federal Capital of united Australia’.”

It was with great difficulty that Senator Millen persuaded General Bridges that, though an essay like that might seem disrespectful, there was nothing really wrong with the boy, except an exuberance of spirits which quite overcame the terror that he perhaps ought to have felt at finding himself in the charge of new teachers and at the beginning of a career, whereas Millen himself predicted that he would make a good officer. Ultimately he was allowed to remain, and, strange to relate, it is at the top of the very hill which figured in the boy's attempt at a fine peroration that General Bridges now lies buried.

Once when I was examining in history I set a question about the career of Lord Clive. All the candidates were naturally impressed with the story which appears in their history books about Clive's dejection when he first arrived in India.


  ― 256 ―
He was only a clerk in the East India Company's service, and there appeared to be no prospect of any kind of advancement, and in fact, had it not been for the hostilities in which he afterwards became engaged, his name might never have figured in a history examination paper. As it was, ill-health and depression led him on one occasion to try to commit suicide. He put the pistol to his head, and, when it would not go off, threw it away and exclaimed: “I must be meant for better things.” One candidate told me this story in much the same way as the other candidates, but there is a type of person in an examination who tries to impose upon the examiner by expanding or exaggerating or even inventing—the process is called “spreading”—and this device is particularly easy to play in the case of history, because it is risky for an examiner to assert that such and such a thing described by a candidate has not occurred.

Any examiner in history will often have spent many hours trying to find out whether a statement made about some historical personage possesses any foundation of truth at all, or is simply the invention of the candidate anxious to “spread” That at any rate cannot be said of the answer of the boy who told me that Clive was so depressed at his want of advancement in life after he had been in India some time that he committed


  ― 257 ―
suicide three times, the last occasion with fatal results. Having told me this, the candidate went on to describe how Clive fought and won the battles of Arcot and of Plassey, and by these battles founded the British Empire in India. Clive was certainly a very able man, but the rumours of his death must have been greatly exaggerated, to adapt Mark Twain's famous mot.

A very good instance of inventing where you do not know occurred when I set a question in the course of a Tennyson paper about the sorcerer Merlin. The candidate had never heard about him, but gave me a lot of news, terminating with the statement “he was supposed to be a seduced nun and his end was tragic.” The examiner soliloquized “So is yours!”

The Rev. Evelyn Hodgson, our Vice-Warden at St Paul's College, was the diocesan inspector of the denominational schools of the Anglican church. He was examining a class of boys on the Apostles' Creed. Thinking there was something curious about one boy's reciting of the Creed, he called him over to him so as to hear more distinctly. He then found that the lad had been always saying “suffered on a bunch of spiders” in place of “suffered under Pontius Pilate.” It was the same sort of adaptation of the unfamiliar to the known as made the British tars call the ship that took Napoleon to St Helena not the


  ― 258 ―
Bellerophon but the Billy Rough 'un. Or of the Glasgow girl, who said her brother was at sea on a ship called the New Pratties (Euphrates). We all do the same sort of thing when we talk of the Jerusalem artichoke. Its flower turns to the sun like the sunflower itself and is therefore called in Italian girasole or “turn to the sun.” We call it “Jerusalem,” and then the chef, when he makes soup of it, names the result Potage Palestine. Mistakes may even convey a rebuke, as when the gardener at the vicarage in Tamworth said sadly that he thought there'd be very few roses this season—“the atheists were swarming everywhere.”

Strange to say, familiarity with words or phrases can cause mishaps almost as easily as unfamiliarity. Apparently the repetition of stock expressions breeds a complete insensitiveness of the mind. Tansley, the psychologist, tells a story of the President of the Austrian Reichstag, at the opening of a sitting, saying, “The session of this Honourable House is now closed.” He explained that he had been thinking that the sitting would probably do nothing useful, and that he would be glad if it was over. Habit become meaningless did the rest. Though I have recommended this incident to one Australian Speaker, he prefers to follow his own precedents rather than an imported


  ― 259 ―
one, his adherence to established methods amounting almost to narrow servility.

The strangest example I ever saw of the mental stupefaction which results from constant repetition was when Dean Cowper once tried to adjourn Synod with the benediction. He began with the Lord's Prayer; saw his mistake before he had reached “Heaven,” stopped; began the Apostles' Creed and halted at “I believe;” stopped again for a moment; and then inclined his ear to a clergyman on the “prompt” side of the dais who whispered the opening words, “The grace of Our Lord Jesus Christ,” and with this cue the Dean went safely forward.

A young Englishman whom Sir George Innes, out of kindness, took as Associate on circuit once illustrated the opposite danger of unfamiliarity with set formularies. When a criminal case ends in a conviction, the Associate (or, in strictness, the Clerk of Arraigns) calls the prisoner up for sentence. The forms for this are printed in a book supplied from the Crown Law Office. On one page there are two such forms, one for capital and one for other cases. Except as to the sentence they are identical. The latter runs thus:—

Prisoner at the bar! you have been charged on indictment with —. To this indictment you have pleaded not guilty. The jury have found you guilty. Have you anything to say why sentence should not be passed upon you?


  ― 260 ―

The indictment, again, is on a foolscap sheet folded in four and endorsed outside with the name of the offence—Arson, false pretences, perjury, or what not. To fill out the above formula in calling up for sentence, all that is necessary is to glance at the endorsed description and then put the description of the offence in the blank space.

A young man had been found guilty of stealing a case of boots, and Innes J's novice stood up in the box while the other novice faced him in the dock—each at his most uncomfortable moment. The Associate picked up the indictment in one hand, read on it the word “Larceny,” and then turned to his official missal in the other hand. In this, unfortunately, the form for capital cases came first. This is what he said:—

Prisoner at the bar! You have been charged on indictment with er—er—er—er larceny, er—er. To this indictment you have pleaded not guilty. The jury have found you guilty. Have you anything to say why sentence of Death should not be passed on you?

The prisoner turned white. He began to think that he didn't know as much law as he had thought he did, and that the “stretch” for larceny was too literally a stretch. Innes J. tapped on the desk above the Associate—“Not sentence of death,


  ― 261 ―
man! Not sentence of death! Call him up again!”

Photograph facing p.260. Frank Leverrier, K.C.



The sweating blunderer began afresh, and drawn by the fatal attraction of a false step pondered on in the act itself of attempting to avoid it, he repeated the dreadful summons. At this the prisoner fainted in the dock. The Court adjourned. The police brought back consciousness and assured the prisoner that it was all a mistake, and, to the eternal credit of Innes J's head as well as heart, he took a year off the sentence, leaving it a light one. He said afterwards that for a man to have imagined even for a few moments that he was going to be hanged was almost punishment enough. In those days there was no First Offenders' Act, or there might have been no sentence to be served at all.

Mr Justice Innes devoted a great deal of thought to the matter of the sentence he was to impose. He was a great reader and used to buy French novels from my publisher. His way was to select, say, a dozen, and then offer so-and-so for the lot. He did this one day with Mr Fred Wymark, one of the most astute of salesmen. “All right” said Mr Wymark, “but if ever I'm up before you I shall expect twenty-five per cent off my sentence.” His Honour left the books to be sent in the usual way; but shortly afterwards


  ― 262 ―
his tipstaff called for them and paid the full marked price. Innes J. was taking no chances!

He did not, however, believe in jokes at the expense of the convicted. But they deserve it sometimes. A merchant in Sussex Street told me that he was in Court only once in his life. His father's store was broken into when he was a young man, and two men were caught in the very act. He therefore went up to see the trial at Darlinghurst. The defence was that the men had had a bet as to the kind of lock with which the front door was fastened. As they couldn't decide the bet, they forced the door, and before they could examine the lock and settle the wager, the police came in. They were tried by the late Judge Docker and convicted. In sentencing them Docker J. went slowly and dispassionately through the story they had told, and concluded, “I gather that you complain that you couldn't decide the bet because the police didn't give you time. Very well—I'll give you time—eighteen months.”

Men who have to “live by their wits” generally find that the community has more wit than they have, but sometimes they win. One great duel has always been that between those that thirst and those that serve. Credit is seldom given now in a public-house bar, the trade having successfully schooled the drinking public into the principle of cash and carry—the former to perfection and the


  ― 263 ―
latter as well as you can. Thirty years ago, when the “slate” was in use to chalk up what was owing, it was common to see in public-house bars a framed picture of a dog lying dead, with the legend below, “Poor Trust is dead—bad pay killed him.” I saw a neater warning once in a little inn in the Harz Mountains. For once, the joke is as good in a translation. The notice said “The Lord helps those that help themselves, but the Lord help the man that helps himself here!”

The drinker occasionally scored by his wits. Mr Delprat, of Broken Hill fame, told me of a tramp who went into one of two rival “pubs” and asked the landlord if he'd take stamps instead of money. The landlord said “Yes,” and when the customer had drunk down his quart of beer, asked for his six stamps. The sundowner stamped six times on the floor. The landlord, in a rage, was going to throw him out, when he suddenly cooled and said: “Look here, I'll give you another quart and a bob, if you'll go across the street and do that to Flanagan” (his rival). The tramp agreed, got his extra drink and his shilling, and made for the street. At the door he turned and said, “I'll do what I promised, but I don't think Flanagan will be taken in, because I did it to him and he sent me over to you!”

A similar piece of cleverness was used on board ship by a Suva beauty, Miss Elema Marks, to get


  ― 264 ―
rid of a pestering autograph-hunter. She gave way at last and wrote in his album thus—/////, the name Elema being the softened Fijian form of Helen and the word also meaning in Fijian “five.” This is a true story. It was not told me by Mr Delprat.

Another Broken Hill story from the same source concerns a man with a huge mouth which was the joke of his mates. A friend was shouting for a crowd in the bar. One man asked for a quart of beer, another for a shandy, a third for a quart of beer, and so on. The Megastom, as we might call him, said “I think I'll have a mouthful of beer.” “No you won't” said the entertainer, “you'll have a quart—the same as the others.”

Mr Delprat was as apt as Lincoln in telling a story to fit a case. We were members of the Council of the Commonwealth Institute of Science and Industry. A project was put before us of recovering lanoline from the wool-wash refuse that was drained into Botany Bay. The estimated recovery was enormous—something like 70,000 lb. in a month. But we took counsel of a leading chemicals manufacturer who pointed out that lanoline, though the basis of most ointments, is used in very small quantities at a time. He could meet, he said, a year's total requirements of the Commonwealth with a week's output from Botany Bay. The proposal was like


  ― 265 ―
many we received—there was an enormous potential product, but no market to absorb it. Delprat capped our opinion by describing a picture he had seen of a milkman standing on the cliffs of Dover and looking sadly at the Channel. “All that water,” he was saying, “and all this chalk, and no customers to buy the milk!”

There is only one infallible system for obtaining a drink without paying for it. It is a system discovered by an American ventriloquist who found himself stranded in one of the Western States. He went into a saloon with his dog and asked for beer and a sandwich. After taking a bite or two out of the sandwich he asked the dog whether he would like some, and the dog said “Yes, I am feeling real peckish.” The bar-tender was amazed, but when the customer repeated his order and went on discussing things with the dog, the bar-tender offered to buy that gifted animal. After some chaffering he got him for two hundred dollars. The owner took a string out of his pocket, tied it round the dog's neck, and handed him over. He then left, but at the door he turned to hear the dog say “I say, Master, have you sold me to this gentleman?” The owner said “Yes, I have.”

THE DOG: Is it because I talk too much?

THE OWNER: Yes.

THE DOG: Then I'll never say another word as long as I live.




  ― 266 ―

15. Chapter XV Grandma Busby

WHEN my father, after four years of widowhood, married again, he gave me, among other benefits, a wonderful relation in “Grandma” Busby, the widow of Dr Busby of Bathurst, one of a family of pioneers in Australia and New Zealand and the first medical man to practise west of the mountains. Until I went to the University it was always “Papa” and “Mamma” and “Grandmamma,” but later I was given the freedom of the city, so to speak, and could join with her own flesh and blood in calling her Grandma, or even Grannie.

It is a strange thing to know that I have kissed as a child the cheek that Robert Burns kissed as a man. “Grandma” was born in Ayrshire, and Burns was a friend of her father, who, I think, was a farmer. Burns used to delight in coming to the Thomson house and “daffing” (Australicé “larking”) with the two girls. Little Agnes, with a sweetness and charm of face which the soul lit up with health and goodness till her death at


  ― 267 ―
ninety-six, must have been beautiful indeed as a lassie. Her sister was the more daring, but the delight of both was to tease Burns by getting behind him in their play and tipping his tam-o'-shanter over his eyes. One day, in mock tragedy, he threatened to “mak' a poem” on Agnes if she did it again. The little creatures took this seriously, and, not knowing what “making a poem” might be as a form of punishment, they dropped this trick altogether. Would that they had known better! for though Burns' English verses to “ladies” and “young ladies” are somewhat stilted and even obsequious, he was at his best with all young things of his own real world in his own language, if only because then he wrote poetry and not English verse.

But Agnes Thomson was herself a poem. Her father I always fancied (perhaps on unconsciously received impressions from some mention of him) as just like the head of the house in “The Cotter's Saturday Night.” Burns tells us how, after “the healsome parritch, chief of Scotia's food” were eaten (‘were’ because porridge is always plural in Scotland), the circle is formed round the hearth for family prayer.

The cheerfu' supper done, wi' serious face
They round the ingle form a circle wide;
The sire turns o'er, wi' patriarchal grace,
The big ha'-bible, ance his father's pride:



  ― 268 ―
His bonnet rev'rently is laid aside,
His lyart haffetsnote wearing thin an' bare;
Those strains that once did sweet in Zion glide—
He walesnote a portion with judicious care,
And “Let us worship God!” he says with solemn air.

It must have been one of Burns's saddest moments when the stern old Presbyterian, in Agnes's growing years, forbade Burns the house in those unhappy later years when his character and health had fallen below the allowable level.

Agnes Thomson came to Australia, at the age of eighteen I think, with her brother, a minister. The Rev. John Dunmore Lang, that terror of Downing Street, who also did faithfully what in him lay to frighten the Vatican, had persuaded the Sydney church authorities that more Men of God must be brought from Scotland. They were to be married, as their life was to be lived in the interior. But the Rev. Mr Thomson, desirable for doctrine and character though he was, had not then taken a helpmate and so was allowed to bring his sister instead.

An unimportant ship, chiefly peopled by Presbyterian clergy and their wives, may not seem a suitable site for much adventure, but Grannie's recollections were of a lively passage with diverting


  ― 269 ―
“coterie” quarrels, and even a love-making play in which she figured by misunderstanding. For Dr Lang had let it be known that he was going to be married as soon as the ship reached port, but stoutly refused to give the lady's name. It was not unnaturally conjectured that the handkerchief had been dropped on Miss Thomson's pretty shoulders; but that graceful creature would have none of it. One minister's wife was incredulous at this. She would take Miss Thomson aside, read her gentle homilies about married life, reassure her as to all fears, and simply smile the smile of those who know better when Miss Thomson persistently said “But it's no' me!”

Arrived in Cape Town, Dr Lang married, and, when Sydney was reached, Mr Thomson and his sister went to Bathurst. A delightful account of her courting can be read in the Mitchell Library in a MS. written by her son-in-law, James Nisbet. Her husband was one of a family who did great service. The father, John Busby, arrived in Sydney in 1824. He was an engineer and brought the first water-supply to Sydney from Botany swamps through what was known as Busby's Bore. The outlet was in Hyde Park, then, I suppose, in its racecourse days, but the work was not a great success, and the engineer's reports to the government have quite an apologetic tone. His youngest


  ― 270 ―
son, William, completed the work, which sufficed for the needs of Sydney until 1849.

Another son, James Busby, having formed the opinion that wine-growing would be successful in Australia, visited the vineyards of the Bordeaux district in France before coming out with his father. In 1830 he revisited Europe, and traversed the wine-growing districts of Spain from Cadiz to Malaga, and those of France from the Pyrenees to Champagne. He brought out cuttings and was the first to grow vines and make wine on a commercial scale, being the founder of the famous Kirkton Vineyard, near Branxton, in the Hunter Valley. Soon scores of pioneers followed suit, and that district is to this day adorned as well as enriched by that most lovely of growths. There is a fashion in all home-making. The German settlers in South Australia set the tune of planting fruit-trees and vines everywhere, and there is hardly a backyard between the Outer Harbour and Adelaide where a man cannot sit literally under his own vine and figtree. Planting the vine became common elsewhere in those days. There is a wonderful veteran along the balcony of the Bank of New South Wales in Parramatta, and in more than one “back yard and a half” in Woolloomooloo and Surry Hills the pinched remnants of the old gardens include a vine or two. In 1832 Lord Goderich appointed Mr Busby


  ― 271 ―
British Resident in New Zealand, and in 1833 he landed at the Bay of Islands. There he subsequently gave Governor Hobson loyal and unremitting support, revised for him the Treaty of Waitangi (which was discussed and promulgated at his house) and obtained the signatures of the important chiefs.

Still another brother was known to me in his old age as Uncle Alick. He was an old gentleman with a grievance. Others of the family had been promised and had received grants of land in return for their coming to the colony. Uncle Alick believed himself morally entitled to a large block of city land fronting all or nearly all of Market Street, Sydney. But neither the Robertson ministry, nor its alternating enemy, the Parkes ministry, would pay any attention to the claim. He settled down in a house in Surry Hills with a married couple to look after him, for he lived and died a bachelor. The married couple behaved like the Arabian camel in the fabled tent and edged the owner out of one room after another, till at last he was living in the front room only.

He was a man of wonderful kindness. His whole life was spent in going around among relations and friends and distributing from his car-pet-bag


  ― 272 ―
the astonishing things he had picked up at auctions. I can quite believe that auctioneers had got to know this tall old greybeard as an easy mark and worked off their unsaleable goods or w.a.f. articles on their Friday patron. He would buy the most extraordinary things—a gross of Wellington boots, or a dozen cases of damaged coffee-with-milk in tins, or knitting needles calculated to ravel any matron's temper by their weight and clumsiness.

On one occasion he came to St Philip's Parsonage, where dancing was looked upon as “the abomination of desolation spoken of by Jeremiah the prophet standing in the holy place,” bringing for the young ladies twelve dozen pairs in assorted sizes of white kid dancing shoes slightly spotted by some playful clumsiness of Father Neptune on the way out. He could talk well about books, and with an open heart asked me to his home to take what I liked of a miscellaneous gathering he had had knocked down to him. “Knocking down” was really all they were fit for, but even as a boy I had sense enough to love the old man for his whimsical kindness. He fed with cake the hungry children of Surry Hills, while he himself thought Captain's biscuits and cold tea, which sat ready for him in a tumbler on a mantel-piece


  ― 273 ―
crowded with ineffable bric-à-brac, quite a good enough meal.

Both Grannie and he first came to see us at Cleveland Street Parsonage, which stood where the great public school now is. At that, my first school, though I did not know it, the late Judge Rolin was also in the “infant” classes. When I was appointed Chief Interstate Commissioner, among the letters I received was one from a wharf-labourer, who told me that at Cleveland Street he was always thought a brighter boy than either of us—“Tom Rolin” or myself—a pathetic commentary on the policy, still entrenched, of turning children out into the labour market at fourteen unless their parents' good fortune prevents it.

Grandma's visit was an event of great joy, chequered by a cloud or two. I had robbed a passion-vine, and when I kissed her she exclaimed, “Why, you've been eating passion-fruit!” I knew of course that the apple in Eden was only the first, not the last, word in forbidden fruit, but the punishment that followed made me think for some years that passion-fruit got its name because, when you stole it, it got into a passion and, so to speak, “informed” on you by its smell. The etymology was, anyhow, as good as that of mediaeval scholars, one of whom, utterly at a loss to


  ― 274 ―
explain why lucus means “a grove,” fell back on a derivation from opposites and produced the gem lucus a non lucendo, “a grove—because it gives no light.” On this proverb Dr Badham made a witty parody. We had complained to him that books were taken from our lockers:—

BADHAM: But why don't you lock them up? You have lockers, haven't you?

STUDENTS: They've got no keys.

BADHAM: Oh! I see, they're called lockers a non locando.

Opposite the Cleveland-street parsonage lived Mr Thomas Holt, who later on built the castellated mansion known as The Warren or Holt's Folly beyond Petersham. When the Gas Company began operations, he was shocked at the cost of the service, and during one quarter kept consumption rigidly down. The bill that came in was higher than ever. Mr Thomas Buckland was then a valued financial adviser, so Holt went to him:—

HOLT: Look at this bill, Tom (detailing the circumstances).

BUCKLAND: Oh, that's nothing! Last quarter I used no gas at all, but only lamps and candles, so as to test it, and my bill was bigger than ever.

HOLT: What did you do, Tom?

BUCKLAND: I went down to the Company and


  ― 275 ―
saw the Secretary. I didn't call him a scoundrel, but got pretty near it.

HOLT: What did he say?

BUCKLAND: He told me no mistake was possible, and took me round the place and explained the whole working of the meters. Thomas, they can't go wrong. He proved it. They can't go wrong.

HOLT: Well, what did you do?

BUCKLAND: I paid the bill and went out and bought some shares in the Company. They're the best investment I ever heard of. They can't go wrong, Thomas!

Mr Buckland was chairman of directors of the Bank of New South Wales and a proper kind of chairman, too, for a bank, seeing that he had resources. A solicitor named Briggs, having made money in Maitland, retired and came to Sydney, where he bought shares in various companies. Having thus one at any rate of the qualifications of a critic, he would attend the annual meeting and pick holes in the balance-sheet or in the treatment of shareholders or some such thing. He held shares in the Bank, and before one annual meeting he went round telling people that the balance-sheet and reports were disgraceful—“no information whatever—a large amount lumped together as Costs of Management.” He was going thoroughly into “the matter at the meeting—had


  ― 276 ―
got a lot of figures together—and would show the directors up properly.” Mr Buckland was told of this. He was very hard of hearing, and at the meeting he read out the report and balance-sheet, and then moved that the report and balance-sheet as read be adopted. The rest of the meeting may be reported in extenso:—

MR BRIGGS (rising, and waving his papers in the air): Mr Chairman!

CHAIRMAN (putting his hand to his ear). Thank you, Mr Briggs! (Then, to the meeting): It has been moved by me and seconded by Mr Briggs that the report and balance-sheet as read be adopted. Those who are of that opinion say Aye, on the contrary No—the Ayes have it.

BRIGGS (still waving his papers and shouting): Mr Chairman!

CHAIRMAN (still straining to listen): Yes, Mr Briggs, that's all right! The dividend is payable at once. That concludes the business of the meeting.

After we left Cleveland Street Grandma often came to stay with her daughter at our different homes, for ministers of my father's then church are triennial gipsies. Hers was a happy life, welcomed by various members of her large family when she went on circuit from her home, which, till her death, was a roomy cottage in Howick


  ― 277 ―
Street, Bathurst. The cottage still stands. It is very near the new jail, which is on the site of the old. Dr Busby was jail surgeon among other things, and, when floggings were to take place, his wife would gather her children as a hen gathers her chickens under her wings and sit shut up with them so as not to hear the screams and blasphemies of the triangle.

Photograph facing p.276. Grandma Busby



They were horrible days; but are they any more horrible in essence than our own, when well-dressed, well-fed, well-educated “gentlemen” can pay stiff admission fees to see the bilateral floggings of a couple of prize-fighters? The yells of the flagellated convicts have less of the human beast in them than the salvos of delight at the Stadium when a man's ear is split or his kidneys are pounded till he falls writhing. Ibañez, recently dead, closes his novel, La Corrida, written round the bull-fight, with this estimate of the multitude that shouted with delight when a third bull was brought out after the killing of a favourite toreador—“Out there the Beast was bellowing—the true Beast, the only Beast!” In applying this terrible epithet to a gathering of his own countrymen Ibañez voices the opinion of many of the finest minds in Spain.

Coming back to civilization, it was on one such visit of Grannie to our home that I got a well-deserved


  ― 278 ―
check. My father was telling her how I was getting on at school, and mentioned my Greek. Grannie said, “At fourteen your grandfather could read the Greek Testament as well as his schoolmaster.” I replied, “That depends on how much his schoolmaster knew.” “Go to my study and wait for me,” said my father. I knew what was coming to me—but it never came. Softened, doubtless, by the kind gentlewoman herself, my father rebuked me gravely because I had hurt her feelings. But Grannie took me aside and we sat on the sofa together. She laid her beautiful hand, strong and delicate, with long clever fingers—the hand of an artist, really, or a surgeon—on mine, and spoke to me about my future with an ardour that put it above my own conceptions. “Cleverness,” she said, “is nothing; only goodness matters. If you serve God humbly, you may perhaps become a man who, if he be lifted up, will draw many men unto him.”

It was then only a few weeks before the days when I was to enter the University and learn there a similar lesson from Badham's scale of unworldly valuations of every sort of human merit. His freedom from all idolatry of academic success saved many a student from the repellent illusion which often weakens the value of a university education—the illusion that a man has more brains


  ― 279 ―
because he has been to the university. This superiority notion was at the bottom of the Town and Gown rows of Oxford and Cambridge. An amusing instance of it is a “statute” or by-law of the University of Kiel, passed some 250 years ago. In a note in the students' German song-book—the Reichs Commersbuch—you read that the authorities had to lay down by by-law the rule that “He who shall have slain a night-watchman shall be punished with the same punishment as if he had slain a man.”

Though Whistler was never at Oxford or Kiel, he had all the conceit of the superior person, but made it serve his wit. When I was in Seville I met that fine etcher, W. Strang, R.A., who was making a volume of drawings with his son. Talk about Velasquez and the Prado naturally brought up the famous repartee of Whistler—“Why drag in Velasquez?”—when a young devotee had said that Velasquez and Whistler were the only artists who could paint light and air.

Mr Strang told me that he knew Whistler very well and went down one evening to Whistler's studio in Chelsea during the famous Ruskin v. Whistler trial. Walter Sickert, another painter, had been called as a witness that day on Whistler's behalf, but had been badly cut up by Sir Henry James in cross-examination. Strang said, “I can't


  ― 280 ―
understand how Walter can have made such a fool of himself.”

WHISTLER: Neither can I.

STRANG: I suppose it must have been just through conceit.

WHISTLER: Very likely, but I can't understand anyone being conceited but me!

When Grannie got into years, itinerating journeys were out of the question, and she used to live in Bathurst, except that she spent the winter in Sydney. Slight and elegant as was her build, she had a wonderful spirit and constitution. For many years she was totally blind, but an operation restored her sight in part. At the age of eighty-seven she was thrown out of a buggy and broke an arm and wrist, one hand remaining stiff, but still effective for the lifelong knitting. She lived to be ninety-six without any failing of mind or temperament.

In Sydney she was like a visiting queen, and all the clan of her widely ramified descendants, with all the clannishness of the race but with something more, came round to tender homage. Modest and humorous and loving, she exercised the genealogical instinct of woman by following up the doings and the prospects of her subjects. It used to be said that Archbishop Vaughan, scholar and orator as he was, made a very poor


  ― 281 ―
hand at imitating Archbishop Polding, who, like the true “soggarth aroon,” would meet his flock in St Mary's grounds after service and ask after the health of all their “care,” as the Irish put it. Archbishop Vaughan might declaim about “the bath of supernatural light” in which the young of the Catholic schools were cleansed, but the father of Mike or the aunt of Biddy would have been glad if the Archbishop had had a little more natural light on the question whether “the baby” was a boy or a girl.

There were no such mistakes about Grannie, because it was not duty, but a real selflessness and the native tenacity of true affection, that kept tally over the sheep and the lambs in her family estate. Scores of relations and hundreds of other visitors will remember her afternoons—richer than the most brilliant salons—and Grannie sitting with widow's cap and strings, comely black silk dress, dainty wrist-bands, and the collar of lace, above which shone steadily and happily the fearless soft and whimsical face which age never made less beautiful.

She was a fountain of Scottish humour and customs, hit off as she described them with only a softened accent, and would ask for her favourite stories, which she heard again and again as gaily as if for the first time. One such was that of Donald and Sandy at the temperance meeting.


  ― 282 ―
Donald had taken his own milk, and Sandy, sitting by him, smelt a whiff o' guid whisky when it was poured into the cup. Without a word he held out his own cup; without a word, Donald, afeared, not about “the quantum of the sin” but about “the hazard of concealment,” gave him some, and all Sandy said was “Eh Donald! what a coo!”

It was with great zest that one year I was able to bracket with this a true incident from the Walcha district. The youngest son of the station was not too bright intellectually, and one day in one of the out-paddocks he saw some cattle reeling about near a waterhole. He lapped up some water. It tasted of whisky. He galloped home, burst into the homestead, and yelled, “It's better than a gold-mine; there's a natural whisky spring on the station.” What had happened was that some illicit stillmen had heard that the police were coming, and had tipped all their stuff, including the fermented grain, into the creek, from which it had “fortified” the waterhole.

Grannie had wit of her own, too. A Roman Catholic bishop took her round a new church and showed her the stained-glass windows. One represented the head of the Serpent being bruised by the seed of the first woman. The Virgin's foot was treading the Serpent down, and the Saviour's foot was on hers. The Bishop was enthusiastic.


  ― 283 ―
“Now isn't it lovely to think that the fut of the woman was not enough till the little fut was put on top of it?” “Yes,” said Grannie, “but the little fut would have been enough by itself!”

In only one respect did Grannie resemble Queen Elizabeth, according to a Queensland candidate's description in a history examination—“Queen Elizabeth was tall and thin but she was a stout Protestant.” But though she was a stout Protestant, Grannie was a gentle Christian, and I doubt if she ever said anything more controversial about Mariolatry or any other belief from which she differed than that neat reply to the Bishop. Contrast this with Queen Bess's letter to the Bishop of London, when he would not refrain from teachings which she pronounced erroneous. “Proud Prelate! If you do not preach as I bid you—by God, Sir, I will unfrock you!”

I feel sure that Grannie's sense of fun would have prevailed over her theological attachments if she had heard the story of the two padres who had to say farewell at the end of the War. They had worked together in perfect unison and were loath to part. “But after all,” said the Anglican, “we shall still be serving the same Master wherever we may be.” “Yes,” replied the Roman Catholic, “you in your way and I in His.”




  ― 284 ―

16. Chapter XVI Thomas O'Reilly

Quelle belle tête de pasteur!” said Dr Germont when he saw the portrait of Canon O'Reilly, reproduced in this volume. The doctor was one of two able men sent out from the Institute at Paris to study the rabbit pest, and like other medical men of the day, had all the contempt, sometimes tranquil, more often loquacious, which was commonly felt towards religion by men of science in the eighties and nineties. But the Canon's superb manhood, physical as well as spiritual, drew the admiration of all eyes and hearts. His parish was St Philip's, on Church Hill. He was a vigorous militant Protestant, but though he condemned the Church of Rome's mistakes, he loved and comforted the Church of Rome's mistaken so well that, in the wharf purlieus at the foot of Flagstaff Hill and round Darling Harbour, the Irish among the poor called him “the Protestant Praist.”

Nor did he ever replace the bigotry of Rome with bigotry of Belfast. As a boy in Ireland


  ― 285 ―
he had seen Orangemen driving to an open-air religious celebration. The carts had straw on the floor, but he caught sight of gun-barrels hidden under the straw, and from that time he kept Orangeism at a distance.

Canon Garnsey of Christ Church was another lovable man amongst the poor. Mr A. B. Weigall, headmaster of the Grammar School, met him in Belmore Park one morning. He said “You're abroad very early, Canon!” “Well,” said Mr Garnsey, “one of my poorest parishioners in Surry Hills has lost his wife and I've just been across finishing a coffin for her.”

Canon O'Reilly's successor at St Philip's, Archdeacon Langley (now Bishop Langley, and ninety-two years old), carried on the same personal tolerance. Both incumbents of St Philip's met in their work among the poor the beloved Catholic priest of St Patrick's, Father le Rennetel. When the latter died, Archdeacon Langley directed the great bell of St Philip's to be tolled for his memory. The bell-ringers refused, and the Archdeacon went up into the belfry and rang the tribute himself.

Sir Henry Maine writes of “the exaggerated respect which is stillnote paid to the somewhat doubtful virtue of consistency.” This cynical philosophy


  ― 286 ―
has been embalmed in the religion of Lowell's “John P. Robinson,” who tells us that

A merciful Providence fashioned us hollow On purpose that we might our principles swallow.

The question of consistency is much in point now that the recent controversies about the new Prayer Book have brought into high relief the fact that the Church of England's dogmatic teaching is full of compromise—a fact which gives the pungency of unwelcome truth to Bernard Shaw's criticism of the Archbishop of Canterbury's letter on the right attitude of churchmen as “a heartfelt appeal for ambiguity.”

But there have always been souls to whom ambiguity in matters of belief is unendurable. Such a man was T. H. Huxley; such a man was John Henry Newman; such a man was Thomas O'Reilly. He had lived through a period of “unbelief” as a young man, and reached a strong basis of simple Christian faith which was ever afterwards the fulcrum and foothold with whose aid he sought to move his world.

The magic of his influence lay in the personal intensity with which he matched conduct to teaching in every action and habit of his life, and yet did this without ostentation and without holding himself up as an example—a thing he would have thought a sacrilege against the Great Example. This, and a profound loving-kindness


  ― 287 ―
towards all his fellow-men, robbed his asceticism of any sprinkling of intolerance. It was a sort of commonplace to hear him spoken of as a man of narrow views—“but so consistent” or “so warm-hearted” or “so noble.” He shrank from no duty and no self-denial. Above all was his dutifulness shown in his attitude towards personalities in conversation. “Is it necessary? Is it true? Is it just?” were three questions we ought to put before we said anything that could hurt another's character. That did not prevent him from discharging the stern task of compelling a mother who wished to be a communicant and was thought in the parish to be married, to renounce her false title and be known as Miss—. As soon as that was done, his bearing to her was one of loving care and as full of respect as it was to every other woman.

The ferocious ostracism of the unmarried mother for whom feminists eloquently plead, though they would never—unless she were a great actress or singer—have her in their homes, is still the source of untold hypocrisies and misery. Some years ago in one of our States an official assignee seized the furniture in a bankrupt's house. His wife, as she was reputed in a wide circle to be, had a perfect claim to it as her separate property. She asked her legal adviser whether in the witness-box she would have to swear that she was married


  ― 288 ―
to the bankrupt, and being told she would, gave up all her property rather than let her children come to know. It is high time that we should practise a simple test for genuine social recognition which would do social justice, and if a woman acts as a real mother to her child, treat that service to society as expiation, supposing that (if all were known) expiation is due.

It was only the service of truth that made Canon O'Reilly use speech so untender, for he carried that service into the minutiæ of his own daily life with inexorable completeness. He believed in the Ten Commandments, and therefore observed the Fourth as strictly as the others. Monday morning's paper was never allowed in the house, because it had been printed on Sunday. For a like reason neither fresh bread nor fish could come in. Nothing hot was served on the Sabbath, and when he was on the North Coast and had a parish as large as Ireland, he would not ride on Sunday to a country appointment, but either walked or rowed his boat there. On one circuit he was rowing for a week. In a sermon against the running of Sunday trains he transfixed a congregation who knew what it must have cost him to say it, and knew that he said nothing that he did not mean, by avowing with deep emotion trembling in his powerful voice, “I would not go to Parramatta by train on Sunday if my wife


  ― 289 ―
were dying there and there was no other way to reach her.” Remembering that his wife was such a clever and industrious helpmate in all his parish work, that she was known as “The Curate of St Philip's,” we might well, apart from any more tender and profound considerations, put this alongside Luther's famous defiances of temptation, as, for example, his throwing an inkwell at the Devil when he appeared. The Devil vanished, but the inkstain where the wall was hit was still shown in the Wartburg when Carlyle wrote “The Hero as Priest.” Perhaps even more pertinent would be Luther's reply when he was told that it would be dangerous for him to visit Leipzig if his enemy Duke George was there. “If I had business at Leipzig I would ride into Leipzig though it rained Duke Georges for nine days running,” said the great free protagonist of free minds.

With this droiture entière of Canon O'Reilly as the foundation of his character went many mental and physical gifts—including the gift of virile beauty and a frame of great strength. When he had passed sixty, and revisited the Manning River, a waterman, catching sight of him, called out, “Ah, Mr O'Reilly, is that you? I mind the time when you could row any man on the river round.”

Canon O'Reilly's physique, as well as his


  ― 290 ―
stately carriage and his ardent nature, was inherited from generations of men whose strenuous blood can be read about in the Landed Gentry of the classic Burke, the Ulster King of Arms, or in any of the books that deal with the Irish Kings and the country round Westmeath. His pride in this ancestry, though never spoken, was the nearest approach to worldliness in him, though, as if to keep that family pride from expression in behaviour, he used often to say that a man who boasted of his ancestors was like a potato—the best part of him was underground. His was certainly a vigorous clan. Judges as far afield as Jamaica, a knight of St Louis in Paris at the Revolution, a leader of twelve hundred men (“mostly of his own family” says Burke) against Cromwell, a Duke of Spain, and various soldiers in Austria, show how the spirit of adventure made this Irish name as ubiquitous as the potato itself. The navy and the army called these scions from Breffny or Beltrasna (the two family seats) to the ends of the earth, and Canon O'Reilly's father, a captain who after active service in Canada was quartered in the Isle of Man when Thomas O'Reilly was born, was one of the first to break into family tradition by dying in his bed. Strangely enough, Canon O'Reilly's mother took all this inherited importance so much into her adoption that, becoming senile in her


  ― 291 ―
extreme age, she had only one question to ask when any lady was presented to her—“Husband in the Army?” Nine times out of ten the answer would be “No,” after which the visitor received no more attention.

Canon O'Reilly was a soldier by nature, but his service was in an army and for a cause greater than any for which his forbears fought. In that cause his courage was perfect, and its basis was the complete surrender of his life to his duty. A parishioner once asked him, knowing that he was going to preach in the Cathedral, whether he did not feel nervous. “Nervous?” he said. “How can I be nervous when I have my Master's message to deliver?”

It was in the Cathedral that he proved in a notable instance his indifference to every worldly consideration. He had prepared a sermon against horse-racing with its attendant mischiefs. He preached in the Cathedral, and the then Governor, Sir Hercules Robinson, with his party, happened that morning to be in the Governor's pew. This made no difference to the sermon, either by abatement or by added emphasis, for there was in him none of the underlying fierceness of egoism which one cannot help feeling in some of the deliverances of great militant preachers. When, for example, John Knox writes of Queen Mary's tears when he denounced her, one sees little real


  ― 292 ―
Christian joy in Knox's comment on the effect upon Mary. Knox may have smiled, but I do not think the Recording Angel did, when the preacher wrote this sentence: “Whereat more Owling and tears in greater abundance than the root of the matter deserved.”

Where Mary wept, Sir Hercules Robinson only swore. He took a vow never to enter the Cathedral again when Canon O'Reilly was to preach, for he was a great devotee of horse-racing, and when he left the colony Sydney Punch portrayed him in race-going dress with a jockey in the background going off with his jockey's saddle over his arm, and beneath the picture was the shallow compliment, “'Tis a worthy Governor.”

Canon O'Reilly had a wonderful all-round equipment, including great mechanical aptitude. In the backyard of St Philip's Parsonage he built a first-rate boat for his boys with his own hands, and, when a new organ was brought out for St Philip's he took the leading part in building it where it now stands, carrying the great pipes on his own square shoulders and nursing the task throughout with the utmost care against any misfit or any intrusion of dust. In doing this he broke two ribs. He went home, bandaged a strong towel round his body, and went back to “carry on.”

Photograph facing p.292. Canon O'Reilly



On another occasion the bell-ringers of St Philip's asked for higher wages. There was at


  ― 293 ―
the time a certain Mr Pearce who held the curious office of a sort of “father of the chapel” to all the bell-ringers in the Anglican churches round Sydney. Canon O'Reilly consulted him as to the bell-ringers' demands, and, being told they were unjust, refused to grant them. The result was a strike, but in this instance it was the employer who resorted to job control. The bell-ringers, before leaving the belfry, had cut the ropes, but Providence was against them. A brother-in-law of the Canon was a New Zealand captain, and his ship came into port on the Saturday of that week. Between them, the Canon and the Captain rove new pieces on to all the bell-ropes, working all day on Saturday to this end. On Sunday some of the choir were taken up and given a brief instruction, and helped by them the Canon issued punctually the necessary invitations to the parish, amazing the strikers, who were gathered in knots at the street corners on Church Hill. In one respect they were lucky. The scratch team could not, of course, play the usual hymn tunes, but only the simplest chime, so that the disappointed mutineers had not to put up with the exhortation,

Oh come, all ye faithful!
Joyful and triumphant!

His energy of belief engendered a trust in him on the part of his parishioners which I have heard


  ― 294 ―
reflected in every part of the State when his name has been mentioned in the hearing of those who had known him even for a little time. His parishioners' respect for him amounted almost to worship. He was a Low Churchman and averse to ritual and to utilizing any pretences and allurements for the support of the church. There were no bazaars, no fancy fairs, no garden parties or raffles or attractions of any sort, to bring in money to God's Treasury. The free-will offerings given with a mind of duty were all that contributed to the carrying on of the parish. I doubt whether he ever preached a sermon urging people to give, and his church was austere in the plainness of its service. When he was reproached for preaching in a black gown, and told that it was a badge of Calvinism, his answer was, “It is a badge of simplicity.” Some parishioners were concerned when choral services were introduced at the Cathedral, but one of them said consolingly, “It won't be quite so choral if Mr O'Reilly is going to preach.”

Another humble parishioner had the same unqualified admiration to give. She said of Dean Cowper after one sermon that he “bawled almost as loud as master”—a compliment which greatly gratified the Dean who could never praise too much his favourite colleague. He wrote of him “O that they who have more knowledge than he,


  ― 295 ―
might have his piety and zeal, self-denial and holiness.” The last is a bold word for a Protestant to use of a fellow-man. It was no more than just.

Among his other gifts, and one which he transmitted to his family, was the gift of expression. He wrote verses simple and sincere, but only upon some real prompting of feeling. They were never printed or even circulated. I remember the beautiful opening line in some birthday verses for a daughter who survived him only a few years. Her Christian names were those of her mother, and of his first wife. These are the verses:—

Child with the sweetly blended name,
May all your future prove
Like theirs from whom it comes—the same
In intellect and love!

May you in life be found like her
Who smiled upon your birth,
May you in death leave hopes like her
Who passed to Heaven from Earth!

In all his human relations there ran the same strain of sweetness and a tenderness which, thought of in connexion with his grim lifelong struggle with the devil in whom he so firmly believed, reminds me of a phrase that Deniehy loved—it was “like down on the breast of an eagle.” Certainly no more appropriate memorial was ever erected for any man than the lectern now in St Philip's, which supports the Bible on the outspread wings of an eagle.




  ― 296 ―

An eagle he surely was in the pulpit. With head erect and a steady gaze, his tall muscular frame hardly moving but seeming to exhale a high energy of faith and inspiration, his powerful even voice would ring round the old stone walls in sentences which were seldom touched with any purposed ornament, and he seemed to the congregation who adored him to be like the shadow of a great rock in a dry land. He had at times a stern humour, as, for instance, when he rebuked the people who gave lip-service only to “the Book”: “You will see the Family Bible displayed for every one to see on the drawing-room table, but if you look closer you will find it is so covered with dust that your finger can write ‘Damnation’ on the cover!”

Nowhere was the poetry and softness of his heart shown more than in his attitude to children. It was a widespread belief among mothers that babies at the font never cried in his arms—a thing which in another age and with another creed might have seemed miracle enough to earn canonization.

His own life, full enough of trials, suffered a clouding of permanent sadness when a beautiful child, with the exquisite scriptural name of Lois, was taken from him, but this sorrow deepened his love for other children. Near St Philip's Parsonage in York Street an American firm had


  ― 297 ―
set up on the pavement a wooden nigger-boy, life-size, with his hand extended so as to form a grip on which a rider could hang up his reins. This figurine Canon O'Reilly never passed without giving a caress of his strong hand on the wooden curls. A man of perfect dignity, he never “stood on” his dignity, and no observer would have laughed at the fondling of the wooden bambino any more than he would have done if he had seen the stately man, in clerical coat and top hat, walking home with a cauliflower, which he had bought at the markets on his way from the Cathedral, tucked under his arm.

He treasured every story in his experience that bore upon right or wrong in man's nature. When he was at Port Macquarie, the triangle and the stocks were still part of the equipment of the State. He was at the death-bed of the jail flogger, and never forgot the hours of screaming agony when this man in turns swore and blasphemed and raved about the images that came back to his mind of the forgotten convicts whose backs he had torn to ribbons. He used to speak with indignation of a certain high official whose body had to be buried in the church, for reasons of sanctuary and not of sanctity, because the convicts had sworn to unearth it if it was buried in the cemetery. This district no longer reeks with such memories. My former colleague, now Sir Nicholas Lockyer,


  ― 298 ―
told me that when he was a treasury inspector and visited the North Coast, he came across official volumes filled with records of what are now horrors, but were then the daily round of official-dom. That fine man quietly destroyed them. I myself knew a Kempsey man whose grandfather had convict servants on his farm. When punishment was desired, the free settler gave the convict a note to the superintendent or the magistrate at Port Macquarie, “Please order the bearer thirty lashes.” The man had then to walk thirty miles to Port Macquarie, take his flogging, and return, one might say, with a certificate on his back. The settler-master knew that he dare not abscond, for even Nature in the Australian bush was the enemy of the convict, as is attested by those skeletons found in the Tasmanian scrub near Port Arthur with leg-irons and handcuffs.

A story that deeply affected Canon O'Reilly was that in the same Manning River district a little girl of twelve was carrying her baby brother through the bush where timber-getters had made a clearing. A little way up the hill a noble cedar had been felled, stripped, and was chocked up till the jinker should be brought to take it into town. But rain had fallen and loosened the chocks. The log started to roll, the girl looked up, saw that there was no chance of getting out of the way, faced round to the approaching log, and


  ― 299 ―
at the last instant threw the baby across and over, being crushed flat herself. That baby may be still living and prosperous, surrounded by

. . . that which should accompany old age, As honour, love, obedience, troops of friends.

The clergymen of those days, like the missionaries in the islands, were the true torch-bearers of civilization just as much as the statesmen or the schoolmasters. Their life was rough and venturesome. On one occasion Canon O'Reilly had to ride to a distant town to get a doctor for his sick child. He was caught in a bush-fire, and rode round and round trying to pick his way out. At last he threw the reins on “Black Prince's” neck, and the instinct of the horse did what the bushcraft of the man could not do.

Mr Frank Wright, formerly member for Glen Innes, who was himself a Eureka Stockade man and carried a bullet in his flank to the day of his death, told me that from Victoria he came as a miner to one of the western goldfields of this State, where he saw my father deal with a mutinous crowd. William Charles Wentworth had introduced a poll-tax of, I think, £5 a head on the male population. The miners, who had no representation of any kind in Parliament, were talking of another Eureka. The government sent up Mr Maclean, afterwards Inspector-General of Police,


  ― 300 ―
with a posse of men, who took up their position in a slab hut on a hill commanding the field, and drilled holes in the slabs for their muskets.

Next morning a mass meeting was held on the field. The Union Jack was pulled down from the staff and a red handkerchief hoisted. Wild speakers were working the men up to storm the guard-house, reminding them of Eureka and telling them that if a few fell, the rest would win, when my father, who was chaplain on the field, came out of his tent and listened to the orators. Presently he asked to be allowed to speak, and, getting up on the soap-box, he opened by denouncing Wentworth and his poll-tax, applauding the opposition of men of British blood to taxation without representation, and emphasizing the point that the tax was payable whether a man had a pocketful of nuggets or was only making tucker. I know that he greatly admired the forensic tact in approaching his subject shown by St Paul at Ephesus. Perhaps he was unconsciously imitating it, for, when he had won his way to a good footing with his hearers, he went on to say that after all they were Englishmen and this was their country, and they must get their way and were sure to get their way like Englishmen, not like a foreign rabble. (He probably said “French,” for this was, after all, a mere half-century from Waterloo.) “And what is this miserable rag


  ― 301 ―
doing?” he said suddenly. “Pull it down and haul up the glorious old ensign!” This was done, and a little later my father had the satisfaction not only of receiving the government's thanks, but of knowing that the poll-tax was repealed—Wentworth being no George III to lose a colony just because his mother had brought him up to “be a King, George!”

My father was perhaps thirty years old then, but had begun preaching the gospel on the wharf at Hobart Town—as it was then called—when he was nineteen. Mr Eustace Pinhey, an urbane and debonair man high in the service of the Commercial Bank, knew him some years later and told a friend a story of the Riverina district. My father was driving a buggy and pair through a station, and found padlocked a gate which he was accustomed to find open. The fence was a log fence. My father turned his horses round, but, instead of driving back some miles, drove back about a couple of hundred yards, and then made for the log fence at a hand canter. The horses, faithful to the Church's exhortations fulminating in the rear, scrambled over, and the whole “outfit” landed uninjured on the other side. What such a man would have done to keep his country appointments if his parishioners had mounted him in a military tank instead of in a buggy, may be left to conjecture.




  ― 302 ―

They were a plain-speaking profession, those early parsons. Archdeacon Ross of Armidale, my father's neighbour at Tamworth, when he had been five years in the parish, preached an anniversary sermon, in the course of which he said: “Now I know what some of you are saying to yourselves, ‘there's very little to show for five years of ministration among us—there's just as much scandal and backbiting, just as much cheating in business, just as much social wickedness and sin of all sorts as before he came.’ Very true, my brethren! But I'd ask you to remember that you are the material I've had to work on!”

Another clergyman was still more frank. He was a Wesleyan, and at the end of the Annual Conference various committees had been appointed, each with the usual “power to add to their number.” Then followed the reading of the circuits, with each minister's name and locality. As each name was called, the minister had to say how many children he had, for the purpose of fixing the sustentation allowance which is provided in that church. A tall, vigorous parson answered to the call by saying, “Six, with power to add to their number.”

Of this minister a younger colleague told me that when, at the age of fifty, the former was visiting the other's circuit, the two sat till two in the morning discussing all sorts of questions.


  ― 303 ―
Something was said about mimicry, and the visiting Superintendent mentioned that he himself could crow like a cock. “Let us hear it,” said the host. “Oh no, it might wake some one in the house.” “Well, do it out of the window.” The visitor complied and all the cocks in far-flung Gunning answered the first chanticleer of that spurious dawn.

All the men of that generation had something dashing about them. And old Cobb & Co. driver told me that in Wagga Wagga every squatter had his own pet “pub,” and when, after a dry spell, two inches of rain fell, they would drive four-in-hand into town, put up for a couple of days, and on the first night provide champagne for anyone in the town who walked into the bar. The next day or two would probably be spent in cheering up the bankers who had lent them money on overdraft.

One often hears of the famous Grace before Meat attributed to Robbie Burns. It runs in this way:—

Some hae meat, and canna eat,
And some wad eat that want it,
But we hae meat and we can eat,
And sae the Lord be thankit.

A former colleague on the Inter-State Commission told me a story of an astute Presbyterian minister, in the early days in New South Wales,


  ― 304 ―
who used to adapt his grace to the quality and extent of the provisions that he saw before him on the table. Those were the days when every parson depended upon the invitations of his parishioners as he travelled about in the country, and it was the custom of this particular minister, when he sat down at table, to look and see whether the meal was likely to be a solid, palatable, and comfortable one, or whether it consisted of corned beef and damper, which was, often, the only nutriment offered. If there was a good and promising display of pleasant viands, the clergyman would begin, “Bountiful Jehovah, we Thy unworthy servants express to Thee our gratitude for all the worldly comforts and benefits that Thou hast seen fit to bestow upon us,” and so on for a good four or five minutes. If, on the other hand, the meal was a scanty one, he contented himself with running rapidly through the common formula, “For what we are about to receive,” etc., and these words were said briskly, not with the deference which distinguished the little girl in England, who, having been selected to present a bouquet to a visiting duchess, and having been instructed that it was essential when she spoke to say “Your Grace,” presented the bouquet in due course, and then reminded the duchess “For what we have received the Lord make us truly thankful.”




  ― 305 ―

It is told of Charles Lamb's friend Manning (who afterwards went to China as a missionary, and who was a long lean man of a somewhat unhappy countenance), that when Lamb and his friends were at dinner and about to begin, Manning would stand up, look down the table, and then say, “No clergyman present? Then thank God!”

A grace like this would hardly have given a basis for the famous account which the Russian physiologist Pavlov gives of the reason why Englishmen have such a fine, clear, rosy, healthy complexion. Pavlov studied the matter very carefully, and he said that this was due in great measure to the way in which the Englishman takes his evening meal, at which, said the philosopher, I have often been present. “The Englishman returns from work, and, after having refreshed himself with a hot bath and dressed himself in festive attire, he descends to his dining-room, where the table is loaded with glittering silver and glass, and upon the sideboard stand all kinds of delicious wines and dining vessels of silver. In the dining-room he is met by the womenfolk of his house, who are also arrayed in their brightest costumes. The party sit down to dinner, and you would suppose that the Englishman is now ready to dine. Not at all! The senior man present pronounces a long prayer, during


  ― 306 ―
which all present bend their heads over the table in an attitude which I thought was very conducive to the downward flow of gastric juice into the stomach, and by now the Englishman is ready to dine! I do not doubt that this manner of beginning the festivity largely contributes to good digestion and the resultant complexion which we admire so much in the English race.”

My father's friend, Archdeacon Ross of Armidale, had a habit of taking family devotion in a somewhat perfunctory way. One night when I stayed at his house, at nine o'clock the whole family assembled for family prayers; one of the maids put the Bible and the Prayer Book before him, and while this was going on, and immediately before, we had been discussing together the relative merits of dogs of the Airedale and the Kelpie breed. Then came family prayers; the good Archdeacon read a chapter from St John, and followed it by reading part of the ritual for Evening Prayers. Then we rose from our knees, and, as if the conversation had only been interrupted by some such process as the shutting and the opening of a door, Archdeacon Ross went on unconcernedly, “But after all, Piddington, I am perfectly certain that the Kelpie is really the better of the two.”

In an epoch of freedom and sometimes of wildness tempered by great pioneering purpose Canon


  ― 307 ―
O'Reilly lived and wrought in such a way that there are men and women to this day who not only honour his memory, as Ben Jonson said of Shakespeare, “on this side idolatry,” but whose whole lives were permeated by his inexorable teaching of service and duty. He had in fact the essentials of a protagonist or a martyr of the faith, and yet was “sweet as summer” to all who came within his zone. I knew him personally for six or seven weeks only, but the unblemished rigour of his conduct of life, according to the sternest demands that religion could make on a man of strong passions and intense feeling, made him the man of whom might most fitly be quoted words that Milton may have written out of his own bitter experiences of the loneliness of the reformer:—

So spake the Seraph Abdiel faithful found,
Among the faithless, faithful only hee;
Among innumerable false, unmov'd,
Unshak'n, unseduc'd, unterrifi'd
His Loyaltie he kept, his Love, his Zeale;
Nor number, nor example with him wrought
To swerve from truth, or change his constant mind
Though single. From amidst them forth he passd,
Long way through hostile scorn, which he susteind
Superior, nor of violence fear'd aught;
And with retorted scorn his back he turn'd
On those proud Towrs to swift destruction doom'd.

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