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I. My Reminiscences




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1. Chapter I Personal

THE active influences that bear upon the fortunes of a human life reach backwards in point of time to a past as mysterious as the most distant future. The mental beginnings of each individual life are shrouded in a mystery which no expert in any science or art can explain.

It is quite easy to invent terms under which guesses aimed at the unknown can be catalogued; but in the case of “heredity” and “environment,” as in every other case in which psychology is an element, the greater the penetration of science the more remote the prospect of a complete revelation becomes.

It is perfectly true that psychology, which is the science of the soul viewing the soul as a fact quite apart from its operations, has never had a fair chance. Physiology has had a better following, and has made great strides. But its final word is spoken, as to the nature of the soul—or mind—or life—call the sovereign lord of animated function what you will—when it points to the cellular substance within a man as the medium, for who can believe it to be the origin, of thought feeling and volition.




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Of all the delusions of which human ignorance is capable, one of the most common is that which gives a man full credit, or the entire blame, for what he is, or what he does. The line at which censure or praise should discriminate in summing up a man's good or evil deeds is always vague—it may become infinitely so when the effects of parentage are considered.

The view I am submitting brings no sort of comfort to me so far as my own origin is concerned. My father and mother were Christians whose outward professions were transcended by the nobility and beauty of their conduct in the family circle. They tempered the standards of principle and conduct by which their own lives were governed with boundless reserves of charity and compassion for those who fell short of their high ideals.

An industrious relative has compiled a chronology—the perfect accuracy of which I accept without investigation—which shows that I can claim descent from a shadowy sort of Scottish chieftain who flourished many centuries ago.

To come down to more recent times, and a humbler state, my grandmother, Jean Ronald, was the daughter of a Laird of Bennals, in Ayrshire, of whom Burns wrote:

“There's ane they ca' Jean I'll warrant ye've seen,
As bonie a lass or as braw, man;
But for sense and guid taste she'll vie wi' the best,
And a conduct that beautifies a', man.

The charms o' the min', the langer they shine
The more admiration they draw, man,
While peaches and cherries, and roses and lilies
They fade and wither awa, man.”




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Born in 1800, my father, John Reid, was the son of the John Reid, of The Burn, near Mauchline, who married Jean Ronald. Like ever so many Scottish farmers' sons, my father passed through a University course, and he became a minister of the Established Church. Scotland has no page of history brighter than that which records the spread of education, in the Lowlands at any rate, from the time of John Knox down to the present day. The wisdom which produced in England the Education Act of 1870 was practised in Scotland more than three centuries ago, and just before the Union with England each Scottish parish was compelled to support a school, and although the parish school was under the Kirk Session it is one of the glories of that time that the expiring Scots' Parliament established the schools on an undenominational basis.

It is not at all surprising to those who know anything of the human mind that, as successive generations passed through the parish schools and the secondary schools (established on a Parliamentary foundation in 1496), parental ambitions, aided by religious fervour, sent at least one son to the University, often at the expense of severe hardships. The success of Scotland's children at home and abroad would have been less remarkable, when remarkable at all, if the statesmen of England had begun in real earnest, a few centuries earlier than they did, to educate the children of the other parts of the British Isles.

In my father's days in Scotland the preparation of sermons was an arduous task. The preacher had to address a most critical audience, and was not allowed


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to refer to notes. Irrational though it might be, people expected such deliverances to be as carefully expressed as the last revise of a literary production. This involved two written sermons weekly, committed to memory, besides scrupulous attention to parochial duties.

No better evidence of my father's pulpit gifts could be adduced than this: after his ordination he received six “calls” to churches in various parts of Scotland, including one to Edinburgh.

Wisely closing his ears to more tempting openings, he accepted a call to Linlithgow. Many years afterwards my brother, Mr. H. R. Reid, founder and managing director of the Melbourne Shipping Company, visiting Linlithgow as the scene of our father's first charge, chanced to arrive on a day when the people were saying good-bye to Lord Hopetoun as the just-appointed Governor of Victoria. My brother was invited to the luncheon and made, as he could well do, a fine speech, which formed the beginning of a friendship with His Excellency, which later Lord Hopetoun extended to myself.

In 1843, when the Free Church was formed, a very interesting vacancy occurred in the pastorate of the Tron Kirk, Glasgow, owing to the retirement of Dr. Chalmers. My father was within two votes of succeeding that great man. He was known at the time as “Chalmers Secundus!”

I was born in Johnstone, near Paisley, in 1845, on February 25th. My name-father—English people say godfather—was the Member for Renfrewshire, Mr. George Houstoun. Two months after my birth my




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father accepted a call to the Oldham Street Church, Liverpool, which many of the leading Scottish ship-owners attended. He suffered frequently from bronchitis, and upon medical advice he emigrated to Australia, landing in Melbourne in May, 1852.

The family consisted of my mother, five sons—I being the youngest—and two daughters. I think it was well for us all that our chances in life were thus transferred to a new land containing so many resources, and offering so many advantages to those who could only inherit a good name.

The doctors proved true prophets, for the genial climate soon banished my father's ailment.

Voyaging to settle down in the Antipodes in those days was a most courageous step. There were no steamers in the trade save one—the Great Britain. Sailing ships were thought to make a fair passage if they crossed over in 120 days.

There is no land surface on the face of the globe —and that of Australia is so old that it basked in the sunshine before Europe and Asia emerged from primeval waters—which, before the arrival of the white man, had so few traces of human occupation as that vast island continent to which we voyaged. There were no traces of cultivation, or of industry, or of permanent dwellings.

This unbroken sterility of effort did not mean that the Australian blacks were weaklings, destitute of brains. On the contrary, they had many interesting, even complex laws, customs, and ceremonies. The environment of untravelled seas, cloudless skies, caressing warmth, and female serfdom, made




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the lot of the Australian black-fellow a paradise of sloth.

When the first anchor chain in Botany Bay rattled through the porthole of Captain Cook's Endeavour, a group of blacks on the adjacent rocks, instead of showing surprise or fear, eclipsed the stoicism of the North American Indian—even the self-possession of “a person of consequence” in London society—by the sublimely unconscious way in which they continued their culinary preparations, as if those strange voyagers and their ship were long-expected arrivals!

Cook hoisted the British flag there on April 20th, 1770. A few days before that great event the first collision between British troops and American citizens took place in Boston.

Was it blind chance that secured for the British Empire a new area of 3,000,000 square miles in the Southern just before losing 3,000,000 square miles in the Northern hemisphere?

If I were asked to name the most memorable twenty years in the history of the British people I should select the period from 1757 to 1776. In 1757 Clive founded our Eastern Empire on the fields of Plassy. In 1759 Wolfe founded our Western Empire on the heights of Abraham. In 1768 Arkwright set up a spinning machine that started our industrial greatness. In 1769 Napoleon was born. In the same year, a few months earlier, Wellington was born. In 1770 Cook planted our flag on a new continent larger than the United States are now, and many times larger than the American colonies which, in winning their independence, gave us a lesson that has had




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the happiest effect upon the subsequent growth and development of the British Empire.

The prevailing idea in England when we left was that the emigrant to an Australian colony was an exile who could never hope to see his native land again. Ignorance of the conditions of life on the island-continent is still dense at this end of the world; but then it was appalling. Only seven years of age, the voyage appeared to me to be a glorious, if most perilous, adventure. My dear mother, I well remember, felt all the pangs of a final separation from friends and home. Two years afterwards no power on earth could have torn her from her new life and her new friends! She found, as most others do, that Australia really is “a new Britannia in another world.” Wentworth's fine line, true then, is ever so much more true now.

The people of the British Isles seem to blend more readily their love for the old land with their love for the new lands which become their adopted homes than people of other nationalities. English, Scottish, Irish, and Welsh do not find that the new sentiment supplants the old. Indeed, each seems to strengthen the other practically, as well as emotionally. There is nothing inconsistent in that. The feelings which make rivalries between neighbouring villages keenest ought to make national patriotism strongest. The cricketers of Muggleton and Dingley Dell, whom Charles Dickens has immortalised, were all the better patriots for England because each team fought against the other desperately in order to uphold the prestige and supremacy of the hamlet in which it lived.




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2. Chapter II First Days in Australia

AS I have stated, we landed in Melbourne in 1852. In 1836 it numbered only thirteen buildings, eight of which were tiny huts. In 1841 it had a population of 11,000. In 1851 discoveries of gold in Victoria and New South Wales were announced to the world. The first discovery in New South Wales was made near the Fish River about 130 miles west from Sydney, in 1823. Another discovery was made, not far away, by Count Strzelecki in 1839. Sir George Gipps, the Governor of that day, persuaded the Count to keep his discovery secret, as otherwise the news might prejudice the interests of the settlement! In 1851 Hargreaves, a returned prospector from California, made discoveries on and near the Fish River which could not be suppressed.

There was no such delay in Victoria. Soon after the finds of Hargreaves a gold discovery committee was appointed in Victoria, and a series of splendid results at once followed, which completely overshadowed the yields in New South Wales. The following figures show the value raised in the early stages of the “gold-digging” days:—

1851.—New South Wales, £468,000; Victoria, £851,000.

1851—60.—New South Wales, £11,500,000; Victoria, £93,500,000.




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The difference in those first ten years of £82,000,000 in favour of Victoria helps to explain the dazzling rise of Melbourne, which soon eclipsed in importance the capital of New South Wales, though it could never equal in natural beauty the site of Sydney.

The gold fever seized every class. The ordinary callings were deserted. A vigorous tide of immigration set in. Happily, those who arrived were mainly of a fine type—men who could turn the gold to good account if they won it themselves, or if they failed on the gold-fields could make good money out of the success of the more fortunate. The gold often changed hands, but those who came in search of it proved first-rate colonists, whether they settled in the interior or in the rapidly growing towns. There was a quick rise in the social scale as the adventurer turned into the merchant, the farmer, or the “squatter.” The last was a term of reproach at first, but the squatting class soon became the aristocracy of the Colonies.

In the new land of gold and every other kind of promise there were some who brought with them unlovely tendencies from which the old world had long suffered. If there is one weakness from which “the cloth” of every creed and country cannot quite escape it is the jealousy bad preachers feel when new arrivals who can preach well come to settle down amongst them.

In my father's case the climax of clerical ill-feeling came when, in 1856, he resigned from a most successful Church he had established at Essendon—then called Moonee Ponds—because he disapproved of the existing system of State aid to religion.




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Shortly afterwards my father accepted an invitation from the oldest Presbyterian congregation in Sydney, to become the colleague of the Rev. Dr. Lang, who rendered many public services in those early days in the cause of religion, industrial immigration, education, and by the publication of a newspaper. Dr. Lang was also for many years an active member of the Legislature. “The Doctor,” as he was called, was “a man of war from his youth,” and had a knack of quoting the Scriptures in a manner entirely favourable to himself. He had a masterful spirit and many colleagues who could not stand it. My father was able to remain with Dr. Lang longer than any of his predecessors. When at last a separation came the Doctor wound up a very friendly pulpit announcement in words which I never forgot: “In these painful and difficult circumstances I left my dear friend and brother to the freedom of his ain will—as God did Adam in the Garden of Eden!”

At the time of our arrival in Sydney—1858—the new system of responsible government was less than three years old. The stages from the absolute rule of the Governor, which in its turn was subject to the absolute control of the Colonial Office, down to the grant of local self-government, were few in number.

In 1823 an advisory council was nominated. In 1842 a legislative council numbering some thirty-six members was established: one-third official nominees, twenty-four elected. In 1850 the Imperial Parliament passed “The Australian Colonies' Government Act.” Its main object was to establish a liberal plan of self-government. Incidentally, provision was


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made for the separation of Victoria from New South Wales.

The Legislative Council of New South Wales at that time had on its roll a considerable number of very able men, and was altogether at a level of ability which was, I think, never afterwards excelled.

The gold discovery had quickened the existing desire for complete autonomy, and the Legislative Council urged that the Imperial Government should grant responsible government in a more complete form than that provided for in the Act of 1850. The Governor, they claimed, should cease to be controlled in local affairs by the Secretary of State, and should act on the advice of his Ministers. With wonderful amiability and readiness the Imperial Government suggested that the Council should itself draft a Constitution. This suggestion was welcomed, and a Select Committee proceeded to form a draft. In 1853 the draft was considered and amended by the Legislative Council and transmitted to Downing Street. With some changes it was embodied in an Imperial Act, which received the Royal Assent in May, 1855. Such measures laid magnificent foundations for liberty and expansion, and have enabled the Australian Commonwealth to become perhaps the most prosperous community on the face of the globe.

It is really worth while to mention one remarkable feature of the New South Wales rough draft of the Constitution. It was proposed by the committee, on Mr. Wentworth's suggestion, that the Upper House in the new scheme should consist of hereditary peers! This suggestion provoked a lively


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agitation which proved fatal to the proposal. The substitute was nomination for five years by the Governor in Council, and if no other plan were adopted during that time, then that of nomination for life was to be followed. In 1861 the life system became law. The Constitutional safety-valve which enables the Crown, in the case of the House of Lords, to create an indefinite number of new Peers, was adopted in New South Wales, as the Governor was entitled to summon an unlimited number of new men to the Legislative Council.

The first great political movement under the new Constitution aimed at the removal of the existing limitations upon the franchise. Manhood Suffrage and Vote by Ballot were demanded. Australian Radicals perceived that these were the corner-stones of all their projects.

As a schoolboy I had no triumphs. The methods of teaching are far from perfect now. In my young days they were wonderfully unenlightened. I had no sort of appetite for that wide range of metaphysical propositions which juveniles were expected to comprehend in the middle of last century. “Paradigms” were not included in the grammars of that period.

When thirteen years old I entered a Sydney merchant's office as a junior—very junior—clerk. I could read, write, and count fairly well, but that was all. I could not parse a sentence. I don't know that that was a serious misfortune, because the stilted sort of diction in which schoolmasters excelled in my days was a parody on the English language.




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My first year in an office gave me a real start in life. I seemed to relish knowledge and to respect authority for the first time. Like many another foolish boy, I used to regard the school as a treadmill. When I climbed an office stool I felt as if I had been emancipated from aimless drudgery, and had come amongst people who could really teach me something worth learning.

I had formed definite ambitions and indulged in high expectations some years before. When the mind is very young, and is developing in an intellectual atmosphere, the ambition to excel mentally is the most natural result possible. The eloquence of my father's sermons gave me a bias for public speaking, and I joined a debating club when I was fifteen. There was at first an enormous gap between the speeches of the other members—who were much older—and my own. I was tongue-thrashed for some months without mercy, and in standing up to punishment until I could fight on equal terms, I fought and won, I think, the most important battle of my life. A thinner skin, a keener sense of shame, a less resolute endurance, a more diffident estimate of my abilities, might have spoilt my chances for life. If veterans would only remember their own beginnings, and the quicksands that beset youth, they would surely do more to encourage their juniors to engage and persevere in laudable studies. A more crude novice than I was never began the practice of public speaking. To others who may begin as badly as I did I would like to offer this piece of friendly advice: never give up your efforts to improve your mind; they must


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increase your power. Always remember two things: you can never know the highest possibilities of your nature until you have tried your hardest, and that your efforts must aid you in an upward climb, even if you do not reach any summit of success. May I add a third observation: there is a nobler aim than the world's applause. Moral excellence stands for more than worldly success in the world that lasts longest.

As a boy I attended many of the meetings held in Sydney for and against Manhood Suffrage. Here I received my first impressions of the unbridled eloquence of which political reformers are capable, and the gloomy forebodings which haunt the imaginations of some of their Conservative opponents.

Shortly after the Manhood Suffrage and the Ballot Acts came into force the Land Laws and their working placed political strife on a new footing.

No country, ancient or modern, has had a more dismal record of disastrous blunders in dealing with the public lands than New South Wales. All the other causes of misrule combined were not fraught with so many evil consequences as the law legalising “free selection before survey” over the Crown lands held under pastoral lease. It often happens that there is a real grievance at the bottom of a violent agitation. It was so in this case. The “squatters” had monopolised the vast sheep and cattle “runs,” and those areas included all the best sites for closer settlement belonging to the Crown. Practically the whole available acreage, vast as it was, was locked up in the pastoral leases, or in the shape of freehold grants.




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The process of surveying public lands for purposes of settlement was wholly insufficient for a rapidly increasing and legitimate demand; and men of small means could not cope with the competition of wealthier men when blocks of land were surveyed and offered for sale. The class at the top foolishly tried to prevent the classes below them from getting a footing on the public lands. Pastoral enterprise had done wonders, and the pastoral pioneers were public benefactors; but sheep walks must gradually yield to closer settlement if a country is to advance. Unhappily, the conflict became a bitter struggle between the rich and the poor. Extreme measures were the natural result of a stubborn resistance to just demands.

A vigorous survey of smaller areas best suited for closer settlement, especially farming, and the alienation of these areas, to agricultural pioneers, would have saved the country from terrible mistakes. But the advocates of “free selection before survey” were able, with some truth, to point out that as matters stood only extreme measures could really “unlock” the public estate, then as large as Great Britain and France combined. The question had suddenly become acute, partly because the gold fever was subsiding, but more largely because of the transfer of political power from the classes to the masses. Sir John Robertson was the champion of the “people's cause.” In spite of difficulties of utterance he became immensely powerful, especially as he really belonged to the class he was denouncing.

In 1860, a year before the Robertson Land Acts were passed in New South Wales, free selection of


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surveyed country lands was allowed at the price of £1 per acre. The Alienation Act of 1861 embodied “free selection before survey,” and the Occupation Act of the same year limited the tenure of the pastoral leases which the other Act exposed to the invasion of a new army of free selectors.

The maximum area each selector could purchase was 160 acres, and that carried a pre-emptive right to lease 480 acres adjoining. A man's wife and his children, even infants, could each acquire similar areas. The four corners of a selection could be roughly marked, and every Thursday the local Crown Lands Offices were bound to receive the applications. The price of the freehold was £1 an acre, of which one-fourth was payable as deposit, the balance, with interest, being spread over a term of years.

The two main conditions were actual residence for a period of years and improvements of a certain value per acre; and the selectors, or in the case of those under age their natural guardians, had to swear to the performance of these conditions.

The immediate effect of this law upon the pastoral leases can be easily understood. The vast acreage, often highly improved, over which the herds and flocks of the lessees had roamed without interference, became exposed to sudden and indiscriminate alienation, and security of tenure was destroyed. The more valuable the holdings the more exposed they were to danger, and an army of blackmailers was let loose and had to be “squared.” Can we wonder that the lessees often tried to fortify their position by “dummy” selections taken up in their interests? Can


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we wonder that on all sides the sworn declarations as to the fact of residence, the value of improvements, and the good faith of the occupancy, became articles of commerce?

This brief sketch is given because a very large part of my public life in later years was devoted to the reform of the Land Laws of New South Wales and of their administration, which at the period I entered politics had become the worst in the world, in spite of ever so many good intentions.

In 1869 the demand for land was so great in Victoria that the principle of selection before survey was copied from New South Wales.

The altogether unusual conditions existing in Australia, both natural and artificial, led to the most elaborate methods of tempting land settlers to commit themselves to one form or other of land purchase or lease. The demand for good agricultural land in New South Wales and Victoria has for fifty years been greatly in excess of areas offered. In later years that became equally true in every part of Australia within a reasonable distance of railway or navigation. But there was something to be made out of inferior lands under favourable conditions, and in such cases larger areas and more liberal terms were granted. This has been the case in every quarter of the continent. For instance, in Queensland “scrub” leases could be got of 10,000 acres for thirty years at a rental ranging up to a maximum of 1d. an acre.

Fortunately, there were no complications in regard to title; the aboriginals were as incapable of bargaining successfully as they were of fighting successfully.


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The Maoris of New Zealand were quite the opposite. They were just as keen in making a bargain as they were valiant in warfare. Hence this noble native race still possesses some of the most valuable estates in New Zealand. The disputes over land dealings in that Colony from 1815 down to 1840, led to extraordinary confusion, which even Imperial legislation could not overcome.

The contrast between the expansion of land settlement in the United States and our own land troubles is immense. In North America the backwoodsmen had to carry their rifles in their hands. In Australia life and property were safe, but no one knew in those early days whether the title to his land was equally secure. In New South Wales, at any rate, under the Land Laws of 1861, that was how matters stood.

The spread of indiscriminate settlement caused ill-feeling between the large landholders and the small ones, some of whom took advantage of the absence of visible boundaries. Beginning in blackmailing, and sheep or cattle stealing, a few were ready for more dangerous offences. That state of things was the origin, in my opinion, of the “bushranging” which flourished between 1861 and 1864. The “bushranger” of Australia was a Colonial edition of the highwayman of England and the train-robber of the United States. Some of them had chivalrous ideas, others were the deadliest of ruffians. All were splendid horsemen, well mounted and armed, with sympathisers and hiding places and “bush telegraphs.” The more notorious outrages were prompted by the large quantities of gold


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conveyed along lonely bush roads from the “diggings” to the nearest bank. Others, of even greater daring, reached the length of raids upon towns and villages. The Australian only carried firearms for purposes of sport. Fists, not revolvers, were his fashionable weapons. This gave “robbery under arms” a very good opening.

The most interesting and successful bushranger of those days was a man named Gardiner, who was in many desperate encounters as the leader of several gangs; yet he kept his neck out of the noose when arrested long afterwards in Queensland, where he was running a respectable country store. In 1864 he was convicted in Sydney and sentenced to thirty-two years' hard labour.

Many brave troopers—we had and have as fine a body of mounted police as any in the world—many innocent persons, and suspected spies, lost their lives before bushranging ceased.




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3. Chapter III Read For The bar

RETURNING from my excursion among the bushrangers to my own affairs, when nineteen years of age I was offered the position of acting Assistant Accountant in the Colonial Treasury, during the absence of the Accountant, Mr. James Thomson, on six months' leave. That was in July, 1864. I remained in the Treasury until 1878, when I became Secretary to the Crown Law Offices.

During the period 1864–78 there were not many events that deserve to be recalled either in my own history or in that of the Colony.

I had a salary on which I could live in comfort, and although my ambitions were as strong as ever my love of pleasure was even stronger. What a mysterious conflict that is between the reasoning power, which keeps pointing out the right road, and an ill-regulated emotional faculty, which seeks to drag one along the wrong road. Indulging the wrong habits always makes the upward path so much steeper and the downward path so much easier. How fortunate that man is whose false steps are arrested by a friendly touch of common sense disguised in a flash of satire!

Many years before the event to which I allude I was a witness in a case brought by the Treasury


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against a Sydney distiller. Counsel for the defendant was Sir Julian Salomons, and he cross-examined me very closely. One answer I gave to what looked very like a trap question not only avoided the trap, but completely demolished the case Sir Julian was attempting to make. I was a stranger to him, but he sent me a message to remain in court until the case was over, as he desired to speak with me. When free, Sir Julian said: “Look here, young man; you ought to study for the Bar. If you do I'll help you in every way I can.” I at once replied, “Thank you ever so much—I am now preparing for the Bar preliminary examination.” This happened in the year 1866. As time passed from one year to another the progress I made at one time was forfeited at another by more agreeable engagements. There was none of that spur of necessity which makes all the difference in such cases as mine. At last, in 1877, Sir Julian, to whom I had always replied, “I will soon be ready for the preliminary now,” apologised for his previous inquiries, adding, “You must have thought me very silly. I now hear that you will not begin practice until you are admitted to the Bar of the next world!” I was so impressed by this satirical rebuke that I at once took up my residence with a coach, and soon passed the preliminary. Not long afterwards I passed the final, and was admitted to the Bar in 1879—fourteen years after I had begun to qualify for the preliminary examination

I had a lazy horror of the Greek portion of the preliminary, and, in later years, got an Act passed by the Parliament of New South Wales making


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Logic or French an optional substitute. I took Logic.

My educational record was not quite so black as it appears. My first tutor, the Rev. B. Quaife, leaned to the intellectual sciences, and was glad to neglect my Latin, Mathematics, and History, in order to read courses of lectures on Psychology, Metaphysics, Logic, and Moral Philosophy. Inattentive though I often was, these studies were, I believe, of singular benefit to me in after life. The older I get the more vivid my view of that benefit becomes.

The most neglected of all those studies—Psychology—is one of the most necessary. The scientist, the artisan, the chemist, the surgeon, the physician, the artist, the engineer, the divine, the historian, the poet, the author, the politician, and the actor—each has to acquire knowledge in relation to his trade or profession, more or less; but there is no one study more relevant to each and all as the study of psychology, that is to say, of the human mind, which is the sovereign lord in us of all other facts, and the only link which mankind has with the Supreme Mind. Unfortunately, the mind is the most elusive and unseeable of all existences. Like the Divine Mind, it can be seen by mortal eyes never for what it is, only in what it does.

In all civilised countries education rightly engages attention and provokes discussion. The conflict between the Churches and the advocates of secular education in Australia during 1865 was as keen as in older countries. The Anglicans and Roman Catholics fought for their State-aided Church


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schools, whilst other religious bodies were on the opposite side.

Illustration facing p.22. Rev.John Reid and Mrs.Reid



A brilliant struggle, in which Sir Henry Parkes and Archbishop Vaughan led the respective parties, ended in 1866 in the “Public Schools Act” of that year, which broke all but the last link between Church and State.

On June 18th, 1867, my father died. I can truly say of him that he combined intellectual power with moral rectitude, social sympathy, and religious fervour in an altogether pure and delightful way. When praise comes my way for anything that seems to be good in what I have done, I feel painfully sensible of my almost total failure to do justice to the good example which he set.

The leading teacher of elocution in Australia at that time—Professor T. P. Hill—gave five specimens of pulpit oratory in his book. Four were from famous preachers; the fifth was taken from a sermon preached by my father.

My mother died on June 18th, 1885. The equal of my father in piety, she was, happily for him and for us, his superior in domestic economy. They were two glorious examples of the living reality of Christian belief and the supreme charm of perfect love and trust between man and wife. One very interesting feature in my mother's life of usefulness at home and abroad was this. The second school for ragged children in Scotland, and the first in Australia, were due to her love for friendless childhood.

My first keen disappointment in my efforts to get “out of the ruck” occurred early in 1874. Sir


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Saul Samuel, then Postmaster-General, was charged with a mission regarding our postal services to the United States, and then Great Britain. He asked me to act as his private secretary. The Governor, Sir Hercules Robinson, cordially concurred, and offered me letters to his friends at home. But Sir Hercules informed me later that the Under-Secretary to the Treasury, who was a former political rival of Sir Saul Samuel, declared that he “could not carry on the Department without me.” How very flattering this singular admission if true; how very galling if not quite accurate!

If there is one lesson which a young man should take to heart more than another it is this: make failure in one direction the starting point for success in another. That was what I did.

I set about writing “Five Essays on Free Trade.” Free Trade was a subject on which I had often spoken in debating clubs. New South Wales had always based her fiscal policy upon Free Trade; Victoria had just entered upon a Protective policy. I believed in the former view with all the ardour which beginners sometimes share with experts. Since there was nobody to convince in New South Wales I addressed my essays to the electors of Victoria, with a degree of confidence which must have seemed amusing, if not disgusting, to an adverse critic. Although confidence may be “a plant of slow growth in an aged bosom,” it flourishes luxuriantly between young shoulders. The essays attracted some notice, and some of the acknowledgments were interesting. Mr. Gladstone wrote:—




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“23 Carlton House Terrace,

London, S.W.,

July 13, '75.

“DEAR SIR,—

“I have to acknowledge the arrival of your letter of May 12 and of the accompanying Essays on Free Trade.

“It gives me cordial pleasure to learn from you that the public sentiment of New South Wales is thoroughly favourable to freedom of commerce.

“I cannot but hope that, in any part of Australasia where a different sentiment prevails, the people may shortly discover that they move in the wrong direction. It is rather sad to reflect that after the Mother Country has with so much difficulty and struggle relieved herself from the mischiefs of Protection the moral weight of her example, which has been powerful in Europe, should not have been more effective in checking the disposition of some of her youngest Colonies to create for themselves similar mischiefs. At the same time I am glad that Governments at home have respected their freedom and left them, with whatever regret, in a condition to purchase experience, like every other commodity, in the best or the worst market as they please.

“You are at liberty to make such use of this letter as you may think proper; and I shall be glad if I can find any opportunity of drawing attention or causing it to be drawn to the subject of your Essays.

“I remain, dear sir,

“Your faithful servant,

“W. E. GLADSTONE.

G. H. Reid, Esq.”

I was also elected an honorary member of the Cobden Club.

As part of my education for public life I wrote an essay upon the resources of the Colony, entitled “New South Wales, the Mother Colony of the Australias.” In 1878 the Government published this


  ― 26 ―
essay for distribution abroad. It was widely noticed in a way of which I was very proud. The London Examiner said the diction had a resemblance to that of Macaulay. As that great writer was my favourite author, and had cured me from an unhealthy appetite for works of fiction, I felt immensely gratified. There are some who would say I had not left the realm of fiction when I took to the fascinating English of the greatest of British essayists.

In 1878 I left the Treasury and became the Secretary of the Crown Law Offices—a step into the legal world. I was admitted to the Bar in September, 1879. Thus came to an end the prolonged struggle between my ambitions and my enjoyments. I very nearly “missed the 'bus.” One text often flashed across my remorseful consciousness: “Unstable as water, thou shalt not excel!” If I have excelled in anything I fancy it has been owing far more to the weakness of my adversaries, and the generosity of my friends and supporters, than to any merit of my own.

I felt more anxious about those two examinations than I felt about any other ordeal. My failure in either would have been at once so well deserved and so supremely ridiculous. My first paper in the preliminary was in Latin, the Rev. Walter Scott, the Warden of St. Paul's College, being the examiner. In the afternoon he took me in Mathematics. What a thrill of mingled gratitude and relief I felt when he remarked, “You forgot to sign your Latin paper this morning,” and having signed it I saw that it was marked “Satisfactory.” May his ashes rest in peace for evermore! Then Professor Stephens, of the Sydney


  ― 27 ―
University, who took me in Logic and Constitutional History, and was Chairman of the Board of Examiners, sent a special message announcing my pass.

The only occasion I can remember upon which I went to lunch and could not eat it was on the day fixed for the meeting of the Law Examiners. Before they met, and before luncheon, I was in the chambers of Mr. F. E. Rogers (afterwards Judge Rogers) when one of the examiners, Mr. G. B. Simpson (afterwards Mr. Justice Simpson), came in. Seeing me, the latter led the conversation into a distressing channel. He professed to lament the rigidity of the rule that compelled the Board to pluck every candidate who failed in any one question! The force of habit took me shortly afterwards to lunch, but the certainty of my failure killed every desire for food. The learned examiner made up for his cruel pleasantry, for he came to the Crown Law Offices later in the day in a storm of rain to announce my success. I then enjoyed the sharpest revulsion from despair to satisfaction I have ever experienced. Afterwards I made him my Attorney-General, and then placed him on the Bench. Post, not propter, hoc!

In the beginning of 1880 I took part in a public debate. An eccentric barrister named David Buchanan, who enlivened judicial proceedings by his contempt for points of law, and swayed juries by his natural eloquence, issued a challenge, asking for an antagonist in a public debate on the merits of Free Trade, he being one of the few prominent advocates of the other policy. I accepted the challenge. I was approaching an electoral contest, and was keen


  ― 28 ―
to enter the lists, although still in the public service. No better proof that the fiscal issue was not in party politics could be given than the fact that, although I was a public officer, the share I proposed to take in this contest was not objected to.

As in most other cases, the comparatively small number of Protectionists in Sydney at that time made up for their lack of numbers by their enthusiasm. They arrived early and got the larger share of the space in the hall. The majority of the Free Traders arrived later; many were unable to get in. We were allotted one hour apiece, Mr. Buchanan to open, a vote to be taken at the close. My friends listened quietly to Mr. Buchanan for sixty minutes; his friends listened quietly to me for one minute! I got my “baptism of fire” with a vengeance! To be defeated, as eventually I was, by what the Chairman described as a small majority, was galling enough; but the unfairness of it all made a lasting impression. The immediate effect was a stern resolve to “stick to my guns,” and I occupied my full time in speaking to the reporters—it was impossible to do more.

I got many benefits out of that bitter experience. In facing those hostile and unmanly opponents that night I learned lessons which were of infinite service to me in the long career of political warfare which began later in the year.

In preserving your good temper you achieve at least a “moral victory.” Nothing irritates opponents more. Nothing gives you a better footing with an audience. It always multiplies your chances of getting a hearing.


  ― 29 ―
It helps, especially if good temper is reinforced by good humour, to give what you say at least a pleasant appearance. If you gain a reputation for saying “funny things” you become an agreeable personage even in a pulpit. In politics the openings are boundless. Bores are in a class of infinite variety. But the worst are those who occupy public time. When the ears of an audience are tickled the approaches to its intelligence and sympathy become easier. To those who “joke with difficulty” these observations are not addressed. In a political gathering such persons, nine times out of ten, in trying to be funny fail miserably, and become easy targets for those in the audience who have a sense of humour.

I should like to impress upon young men who seek to enter public life that the only solid ground worth standing on is an ardent desire to be of service to your fellow citizens. If you possess such a desire your ambitions will bear good fruit in any event.

If personal aims and strivings and methods be purified by good motives, your best will achieve its best. Whatever that best may be, your mind should enjoy its activities. Could any fate on earth be more enviable than enjoyments so earned?




  ― 30 ―

4. Chapter IV First Experiences in Parliament

THE year 1880 was one of my best years for two reasons. It saw me start at last upon my professional and upon my political career. The two were part of the same plan. I qualified for the Bar because it was the one occupation which enabled me to enter public life. The first rungs of every ladder to eminence are within the reach of the youth whose parents can “finance” him. The youth who has to earn his own subsistence finds it difficult to get near them. Still, the odds against the latter are not so great as they seem. In new countries the difference is often in favour of the chances of the poor man's son. Sometimes the difference between the man who has succeeded and the man who has failed is the difference between abilities sharpened by necessity and abilities spoilt by good fortune.

If I may allude to myself again, the preparation I made for a legal career was slight compared with my attention to political work. The man in politics who has no profession at all is really the “professional politician,” whether he be rich or poor.

Four or five years before 1880 I gave up my connection with debating clubs. Such clubs are a splendid sort of mental gymnasium, but you can have too much of them.




  ― 31 ―

On November 9th I was invited to become a candidate for East Sydney, the “blue riband” of the constituencies of New South Wales. The next day I resigned my position in the Crown Law Offices, and held my first meeting. There were four seats, and eight or nine candidates, including the Premier, Sir Henry Parkes. The polling day was preceded by an appearance on the hustings. I spoke last, and I suppose that helped me to the best show of hands.

The candidate whose nomination deposit was paid last spoke last. My payment was made as the clock struck twelve, and I therefore secured the advantage. The next thing I sought was a good “cue.” Sir Henry offered me one when he referred to candidates “whom nobody seems to know.” The speaker had recently accepted a K.C.M.G. In his youth he had Chartist tendencies, and his new title had still an awkward sound. Hence the opening of my speech: “Gentlemen, Sir Henry Parkes has referred to me as a man whom nobody knows. May I remind him that thirty years ago he stood on this very spot, a candidate for your suffrages, an unknown and untried man, as I am to-day. Gentlemen, if on that occasion you had not honoured him with your generous support, he would not now be a most distinguished knight of the most sacred Order of Saint Michael and Saint George!”

The polling took place two days later, and as I had shaped well, and had no enemies, I was returned at the head of the poll. A very proud moment for me. But, in returning thanks, I could not help saying, “To be too successful is rather a melancholy


  ― 32 ―
fact, for the higher you place me the greater may be my fall.” I had no reason to complain, however, for in my political career I never left East Sydney and had only one defeat in the fifteen contests, spread over my twenty-nine years of public life. I never had a “walk over,” even in a by-election upon taking office. I do not suppose the whole of my expenses in those fifteen contests exceeded the cost of one election fight in England, if in that one there was a plentiful supply of coin.

In 1880 there were no burning questions. There were two sides, of course—that is always so—but a Coalition Government headed by those two lifelong antagonists, Sir Henry Parkes and Sir John Robertson, dominated the situation. Coalitions in the face of great national dangers are the most proper and patriotic things in the world; but coalitions at other times debase the political currency and prevent the proper working of the Parliamentary machine. It may be said that a Parliament with two evenly balanced parties may do that also, but at least it is not so likely to do both.

Before the General Election of 1880 the main planks of a democratic platform had become fixed. The public lands had been “unlocked,” manhood suffrage was the basis of political power, education had been freed from clerical control, the principles of responsible government had been established.

Considering all these things, the capitalistic interests were “let off” in a wonderful way. They had no land or income taxes to pay. The vast areas of freehold lands in the hands of the wealthier classes


  ― 33 ―
were not even subject to municipal rates, because only 2,000 square miles in 310,000 were under local government. The public Treasury provided roads and bridges, railways, telegraph and post offices, and in many cases even kerbs and gutters for the other 308,000!

Sir Henry Parkes, the Premier, was a man of commanding ability. His tall figure, leonine head, and curiously rugged features added greatly to the impression his speeches made. Some of his accents and idioms revealed the lowly lot from which he rose. He was “self-educated,” but the diction of his dispatches was of a high order of merit. He lacked gracious manners, was too conscious of his superiority, not affable to beginners, not fond of putting people at their ease; but he had some noble attributes, and did some grand things. His extraordinary genius for getting into, and out of, financial troubles led him, as they have led other men, great and small, to do some inexplicable things. But these were forgiven him owing to the great public services he performed, and because he was quite free from any love of money for its own sake.

The new Parliament was opened by Lord Augustus Loftus, the Governor. The self-governing dominions, on such occasions, follow the customs of the British Parliament with singular closeness in all essentials. The openings for display are few and small, but full advantage is taken of them. The two Houses, the summons from one Chamber to the other, the genuflexions, the “Speech from the Throne”—its careful distinction between matters of general policy and matters of finance, between “Honourable Gentlemen


  ― 34 ―
of the Legislative Council” and “Gentlemen of the Legislative Assembly,” its assurances (always broken) of “a due regard for economy,” the final reference to Divine Providence—are all faithfully reproduced.

There were some men of pre-eminent qualities in our public life at the beginning of our free Constitution: Wentworth, the chief author of our political institutions and the legislative founder of the Sydney University; Robert Lowe, afterwards Lord Sherbrooke; the Dr. Lang to whom I have already referred, a Presbyterian divine of many good works and bitter battles, and a born politician, keen to establish an Australian Republic; Henry Parkes, a born leader of the best kind of democracy; James Martin, writer, barrister, Premier, and Chief Justice, wonderfully quick in the action of his mind, impetuous, sometimes therefore arbitrary in his politics, and occasionally very wrong in his judicial utterances, but fitted to stand in the front rank of intellectual power anywhere; Darvall, a barrister and politician with an accomplished wit, which could reach heights of graceful eloquence and depths of abusive satire with equal facility and finish; W. B. Dalley, one of the most delightful speakers, and one of the most charming personalities I have ever met. Those seven great men—Australians by adoption or birth—could not be mentally equalled, or even approached, by any other seven men who have appeared in the public life of the Colony since that time. Fortunately, our public men of the present day, both in the Federal and in the State legislatures, maintain a good standard of capacity and patriotism, and possess abilities


  ― 35 ―
perhaps more useful even than intellectual power, now that politics in Australia have so much to do with an ever increasing multitude of business affairs and administrative details, for which the foundations, as a rule, have been “well and truly laid.”

Coming down to the men who composed the Legislative Assembly I entered in 1880, the prominent men on the Ministerialist side were the two leaders, Sir Henry Parkes and Sir John Robertson; Mr. Robert Wisdom, the Attorney-General; Mr. John Lackey, Secretary for Public Works; Mr. J. P. Abbott, a new man of fine promise; Mr. Edmund Barton (in 1882), who was to play such a distinguished part in State and Federal politics; Mr. J. N. Brunker, a staunch friend and a great authority upon land questions; and Mr. Thomas Garrett, another great authority on such matters, and the possessor of a most acute intellect, also one of the best debaters.

Although my practice in debating clubs of the art of public speaking had extended over many years, I felt quite a novice when first I rose to address the House. The first time of anything is quite different from any other time, in the case of any man likely to succeed. On such occasions diffidence is becoming even when a man is shallow enough to be quite confident. The resolution to which I spoke called for the adoption of the “eight-hour system” in public employments, and of a term in contracts for the public service to the same effect.

In a debating club such a proposition, and indeed every other, could be disposed of on those “broad principles” by which very few things in real life are


  ― 36 ―
finally shaped. In politics, as in most other affairs, broad principles are good things to start with, but common sense often demands that they be adapted, and sometimes succeeds in adapting them, to actual conditions. In the case before the House several public servants were under a heavy strain, whilst others had light and intermittent work. To put one of a number of extreme contrasts actually involved, eight hours in a signal box at a busy railway junction and eight hours on a remote railway platform with two trains a day bear no sort of resemblance to any principle, broad or otherwise.

It is very interesting to observe the course of such a debate. All the rhetorical honours are with the advocates of the “broad principle.” It is the less attractive, but absolutely necessary, duty of others to suggest and enforce just and obvious qualifications. Those qualifications are not always as easy or as popular as the stipulation which attempts, not always with success, to exclude “idiots” in applying the “broad principle” of Manhood Suffrage.

In the case before us the addition, “when practicable,” made the broad principle broad common sense.

In my first Parliament as a private member, I submitted three Bills, aimed at three good objects. One was intended to secure a proper width for all streets and lanes. Another aimed at the reservation of all Crown frontages to our coasts, harbours, and rivers. The third proposed that surveys for new railway lines should carry a temporary reservation of all Crown land to a depth of two miles on each side, to be confirmed, if the proposed scheme were adopted.




  ― 37 ―

Private members at that time had few chances of carrying Bills into law, and the competition for those chances was very keen. When, as in my case, vested interests were attacked, the chances became even more remote.

Aided by the Government and a large majority of members in both Houses, and a Select Committee in each of them, I managed to get the Width of Streets and Lanes Bill through. It was greatly improved. This arrested a serious evil and baulked the greedy appetites of land speculators in their subdivisions for building purposes. For all time the people of New South Wales were protected from narrow streets or lanes. No street could be less than 66 feet, no lane less than 20 feet, and no dwelling-house could be built nearer than 23 feet from the frontage of a lane, thus securing 66 feet of air space even in lanes. In many cases the lane is the only playground of child life.

The state of things in connection with the Department of Lands was so bad and so injurious to the public interest that I determined to begin an agitation for Land Reform. On October 11th, 1881, I moved “that in the opinion of this House a full and searching inquiry into the working of the Land Laws of the Colony is imperatively called for.”

The noble impulse at the back of “free selection before survey” had become paralysed by the most wonderful combination of fraud, chicanery, black-mailing, false swearing, and other evasions of the law, aided by bad administration, the world has ever seen.

The bushranging excesses of 1861–4 become trivia


  ― 38 ―
when compared with the land swindlings of 1870–81. The honest selector had to fight for his life. It was the man who trafficked in land, who outfought the genuine free selector on the one hand and the pastoral lessee on the other, who grew rich. The trade of land agent became very lucrative to the honourable man and a mine of wealth to those who were very unscrupulous—there were so many openings for clever abuse of the law and the regulations, either in the interest of genuine or illegal claimants. Surveys before selection would have prevented many abuses; survey long delayed after selection produced universal chaos. To make things worse, the Land Laws were loosely expressed, and some of the regulations made under them were, perhaps as a consequence, so drawn that no one could understand or reconcile them. Even learned members of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council often had to guess. More than one local Act of Parliament was passed to declare that what the Judicial Committee took to be the intention was nothing of the kind.

In moving the Resolution I pointed out that there were on the business paper five Bills and five motions dealing with our Land Laws. Our best lawyers were hopelessly at variance on important points of construction. A climax was reached when we passed an Act declaring that to have been the law which our own Supreme Court and the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council had agreed could not possibly have been intended. The prevailing system of office work was the perfection of red-tape circumlocution. For instance, the Surveyor-General reported:


  ― 39 ―
“There are nine stages on each conditional purchase and ten stages on each improvement purchase at which all plans and papers touching the case must be brought together.”

Again:

“Draftsmen, employed in charting, have to observe seventy-four rules, of which thirty-six are fundamental.”

All the interest payments upon conditional purchases and all the rentals upon 133,000,000 acres of land were absorbed every year in salaries, fees, commissions, and travelling expenses. Then the great anticipations of agricultural development had been ludicrously falsified. In the gloomy period, 1842–61, the progress of cultivation was as rapid as in the twenty years of free selection. One-third of the selections lapsed or were forfeited. During the past two years, I stated, a fifty times greater area had been forfeited than from 1864 to 1866. I also mentioned that during the four years 1877–80, in which 40,000 free selections were taken up, the increase in the total number of occupiers of land was only 353! Alluding to the rapid sale by auction of some of our best lands, without any real competition, and so worked that the purchase of 1,000 acres secured much larger areas to the pastoral lessee, I pointed out that instead of small settlements flourishing the large estates were assuming immense proportions. Ninety-six persons owned 8,000,000 acres. Out of a recent increase of freehold to the extent of 4,800,000 acres, twenty-six individuals monopolised 2,700,000, more than 100,000 acres each.




  ― 40 ―

As the motion day for private members came once a fortnight, and private orders of the day came fortnightly also, the debate on my Resolution could not be brought to a close.

As usually happens, the Coalition between Sir Henry Parkes and Sir John Robertson, formed in 1878 and then still in full force, had demoralised the Opposition. The best leader available on our side in 1882 was a city merchant, Mr. Alexander Stuart, of the firm of Robert Towns and Company.

My motion for an inquiry into the abuses of our land system, and the discussions upon it, had been taken up by the newspapers, which kept the agitation for land reform alive, and multiplied instances of hardship and chicanery. There had been amending laws since 1861, but they avoided with singular success a grapple with the evils caused by a system whose main provisions were hopelessly absurd, and whose good intentions were universally abused.

At last the Government resolved to bring in a measure to consolidate and amend the Land Laws. The other members of the Cabinet were dominated by Sir John Robertson, the father of all the good intentions and of some of the absurdities of the law and its working. Sir Henry Parkes was too keen an observer to be blind to the need for sweeping changes, and he must have known that it would be dangerous to ignore that fact. But, great man as he was in so many ways, neither when he was fighting Sir John, nor when he was his colleague, did Sir Henry, in dealing with this vital question, do justice to his great opportunities.




  ― 41 ―

In the Governor's Speech the Bill was described as one to consolidate and amend the various Land Acts. I knew well that any such Bill, produced under the auspices of Sir John Robertson, would fall infinitely short of the needs of the situation. I knew that instead of the sweeping changes called for there would be a great deal of consolidation and very little amendment. I thought I was justified in painting the proposed Bill in vivid colours in advance in the debate on the Address in reply. I remarked, correctly as the event proved, that the concessions Sir John would make would be as narrow as he could contrive, and therefore I declared my conviction that the Bill would “consolidate and amend rottenness, perjury, evasion, spoliation, blackmailing, and disaster.”

Sir John Robertson, who had resumed the office of Secretary for Lands, moved the second reading of the Bill on November 8th. It was based on the fond imaginings of its author, who could not see the horrible mess that had been made of his well-meant measures of 1861. Ministers hoped that their proposals to consolidate would checkmate our resolve to reform. They relied upon the prestige of Sir John's name, and upon a disposition to be satisfied with any promises and assurances that came from him. Sir John Robertson's uprightness and patriotism were undoubted, but the belief he retained in the wisdom of his measures, in spite of their disastrous results, does seem extraordinary.

Sir John could not have described the “consolidating” as contrasted with the “amending” of the existing Land Laws more exactly than when he said,




  ― 42 ―

“The Bill will be found to contain the provisions of ten Bills.”

During the course of the debate the Opposition rapidly gathered strength. The overwhelming merits of their case against the Bill, and the general conviction that radical changes were necessary, amply accounted for that. But the resources of the Government were great, and up to the last moment the chances were in their favour. There were a few members, strongly identified with the pastoral interest, who knew how they ought to vote, but were afraid of the consequences. They feared the extremists on our side, of whom the chief was a man who combined honesty of purpose with extravagance of language and recklessness of method. On this occasion the member to whom I refer reached a high level. His earnestness, his knowledge of the question, his assurances of fair treatment for the great interests at stake, decided the issue. Shortly after that speech the House divided, and the Bill was defeated by ten votes. Ministers advised a dissolution, and Lord Augustus Loftus accepted their advice.

The campaign that followed the dissolution was centred upon the one great question. The Opposition did not leave the electors in the dark as to the policy they proposed as an alternative to the Government measure. Usually appeals to the electors on one question are largely affected by other issues. In this case the electoral contest turned upon the central subject to a degree beyond my recollection.

Naturally, I took an active part in the struggle.

The changes I looked upon as most important


  ― 43 ―
were: The stoppage of auction sales; long leases, with security of tenure of the large areas of Crown lands not yet required for bona fide settlement; making the condition of residence on free selections, not for a limited period, but perpetual, on the part of selector or transferees; the transfer of land business from Sydney to provincial centres; stopping, or at least reducing, the openings made for false declarations, and other frauds on the policy of our land legislation.

I often used diagrams showing in a vivid way the results of the abuses of which we complained. They were very effective. The senses help the inner processes of some minds immensely. It is most interesting to watch the effect upon the attention of juries of documents submitted for their inspection. The average juryman feels more at home in scrutinising things he can see and handle than in following chains of reasoning. Some skilful advocates tender, for the inspection of juries, exhibits as if the seales of justice were turned more by avoirdupois than by evidence.

When the contests were concluded the Parkes-Robertson Coalition, which had reigned for four years with absolute power, was utterly smashed.




  ― 44 ―

5. Chapter V Ministerial Offices and Incidents

IN the new House the Government found itself in a miserable minority. An hour before Parliament met the Opposition had a meeting at which it was made evident that Mr. Edmund Barton was available for the Chair, and I was asked to nominate him. I did so with great pleasure, as I felt sure he would make an admirable Speaker.

When the Premier tendered the resignation of the Ministry to Lord Augustus Loftus, His Excellency sent for Mr. Stuart, who accepted the task of forming a new Administration.

Mr. Stuart began by asking Mr. Dalley, Mr. Farnell, and myself to join him, and assist him in the selection of other Ministers. Mr. Stuart honoured me with a request that I should accept the position of Colonial Treasurer. Two reasons influenced my refusal—one a personal, the other a public reason.

I had been for so many years and so recently a subordinate in the Treasury, that I thought it better not to return to that department so soon as Minister. But the stronger reason was that I preferred the junior office of Minister for Public Instruction. Public instruction, a matter of supreme importance everywhere, called in New South Wales at that time, I


  ― 45 ―
thought, for important changes, including a State system of technical education; evening classes in the National University; High Schools to bridge the gap between the primary schools and the University; provision for the teaching of history in a systematic way in all our schools; more economy in the building of our city schools, and less economy in the provision of schools in the remote districts, where emergency tents were often used.

Mr. Stuart expressed his readiness to support me in those objects, and I joined the Administration.

The Ministry was finally constituted as follows:

                   
Premier and Colonial Secretary The Hon. Alex. Stuart. 
Vice-President of the Executive Council Hon. Sir Patrick Jennings. 
Colonial Treasurer Hon. G. R. Dibbs. 
Attorney-General Hon. W. B. Dalley. 
Secretary for Lands Hon. J. S. Farnell. 
Public Works Hon. Henry Copeland. 
Public Instruction Hon. G. H. Reid. 
Minister for Justice Hon. H. E. Cohen. 
Postmaster-General Hon. F. A. Wright. 
Secretary for Mines Hon. J. P. Abbott. 

We were sworn in on January 5th. Mr. Dalley represented the Government in the Legislative Council.

On January 17th the new Ministry met Parliament, and the Viceregal Speech was delivered.

It announced an intention to confine the session, begun at such an unusual and awkward time, to the necessary financial business, leaving the question of Land Reform to a special session. But some four measures were to be carried into law without delay.


  ― 46 ―
Of these the most important was a measure codifying the Criminal Law, which had been before Parliament for a long time. It was a measure prepared with immense care and ability by Sir Alfred Stephen, Chief Justice for more than thirty years, and Mr. Alex. Oliver, our Parliamentary Draftsman.

We made a good start in one respect. Although the session lasted for three and a half months only, every Bill promised for the session in the Governor's Speech was duly passed into law. The difference between the promises made in vice-regal speeches and the actual performances of the session are generally startling.

On February 7th the Treasurer made his Budget Speech. He stated that the accumulated surplus on the Consolidated Revenue Fund at December 31st, 1882, was £1,846,000. For 1883 the estimated revenue left a surplus over estimated expenditure of £336,000, therefore the estimated surplus was £2,182,000, although our Government had practically stopped that great source of revenue, auction sales of land.

During the year an arrangement was made with the Imperial Government, in virtue of which the Admiralty established the Imperial naval base in the South Seas on Garden Island, in Sydney Harbour. We handed that island over, receiving in exchange a valuable site at Dawes Point, the extensive military barracks at Paddington, and other areas of land which belonged to the Home Government.

The next session of Parliament was probably the longest in the history of New South Wales. It extended


  ― 47 ―
from October 9th, 1883, to November 1st, 1884. The proceedings in relation to the 1884 Land Act began on October 11th, 1883, and the Bill passed its final stage on October 14th in the following year. The clash of conflicting interests was terrific, and a multitude of abuses had powerful influences behind them. I omit a review of this vital measure in its final shape in order to deal with the earlier events of that protracted session.

The Budget Speech was delivered by Mr. Dibbs on January 24th. He had to explain the disappearance of the balance of the surplus, in various new appropriations subsequent to the former Financial Statement, and brought forward into the 1884 accounts an estimated balance of £257,000 only. Mr. Dibbs then outlined a scheme of new taxation, including additions to the schedule of customs duties and a tax of 1d. in the £ on all property, real or personal. A number of vexatious duties on imports which yielded small returns were to be abolished. The produce of the new taxation was estimated at £1,000,000.

Ministers were, of course, equally responsible with the Treasurer for the management of the public finances, and the character of taxation proposals; but Mr. Dibbs, who had many fine qualities, was not a “heaven-born financier” at any time. Our proposal to put a direct tax on all property, personal as well as real, was open to so many obvious objections that it reflected no credit upon us, and had to be dropped.

While this unpopular policy was before the country I lost my seat owing to a somewhat peculiar technicality. The holders of certain Ministerial offices


  ― 48 ―
named and five in number were capable of sitting in Parliament, and by a notice in the Government Gazette five additional Ministers could be declared by the Governor in Council to be also capable of sitting. It happened that the office of Minister for Public Instruction had not been so gazetted. The point was raised, and proved fatal.

In seeking re-election I was not allowed a walk-over. My opponent was Mr. Sydney Burdekin, very rich, very generous, and a good landlord in the electorate. He was also a man with no enemies, and no pronounced views—in every way a popular man.

Our taxation proposals were a well-deserved handicap. I was beaten by forty votes. The polling day was February 29th. At the declaration of the poll I was able to offer one consolation to my supporters: an anniversary of our defeat could happen only once every four years!

Several of my fellow members offered to resign their seats in my favour, but I declined those generous offers, preferring to wait for a chance of regaining the confidence of the electors of East Sydney.

I look back with unalloyed satisfaction to my work as Minister for Public Instruction. Some may think that in advanced democratic communities equal opportunities for all have been reached. I do not think so. I do not think they can be reached until the poorest child can enjoy the best education its mental promise warrants. Even when a good education was not within the reach of the poor some wonderful people forced their way to fame, and rendered useful service to mankind. Many minds of rare


  ― 49 ―
quality and value might be discovered if a zealous search were made for them.

The system of public instruction in New South Wales was based on generous lines. Every child was sure of a sound elementary training. But there were, I thought, many gaps to be bridged before we had a truly national system.

I was in office for less than fourteen months, but I managed, with the cordial assistance of my colleagues and the Parliament, to remove in that time all those defects. Tent schools were exchanged for more comfortable buildings. Extravagance in building the city schools was stopped. A conference of school experts vastly improved the standards of proficiency. The teaching of history was enforced. A system of High Schools was established in the leading towns, with special provision for the future of scholars of promise. A national system of technical education was established—the first of the kind anywhere at that time, I believe. The University was opened to the masses by means of evening lectures, leading to the ordinary University degrees. Many thousands of young men and young women have passed through these technical schools and University classes. Sir Joseph Carruthers, who succeeded me a few years later, and Ministers who followed him, have added numerous beneficial reforms. I suppose there is no country where a capable youth can get more help from the State in striving to develop his intellectual powers, and achieve his laudable ambitions.




  ― 50 ―

6. Chapter VI Federal Beginnings

IN the month of November, 1883, an Australasian Convention met in Sydney to consider various questions of general importance. New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania, and Western Australia, also New Zealand and Fiji, were represented.

This gathering was composed of me bers of the various Administrations. The Crown Colony of Fiji having no Ministers, was represented by its Governor, Sir William des V[oelig]ux. There being no system of responsible government in Western Australia, that territory was represented by its Colonial Secretary.

This gathering of Australasian statesmen had two main objects in view, the extension of British annexations and protectorates in the Western Pacific, and the establishment of a Federal Union of limited scope as the beginning of greater things.

Earlier in the year the Premier of Queensland, Sir Thomas McIlwraith, had visited the adjacent island of New Guinea, and, without authority from the Imperial Government, he had hoisted the British Flag and declared the whole of the island, except the part belonging to the Dutch, to be British territory.

This audacious step was promptly repudiated.


  ― 51 ―
However wise the step, the British Government would not sanction it.

The Convention did not attempt to justify Queensland's action, and did not reproach the British Government; but the members unanimously adopted a series of Resolutions favouring a forward policy in the South Seas. Sir William des V[oelig]ux, as an Imperial official, naturally abstained from joining.

The Convention then considered and approved “a Draft Bill to constitute a Federal Council of Australasia.”

Its scope was very small, although other powers could be added by mutual agreement. The only really important duty it included was that of adjusting “the relations of Australia with the islands of the Pacific,” and that was an extremely vague power at the best.

Each of the Premiers pledged himself to take steps to enact the necessary Bill, and all the Colonies but New Zealand and New South Wales did so without delay. New Zealand was too far away to be really in earnest. New South Wales was dealing with its great Land Bill, and the closing day of the session had arrived when Mr. Dibbs, in the absence of Mr. Stuart through a sudden attack of illness, moved that the House resolve itself into Committee of the whole to consider the Resolutions of the Convention.

The debate included a speech from Sir Henry Parkes. He challenged the right of Ministers to appoint to a body which proposed to create a Constitution. He also expressed a belief that the smaller


  ― 52 ―
project would interfere with the larger enterprise of a real federation. His able speech killed the proposals so far as New South Wales was concerned. The Legislative Council approved on a division of 13 to 9 the Government proposals.

Victoria, Queensland, South Australia (for a time), Tasmania, and later Western Australia sent representatives to the Federal Council; but its career was inglorious. The extent to which it paved the way for the greater scheme is a matter of conjecture.

One of the features of the debates in the Sydney Parliament was the strong suspicion expressed as to the bona-fides of Victorian statesmen. These doubts were widespread. I know I shared them. The Victorians put our feelings down to jealousy and petty provincialism. But we thought they pushed a proper regard to self-interest to extremes. We used to call our ways British, their style American. As a matter of fact, our “British” needed quite a lot of their “American”!

There was in 1872 an Intercolonial Conference on the Ocean Mail Service, in which Victoria scored a triumph which touched us in a tender spot. The oversea mails were carried by the P. and O. Company, and the terminus for their steamers was Sydney. By majority the Conference decided that Melbourne should be the terminus, our mails, passengers, and cargo to be sent on by a branch line. From that time our people cultivated a livelier interest in public affairs, and gradually recovered that leading position to which the resources of the Mother Colony fully entitled her.

The second reading of our Crown Lands Bill was


  ― 53 ―
carried by the magnificent majority of 76 to 16. A long struggle then began in Committee. A more intricate series of problems had never been presented to our Parliament in a single measure.

Mr. Farnell had the qualities necessary for his task: sound knowledge of the questions involved, patience, good temper, personal popularity, no imagination, no nerves—cuteness sheathed in simplicity.

The third reading was passed by a majority of 65 to 30 on August 7th, 1884.

The Legislative Council made a number of amendments in the Bill, some of which, on the return of the measure to the Assembly, were brought by Mr. Speaker under the notice of the House as an invasion of its rights and privileges. But so great was the anxiety to get the Bill on the Statute Book that the House by majority refused even to place a protest on its journals.

A short session of Parliament was convened for the purpose of sanctioning the course adopted by the Government in sending a contingent of troops to the Sudan. The Premier (Mr. Alexander Stuart) was absent in New Zealand owing to ill-health, and the Attorney-General, Mr. (afterwards the Right Hon.) W. B. Dalley, was acting Premier. This was the first Australian offer of troops for foreign service.

Mr. Dalley, speaking in the Legislative Council, referred in touching terms to the failure of the expedition sent to relieve General Gordon, “the illustrious man upon whose fortunes and forlorn heroism all eyes had been fixed,” and added, “I felt that the time had arrived when we in these distant colonies


  ― 54 ―
might do something to help the Empire. I was not foolish enough to suppose that our aid was essential, but I believed that it would be at least acceptable. I did not think that England required our help; but I indulged in the ambition that she would be pleased at our tendering it. I felt that the time had arrived when a great opportunity was afforded of showing in the first place to England herself, and in the second to the world, what were the true relations of the Colony to the Empire—that we were not a weight on the arms of England, and an encumbrance of her glory—that the Colonies were not the impedimenta of her triumphant march, but that they could give substantial and valuable and immediate aid in moments of disaster and difficulty.”

The dissolution of Parliament later in the same year, 1885, gave me a chance of returning to the Legislative Assembly. I stood for East Sydney again, and was returned second on the poll for one of the four seats. Thus was restored my connection with East Sydney, which continued for twenty-four years afterwards.

When Parliament met on November 17th very few changes were seen. The two important ones were the transfer of Sir Alexander Stuart, who had resigned the position of Premier, to the Upper House, and a similar step in the case of Mr. Farnell.

Mr. Dibbs had become Premier; Sir Patrick Jennings, Colonial Secretary; Mr. J. H. Want, Attorney-General; Mr. J. P. Abbott, Secretary for Lands; Mr. Lyne, Secretary for Public Works; Mr. John See, Postmaster-General. Mr. George Thornton became


  ― 55 ―
the representative of the Government in the Legislative Council, in place of Mr. W. B. Dalley, who resigned office owing to failing health, but retained his place in the Council, where his brilliant oratory and delightful personality had made him universally beloved.

Photograph facing p.54. Sir George Reid in a characteristic speaking attitude



Mr. (afterwards Sir George) Dibbs remained in the Treasury. He was what one would call “a strong man”; but he lacked tact, and his good qualities as a man never made up for his failures as a Treasurer. One of the many good points in Sir George Dibbs was his voluntary payment in full of his creditors, many years after his estate had been released. Sir Patrick Jennings, another good fellow personally, had more tact than Mr. Dibbs, but he lacked force. Sir Patrick, who was the very soul of amiability, had succeeded “on the land.” He was a leading Roman Catholic citizen, and was created a Marquis by Pope Leo XIII.

Mr. (afterwards Sir William) Lyne was a singular mixture of good nature and wiliness. He succeeded both in State and Federal politics to an extent beyond the range of his abilities, considerable as they were. I cannot help thinking that if he were alive he would probably say the same about me!

Mr. John See was a successful merchant, and was generally esteemed. Although we became strong opponents in politics, I asked him, in the thick of our party fights, to act as my arbitrator in a case connected with an election campaign account. One could not give a better proof of his good opinion.

The Address in Reply to the Governor's Speech was the subject of an amendment declaring want of


  ― 56 ―
confidence in His Excellency's Advisers. The result of the division showed how near Ministers were to defeat, because in a total vote of 114 they had only a majority of 2.

On December 14th Mr. Dibbs delivered the Budget Speech estimating the finances of 1886 and dealing with those of previous years. The Treasurer dwelt upon the ravages of a recent drought which had destroyed live stock numbering many millions. Then came the startling announcement that an estimated surplus for 1885 of £87,000 had been converted into an estimated deficiency of £1,052,000.

There was one night's debate on the Budget Speech and then the Premier announced that he had tendered his resignation and that of his colleagues to the Governor.

On the 22nd Mr. Fletcher announced to the House the names of the new Ministry.

This Ministry was a very weak one. Sir John Robertson had to encounter many refusals. Sir Henry Parkes, who would have been a tower of strength, would not join.

Mr. Burns delivered the Financial Statement on February 4th, 1886. The first startling disclosure was that Mr. Dibbs's estimate in November, 1884, of the revenue for 1885 was £896,000 more than the receipts. The Treasurer stated further that the Estimates of Expenditure for 1885 had been so under-estimated that the Supplementary Estimates for that year came to the unprecedented total of £841,000.

Mr. Burns made the following proposals for new taxation:—




  ― 57 ―
  • 1. A tax of ½d. in the £ on real estate of all descriptions.
  • 2. A tax at same rate on the capital of Banks and on the value of goods in warehouses.

With an exemption of £500 Mr. Burns expected from the above sources an addition of £500,000 to the revenue. Increases in stamp and probate duties were to yield £150,000 more. Any further moneys required were to be raised by means of Treasury Bills.

Mr. Garvan moved a vote of censure on the policy proposed by the Government. I did not speak, but I supported the censure, which was carried by 52 to 44. Sir John thereupon applied for a dissolution to Lord Carrington, which His Excellency refused to grant. The Premier then tendered the resignation of the Ministry. In the course of the interview between the Governor and the Premier, the former said, “Now, Sir John, man to man, if I were in your place and you were in mine, and I asked you for this dissolution, would you grant it to me?” Sir John at once replied, “I'd see you d—d first!”

Sir Patrick Jennings was sent for. He made an attempt to form a Coalition Government consisting of Sir John's supporters and his own, which failed; but after many refusals formed a Ministry. One of the evil consequences of the unsettled condition of parties was the delay in dealing with the public finances. The third attempt for 1886 was made on April 6th by Sir Patrick Jennings.

The estimate of a deficit of £1,269,000 on 1885, made by Mr. Burns, was more than confirmed, Sir Patrick stating it finally at £1,309,000.




  ― 58 ―

There is no doubt that the Treasurer faced the very serious position of affairs in a more full and comprehensive manner than his predecessors. Mr. Dibbs made no serious proposals, and ran away from his post. Mr. Burns made an honest attempt to cover the deficiency, but it was not a feasible one, being almost as bad as our proposals in 1883, when Mr. Dibbs was also Treasurer. The proposals of Sir Patrick were broadly as follows:—

  • 1. Increased duties of Customs.
  • 2. Land tax, ½d. in the £ on the unimproved value, with an exemption of £1,000.
  • 3. Income tax, 4d. in the £, with a £300 exemption.

The estimated yield each year from the land and income taxes was from £400,000 to £500,000, stamp duties £130,000, and increased revenue from customs about £500,000, making an addition of about £1,100,000 to the annual taxation.

We had reached a stage at which something had to be done, and that was all in favour of Sir Patrick's chances. But as the Upper House was constituted the chance of passing the duties of customs was vastly better than that of passing the taxes on land and incomes. Those in favour of “Protection” liked that, but those in favour of making the richer classes bear a fairer share of the public burdens did not. Sir Patrick could never be got to give a clearer pledge as to his adherence to all his proposals than this, “They will be taken pari passu!

My view was that the amount of new taxation proposed was too large for the emergency, and that


  ― 59 ―
interference with our tariff was unnecessary and undesirable. I was heartily in favour of the land and income taxes.

The debate on the taxation proposals occupied the attention of the Committee of Ways and Means for a considerable period.

The Treasurer declared that the duties of Customs were only put forward as a temporary measure, whilst the direct taxation was to be part of the permanent policy of the country. I strongly opposed the duties, pointing out that as the shortage on the year 1886 was estimated at £184,000 only, the direct taxation proposed would meet that and provide £446,000 a year in reduction of the deficiency of £1,300,000 on the previous years.

The proceedings in Committee on the Customs duties were of an extraordinary character: protracted speeches, violent scenes, even more violent language. The Bill emerged from Committee on July 29th, and it was passed by the Legislative Council with the utmost dispatch. When the Land Tax Bill came before the same body it met with a different reception, the Committee resolving by 23 votes to 7 to read the Bill “this day six months”! The Income Tax Bill never reached the Council at all.

Parliament was prorogued on October 25th, the session having, under weak guidance, lasted within a few days of twelve months.

On my return to the House, I sat on the Government side, as the Land Policy for which I had fought so earnestly was not safe if Sir John Robertson or Sir Henry Parkes returned to power. Also, and


  ― 60 ―
largely, because my former associates in office and in Party politics were on the Government side of the House.

The financial proposals made by Sir Patrick Jennings had, except as to the duties of Customs, a strong attraction for me. A singular state of things existed. The Colony, although under manhood suffrage since 1858, was a perfect paradise for capitalists and the land-owning classes. Even moderate proposals for land and income taxes had been rejected by the Legislative Council. There was no country in the whole world in which the “masses” carried a larger and the “classes” a smaller share of the burdens of taxation. There was another factor greatly aggravating that state of things. As I have already stated, only about 2,000 square miles in 310,000 had been municipalised. The whole of the cost of railways, roads, bridges, post offices, schools, police, harbour and other public works, and the maintenance of all those services, came out of the public Treasury.

That was a terrible blunder in our law which stipulated that no area could be incorporated unless its inhabitants presented a petition to the Governor praying for incorporation. If an adverse petition more numerously signed were sent in no order could be made! Bills for compulsory systems of local government had been promised for many years before and many years after 1886. They were often introduced, but never passed. This disastrous and demoralising state of things lasted until 1905.

As the session advanced, I found the chances of the land and income taxes diminish and the driving


  ― 61 ―
power behind the Customs duties increase. The issues lying beneath those loose expressions, “Free Trade” and “Protection,” began to force their way to the top. I came at last to the conclusion that I could not continue to support the Government, and made this clear on the second reading of the Bill.

Although the Government closed the session with a much stronger following in the House, that was by no means the case anywhere else. The three leading Sydney dailies and a large majority of the country newspapers, conducted a powerful and destructive campaign against the Government. I must mention the Sydney Morning Herald, the Sydney Daily Telegraph, and the Evening News as the three great dailies to which I refer.

During the recess the Cabinet fell to pieces owing to a matter quite foreign to political affairs—an outside agitation and an inside division of opinion in regard to sentences of death passed upon certain youthful offenders. The end of it all was that Sir Patrick, who was on the side of mercy, broke up the Cabinet, and on January 15th, 1887, Sir Henry Parkes was sent for.

The position was a difficult one. In the previous session Sir Henry and his followers were in a decided minority. The new Ministry was a weak one; Sir Henry Parkes and Mr. Thomas Garrett were the only strong men in the team. Sir Henry's attempt a few years before, to expel Mr. Garrett from the House interfered greatly with the prestige of Ministers.

Sir Henry Parkes had raised the fiscal issue as the main plank in his platform, and I determined therefore


  ― 62 ―
to support him. But when he asked me to join the Ministry I declined. For one thing, there was no sort of cordiality in our relations, and I felt that it was better to avoid assuming a position implying a state of things which did not exist.

On January 26th the Parliament was dissolved. In the elections that followed the battle raged over the fiscal issue, Sir Henry having raised the flag of Free Trade and “nailed it to the mast.” I warmly supported him, as I absolutely and enthusiastically believed in that principle, especially as applied to young countries blessed with great natural resources.

The result of the General Election was an over-whelming majority in favour of the Government.

The new Parliament met on March 8th. On the 30th the Colonial Treasurer (Mr. J. F. Burns) delivered the Financial Statement. The deficiency on the accounts for 1885 was stated at £1,707,000. Taking this deficiency and the deficiency on the year 1886 together, the total was no less than £2,568,000!

The Treasurer's proposals to repeal the customs duties passed in 1886, substituting revenue duties only, became law.

In this session Sir Henry Parkes brought in a Bill to provide for the celebration in 1888 of the first centenary of the foundation of the Colony. His proposals included: (1) Acquiring permanently a public park, then known as Moore Park, quite near the City; (2) the erection of a national building, to be called the “State House,” including (3) a great Hall for national assemblages; (4) a museum for historical purposes; (5) a gallery for the reception of


  ― 63 ―
statues and pictures of eminent men, also (6) a resting place for “eminent persons who shall have been ordered a public funeral by both Houses of Parliament.”

In speaking to these proposals, I suggested that the park should be known not as the “Queen's” Park, but as the “Centennial” Park, and that was the name adopted. I urged that a Technical College should take the place of the State House.

The Bill was passed by both Houses in the form proposed by the Premier. I may add that of all these projects only one was accomplished—the Centennial Park.

The Premier desired also to alter the name of the Colony from New South Wales to Australia. The proposal aroused indignation in the other Colonies, and was so manifestly absurd that it was abandoned.

During the session another Supreme Court judgeship was created. As in a former case—that of Mr. Edward Butler, his Attorney-General in a former Ministry, and Sir James Martin—Sir Henry Parkes had encouraged his Attorney-General, Mr. W. J. Foster, to believe that he would be preferred; and again Sir Henry, in the estimation of the public, made a better choice—Mr. M. H. Stephen, Q.C., rather than Mr. Foster. The correspondence was very interesting. When Sir Henry wrote of another possible vacancy, Mr. Foster, who was a man of perfect uprightness, and generally very careful in his language, quoted in reply the homely adage, “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush,” and resigned.

In November, 1887, Sir Henry moved the second reading of the “Australasian Naval Forces Bill.” The Bill provided that the Mother Colony should, in


  ― 64 ―
unison with the other Australasian Colonies, make an annual contribution to the Imperial Government towards the maintenance of a squadron of the Royal Navy in Southern waters. Various stipulations were made as to the area of operations and the strength to be maintained, and the agreement was to endure for a period of ten years. Our contribution, which was to be £35,000 a year was based on a total cost of the new ships, £700,000 at 5 per cent. The previous force was not to be diminished in any way. This agreement began out of negotiations conducted by Admiral (then Commodore) Tryon, when that lamented sailor commanded in our waters. It marked a most interesting evolution in Imperial defence. At first both military and naval defences were entirely at the cost of the Home Exchequer. In 1870 we undertook local military defence and coast fortifications. In 1887, we were undertaking a share, however small, of Imperial responsibility. In that respect it was an event of singular interest and importance. Sir Henry considered it “a noble opportunity for us in reality to join in a true federation with the other Colonies for our united defence.” The Bill was passed by a large majority.

The session, which closed on July 24th, 1888, was memorable for many things on which I need not dwell. Two invaluable measures were passed, one placing the management of the State railways in the hands of three independent commissioners, the other referring all proposals for the expenditure of public money on public works, exceeding in any case an estimate of £20,000, to a Standing Committee of both


  ― 65 ―
Houses. These two were amongst the best measures Sir Henry Parkes ever passed.

The proceedings of the Assembly at this time were a singular study in everything that ought to be avoided. The firm methods of that accomplished Speaker, Mr. (now Sir Edmund) Barton, were greatly missed. His successor, who was equally anxious to do his duty, lacked his judicial temperament and his tact.

The third session of the thirteenth Parliament opened on October 23rd. Lord Carrington, in reading the Viceregal Speech, made a prominent reference to the need for water conservation and irrigation works—in Australia questions of the first importance, because of the flatness of the interior, the absence of mountain ranges, the scarcity of surface water, the uncertain and slender rainfall away from the coast, the rapidity of evaporation, the sparseness of the population, the rarity of rivers, and the cost of labour. High wages are a splendid indication of national well-being. But Nature, which helps so many other forms of enterprise in Australia so generously, fights hard against the pioneer in water conservation away from the artesian area.

The intention of the Imperial Government to appoint Sir Henry Blake, Governor of Hong Kong, to Queensland, awakened strong opposition in that Colony because of his former connection with Irish affairs. The movement was so strong that the Imperial Government had to withdraw Sir Henry's name.

Out of the appointment of the Railway Commissioners arose a storm in a teacup, which ended in the defeat of the Government. But so quickly did events


  ― 66 ―
move in those days that the new Ministry formed by Mr. Dibbs was itself unable to survive, and the House was dissolved.

During the session which preceded the elections the Right Hon. W. B. Dalley passed away. I have already referred to his brilliant gifts and lovable character. My intimacy with him as a colleague during the year 1883 only added to the admiration with which I had regarded him at a distance.

The result of the elections was not favourable to the new Administration, but the Ministry did not resign. When the House met the Government was defeated on the Address by 68 to 64 votes. Thereupon Sir Henry Parkes formed a new Ministry, and one much stronger than usual.

Sir Henry Parkes again invited me to take office, but I declined.

The Financial Statement was delivered by the Treasurer on April 10th, 1889. He placed the accumulated deficiency at £2,600,000. His estimates of revenue and expenditure for the year then current left an estimated surplus of £25,000. Fiscal reforms he postponed until the following year.

After many rejections of a Payment of Members Bill the Legislative Council surrendered and passed the Bill. It provided an allowance of £300 a year. I opposed the Bill strongly, and urged that if it must pass it should not take effect until after the General Election, when the people would have the wider choice which was the strongest point in favour of the Bill. The majority would not consent to that. I drew my allowance for the current Parliament and then repaid


  ― 67 ―
the amount into the Treasury. Simply to refuse to draw the money leaves the member in a position to take it afterwards. In one case a member, who had refused years before to receive the allowance, actually did apply for and receive the accumulated arrears.

Parliament was prorogued on October 10th, and reassembled at a very unusual date, the 26th of the following month.

The deficit of £2,600,000 was included in a Treasury Bills Deficiency Act, and repayment out of revenue at the rate of £150,000 a year was provided for.

The only vote of public money by our Parliament towards the erection of a statue to a public man was agreed to in the session under notice, in honour of the memory of the Reverend John Dunmore Lang, D.D. Dr. Lang's career covered a long period in the history of Australia. A Presbyterian minister, yet a politician, a member of Parliament, and a newspaper conductor, the father of a scheme of immigration quite the best in our history, a man who sacrificed a private fortune in the cause of education, who had a craze for separation from the Mother Country, a fearless exposer of abuses in high places, an eloquent and humorous speaker—Dr. Lang, on the whole, well deserved the singular honour bestowed upon his memory. When he was reproached for mixing his sacred duties with those of politics, he quoted Dr. Arnold of Rugby for the proposition, “the desire of taking a part in the concerns of government is the highest desire of a well-regulated mind.”




  ― 68 ―

7. Chapter VII Federation Takes Shape

THE rapidly increasing growth of public opinion in favour of a much larger measure of federation than that of the Federal Council was shown by a paragraph in the Governor's Speech at the opening of the Session. Negotiations with the other Australian Governments were announced “with a view to this momentous step in national life being taken at no distant date. The birth of a nation is an epoch which can have no succeeding parallel, and the national sentiment awakened in the parent colony is a sure presage of the august time which is approaching in her fortunes.”

Sir Henry Parkes proposed a Conference between the various Governments, to be followed by a Parliamentary Convention. The Federal Bill produced by that Convention was to be transmitted by Address to Her Majesty, with a view to Imperial legislation passing it into law.

Mr. L. F. Heydon, a member of the Legislative Council, moved a Resolution asking the House to place on record its objection to any form of federation which would include power to deal with our boundaries, railways, public lands, or tariff. He advocated an “offensive and defensive alliance.” Voicing views then generally and strongly held in New South


  ― 69 ―
Wales as to the grasping policy of Victoria, he dwelt on the danger of aggrandising Victoria and Melbourne at the expense of New South Wales and Sydney. Alleged designs on the South-Western districts (known as Riverina), on the trade of those districts and others, and on our river system, formed the backbone of Mr. Heydon's speech.

Although short, this session of the Legislative Assembly was a very disorderly one. One feels now more than ever astonished at the venomous verbosity which its records reveal. I could not help frankly expressing my opinion to the House:

“There is more unfairness, more reckless and utter disregard of the common decencies of fair play in political circles in New South Wales than there is in the lowest circles of the country.”

The strange anomaly was that, taking the House as a whole, no body of men could be more generous in spirit or forgiving in practice. Indeed, these good qualities ran to such an extreme that to offend outrageously, provided you apologised afterwards, seemed a far more popular proceeding than to act so as to avoid offending and apologising. During these later sessions, as previously, Sir Henry Parkes and Mr. Dibbs made sometimes the most awful onslaughts upon one another, and yet, as a rule, both leaders were generous, even chivalrous.

At the close of 1889 Sir Henry Parkes made memorable speeches bringing the larger project of federal union under public notice. He also got in touch with the various Governments, including that of New Zealand, and brought about a meeting of


  ― 70 ―
Ministers in Melbourne in the month of February in the following year. Resolutions, for submission to the respective Parliaments, were adopted. The necessity for a real union, with legislative and executive powers, was affirmed, and the members of the Conference undertook to obtain Parliamentary sanction “for a national Australasian Convention to consider and report upon an adequate scheme for a Federal Constitution.” It was also agreed that the delegates should be selected by the Parliaments from both sides.

Sir Henry Parkes submitted the matter to our Legislative Assembly on May 7th, a few days after Parliament met, and named the following members in his motion, in addition to himself: Mr. McMillan (the Colonial Treasurer), Mr. J. P. Abbott, and Mr. J. P. Garvan. Sir Henry sought to justify the omission of the leader of the Opposition, Mr. Dibbs, on the ground that he was anti-federal.

Another important part of this Resolution was that the Constitution drafted by the proposed Convention should be submitted for the approval of the Parliament of each Colony.

In addition to the four named for the Assembly the Legislative Council was to be asked to nominate three members, and the Government proposal was that those three should be Mr. W. H. Suttor, the Vice-President of the Executive Council; Mr. Edmund Barton, the former Attorney-General; and Sir Patrick Jennings, Prime Minister in 1886.

Mr. Dibbs strongly resented the omission of his name. He denied that he was an opponent of federation.


  ― 71 ―
He considered that Parliament was exceeding its mandate, and that the people possessed a right to be heard before any step was taken. Passing that by, he said he was in favour of federation, but he declared that if we departed from our present state it should be to form the United States of Australia “with a flag of our own.”

In spite of the opposition of the Government, the delegates were chosen by ballot. The name of Mr. Dibbs was inserted and that of Mr. Garvan was removed.

The Financial Statement delivered by Mr. McMillan on the accounts for 1889 and 1890 (estimated) was very satisfactory. It showed as to 1889 that the Treasurer's estimated surplus was better than he expected, and as to 1890 that there was every hope of a substantial surplus, in spite of the charge of £150,000 as the first of a series of annual payments in reduction of the deficiencies of 1888 and previous years. Another good feature was the absence of those large supplementary estimates which had upset our finances so often. One of the causes of financial confusion and uncertainty was the fact that votes for expenditure were kept open for uncertain periods.

Mr. McMillan made a step in the right direction by inserting in his Appropriation Bill for the year a clause enacting that balances of votes for 1890 should be written off on December 31st, 1891, payments under contracts still unfinished to be a charge upon the following year's accounts.

During the same session I moved Resolutions impressing


  ― 72 ―
upon the Government the need of law reform, which were cordially agreed to.

Radical changes had been made in other Colonies on the lines of the Judicature Acts of England, but it was not so in New South Wales, which had adopted the English Common Law Procedure Acts of 1853 and 1857. The old distinctions between Courts of Law and Courts of Equity were continued. The ancient forms of pleading were still followed. On that point I found eminent judges and lawyers, both in England and Australia, who much preferred the ancient system of pleadings to the new method of Statements of Claim and Defence.

This session was disfigured, as so many others were, by wild imputations made against the personal probity of hon. members of the House. It was in those days a lamentable weakness of some members that they seemed to delight in extravagant personalities, which were nearly always ill-founded. There were only a few offenders, but their activity and recklessness were extraordinary. The Legislative Assembly of New South Wales, tried by the standard of such attacks, was one of the worst bodies in the world. In actual fact, as I have already said, it was a very honourable and, but for a few wild spirits, well-conducted body of men.

The “Australasian National Convention” met in the Legislative Assembly Chamber, Sydney, on March 2nd, 1891. The six Colonies were represented, also New Zealand. The delegates, as I have stated, were chosen from both sides of the Houses.

Although New Zealand took a full share in the


  ― 73 ―
deliberations, she had no intention of joining in a federation with Australia. The distance of 1,200 miles, the absence of any special interest in common except that of defence, made any such union impossible.

The two men with the greatest careers behind them were Sir Henry Parkes and Sir George Grey. The former had evolved from Radicalism of the Chartist type to Liberalism of a broad but rather conservative type. The latter had made a far more violent transition from the despotic type of Colonial Governor to the most extreme Radicalism conceivable. Their venerable years, and picturesque appearance, and vivid force of intellect, all combined to save them from that handicap of advanced age and growing infirmity which suggests second childhood.

Sir Samuel Griffith, the Premier of Queensland, was in the prime of life, and possessed perhaps the most acute intellect of all.

Mr. Gillies, who was not then, but for many years had been, Premier of Victoria, was probably quite the best all-round man in the whole Convention. In point of eloquence and charming personality no one could surpass Mr. Alfred Deakin, also a representative of Victoria, and afterwards more than once Prime Minister of Australia. Mr. Edmund Barton, of New South Wales, who afterwards was the first Prime Minister of Australia, was not so eloquent as Mr. Deakin, but was quite as able, and counted for more in the strenuous phases of a public career. In point of personal charm, combined with intellectual weight, I should assign to Mr. Barton an even higher place than Mr. Deakin.




  ― 74 ―

Charles Cameron Kingston, the Premier of South Australia, could hold his own in any intellectual or political struggle. In a larger sphere than the South Australian he would have been a much greater man. As communities diminish in size, personal antagonisms seem to increase in violence. Mr. Kingston, who had a perfect mania for short cuts—in spite of which he was one of the best Parliamentary draftsmen I ever knew—seemed to arouse ridiculous hatreds amongst his political opponents, although a delightful companion for everybody else. I liked him immensely. He was a Radical of the most advanced school. Mr. R. C. Baker, another South Australian delegate, and afterwards the first President of the Senate in the Commonwealth, had made a special study of federal constitutions, which he summarised to the great advantage of the movement.

Mr. A. J. Clark (afterwards Mr. Justice Clark), of Tasmania, was also a man well up in all such studies.

Sir John Downer, several times Premier of South Australia, was an able lawyer, and everyone liked him in spite of the bluntness of his speech.

Mr. Dibbs was more than once Premier of New South Wales. He was another man whom everyone liked, in spite of his roughness of speech and crude methods. His great ability would have made him far more useful than he was if he had blended with his force of character a remembrance of the fact that his head was not strong enough to upset stone walls.

Her Majesty had not a more loyal subject; but Mr. Dibbs had a Republican tendency, and indulged in dreams of a glorious future in which the “United


  ― 75 ―
States of Australia” would flourish as an independent nation.

Dr. (now Sir John) Cockburn, a former Premier of South Australia, was, and is, gifted with abilities which make him valuable as an ally and formidable as an opponent. He was a politician whose love of humanity was as bright as his visions of its future.

Sir Alexander McIlwraith was of a different type altogether—a keen man of business, not at all susceptible to visionary ideas. He was one of the few Australian merchants who excelled in the political arena.

Sir William McMillan was another merchant who became a considerable figure. We had been friends from boyhood. He took charge of the business of the Convention when his Chief was in the Chair.

Mr. John Forrest was Premier of Western Australia, recently raised to the rank of a self-governing Colony. His exploits as an explorer were extremely interesting, and greatly helped him in his political career. His very long term of office as Premier was of signal benefit to that one-third of the whole Australian continent. Its capital, Perth, was near Fremantle—the last point of departure from, and the first point of arrival in Australia, on the southern route. This gave Mr. Forrest—later he became Sir John—many chances of offering hospitable attentions to visitors, of which he made a most generous and agreeable use.

The intellectual level of the members of the Convention, viewing it as a body, was very high indeed.

There were several cross-currents which quite


  ― 76 ―
upset the ordinary political equilibrium of the delegates. Men who were red-hot Democrats where the Houses of Parliament in their respective Colonies were concerned, in working out a plan for the two federal Houses found themselves in close sympathy with the most Conservative elements of the Convention, the obvious reason being that the Conservatives were nearly all from the smaller States, and so were nearly all the Radicals. Antagonistic in the provincial arenas, they worked together in the federal gathering, to give the Senate—in which all the Colonies were to have an equal number of representatives—as large a share of active power as they could get for it. For the same reasons they were reluctant to put in black and white the principles of responsible government, although these were universally in operation in the Colonies. This reluctance sprang from the fact that a Government which was responsible to Parliament could only be made responsible to one House—that was clearly perceived. To make it only responsible to the House of Representatives, as Sir Henry Parkes suggested, was therefore very distasteful to a large majority, and it was afterwards struck out of his series of resolutions.

Then a very Conservative method of electing the Senators was adopted. They were to be chosen in each State by the two Houses of Parliament. This brought in all the nominee Legislative Councils—most conservative bodies—and the elected Upper Houses, also conservative chambers elected upon a restricted franchise. The Premier of Victoria, Mr. Munro, got so impatient at the strong Conservative tide that


  ― 77 ―
had set in, that he threatened to “pack up his carpet bag.”

The tariff came up, too. That did not divide the Convention much, but it divided the people outside very strongly. The anxiety of the Victorians to safe-guard their protective tariff, and of Mr. Dibbs, who thought New South Wales should begin a policy of Protection at once, to make up for lost time, was amusing, but of course came to nothing.

Australians are a very enthusiastic and emotional community when they gather together for purposes of demonstration or amusement. But when they come to business they are as keen and stubborn in their fight for their own interests as any body of Scotsmen, or men in the north of Ireland, could possibly be. Questions as to the few important rivers which could be used for navigation and for irrigation, or water conservation, but owing to dry seasons not always for all three at the same time, were burning issues between New South Wales, Victoria, and South Australia, in connection with three rivers—the Murray, the Darling, and the Murrumbidgee. The watercourses of all three belonged to New South Wales, except when the first, having received the waters of the other two, flowed through South Australia into the South Pacific Ocean. Much, probably most, of the Murray waters came from highlands in the north-east corner of Victoria. The railways also raised burning questions, which mainly turned upon the railways constructed in our South-Western districts. Victoria had a great interest in the trade of those districts, and South Australia in our far-western


  ― 78 ―
and Darling River trade, because their seaports were more accessible than Sydney was.

But the chief struggle was over the powers to be conferred upon the Senate in reference to Money Bills. The two most populous Colonies—New South Wales and Victoria—were bound to have for many years more members in the House of Representatives than the other four Colonies combined. To make federation possible the two had to concede equal representation in the Senate. The main controversy from beginning to end—apart from river and railway questions—was that between those who wanted to diminish and those who wanted to enlarge the powers of the Senate. The smaller populations wanted to enlarge, the larger to lessen them. Bills relating to finance were the battle-ground. All other Bills, of course, had to be open to amendment or rejection, just as freely by one House as by the other.

Sir Samuel Griffith led the “State Rights” party. He claimed for the Senate the same powers over Money Bills as over ordinary measures. Sir Henry Parkes proposed that the House should possess the sole power of originating and also the sole right of amending Bills “appropriating revenue or imposing taxation.”

During the debates there was frequent reference to the disputes in the State Parliaments over the powers of their two Houses. All the Assemblies claimed the rights of the British House of Commons in such matters; all the Councils repudiated that claim. The Councils rested their case on the written Constitutions of the Colonies; the Assemblies rested their claim on the unwritten laws of the British Constitution.




  ― 79 ―

Strangely enough, the Constitution conferred upon Victoria, the sister Colony, is quite different from that of New South Wales in two important respects. It enacts that at least four of the seven Ministers must be members of Parliament. It not only provides that Money Bills must originate in the Assembly, for it enacts that although such Bills might be rejected, they must not be amended by the Council.

In Queensland, whose Constitution, like that of New South Wales, does not define the respective rights of the two Houses in dealing with money Bills, except that they must originate in the Assembly, a crisis arose over an Appropriation Bill, and both parties agreed to refer the dispute between the Houses to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, with a result in favour of the Assembly.

The solution of the difficult problem as to the powers of the Senate over Money Bills was extremely well thought out. It was as follows:—

  • 1. All laws imposing taxes, or imposts, or appropriating revenue, to originate in the House of Representatives.
  • 2. Equal powers otherwise to both Houses, except in the case of taxation Bills or “laws appropriating the necessary supplies for the ordinary annual services of the Government,” which the Senate may affirm or reject, but not amend.
  • 3. The Senate to have no power in any case to increase any proposed charge or burden upon the people.



  •   ― 80 ―
  • 4. Taxation laws, except those of customs, to be confined to one subject of taxation.
  • 5. In all cases in which the Senate may not amend Bills, it may return them with requests for the omission or amendment of any provision contained in such Bills.

In the vital matter of responsible government, words were chosen which made it equally easy to adopt the British, Colonial, or American, or any other sort of executive. Ministers were “capable” of being chosen and of sitting as members of either House of the Parliament.

The Convention, having finished its labours, had to determine what was to be done with the Bill it had drafted. Sir Samuel Griffith, who was really the leader of the Convention, proposed that the respective Parliaments should pass measures submitting the Bill for the approval or rejection of the electors.

The Premier of South Australia suggested that the people might want to make some alterations in the Bill, and he moved that instead of remitting the Bill for the “approval,” it should be remitted for the “consideration” of the electors. Mr. Baker was “not at all satisfied with the Constitution, and voted with the minority on most occasions,” but said “the Constitution must be swallowed as a whole”; “or not at all,” interjected Sir Samuel Griffith, to which Mr. Baker added, “Exactly, one or the other.” He thought the amendment “absurd,” and that to invite the different Colonies to make such amendments as they thought fit to make was to waste all the time they had spent over the Bill. The amendment was


  ― 81 ―
rejected and Sir Samuel's motion adopted by 23 to 7. The majority included Sir Henry Parkes, Mr. Gillies, Mr. Deakin, and Mr. Munro. The minority included Mr. Dibbs, Mr. Kingston, Sir John Downer, Sir Phillip Fysh, and Mr. Wrixon.

It was then decided that so soon as any three of the Colonies had adopted the Constitution, the Imperial Parliament should be asked to establish the federation. In this confident spirit the Convention concluded its labours.




  ― 82 ―

8. Chapter VIII Labour in Parliament

WHEN the Parliament of New South Wales met the reference to the work of the Federal Convention was ambiguous in one respect. The belief of our delegates that they could prevail upon our Parliament to refer the Draft Bill to a vote of the electors, without any attempt at amendment or improvement, had been rudely shaken by the force of public opinion. Instead of asking both Houses to consider a Bill to provide for the proposed referendum, Parliament was told “no time will be lost in submitting to you a Resolution as a distinct part of the policy of my advisers.”

I moved an amendment to the Address in Reply, stating that the Bill was not, in important respects, founded on “principles just to the several Colonies.” At the same time, I fully recognised “the distinguished ability and zealous labours of the Convention.” My view was that the interests of the smaller States had got the best of it. Besides that broad ground, I strongly objected to the way in which the special interests of New South Wales had been sacrificed by our delegates. Our vital interests in our railways and in our rivers and water conservation were, I thought, insufficiently recognised. My amendment was defeated by 67 to 32. My object in taking that extreme course


  ― 83 ―
was to block as far as I could the submission of the Draft Bill to the people without a Parliamentary review of its provisions, clause by clause. Sir Henry had declared a short time before that such a course as the latter was impossible.

In a Ministerial Statement Sir Henry Parkes announced that the effect of my amendment had been to cause an alteration in the order of business. The Local Government Bill and the Electoral Bill would be taken before the federal project. This was a departure from Sir Henry's promise to his brother Premiers, which he endeavoured to justify on the ground that the House, by so decisively rejecting my amendment, had affirmed the Draft Bill in substance, and that, therefore, the later stages could be postponed.

The House did not agree with him, many members being anxious to propose serious changes in the measure. Some of us felt so strongly that when Mr. Dibbs proposed a motion of censure a week later we voted with him. In the course of the debate, Mr. Copeland, a devoted friend of federation, who had opposed my amendment, and others, denounced this change of front in strong language.

The censure motion showed 63 for and 63 against.

On June 6th, 1891, the Legislative Assembly was dissolved.

At the time of the dissolution Mr. Barton was a member of the Legislative Council. He resigned and became a candidate for one of the East Sydney seats.

The appeal to the country which followed showed how far astray the Premier was when he, and that


  ― 84 ―
majority of 23 to 7, in the Convention, resolved that the Parliaments should simply pass measures for a referendum.

He and Mr. Barton quite abandoned that position. They agreed that the Parliaments should consider the Draft Bill in detail, suggest amendments, and that a second Convention should be held to consider them. Quite naturally they put the issue to the electors as if it were “federation” or “no federation.” In this way the electors were invited to regard as enemies of federation those who had strong objections to the Bill. So far as I was concerned, I had little, if any, cause of complaint, because I had no sort of appetite at that time for anything that would probably sound the death-knell of the Free Trade cause in Australia.

As I have said, there were four seats in the East Sydney electorate, and the old style of public nomination of candidates and addresses from the hustings. Many thousands of the citizens used to assemble in Hyde Park to hear the candidates and take part in the show of hands. I had a very strenuous and a very anxious time, because, although the great majority of my constituents were Free Traders, the majority of that majority, on the question of federation, was far more in sympathy with Sir Henry Parkes and Mr. Barton than with me. To add to my troubles, my voice, when the day came, was gone, and my doctor warned me that I could not possibly give an audible address to such a large gathering. Still, I was determined to make the attempt, and I did. At the very start I felt I had an unsympathetic audience. Besides, the moment I began to speak


  ― 85 ―
my voice broke ludicrously, to the great amusement of the vast assemblage. I at once adopted a much lower tone, which enabled me to proceed. I gradually converted a hostile into a friendly audience— mainly, I think, from feelings of sympathy with me in a painful physical struggle. Quick generosity of feeling such as that was in one of the finest qualities of an Australian audience. When it was all over and I had the largest show of hands, Dr. Milford, who was my medical attendant, explained away his mistake, saying, “It was a triumph of mind over matter!”

In 1894, under a new electoral law, hustings nominations were abolished. Between 1880 and that year I figured in eight contests in East Sydney, and always enjoyed the satisfaction of the best show of hands. That it should happen in 1891 was, I admit, as great a surprise to me as to my opponents. The four successful candidates were Mr. (now Sir Edmund) Barton, Mr. (now Sir William) McMillan, Mr. Varney Parkes (son of Sir Henry), and myself. I came last, although about 600 votes above the fourth of the “federal bunch.” It was really the generosity of former supporters, not my attitude to the Draft Bill, which saved me from defeat.

The total number of seats was 141. Fifty-eight of the former members were replaced by new members. Some of these had been in Parliament before, but not many. The outstanding and momentous fact was the appearance of a distinct Labour Party, numbering 30. The desperate struggles in the previous year between employers and employed, in which the latter had been worsted, led the strikers and workers


  ― 86 ―

in other industries to substitute for methods of violence, which had failed, methods of “pacific penetration,” by the exercise of political power. The time was a good one for such a movement. The other two parties were pretty even, and such a number as 30 gave the new Party the balance of power. The actual results were:—

               
Ministerialists 
48 
Opposition 
56 
Labour 
30 
Independent 

The Labour members were free either to support or oppose the Government. They were free also on the question of federation, although the Draft Bill, as it stood, was not favourably regarded by most of them.

The new Parliament—the fifteenth—met on July 14th, 1891. Mr. Edmund Barton and Mr. (afterwards Sir Francis) Suttor came back to the House from the Legislative Council. Under certain expansive sections of the electoral law there were no fewer than 141 members of the Legislative Assembly. In the Governor's Speech, federal union was referred to as a matter to be brought forward without delay. The first business, however, was to be electoral reform, of which the chief points were “one man one vote,” self-registration, and single electorates. It was added that a resolution in favour of female suffrage would be submitted. Our old friend, a district self-government Bill, was to be “introduced immediately and to be pressed forward with the hope of its becoming aw before the close of the session.”

The Labour strikes of 1890 had decided the Government


  ― 87 ―
to introduce courts of conciliation and arbitration.

On September 1st Mr. Copeland (afterwards Agent-General for New South Wales in London) moved a motion in favour of Protective duties. There were many Protectionists who would not agitate for that policy in view of the federal movement in which both Free Traders and Protectionists were working together. Others, although federalists, thought we should make a start with duties, in order to get on more equal terms with the other States before the federal tie was completed. Mr. Copeland was one of the latter, Mr. Barton was one of the former. Mr. Barton moved an amendment in the sense stated above, postponing the fiscal movement in favour of federation.

Mr. McGowen, a leading member of the new Labour party, made an interesting statement in the course of the debate. He said: “We sank the fiscal question in the last election.…We formulated a policy by which Protectionists and Free Traders could come together…we cease to fight as Free Traders or Protectionists.”

In the light of subsequent events, Mr. J. D. Fitzgerald, another Labour member, made a statement to be remembered against him and some other members of the new party: “We came here pledged to sink the fiscal issue, and we have sunk it.” By 60 to 49 Mr. Barton's words were inserted. The effect of this was that the motion as it then stood was self-contradictory. Mr. (afterwards Sir William) McMillan now moved to omit all Mr. Copeland's words. I then stated that I would oppose the removal of the words, in order to


  ― 88 ―
bring about a result that the whole motion, absurd as it would be, would be negatived. By 63 to 46 the motion was left in its absurd position, and then by 62 to 47 negatived.

A measure for the better regulation of Coal Mines which was before the previous Parliament, in charge of Mr. Sydney Smith, the Secretary for Mines, came before the House again. The Bill went again through Committee. An amendment legalising the eight-hours principle in connection with coal mines had been carried and inserted in the Bill. The Minister had not resisted the amendment. On the motion for the third reading, Mr. McMillan moved the recommittal of the Bill in order to remove the eight-hour and another provision. He had resigned the position of Colonial Treasurer on July 27th, and now moved as a private member explaining that he did not know when Minister that the eight-hour provision was in the Bill. This move of Mr. McMillan, who was interested largely in coal mines, created a strong feeling amongst the advocates of the principle, who naturally supposed that its place in the Bill had been quite well known and intended. There was at once the beginning of a crisis when the Premier, Sir Henry Parkes, also stated his ignorance of the presence of the eight-hour provision in the Bill before the House, and declared that he would have nothing to do with the Bill if the provision was retained. A few minutes after midnight Mr. Barton came upon the scene and moved the adjournment of the debate, and some Ministers urged this, especially the Minister in charge of the Bill. By this time the Committee


  ― 89 ―
had got into an angry mood. The conjunction of Labour members with the Opposition—the former from strong conviction, the latter from a natural party motive—made refusal to adjourn certain. Mr. Barton's amendment was defeated by 49 to 41, after the Premier had made the consequences of the refusal quite clear. Sir Henry at once adjourned the House, and next day tendered the Ministerial resignations.




  ― 90 ―

9. Chapter IX I Succeed Sir Henry Parkes

ON October 26th the names of the new Ministry were announced to the House, and the House adjourned for the re-election of Ministers until November 18th.

The Premier and Colonial Secretary was Mr. G. R. Dibbs; the Attorney-General was Mr. Barton; the Colonial Treasurer, Mr. John See; Works, Mr. W. J. Lyne; Lands, Mr. Henry Copeland; Justice, Mr. R. E. O'Connor, and Sir Julian Salomons, K.C., Vice-President of the Executive Council. The two last-named sat in the Legislative Council.

During the interval between the adjournment and the meeting of the House the Liberal Party, led so long by Sir Henry Parkes, held a meeting and decided to send a deputation to Sir Henry “to ascertain his views as to the leadership of the Party.” Reports had reached members that Sir Henry did not intend to take up the duties of the position; but it was felt to be due to that veteran leader to appoint the deputation, to learn his views at first hand. Sir Henry replied that he could not undertake the duties of the position. At an adjourned meeting I was elected leader of the Opposition, on the motion of Mr. B. R. Wise, seconded by Mr. Varney Parkes, Sir Henry's son.




  ― 91 ―

A week after my election as the leader of the Opposition I got a shock somewhat like that of Mr. Montagu Williams, the eminent Q.C., who went into a London specialist's office one bright morning and received a sentence of death, in the shape of a discovery of cancer in the throat. I had a violent cold and my voice was scarcely audible. I consulted a medical man, who employed the usual means of examining the throat, asked me if there were cases of cancer in the family history, and then told me I would probably have to give up my work in the Courts and in Parliament. I would not accept the verdict as final. Two months afterwards I consulted an eminent throat specialist in Melbourne, who told me that my throat was so wonderfully sound that he could not decide whether I had ever had even a catarrh! This is one of many instances of the folly of jumping at conclusions. At the time of writing, twenty-five years afterwards, my throat is still above suspicion.

Returning to the question of my new leadership, I had never accepted office under Sir Henry Parkes, but I had always set my face against invitations to form a “cave” in the Liberal ranks. Imperium in imperio is never so objectionable in any form, I think, as in the ranks of a Parliamentary Party. It is very suggestive of divided counsels, unacknowledged ambitions, and internal dangers. Sir Henry offered me important and interesting positions which I would not accept, and I never attended any meeting of his followers. But from the time he raised the flag of Free Trade in 1887 until we differed over federation,


  ― 92 ―
I worked loyally to keep him in office. When I entered Parliament in 1880 as an independent member I sat on the Ministerial benches below the gangway; but in June, 1881, I went over to the other side of the House for reasons which I did not give at the time and have never publicly disclosed.

On December 1st, 1891, Mr. John See, the Colonial Treasurer, delivered his first Financial Statement. Referring to the Statement of his predecessor, Mr. McMillan, on October 16th, 1890, Mr. See brought the former's estimated surplus for 1890 down to £47. As for 1891, Mr. See estimated that there would be a balance on the wrong side of £589,000. He then submitted a scheme of new duties, mostly of a protective character, which were expected to yield in 1892 the sum of £836,000.

The people of New South Wales have always resented attempts to introduce a Protectionist policy behind their backs. It had always been tried that way, and the electors had always returned a majority pledged to undo what had been done. This new Government and its followers at the polls a few months before stood for 63,000 votes, the Free Traders standing for 90,000, and the Labour Party, which had sunk the fiscal issue, for 75,000.

As the head of the Free Trade Party I opposed most bitterly this fresh attempt to destroy the policy which had been so continuously affirmed by the people of New South Wales. Sir Henry Parkes fought with splendid energy right through the long struggle which ensued in the House.

The newly formed Labour Party which had sunk


  ― 93 ―
the fiscal issue was now put to a crucial test. It had not yet become fully organised—not yet had been established that ambitious and despotic organisation which afterwards achieved so much. The new Party could decide to support the Government on the ground that the cause of labour would thus be better served, or they might agree to vote against the Government on the ground that since they had agreed to sink the fiscal issue they would not allow anyone else to raise it.

As the leader of the Free Trade Party, my duty was clear: I gave notice at once of a motion of censure.

In making that motion I reminded the House of the large number of questions of first-rate importance ripe for enactment: electoral reform, water conservation, coal mines regulation, labour disputes, the rabbit plague, law reform, and, above all, the pressing question of local government.

In the absence of a measure of municipal taxation, the more successful an honourable member was in getting public money spent in his electorate, the more popular he became, quite irrespective of the utility or futility of the work.

On the point that more revenue was needed, I drew attention to the fact that although there were then only 1,100,000 men, women, and children in the Colony our revenue exceeded £10,000,000 a year. It must be remembered by the general reader that taxes formed a small portion of that large amount. It included land and railway revenue, and receipts for other works.

The fight that followed at every stage of the tariff


  ― 94 ―
before it was embodied in a Customs Bill and sent to the Legislative Council was a long and desperate one. Once in the Legislative Council its passage into law was assured.

In this session I introduced two useful Bills to enact valuable English codifications of laws relating to arbitration and the laws of partnership. They were passed without difficulty.

Early in 1892 we were called upon to mourn the loss of Sir John Hay, K.C.M.G., the President of the Legislative Council for twenty years. Sir John was one of the best pioneers, and one of the ablest of our public men. The force of his memorable opposition to the free selection of lands before survey in 1861 was weakened by his position as a large landholder. But Sir John Hay's stand for survey before selection was justified by the robbery and jobbery and confusion bred by the more popular policy.

One of the results of the great labour strike of 1890 was the Trade Disputes Bill of the previous Ministry. Their successors brought in a Bill on similar lines, and carried it into law. It contained the two elements of conciliation and arbitration, both optional, but by agreement in any case the arbitration award might be made enforceable at law. Both tribunals were to be selected from lists furnished by the Trade Unions and Employers' Unions.

Towards the close of this long session, which began on July 14th, 1891, and ended on April 1st, 1892, Sir Henry Parkes, on an adjournment motion, brought up the federal question. His speech was chiefly important for an admission that the original plan for


  ― 95 ―
dealing with the Draft Bill was impracticable, and that it should be referred to a Convention chosen by the electors of the several Colonies. This was a striking proof of the effect of the strong opposition which existed to various features of the Draft Bill. The misplaced confidence in the merits of their handiwork which led the Convention of 1891 to insist on the Bill being submitted as it stood to the “Yes” or “No” of the electors had entirely disappeared.

Mr. Barton, in reply, did not make clear whether he fell in with Sir Henry's proposal that the members of the Convention should be elected, not appointed, because just as he came to that point the time the rules allowed him expired.

During the recess the Premier visited England, and he had not returned to the Colony when Parliament reassembled on August 30th, 1892.

Shortly afterwards Mr. Barton brought the Federal Resolutions before the House. He proposed that we should go into Committee to consider the Draft Bill, that we should suggest amendments, and that those amendments, and any suggested by the other Parliaments, should be considered with the Draft Bill by a second Convention appointed as the first was; and that the Bill, as finally shaped, should be submitted to a vote of the electors in each Colony. It will be observed that Mr. Barton did not adopt the suggestion of Sir Henry Parkes, that the second Convention for the consideration of the Bill should be chosen by the electors.

Speaking in that debate, I said: “Two and a half years ago I must confess I did feel that pushing


  ― 96 ―
forward the federal project at that time meant inevitably the adoption of a protective policy throughout the length and breadth of Australia. I am happy to say that since that time events have enabled me to take a much more sanguine view of the possibilities of the case.”

There was a long discussion on the Federal Resolutions, and the debate did not close until January 11th, 1893, when the Resolution to go into Committee was agreed to by 54 to 7. From that day until August, 1894, when the Government resigned, nothing further was done in the House or Committee. As a whole, the debate maintained a high standard, the speeches of Mr. Barton and Sir Henry Parkes being worthy of their high reputations.

On December 14th the Colonial Treasurer, Mr. See, delivered his Financial Statement on the Accounts of 1892, and the Estimates for 1893. The deficiency for 1891, estimated at £589,000, he now found to be £770,000, for reasons which he explained, although the revenue for 1891 was £78,000 higher than estimated. On the Accounts for 1892, of which sixteen days had to run, he estimated a deficiency of £382,000, instead of an expected surplus of £358,000. The new customs duties had realised his expectations. It is important to note that the two deficiencies, namely £770,000 for 1891 and £382,000 for 1892, make a total of £1,152,000, as at December 31st, 1892, “with which,” the Treasurer said, “to commence the year 1893.”

In January, 1893, the Treasurer made a further statement. He made the deficiency for 1892 and previous years £1,251,000. He also proposed an income


  ― 97 ―
tax, ranging from 4d. in the £ up to 10d. in the £ with a large exemption and a levy of 5 per cent. on the salaries of the civil servants above £200. He also proposed a reduction of the expenditure estimate by £265,000.

On February 2nd, when the House had gone into Committee of Ways and Means to further consider the Financial Statement, Sir Henry Parkes took an unusual course, which led to a very heated debate, lasting without a break from Tuesday until seven minutes before midnight on Friday. He moved “that the Chairman do now leave the Chair,” and sought to add a series of Resolutions censuring the Government for various faults. In these Resolutions the mover adroitly included every conceivable political weapon of attack of any value. After a long debate these additions to the simple motion that the Chairman should leave the Chair were ruled out of order. During that long and exhausting sitting I worked much harder for Sir Henry's success than I ever did for my own motions of censure, and we went very near victory, the division being 57 to 60.

On this interesting occasion Sir Henry prefaced his speech with a reference to my leadership of the Opposition. This was the only complimentary reference Sir Henry ever made to me.




  ― 98 ―

10. Chapter X The Great Banking Crisis

ON April 27th, 1893, the Premier moved the suspension of the Standing Orders, in order to put through all its stages a Bill dealing with a banking crisis which had arisen, particularly in Victoria and New South Wales.

In New South Wales there was no need for emergency measures until the Australian Joint Stock Bank closed its doors. This was one of the leading banks in Sydney. I happen to know that this bank, with startling suddenness, made application to the other leading banks for assistance to the extent of £2,000,000 at least, the first £1,000,000 to be advanced within three days. The other banks declined to accede to this sudden demand, and the Australian Joint Stock Bank stopped payment.

When Sir George Dibbs, the Premier, took me into his confidence I at once tendered my best support in all measures that might prove necessary. The Houses of Parliament acted in the same spirit. A few took a more critical view as to the mischief that the emergency measures might produce, but fortunately their fears were not justified by the event.

The Bill to which I have referred was the first of a series. It was known as the “Bank Issue Bill.” Its main provisions were: (1) Bank notes to be a


  ― 99 ―
first charge on bank assets. (2) The grant temporarily of power to the Governor in Council to authorise larger issues of such notes; and (3) bank notes to be a legal tender. The opposition was mainly directed against the last provision, which Sir Henry Parkes and others strongly deprecated. The Bill became law a few days afterwards.

Towards the close of the same month another emergency Bill was passed—the “Current Account Deposits Bill.” The closing of so many banks—for reconstruction purposes mainly—left business men, large and small, in a trying position. The balances at their credit were locked up, and the object of the new measure was to relieve them. It was provided that the banks should issue to depositors certificates, showing the unencumbered amounts at their credit, and upon that certificate the Treasury was to advance 50 per cent. by Treasury notes, which were made legal tender. The Government did not give themselves a preferential claim, so that the depositors could get further advances elsewhere on the remaining 50 per cent. Rather a singular outcome followed. The banks offered to advance their customers 75 per cent. of their balances, and two leading banks offered 100 per cent. By such means the operation of the Act became limited, the amount applied for being about £360,000.

All the banks are stronger now than ever before. The crisis taught them many lessons which they have taken to heart.

There has never been a commercial crisis of any importance in the history of Australia so far,


  ― 100 ―
and only two banking crises. Each sprang from speculation in land, the former more than fifty years before in country lands for pastoral purposes, and the latter partly from that cause, and partly from wild speculations in land in or near the cities of Melbourne and Sydney; partly also because of the withdrawal of large sums of British money lent and suddenly withdrawn.

The precarious tenure of pastoral areas since 1861 down to 1884 had led to large freehold purchases, and in the remote interior of the Mother Colony immense sums were spent in improvements, especially to make storage for the scanty rainfalls. The rabbit plague which followed undermined everything in the nature of pastoral values in those districts. Probably never in the whole world's history had the importation of a few pets for the amusement of a wealthy man's children such tremendous consequences. From that trivial cause sprang the rabbit plague which, in spite of tremendous efforts to suppress it, remains the greatest of all pests over vast areas. The only efficient method of protecting pasturage is by wire netting enclosure. Many hundreds of thousands of miles of such netting are now maintained. The wire goes down only a few inches below the surface. When the rabbits discover that, the netting will only give them a little bit of gentle exercise!

In a Financial Statement made in October, 1893, the Premier stated that the revenue for 1893 would be gravely affected, in consequence of the recent banking crisis. He estimated that instead of a surplus of £442,000 there would be a deficiency, and that the


  ― 101 ―
deficiency for 1893 and previous years would be £1,299,000.

On February 1st, 1894, Mr. See delivered a Financial Statement. He proposed to issue Treasury Bills to wipe out the deficiency for 1892 and previous years, £1,198,000.

In June, 1894, the Opposition members gave me a complimentary picnic to the National Park and presented me with an address. The confidence they expressed in my leadership was a great encouragement to me.

When we got back to the House we found that what we considered a trick, and the Ministerialists an excellent joke, had been perpetrated. A new set of Standing Orders, hundreds in number, had been on the business paper every day for months. They embodied drastic powers intended to curb debate and defeat obstructive tactics. They were so sure to excite prolonged discussion that no time had been found for their consideration. Some clever brain conceived the idea that the absence of the Opposition at the picnic gave a chance of passing the whole set, without a single word of discussion, as a formal motion! We arrived at the House a few minutes late, and were astonished to find that all those new Standing Orders had become law. That those who laugh last laugh loudest was quite true in this case, because in a few days the Government went out, and the new Rules enabled me to deal with certain offenders for five years as rigorously as they had hoped to deal with us.

On June 25th, 1894, Parliament was dissolved. It would have died a natural death on July 14th. The chief


  ― 102 ―
changes under the new electoral law were: (1) The issue of electors' rights, so that each voter should produce his right before his vote was received, instead of simply giving his name and number on the electoral roll; (2) the abolition of plural voting; (3) the establishment of single electorates; (4) written nominations of candidates, and abolition of the hustings addresses; and (5) the polling was fixed for one day. East Sydney was divided into four electorates. I became a candidate for the central part, which was called the King Division.

The main features of my appeal to the electors were: (1) The repeal of the Protective Duties imposed; (2) the establishment of a real Free Trade tariff; (3) a system of direct taxation to make up the loss of revenue; (4) changes in the methods of keeping the Public Accounts, removing obscurity and uncertainty by a cash basis, the actual revenue in each year being set against the actual expenditure in that year. I also arraigned the Government, its policy and conduct, in the strongest terms.

The result of the elections was a great victory for the Opposition. Mr. Barton, Mr. F. B. Suttor, Mr. Traill, Mr. Melville, and other prominent Protectionists were defeated. Our number was 63 against 43 supporters of Sir George Dibbs. The Labour Party was 18 strong. The Labour Party suffered a severe reverse, having only 18 members in the new House as against 30 returned in the 1891 election. I was particularly pleased with the defeat of those Protectionist members of the Labour Party who broke away from the ballot on my vote of censure.

Photograph facing p.102. King Edward VII






  ― 103 ―

Although the Labour element had decreased, the appearance of Mr. J. C. Watson and Mr. W. M. Hughes in the new House—both afterwards Prime Ministers of Australia—was destined to make all the difference in the long run, because they were both men of a very high order of ability and force.

After this crushing defeat Ministers did not resign. Even if every member of the Labour Party voted with them they would still be in a minority of 2. But there was no chance of that because on my policy of direct taxation, or at least on that part which proposed a tax on land values, the party was solidly favourable.

Instead of resigning, the Government actually asked His Excellency to appoint a large number of their friends to the Legislative Council, appointments which hold good for life. Sir Robert Duff offered Sir George Dibbs a considerable number, but not the whole number, and would not budge from that position. Sir George then resigned and I was sent for.

The following was my first Administration:—

                   
Premier and Colonial Treasurer   Myself 
Colonial Secretary. . .  Mr. J. N. Brunker 
Attorney-General . . .  Mr. G. B. Simpson, Q.C. 
Secretary for Lands . .  Mr. J. H. Carruthers. 
Secretary for Public Works Mr. J. H. Young. 
Minister for Justice . .  Mr. A. J. Gould. 
Minister for Public Instruction   Mr. Jacob Garrard. 
Minister for Mines and Agriculture . . . .  Mr. S. Smith. 
Postmaster-General . .  Mr. J. Cook. 
Vice-President of the Executive Council . . .  Mr. W. H. Suttor. 




  ― 104 ―

Mr. G. B. Simpson was elevated to the Supreme Court Bench, and Mr. J. H. Want became Attorney-General on December 18th in the same year. On March 15th in the following year Mr. W. H. Suttor resigned because of failing health, and Dr. Garran succeeded him.

I do not think any Premier ever had a more devoted set of colleagues. Nor do I believe that any set of Ministers could have carried on the public departments with a higher degree of honour and efficiency. We went through a series of bitter struggles in the House and in the country without any sort of quarrel. My course was thus free from internal worries. Every Prime Minister knows the value of such colleagues.

Six have passed away: Mr. James N. Brunker, Sir George Simpson, Mr. W. H. Suttor, his successor Dr. Garran, Mr. J. H. Young, and Mr. J. H. Want. Mr. Carruthers afterwards became Premier of New South Wales, and Mr. Cook Prime Minister of Australia.

Parliament met for the dispatch of business on August 28th.

A Crown Lands Bill was at once introduced. The Minister (Mr. Carruthers) made a very able speech. The right of the Crown tenants to the value of their improvements was for the first time recognised; so was the classification of Crown Lands as to their widely differing values. Instead of a limited period for residence, all free selections became subject to a perpetual condition of residence, by the selector first and by all transferees afterwards. This was a change which struck at the roots of a great


  ― 105 ―
abuse. Then provision was made for homestead leases of large area in the remote districts. But perhaps the most important change was the division of pastoral leases into two halves, one of which was to be open to the free selector, whilst the pastoral lessee got a long term for the other half. This put an end over that half to uncertainty of tenure and chances of blackmail.

The Minister gave some important figures showing the failure of the law of 1861 to achieve its good intentions. In 1861 there were far more residents in the country than in the towns. Thirty years of the new legislation, instead of making the difference greater, sadly reversed it, there being 730,000 in the towns as against 380,000 beyond them.

Of course, bad laws were not the only cause of that migration from country to town, especially that to the capital city. In all the Australian Colonies similar movements have occurred. Each of the capitals of the six States is on the coast, and within the reach of sea breezes and sea bathing during the summer months. Comfort and enjoyment abound in the capitals; in the far interior there are few comforts, much hard work, and grave risks owing to bad seasons, which hit the country districts hardest and the towns least. In the few square miles which contain the six capitals, 40 per cent. of the population of Australia is to be found!

I intimated to the House that we desired to establish a new practice in dealing with Bills of the first importance—that of proceeding with one at a time. The other course was productive of delay and dissipation of energy.




  ― 106 ―

My first Financial Statement was delivered on November 7th. The Crown Lands Bill having been taken through Committee, I announced that we were going to proceed at once with a Local Government Bill. This had been a standing item in legislative programmes for many years.

I also announced that the Machinery Bill in connection with land and income taxes was being prepared and would soon be submitted.

I pointed out that the House would adjourn before Christmas, and in March or April would meet again, when I would submit my tariff and taxation measures. I proposed to make the financial year run from July 1st to June 30th, as in Victoria, Queensland, South Australia, and the United States of America. I also stated that the old system of keeping votes open after the end of the financial year would be ended, and that each year the accounts would be balanced, cash received against cash spent, as under the British system. To give the cash system a fair start I informed the Committee that I would, as proposed by my predecessor, put into a further issue of Treasury Bills the amount of the deficiency for 1893 and previous years. There was an emergency account called the “Treasurer's Advance Account,” under which unforeseen claims could be met before Parliament voted the money. At first the sum that could be spent in one year in that way was limited to £100,000, afterwards increased to £200,000; but by a series of payments out and payments in the moneys actually used under that account had risen largely beyond the total allowed. In one year it rose to £750,000! I proposed


  ― 107 ―
to stop that. One of the causes of these enormous drafts, which quite upset the stability of our finances, was the fact that expenditure was grossly under-estimated, coupled with the fact that the accounts were not kept on a cash basis. I warned the high officials that any gross under-estimate in future would lead to grave action on my part. The Principal Under-Secretary had reported to me that in spite of repeated efforts to get his estimates for “Charitable Allowances” put “at the right figures, they were always cut down, and claims charged on to a succeeding year.” This was only too general throughout the spending departments.

One very gross case occurred shortly before I came into office. Under the head of “Roads and Bridges” a sum of £216,000 was written off as “not likely to be required.” I asked, “Did the Roads Department know of this?” The answer was, “Certainly not! We required every penny of it, and the roads and bridges are now out of repair in consequence of that reduction!”

As the beginning of the new financial year was on July 1st, I submitted Estimates for the six months to June 30th, 1895. I expected a deficiency of £280,000, largely owing to the fact that the departments had been warned that I would not tolerate under-estimates of expenditure.

Including that deficiency with those for the previous years I found a total of £1,356,000:—

     
1894 and previous years . .  £1,076,000 
1895, January to June . .  280,000 
£1,356,000 




  ― 108 ―

as to which I proposed, as I have stated, to adopt the intention of my predecessors, providing for it by the issue of Treasury Bills, to be gradually paid off.

If Mr. See had left the Treasury Bills for his estimated deficiency, I would have been saved a great deal of annoyance. If the £216,000 so urgently required for roads and bridges had not been marked to be written off, his deficiency would have been £216,000 more.

As for 1894, the figures added to the old deficiency a new deficiency, estimated at £373,000. But by a transfer of which the former Premier and the Auditor-General approved, I reduced the deficiency of my predecessor to a figure ultimately below his own estimate.




  ― 109 ―

11. Chapter XI Getting Nearer Federation

A FEW days after my Budget Speech Sir Henry Parkes asked the House to suspend the Standing Orders in order that he might bring on a debate on the federal question.

In the course of his speech he paid a tribute to Mr. Barton, and especially admired Mr. Barton's way of viewing the Draft Bill. Sir Henry said: “He” (that is, Mr. Barton) “pointed out that the mere phraseology of a Bill, the mere framing of an instrument to be called on paper the Constitution of a country, was nothing; that it was the people who enjoyed it, and had the grit to breathe their spirit into it, which made it a Constitution fit for free men. And that is the case at all times and all over the world.”

This view is the only conceivable excuse for the course Sir Henry Parkes and Mr. Barton followed in not taking a stronger stand in the 1891 Convention against the representatives of the smaller states.

Such views appeared, and still appear to me, absolutely unsound, because any new Constitution should represent the nearest approach to perfection in principle and in expression possible. Evolution from the best provision is infinitely better than evolution from anything less than the best. That observation


  ― 110 ―
applies, I think, with the greatest possible force when the new system is to be embodied in a statute, governed by strict rules of construction, and to be interpreted in all cases by a court of law. No alteration would be possible unless four of the six states each showed a majority in favour of it, and even then there must be a majority in the total number of votes. It ought to have been obvious that there were vexed questions raising important issues between the smaller and the larger populations, and that upon these there was a necessity for a clear agreement on just principles. The men from the smaller States never lost sight of these considerations. If Sir Henry Parkes and Mr. Barton thought that nothing better could be done the course of events proved that they were mistaken.

In order to interfere as little as possible with the freedom of the Legislative Council, in dealing with the machinery part of our land and income tax proposals, I introduced that in a separate Bill, leaving the rates of the taxes for subsequent measures.

The Bill was supported in the Assembly by large majorities at all stages. But there was one incident which created a tangle of a very serious kind. It arose over the question of exemption. There were some supporters of the Bill who did not believe in exemptions from land tax at all. These members and the direct opponents of the Bill, when they voted together, created an awkward situation.

We adjourned until February 26th, 1895.

At my invitation, as the Premier of the senior colony, there was a Premiers' Conference at Hobart


  ― 111 ―
to give the Federal movement a fresh start. No better idea of the need of this could be conveyed than the description given by Mr. Deakin—I think in an interview—and which I saw in one of the pamphlets in the Royal Colonial Institute series:

“The workaday masses remain unreceptive and irresponsive. … Appeals to organise have been frequent. What is their net result? … We have raised no electioneering army, conducted no regular canvassing campaign. Have we even a volunteer company on which we can rely? Unquestionably what all Federalists are striving against is the inexhaustible inertia of our populace as a whole.”

The Premiers of the whole of the six colonies were represented. Two—those of Queensland and Western Australia—were rather doubtful. The other four were resolved.

We agreed upon a draft Bill to serve as a basis for legislation. The electors were to be asked to elect ten representatives from each Colony to meet to draft a Constitution.

A motion of want of confidence moved by Sir George Dibbs was defeated by 66 to 27.

During the progress of the Machinery Bill the member for Flinders, Mr. B. R. Wise, moved an amendment which would have killed our land tax, and the Government too, if it had been agreed to. What made the situation critical was that he had persuaded the Labour members to accept it, and some of my own supporters were in favour of it. The mover quite candidly gave me personal notice of his ideas, assured me of his friendly intentions, and urged me


  ― 112 ―
to accept the principle of his proposal, which was that amounts paid, or contracted to be paid, to the State for the purchase of land should be deducted from the assessment of value.

In New South Wales, a new country, all the land, of course, belonged to the State at first. When the free grant system ended Crown lands were sold by auction, both town and country lots, and during the long period that followed endless subdivisions of purchased lands took place. In such cases there would be no benefit from the concession. By a gross abuse of the systems dealing with Crown lands during the previous twenty years, enormous areas in the interior had gone to form great estates, and as the tax was on the unimproved value, to deduct the purchase money from that value practically set free from the tax the men who ought to pay the largest amounts. This, of course, would have reduced the whole scheme to an unjust absurdity.

Knowing the gravity of the crisis, I made a great effort to persuade the Labour Party to reverse their intention. Fortunately I succeeded, and Mr. Wise's amendment was defeated by 53 to 34 votes.

The only other critical stage in the history of our land taxes arose immediately afterwards on the question of exemptions. The Government favoured an exemption of £500. Some thought the exemption should be larger, some that it should be smaller, others that there should be none.

The effect of these various views was very curious, and developed a situation which might well have put us in a ridiculous position. Division after


  ― 113 ―
division took place in which each successive proposal was negatived. First, a £500 exemption which we favoured was negatived by a majority of 2, then £1,000 by a majority of 27, then £400 (which I proposed) by a majority of 1, then £650 by a majority of 22, then £550 by a majority of 31.

At this stage I had to take up a stand and make a final effort, proposing £475. I consider the attitude of Sir George Dibbs and the members of the Opposition in this case to have been most generous. Sir George, backed up by his followers—all bitterly opposed to the Bill—responded to my appeal, and saved me from some of my own supporters. The £475 was carried on division by 69 to 14.

Our Crown Lands Bill went to the Legislative Council on November 8th, after a division of 63 to 7 on the third reading, and the Land and Income Tax Assessment Bill went up on March 20th, after a division of 44 to 24 on the third reading.

The next day I moved the second reading of our Local Government Bill. The Municipalities Act of 1867 stood undisturbed on the Statute Book, with the result that only a small area was municipalised. Victoria, Queensland, and South Australia were a thousand times more advanced, because they had not left it to the discretion of their people whether they should tax themselves for local improvements or leave such matters to the public departments, to be paid for out of the national Treasury. This choice, as I have pointed out elsewhere, was left to the inhabitants of New South Wales—with the inevitable result.




  ― 114 ―

It was a heavy undertaking to propose at one and the same time a universal system of local taxation and national land and income taxes; but my colleagues and I felt that the foundations of finance and economy should be laid in a system of local government, which would develop the civic virtues of our people, inducing them to have some regard to prudence and good management by making them tax themselves.

There was nothing new in such desires. Every Government expressed the same views and professed the same zeal. But the undercurrents of our political life were always adverse. The “local member” was not keen, nor were his constituents, as a rule.

After carrying the Bill through Committee, Mr. Watson moved a new clause to abolish the system of the plural voting of property owners and to give a vote to each occupier.

This proposal went farther than any law then in existence in Australasia. In New Zealand and South Australia there was plurality up to six votes, in Victoria and Queensland up to three, and in Tasmania up to seven.

The new clause was carried in a small Committee by 31 to 25 votes. It made the passage of the measure in the other House impossible, and in order to prevent a gross waste of time we resolved to test the question whether a majority was prepared to adhere to the provision. I gave notice that I would ask the Committee to reverse the decision, or we would drop the Bill. The Committee, by 47 to 42, refused to drop the amendment, and the Bill was thus, at the


  ― 115 ―
last moment, brought to a sudden end, after all its other provisions had been substantially approved.

The Financial Statement I delivered on May 9th, 1895, was the most important of the series, because I then fully unfolded our fiscal policy. I defined our three greatest objects to be direct taxation, a measure to free industry by means of a short and simple tariff, and a thorough reform of the Public Service. I proposed a tax of 1d [?]. in the £ on the unimproved value of land. I pointed out that the tax, after allowing for exemptions up to £475, would not amount to more than 40s. in 11,000 cases, 40s. to £6 in 2,800 instances, from £6 to £18 in 7,400 holdings, from £18 to £40 in 5,800, and to sums over £40 in 1,600 cases only.

I proposed an income tax of 6d. in the £ with an exemption of £300, of which every taxpayer got the benefit.

We hoped by direct taxation and the reform of the Civil Service to prepare the way for a light revenue tariff of five heads, probably the shortest ever proposed.

Although we intended thus to remove at once the whole of the protective duties imposed by our predecessors, there were other duties which had been on our tariff for many years. These I proposed to remove by June 30th and the following year. There were some exceptions, which were to disappear in five years. The permanent tariff would be confined to spirits, wines, beer, tobacco and cigars, and opium.

Turning to the estimates of revenue and expenditure, I announced that the accumulated deficiencies


  ― 116 ―
on the old system of accounts up to December 31st, 1894, would be £1,322,000, and that the deficiency on the half-year following would be £240,000 instead of £280,000.

During the previous four months I only allowed £15,000 to be taken from the Advance Account; and my supplementary estimates did not exceed £37,000, of which £23,000 were for the unemployed.

I estimated the revenue for the first of the new financial years, from July 1st to June 30th, 1896, at £9,118,000, and the expenditure on the new basis, that of actual cash outgoings during the year at £9,062,000, an estimated surplus of £56,000.

On June 20th a crisis arose, owing to the conduct of the Legislative Council, which resolved, by a majority of 41 to 4, that the Land and Income Tax Assessment Bill should be read “this day six months.”

The taxation of land and income had often been approved by the Legislative Assembly, but no Government could ever persuade the Council to pass such measures. A large number were hit by such taxes, and the financial institutions with which they were connected were also affected. As the Councillors sat for life no power could shift them. When they threw out important taxation measures before, there was great indignation in the Assembly, but no Government had ever appealed to the people against their decision.

As we had as a Party taken to the country a policy of tariff reform and land and income taxes, and the electors had returned a large majority of members pledged to that policy, and as all our measures to give


  ― 117 ―
effect to that policy had also passed the Legislative Assembly by large majorities, the summary rejection of our machinery measure seemed quite unjustifiable. There was not even the excuse that the other House contained a majority of Protectionists, because few of its members belonged to the Protectionist Party.

When the news came to our House we were taking the second reading of the Bill imposing the income tax. I was asked to stop, but I refused, and the Bill was passed by a majority of 56 to 17.

On the Tuesday following the rejection of our Bill I made a Ministerial statement. I admitted that on the words of our written Constitution the Council could act as it had done; but there were certain vital, though unwritten, rules which had prevailed in all of the Parliaments within the Empire, and one of these was that the taxation of the people could only be moulded by their representatives. We had kept the taxing Bills separate from the Assessment Bill, so that the Council should have full right of amending the latter in Committee; but in throwing that Bill out the Council had declared war against not only the Legislative Assembly, but also against the verdict of the electors.

The Government felt that it could not accept such a humiliating and unconstitutional situation. It had therefore tendered certain advice to the Lieutenant-Governor, which His Excellency had been pleased to accept. I had advised a dissolution after certain measures of urgency free from party lines had been dealt with. I added that our advice had been accepted unconditionally.




  ― 118 ―

The dissolution, of course, did not disturb the seats of the Legislative Councillors. But it was extremely hard upon the Legislative Assembly, which had to face two elections in twelve months.

Our supporters, without an exception, applauded our decision, and cheerfully consented to the dissolution.

I closed with the statement that Ministers would first submit, and then take for the opinion of the electors, a Bill radically reforming the Constitution of the other House.




  ― 119 ―

12. Chapter XII The '95 General Election

THE usually placid atmosphere of the Legislative Council became full of electricity upon the news arriving that the House would be dissolved. Not only did Mr. Want give notice on behalf of the Government of sweeping changes in the constitution of the Chamber, Mr. C. E. Pilcher, a very able King's Counsel, and a very good friend of mine, but a Tory of the old school, gave notice of radical changes too.

The changes we proposed, shortly described, abolished life tenure, limited the number of Councillors to 60, one-fifth to retire annually, and substituted a term of five years. Appropriation Bills were neither to be amended nor rejected. If not returned to the Assembly within one month they could, on resolution, be presented by the Speaker for the Royal Assent. Other Money Bills could be amended, but not rejected, by the Council. If amended, the Assembly was given power finally to determine the shape of the Bill. If not returned within one month such Bills could also, on motion, be presented for the Royal Assent. Ordinary Bills, if rejected in two consecutive sessions, could be submitted to the electors; and if the total number of votes polled did not exceed 100,000 that fact was to be considered equivalent to a negative.




  ― 120 ―

The House was dissolved upon July 5th, 1895, and the General Election took place on July 25th.

There was a most exciting fight. We pushed our attacks upon the Council to an extreme, and its members vigorously responded. They never had a chance of success, as our fiscal proposals combined on our side all the Free Traders and all the land taxers too.

Sir Henry Parkes opposed me for King Division, and was defeated. Sir George Dibbs was also defeated for Tamworth.

The result left us in possession by a very large majority. Upon the issues submitted to the electors we had 81 in a House of 124 members, divided as follows:—

     
Ministerialists . . . .  63 
Labour Party  18 
81 

In the interval we appointed nine Liberals to the Legislative Council. One of these, Dr. (now Sir William) Cullen is now Chief Justice of New South Wales.

When the new House met, Mr. (afterwards Sir William) Lyne was elected Leader of the Opposition in place of Sir George Dibbs.

We at once brought in again the measure which caused the crisis—the Land and Income Tax Assessment Bill—and the second reading was carried by a majority of 37.

I had to make a fresh Financial Statement. Owing to the crisis the dates of some of the proposals had to be altered.

Photograph facing p.120. Queen Alexandra






  ― 121 ―

Upon the system of charging the whole cost of works not proper subjects for permanent loans to the year in which it was voted I made an alteration, spreading the cost over thirty years, providing a sinking fund for repayment within that time. A large number of useful and urgent works, which would last far longer than the thirty years, could thus be carried out without any permanent addition to the Public Debt.

Our Supplementary Estimates were only £64,000 instead of an average of about £475,000 for the previous five years.

The drawings out of the Treasurer's Advance Account for services not covered by votes of Parliament during the six months January to June were £28,000, or at the rate of £56,000 for a full year, instead of an average of £400,000 during the four years before we came into office, 1890–3. During those years the drawings were as follows:—

       
1890 .  £461,000 
1891 .  414,000 
1892 .  £361,000 
1893 .  394,000 

In our expenditure there were “Special Appropriations.” These were statutory obligations, paid as they fell due, and not included in the ordinary votes. The items under this head were often under-estimated. In 1891 the estimate was exceeded by £285,000, in 1892 by £202,000, and in 1893 by £203,000. In my first half-year it was only exceeded by £1,873.

I mention these facts to show that our Administration had reduced the chaotic condition of our finances to something like order. Of course I had to warn the heads of departments against under-estimates of expenditure,


  ― 122 ―
and I had to forbid any overdrawing on votes without my personal authority. I can point to the disappearance of confusion and wrangling over the public finances from that time onward with great satisfaction.

I wish it to be clearly understood that much of the previous confusion was the result of a bad system, rather than the individual fault of any particular Treasurer. We only claim the credit of beginning a better state of things under a new system. It must also be remembered, as to 1893, that the banking panic in that year upset all calculations.

In my Budget Speech I referred to a matter which afterwards became of great importance—the conversion of the Public Debt. Altogether too much importance was attached to that project, and there were extravagant notions of its benefits. If the security for public bonds is good the conversion will not yield much, except, perhaps, when the bonds are falling due. A man who holds an undoubted bond for £1,000, yielding, say, 4 per cent., is not going to take 3¾ per cent. on a new bond offered to him unless he is offered advantages that will equal the difference. In the case of a bond covered by a doubtful security the case is, of course, quite different.

I began a system of raising loans in the local market, and it is interesting to note that since my time and before the War the total of such loans represented a considerable portion of our debt.

Later in the session I moved the second reading of a Bill to reform the Public Service. The previous measure had failed utterly because, although there was under it a Public Service Board, that body had no


  ― 123 ―
substantial powers, either of control or initiation. There had been no classification, no limitations on the power of appointment, no protection of the interests of civil servants from outside appointments over their heads, and there was no independent supervision, either of the officers, their conduct, or their work. All these defects had reduced the Service to a lamentable state. Composed as a rule of capable men, there were, nevertheless, many incapable and undeserving officers who blocked the promotion of better men. There was no law affording a fair trial to officers charged with misconduct; there were no regulations for the entrance or examination of cadets. The different departments were treated as if they were separate services, instead of links in a chain. The financial result of all this was that extravagance was rampant.

In spite of these faults in the system then prevailing, the heart of the Civil Service was sound, and the great majority of the civil servants were efficient, upright, and zealous.

The main changes proposed and afterwards approved by both Houses were as follows:—

  • 1. A Board of Commissioners, three in number, appointed for seven years—only removable during their term of office by a Resolution passed in both Houses of Parliament—having full power to classify the service, fix salaries, recommend promotions and appointments, and with authority to frame regulations for the approval of the Governor in Council.
  • 2. All vacancies to be publicly notified.



  •   ― 124 ―
  • 3. Competitive examinations.
  • 4. Seniority to be subject to fitness and aptitude.
  • 5. Salary to be readjusted in accordance with the value of the work.
  • 6. No promotion from a lower to a higher grade without examination.
  • 7. All competitions open to men in all, even the manual, grades.
  • 8. The Board to deal with applications for further assistance.
  • 9. No appointments from outside unless Governor in Council declared that there were no officers in the Service qualified to fill them.
  • 10. No unnaturalised foreigner to remain in or be appointed to the Service.
  • 11. Regulations to be framed for the admission of women to the Public Service.
  • 12. Officers between 60 and 65 liable to be called on to retire. After 65 officers only to remain if Government so desire.

The relations between the proposed Board, and the Executive, and the Parliament might be stated thus: The Board controls, the Executive may veto, Parliament may interfere.

The pension system was abolished. With us it had always been ill-conceived and financially unsound—and each new officer was to be compelled to insure his life.

Our Bill to reform the Constitution of the Legislative Council was introduced in the Council, as it dealt with that body chiefly. It had an unfriendly reception and a stormy passage, and was thrown out by a large majority.




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We sent the Land and Income Tax Assessment Bill up in the shape in which it was sent previously. This time the second reading was passed by a majority of 30 to 11.

In Committee a number of amendments were made, mostly in one direction, but many were decided improvements. The main contest was over the exemptions which, as to income, the Council reduced from £300 to £160, and as to land omitted altogether. The third reading was carried by 20 votes to 15. We accepted a number of the amendments made by the Council, but disagreed as to the rest.

The Council refused to abandon any of its amendments. We still disagreed, and requested a free Conference. This request was complied with, and a Conference met.

There were ten managers for the Council and ten for the Assembly, and the proceedings were private. The Conference sat on Thursday, Friday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, November 21st, 22nd, 26th, and 27th. I found the managers for the Council determined to stand by their important amendments. Although the General Election compelled the Council to swallow the Bill in some form or other, the managers were evidently instructed to fight on some vital points an unyielding battle. This would have compelled me to advise the Governor to appoint a sufficient number of new members to the Council to carry the Bill against all opposition. I did not wish to push our victory to such an extreme. I thought it to be my duty, however, to let the Acting-Governor, Sir Frederick Darley, know how things stood, and the course I


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would have to take if the managers would not come to terms with us. Something must have happened during the adjournment between the 22nd and 26th, because the Council managers, when we met again, began to listen to reason. They agreed to an exemption from land tax up to £240 in each case, and to an exemption from income tax of £200. There were a number of other items upon which we agreed. I yielded a number of points that did not impair the integrity of our proposals, as we were supremely anxious to pass our fiscal policy into law.

When the agreement arrived at was reported to the Council so much resentment was expressed that it seemed to be clear that its managers were sent into the Conference bound to make no substantial surrender. The only explanation possible was fear of a “swamping” process. That process would certainly have been applied if the managers had not listened to reason, and I fancy they knew that pretty well. As one of the managers said, “We know that if we had not given way an atom the House would have been annihilated.” One Councillor was so bitter that he paid me an undeserved compliment. He said, “Our managers left us in order to bring the Premier's scalp back—they have left their own. The laurels which adorned the brows of our best men are all transferred to him.” The agreement was then passed without a division.

In the Assembly we had also to face many indignant members, but the Conference results were agreed to by 51 to 27 votes.

On October 23rd, 1895, I moved in Committee


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that it was expedient to bring in a Bill to enable New South Wales to take part in the framing, acceptance, and enactment of a Federal Constitution. I began by urging hon. members to remember that we had reached a stage in the Federal movement at which we should abandon oratory and devote ourselves earnestly to the practical phases of the enterprise. I did not omit, however, a well-earned tribute to the great services rendered by Sir Henry Parkes at an earlier stage. I did not disparage, either, the valuable labours of the 1891 Convention. The pressing question was how best to restore the subject to life and give it another chance of satisfactory settlement. The Bill of 1891, whatever our opinions might be as to the merits of some of its provisions, was a very able measure, splendidly drafted; but the movement had lacked one essential element, and that was an earnest adherence to the Federal movement by the great body of the people.

The Government had considered whether they should follow the lines laid down by the Parkes and by the Dibbs-Barton Governments, and we had determined that the movement must be put upon an entirely different basis. Hence we proposed that a new Convention should be summoned, and that its members should not be chosen by the Parliaments, but elected by the people.

The chief measures of the session, which began on August 13th and ended on December 19th, 1895, were:—

  • The Australasian Federal Enabling Act.
  • The Public Service Act.



  •   ― 128 ―
  • The Land Tax Act.
  • The Income Tax Act.
  • The Customs Duties Act (reducing the tariff to five heads).
  • The Land and Income Tax Assessment Act.

I should also mention an Act establishing the Accounts on a cash basis, as from July 1st, 1895, leaving the votes passed up to June 30th to remain open as before, so that the new Accounts should contain no deficiency to start with and no uncertainty for the future. We also passed an Act to put all deficiencies up to June 30th into Treasury Bills. This included a deficiency on the Accounts, January to June, 1895, amounting to £240,000.

My opponents, who were naturally very keen after their heavy defeat on the taxation proposals, started a great controversy over the way in which I presented the Public Accounts. They tried to saddle me with the deficiency of my predecessors, although it was their own declared intention to provide for it by Treasury Bills. They persistently declared that my Accounts were all wrong. To do this with any show of plausibility they had to ignore the Acts agreed to by Parliament, which were intended to give the new system of Accounts on the cash basis a fair start. To denounce my Accounts as wrong, and then to endeavour to prove the charge by stating the real figures to be what the law declared they should not be, was an extreme of unfairness which I strongly resented.

Sir Henry Parkes passed away on April 27th, 1896, at the age of 80. I saw him once whilst he was lying


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very ill, but his death took place whilst I was in South Australia.

Sir Henry had some faults—who has not?—but his career was, upon the whole, the most striking and most fruitful in great events of any in Australia. He was his own schoolmaster, and he was one of the best examples that can be quoted of the immense value of the education in things that count in real life, which a man with natural ability can give himself. His mannerisms in speech never wholly fell from him —occasionally one saw the cottager's son in them—but his lofty notions of government and the soundness of his Constitutional views, coupled with his massive eloquence, robust English, and immense persuasiveness, made him the truly great man which his remarkable personal appearance suggested. When I stood by his bedside in that last illness, and he took me by the hand, all our previous barriers seemed to disappear. A mutual emotion of regret replaced them.

On July 9th, 1896, I made the Budget Speech dealing with the Public Accounts. The revenue received during the year from July 1st, 1895, to June 30th, 1896, was £32,000 above my estimate. The actual expenditure during the year out of the votes taken for the year under the new system left a cash surplus of £333,000. This, of course, excluded payments under the unexpired votes of the old system, which were provided for in the Treasury Bills already referred to. In view of the attacks made upon me, I asked the Auditor-General to certify to the correctness of my cash balance, which he did in a written reply. If I


  ― 130 ―
had been foolish enough to load the new system with the expenditure upon the votes passed before that system began, the new system would have been saddled with a large deficiency which did not belong to it, instead of showing the cash surplus which did, which was a folly my opponents could not make me commit. They had then to fall back upon figures arranged contrary to the laws which had been passed.

In this session we removed a great reproach by placing upon the Statute Book a much-needed and long-delayed Public Health Act. We had a Health Board and laws relating to quarantine, but no general law such as had long before been passed in other countries. Preventable deaths and preventable epidemics had been a disgrace to our legislature. Another much-needed power was taken—that of preventing building operations in unhealthy places.

I cannot leave that subject without acknowledging the eminent services in all matters of the public health rendered by Professor (afterwards Sir Thomas) Anderson Stuart, Dr. (afterwards Sir Charles) Mackellar, and the late Dr. Manning (who was the Head of our Lunacy Institutions). Dr. (afterwards Sir Normand) McLaurin also rendered conspicuous service in all these matters.

The scarcity of water in our rivers made the question of water conservation and riparian rights one of vast importance. We passed a measure bringing all the inland waters of New South Wales under the control of the Crown, whilst providing safeguards for existing interests. Mr. (afterwards Sir Joseph) Carruthers, the Minister for Lands, deserves


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immense credit for the way in which this Bill was drafted, and the manner in which he piloted its passage into law.

In respect of factory legislation New South Wales was dreadfully behind. Our measure, which was passed in the same session, proved a remedy for many abuses, and established an efficient system of control over the conditions of labour, especially that of women and young people.

Our Coal Mines Regulation Act was also a large reform, badly needed. There were influential men in the Legislative Council largely interested in coal mines, and their views were quite at variance with those of our Chamber. Considering the difficulty—often proved —of getting a measure of the sort through both Houses, Mr. Sydney Smith—one of the most devoted friends and colleagues any leader could have—deserves great credit for his success in getting his Bill passed into law. It provided for proper ventilation and the competency of those who had responsible posts in the mines.

The election of ten delegates to act for New South Wales, as provided by the Federal Enabling Act of 1895, was held in the beginning of 1897. The whole of the proceedings were of a friendly character and, as we hoped, made the federal project interesting and popular in a way that proved impossible in 1891.

One of the most notable candidates was Cardinal Moran. His Eminence had taken a deep interest in the federal movement, and his qualifications were undoubted. His defeat was caused by a general desire —which some of his own large flock shared—to keep


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the heads of religious bodies out of active politics. The only leading Colonist who had been divine and politician both was the Reverend Dr. Lang.

No one could grudge Mr. Barton his premier position on the poll—his personal and intellectual qualities were so great, and his devotion to the cause of federation had been so conspicuous. It is not unfair to add, as another reason, that for some years he had been out of Party politics, whilst I had been in the front of many bitter battles. The vote that placed me next him was larger than anyone anticipated, and was a source of lasting pleasure to me.




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13. Chapter XIII The Convention At Work

THE Convention began its sittings on March 22nd. At first there were only four Colonies represented: New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, and Tasmania. That made a House of 40. A few days later Western Australia was added, which made the number 50. This Convention, when compared with that of six years before, showed great changes in its membership. Sir Henry Parkes had passed away. Sir Samuel Griffith had become Chief Justice of Queensland. Queensland was not represented at all. Nor were there any delegates from New Zealand. Sir George Dibbs had become the Managing Trustee of the Savings Bank of New South Wales. Mr. Gillies had become Speaker of the Legislative Assembly of Victoria.

The chief names repeated from 1891 were those of Mr. Barton, Mr. McMillan, Sir Joseph Abbott, from New South Wales; Mr. Alfred Deakin, from Victoria; Mr. Kingston, Sir John Cockburn, Sir Richard Baker, Mr. J. H. Gordon, Sir John Downer, from South Australia; Sir Edward Braddon and Sir Philip Fysh, from Tasmania.

At a Conference of Premiers held the night before the meeting of the Convention I suggested that Mr. Barton should be placed in charge of the business, as


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he had been one of the framers of the Draft Bill and I had been a prominent opponent.

As the meeting took place in South Australia, the Premier of that Colony, Mr. C. C. Kingston, was elected President, a choice that would have been a good one in any case. Sir Richard Baker was elected Chairman of Committees.

It is impossible to speak too highly of the services of those three gentlemen at the three sessions in Adelaide, Sydney, and Melbourne. Of course, Mr. Barton had the most difficult post. Even his great fitness was taxed sometimes almost to breaking point. That was when burning questions were being fought out and personal influence became an indifferent second to State interests.

The debates were often intensely vigorous, and sometimes developed sharp conflicts. Looking over the reports of the debates, I see, too, many reasons for picking myself out as the chief offender in the heated exchanges which occurred during the sittings of the Convention.

As the smaller communities were to have as many Senators as the larger, their representatives were anxious to give the Senate powers as nearly equal to those of the House of Representatives as they could, with one notable exception to which I have referred elsewhere. Responsible government was to them—or most of them—a thing that went without saying in their local Parliaments, but an unwelcome feature in the federal scheme.

The most critical point in all our proceedings at Adelaide arose upon the question whether the 1897


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draft should remain as drawn by the Committee, giving equal power to the Senate over all proposed laws, “except laws appropriating the necessary supplies for the ordinary annual services of the Government which the Senate may affirm or reject but may not amend.” I submitted an amendment making proposed laws imposing taxation also laws which the Senate could not amend. Even the 1891 Bill had provided that such Bills should not be amended by the Senate. I felt that no Bill could be accepted if the Senate had equal powers with the House of Representatives over taxation. Apart from questions of relationship between the two Houses, which were vital in this case, it seemed to me that hopeless confusion might arise from equal powers over the basis of public finance—taxation. The experience of the United States, where equal powers exist, was far from encouraging. If it be true that “no man can serve two masters,” it is even truer that no system of public finance can serve two masters. On the question of principle no reply that was offered seemed to dispose of my view that “if you nationalise the area and incidence of taxation you must nationalise the power and representation of the taxpayers.” I quite admitted that “if our finances were based upon an equal contribution by each of the States my contention would disappear.” Sir George Turner declared that this amendment was the “crux of the situation.” Mr. Kingston took a similar view, saying that the rejection of my amendment would mean the “forfeiture of responsible government.” After a memorable debate my amendment was carried by 25 to 23. Mr. Kingston


  ― 136 ―
and Mr. Glynn, of South Australia; Mr. Lewis, Mr. Brown, and Mr. Henry, of Tasmania, by voting with us, made a solid sacrifice of State interests in order to destroy one of the lions in the path.

In the Draft Bill as it came from the Constitutional Committee at Adelaide the first thing I observed was omission of the 1891 arrangement, which made “river navigation with respect to the common purposes of two or more States or parts of the Commonwealth” one of the subjects of the federal legislative power. I always objected strongly to this as vague and possibly subversive of our powers of irrigation in dry seasons. The new proposal was, I conceived, a thousand times worse because it took over the control of the use of our rivers altogether. It was as follows:—

“The control and regulation of navigable streams and their tributaries within the Commonwealth and the use of the waters thereof.”

Since the Murrumbidgee and the Darling began and ended entirely within New South Wales, I regarded the proposal to hand over those two rivers as an impossible concession. Schemes of intensive culture for which the river waters were necessary were the only chance we had of making our remote interior a hive of human industry.

A committee was set going to formulate a scheme of finance. It consisted of three delegates from each of the six states. Mr. McMillan was Chairman of that Committee. The Premiers were ex officio members of that and all other Committees.

Two broad divisions of the matter presented themselves. One was as to the period before, and the


  ― 137 ―
other as to the period after, the enactment of the Federal Tariff. It was generally admitted that on these points the scheme of the 1891 Bill was faulty if not unworkable.

I secured a provision that the uniform tariff must be imposed within two years after federation. This was important, because tremendous conflicts over its details were certain. Besides, as the one State with a free trade tariff, and with duties levied against her in all the other States, New South Wales had the strongest reason for that speedy settlement, which alone could bring inter-State free trade into force.

I suggested another change to which I attached great importance. In the 1891 and 1897 drafts the Supreme Court was to be established by Act of Parliament. This gave it only a parliamentary tenure. I urged that its foundation should be in the bedrock of the Constitution. The power of establishing the Court was therefore exchanged for the enactment that “the judicial power of the Commonwealth shall be vested in one Supreme Court to be called the High Court of Australia.”

Another important change was the provision enabling Parliament to establish an inter-State Commission to enforce equality and freedom of trade upon rivers and railways.

A very wise alteration was made regarding proposals to amend the Constitution. The 1891 Bill provided that proposed changes should go from Parliament to a convention chosen by the electors. The 1897 draft provided that the reference should be to the electors themselves.




  ― 138 ―

As I had been so often censured over my dealings with the subject of federation, I may be forgiven if I conclude these observations upon the Adelaide sittings of the Convention with some references to my federal work made in the Convention before my departure for Sydney:—

“We owe so much to Mr. Reid in the origin of this Convention, and for the fair and conciliatory spirit in which he has invariably addressed himself to the business of this Convention, that we can assuredly offer him the slight tribute of offering him a public good-bye. That at least is due to him and due from us to him.”—MR. DEAKIN.

“I agree with the sentiments that have fallen from Mr. Deakin, and think that we will unanimously pay Mr. Reid this small mark of our high esteem and appreciation of his enthusiastic and eloquent advocacy of Federation, his sound reasoning, his geniality, his unflagging industry, and his unfailing courtesy.”—MR. KINGSTON.

“No one is more sensible than I am of what Mr. Reid has done for the cause of Federation, and especially in connection with the carrying of this Federal Enabling Act, not only in the interests of the people of his own Colony, but for the whole of the people of Australia.”—MR. BARTON.

“I only desire to endorse what has been said by my hon. friends Mr. Deakin and Mr. Kingston. We owe a great deal to Mr. Reid. He has initiated this movement, and he has forwarded it in the most admirable manner by his tact as much as by his eloquence, and it is only a small compliment to bid


  ― 139 ―
him good-bye and send him forth rejoicing.”—SIR EDWARD BRADDON.

“When I interjected I was certainly under the impression that my hon. friend the Premier of New South Wales would be more pleased if we kept to our work than if we went to see him off. As that is not so, I would not attempt to stand in the way of this Convention bidding good-bye to my genial friend, and I must express the warm hope that we shall meet him again in another part of Australia—I shall not say what part—to finish the good work which he has taken such great pains in carrying out.”—SIR GEORGE TURNER.




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14. Chapter XIV In England For The Diamond Jubilee

WHEN I was setting out from Sydney on my road to Adelaide to embark for England for the Diamond Jubilee, I was honoured with a demonstration given by the citizens of Sydney in the Town Hall which redoubled my desire to render faithful service to a community which had bestowed on me so many generous marks of favour.

During my absence, which could not extend beyond the end of August, as the adjourned session of the Federal Convention was to begin in Sydney on September 1st, Mr. Brunker, the Colonial Secretary, acted for me, and Mr. Carruthers, the Secretary for Lands, took charge of the Federal Bill drafted by the Adelaide Convention. With the concurrence of Mr. Want and my other colleagues, it was arranged that Mr. Barton, who was the official leader of the Convention, should take charge of the federal proceedings in the Legislative Council.

The two Houses finished their labours in suggesting amendments in the Adelaide Bill before the Convention met again.

I left Sydney on the 10th to embark at Adelaide on May 12th. My wife went with me to Adelaide, but would not go to England, as our two children were not very strong, and were too young to travel or to leave.




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I am a good sailor, and looked forward to a pleasant rest on the voyage. The Orient R.M.S. Orizaba, on which I travelled, had seafaring qualities of the best kind, and was commanded by Mr. Clarke, R.N.R., who became an Elder Brother of Trinity. My frequent voyages have convinced me that sailors, whether officers or men, possess an average of the manlier qualities which any other class of men would find it impossible to equal. When you add, as you could in the case of Captain Clarke and most of the other commanders I have sailed with, social qualities and general intelligence of a high order, you find life at sea as enjoyable as it seems to be safe.

I always feel for the men who “go down to the sea in ships” that sort of respect and admiration which in olden times attached to the chivalry of the knight errant. They must be fond of danger and hard conditions of work; they can have no sort of craving for filthy lucre or ambition for worldly success. Far removed from the limelight by day and night, in fair weather and foul, sailors are the “reapers and binders” of all the world's harvests. Without them, the bulk of mankind would have remained at the level of hewers of wood and drawers of water.

The very considerable strain of public and professional duties during the previous six years enabled me to enjoy intensely my voyage to England. As everybody ought to know, and ought to remember, the best enjoyments are those which are earned by hard work.

Having reached Australia when seven years old, I knew little or nothing about the other end of the


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world. An interval of about three months and eighteen days between my departure from and my return to Australia meant a very rapid tour.

Determined to make the best of my time, I landed at Naples for an eight-day visit to Europe in company with one or two of my fellow-passengers. We went from Naples to Rome, then Florence, saw Milan, ascended Rigi, stayed at Lucerne, and visited the Brussels Exhibition. Thanks to Cook's guides we spent our time to great advantage.

The crowded, delightful impressions of those memorable eight days have become vague, but there are two or three which remain vivid.

A moonlight night amongst the ruins of the Colosseum brought me nearer to the grandeur and tragedy of ancient Rome than any page of history or triumph of art could. The vast amphitheatre seemed animated with the ghost-life of two sets of departed Cæsars, one armed with the fleeting power of Imperial Rome, the other inspired with the mightier power of human faith in thrones beyond the skies.

An ignorant tourist like myself, who travels without Baedekers, often gets more delightful sensations of surprise than the more industrious and enlightened traveller. Driving along one of the dusty roads which take one out of Rome, I saw a vast outline of hideous brick. Passing to the entrance, and pushing aside a filthy portièere, I found myself in one of the noblest temples of human piety the world contains. It blended the massive majesty of the past with a modern brightness and finish of surpassing grandeur. If I had known then—what everyone else knew—that this


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marvellous spectacle, those long avenues flanked by mammoth alabaster pillars, the priceless treasures of the sanctuary, the portraits of a long line of departed Pontiffs—that all these glories were a restoration by modern art built upon the blackened ruins of a recent fire—the rapture would have vanished, and I should have begun to appraise its intrinsic worth in figures. Accustomed during a long life to the Anglo-Australian style of man, woman, and child, the different races I saw, in my rapid progress from South-eastern to North-western Europe, also made a deep impression. Racial types, from thin to broad in shape, with tumult of tongue and movement, to almost stolid strides of energy and movement, swept past me, by progressive variations, almost according to the degrees of latitude.

I reached Dover from Ostend on Friday, June 18th, and was met by Sir Saul Samuel, the Agent-General for New South Wales. Sir Saul and I were old friends. I was in the Treasury when he was Colonial Treasurer, and he had always honoured me with his friendship. He had the happy fate—which he thoroughly deserved—of being highly esteemed at both antipodes. A host of letters and invitations awaited me. The letter that most delighted and surprised me was one from the Secretary for the Colonies, Mr. Joseph Chamberlain, offering me, by command of Her Majesty, the rank of a Privy Councillor. This honour was conferred upon each of the eleven Premiers who came to England at that time. There is no greater distinction to which a Colonial could sensibly aspire.

Upon the night of my arrival I had to attend a


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dinner given to the visiting Premiers by the Imperial Institute. The President was H.R.H. the Prince of Wales. Sir Wilfrid Laurier had the honour of sitting on his right hand, and I was placed on his left. Having spent most of the previous eight nights in travel, with a great deal of sight-seeing by day, I was haunted by a grave anxiety. In Australia I was the subject of many jokes owing to a bad habit I had of falling off to sleep. When I did sleep concealment was often impossible because my slumbers were sometimes really eloquent! I felt it would be truly horrible if I slept in that august presence, yet the odds were against me. I knew what my unfriendlies in Australia would say if I did go to sleep. Those who did not denounce me as a pig would accuse me of a pitiful ambition to show how thoroughly at home I felt in such distinguished company! I could not ask my future Sovereign to keep me awake. Next me, on the other side, was a most reverend ecclesiastic of grave aspect, Dr. Temple, the Archbishop of Canterbury. I asked him to be good enough to keep me awake. I cannot forget the first terrible glance, but it was swiftly succeeded by friendly smiles and a gracious assent when I explained the fearful danger of my position. The Archbishop afterwards expressed a doubt to me whether any one of his ninety-two predecessors had been asked to undertake a similar mission. I quite believed him. Later on I found myself in another dilemma. I had a misty notion that you must never refuse any polite attention offered by a Royal personage. I had rather amused the President with a description of the way in which a cigar he had


  ― 145 ―
given to Sir George Dibbs was enthroned in a glass case in Sydney. But when the Prince asked me if I would accept a cigar too, I felt in a fix. If I did take it, that would look as if I had been fishing for it; if I did not, I might break an inflexible rule. However, as I did not smoke I said so, determined to clear my character even at the expense of my manners. I felt immensely relieved when His Royal Highness took up his pencil, autographed the menu card, and said, “Perhaps you will accept this?” I replied, “Yes, indeed, Sir, and this souvenir will remain longer in my family.”

There was an illustrious gathering of Britain's leading men that night. Among the speakers, in addition to the President, were Lord Lansdowne, Lord Rosebery, Lord Salisbury, Mr. Chamberlain, and Sir Wilfrid Laurier. Their speeches were all worthy of the occasion, especially those of Lord Rosebery and Sir Wilfrid Laurier. I also spoke. Some days later Lord Rosebery informed me that some thought I had made the best speech. I was immensely pleased, but he had, I felt convinced, made a vastly better one himself. However, that kind compliment regarding my first speech in England encouraged me immensely.

Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee was unique in more ways than one. From 1837 to 1897 the British throne had been occupied by a Sovereign whose loyalty to her people and her Parliament and their constitutional rights had created a new precedent of the best kind. Personal supremacy could never again usurp the place of popular government beneath the British flag. Another new departure, perhaps just as valuable,


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was made by Her Majesty. A bridge of loving-kindness was thrown across the awful chasm which had separated human nature on the throne from human nature in the dwellings of the poor. Those touching messages of sorrow, of sympathy with the misfortunes and bereavements of the obscure — those cups of tea the Queen drank with the cottagers at Balmoral—attracted to the British throne a new sort of intimate personal loyalty in all the cottages of the Empire. Not the least claim to the gratitude of their subjects which the two Kings and the two Queens who succeeded Queen Victoria have earned is the sincere and devoted way in which they have emulated and expanded her example.

The festivals of ancient times may have been celebrated with greater magnificence of outward show. The trophies attesting the triumphs of war, the sight of the captive chiefs of other lands in their chains of shame, may have thrilled with a fiercer fire the plaudits of the plebs who filled the streets of Rome; but how insignificant all those memories became when compared with the unprompted reverence, the genuine affection, of hundreds of millions of the human race—the voyaging of so many Rulers across the seas to render voluntary homage to their Queen and Empress, in whose pure, unselfish grasp the Royal and Imperial sceptres of the greatest family of nations the world has ever seen had been so firmly held for sixty glorious years!

The procession to St. Paul's Cathedral on Tuesday, June 22nd, was the grandest national spectacle I ever saw. The route was a long one, and every pavement


  ― 147 ―
and window and roof space was crowded with bright and cheering crowds. In beauty and gaiety London for one day at least put Paris in the shade. The English people “assisted” at this national tribute to our greatest Queen with all the enthusiasm of a Southern race. As I passed along I saw on the radiant faces of the youthful generation the promise of even greater days.

We Colonial Premiers had every reason to be gratified by the constant roar of welcome we got, as representatives of the Oversea Dominions. Far more impressive than anything about us was the appearance of contingents of Colonial and Indian troops, which gave a soul-moving significance to the whole display, for they seemed to reveal in visible shape that valour and readiness to fight for the Empire of which later days have given matchless proof.

The morning was misty. On arrival at St. Paul's we were placed in front seats on the daïs on the western steps where the short religious ceremony was to take place. Her Majesty's Ministers, with characteristic courtesy, placed us in better seats than they occupied themselves.

One of the most delightful incidents in that never-to-be-forgotten ceremony was this. As the Queen's carriage came in sight the curtain of mist dissolved, and the sun appeared just as if that monarch of the skies had at the last moment determined to join in the general rejoicing.

Sir Wilfrid Laurier, the Prime Minister of Canada, was the senior of our Colonial representatives, and we were all proud to acknowledge him as our leader.


  ― 148 ―
In those days there were not the intimate relations which now exist between Britain and France; and I regarded this Franco-British Prime Minister as the most interesting of all the distinguished visitors.

To save time at the Conference, I suggested that before we began our meetings with Mr. Chamberlain, the Premiers should discuss together the matters to be submitted, and that course was taken.

Photograph facing p.148. The Imperial Conference of 1897. Rt.Hon.Richard Seddon (New Zealand), Sir Wilfrid Laurier (Canada), Rt.Hon.Joseph Chamberlain (Sec.State for Colonies), Sir George Reid (New South Wales), Sir John Gordon Sprigg (Cape Colony), Sir Edward Braddon (Tasmania), Sir George Turner (Victoria), Sir William Whiteway (Newfoundland), Sir John Bramston (Colonial Office), Sir Hugh Nelson (Queensland), Hon.C.C.Kingston (South Australia), Sir John Forrest (Western Australia), Hon.Harry Escombe (Natal), Mr.Edward Wingfield (Colonial Office), Sir John Anderson (Sec. Colonial Conference), Earl of Selborne (Colonial Office)



On the questions of commercial relations Mr. Chamberlain made some striking observations, which show very clearly his view then of Imperial trade relations.

The difficulties in the way of special inter-Imperial concessions or international bargains owing to the most-favoured-nation clause in existing commercial treaties was fully discussed.

In the matter of defence, the importance of settled plans in each of the Australian Colonies for joint action in times of danger was fully considered.

Two aspects of the matter were brought up—one, the contribution to the maintenance of a British squadron in Colonial waters; the other, a general payment towards the expense of the Imperial Navy as a whole.

At a dinner given to us by that admirable Imperial unit, the Royal Colonial Institute, over which H.R.H. the Duke of Connaught did us the great honour of presiding, the First Lord of the Admiralty, Mr. (afterwards Lord) Goschen, made an excellent speech, but seemed to make an appeal for more liberal Naval subsidies from the Colonies. In speaking later I dwelt upon the fact that our immense developmental tasks,


  ― 149 ―
coupled with the smallness of our population and the largeness of our territories, made it difficult to respond to such an appeal. Lord Goschen was rather nettled by my remarks, which he thought had been premeditated, but as a matter of fact they were not. Later, the First Lord attended the Conference, made an admirable and conciliatory speech, expressed his willingness to continue the existing arrangement, and promised to send a first-class cruiser as flagship to replace the Orlando. We all cordially thanked him. In the Conference we had a most interesting discussion on the question of coloured immigration. The Premiers had to express the strong views of the Colonists on this subject. The Secretary of State had to voice Imperial objections to local legislation. No agreement or resolution was come to on this matter.

On the question of preferential trade, preference was unanimously agreed to; but two views were expressed, one in favour of a preference reducing existing duties in favour of Great Britain, the other in favour of making a preference by increasing the duties levied upon the goods of foreign nations. Great Britain and New South Wales were the only two countries with Free Trade tariffs. In their case the scope existing for any sort of preference was of the smallest.

I know that I utter the views of every member of the Conference when I express my strong admiration of the rare blending in Mr. Chamberlain of statesman-like views with business capacity. This union of attributes gave his speeches and writings a force and a completeness enabling him to produce masterful


  ― 150 ―
effects which only minds of the highest quality could rival.

No acknowledgment of Mr. Chamberlain's efforts to make the visit of the Premiers a pleasant one would be adequate without a reference to Mrs. Chamberlain. That which is so bright and charming in American women, and that which is of such sterling merit in British women, in Mrs. Chamberlain were happily united.

The Prince of Wales invited the Continental and Colonial representatives to meet a distinguished company at dinner at Marlborough House. An unfortunate delay of thirty-five minutes spoilt the dinner, although the quality of the wines remained to comfort us. It was caused by the late arrival of the French Envoy. During those fatal minutes the Prince must have often and most heartily d——d the Envoy, but not a shadow of his annoyance appeared in his face, or in the marks of courtesy he bestowed upon his guests. When the Envoy arrived, evidently unaware of his error, the Prince embraced him with a happy smile which won the admiration of all beholders. In humbler circles, where exalted personages are not expected, the only ruined dinner would have been that of the gentleman who arrived so late!

Many who had worked hard for Imperial federation attached great importance to our visit, and hoped that some sort of scheme would be evolved. Mr. Chamberlain told us that in Britain Imperial federation was “in the air,” and that she was ready if the self-governing Dominions were. But, as he most sensibly said, “the subject seems to me to depend entirely upon the feeling


  ― 151 ―
which exists in the Colonies themselves. Here you will be met half-way. The question is whether, up to the present time, there is such a genuine popular demand for closer union as would justify us in considering practical proposals to give it shape.”

He suggested that “it might be feasible to create a great Council of the Empire to which the Colonies would send representative plenipotentiaries—not mere delegates who were unable to speak in their name, without further reference to their respective Governments, but persons who, by their position in the Colonies, by their representative character, and by their close touch with Colonial feeling, would be able, upon all subjects submitted to them, to give really effective and valuable advice.… It might slowly grow to that Federal Council to which we must always look forward as our ultimate ideal.”

Sir Wilfrid Laurier, Sir Gordon Sprigg, and I accepted an invitation to visit Paris and attend a banquet given by that most useful and influential centre, the British Chamber of Commerce. Sir Wilfrid made a beautiful speech—that is to say, I am sure he did—I do not speak French. When my turn came I had to explain that I had the accent, and I had the gestures, but alas! I had not the language. In the Australian Colonies, which I never expected to leave, very few can speak two languages, as the small number of foreign residents there invariably speak English. On the night of our arrival there was a premièere at the Comédie Française. I greatly desired to see it, but was told that there would certainly be no room. Still, I went, and made for the Box Office. The


  ― 152 ―
seller of tickets made a gesture which showed that the House was overflowing. I felt at a loss how to proceed, when an attendant came across the vestibule, took me to one of the best seats in that beautiful theatre, the only vacant seat—and refused to allow me to pay. I felt that one was well looked after in Paris! I could not understand a word of the play, but I fancy that my Puritan ancestors would be grateful for that. I am sure some sort of domestic tragedy was involved, and I fear that the heroine was much to blame.

Our visit was shortly after the incident of Fashoda, and the drivers in whose care I was placed, with strict instructions to return me to the Hotel Chatham, glared at me every chance they got. A face covered with notes of interrogation and a finger pointing to some national edifice elicited only a scowl. Fifteen years afterwards they seemed to understand me better!

I felt ever so much more at home when I visited my birthplace in Scotland as the guest of the town of Johnstone, in Renfrewshire. The enthusiasm which greeted me, the removal of the horses from the carriage and my triumphal progress in the streets afterwards, did indeed surprise me. It showed that on “suitable occasion” Scottish people can “let themselves go” just as freely as the denizens of brighter climes. In the evening, at the dinner given me, I made a heartfelt apology for leaving my native land two months after I was born. I explained that it was from no selfish motive. I wished, in casting myself at that age on the cold world, to make more room for my struggling fellow-countrymen. I expressed the


  ― 153 ―
belief, from what I had since seen, that the sooner one leaves his native land and the less he knows about it, the more ardent his love for it becomes. Besides, out in far Australia, when disparaging remarks about Scotland were made, as if it were a barren blot on the map, I was able to declare, with absolute truth, that during the whole of my stay in Scotland I found it to be “a land flowing with milk and honey!” This was one of the very few jokes on which I used to travel. I took great care not to repeat it in the same town.

The most trying hot day I had during my absence from Australia was not in the tropics, but in the place farthest north I reached—Edinburgh. I had another disappointment. The beauties of the Scottish capital had been so lavishly impressed on my willing imagination that I was far from satisfied with the reality, impressive as it was. I hope my Scottish readers will not on that account class me with a young Australian who visited England many years ago. He was taken by a friend round the sights of London, and seemed to be very irresponsive. At last they came to St. Paul's Cathedral, and the visitor was asked to admire its beautiful design and massive proportions. The young Australian admitted it was “not so bad,” but added, “I wish you could see Dan Cooper's store in Sydney!”

There is, of course, a great difference in all countries between the position of a Prime Minister when in office and his position when he is out of office. But I think the difference is greater in England than in any other country. Probably the density of


  ― 154 ―
Mr. Gladstone's retirement during the Diamond Jubilee celebrations was caused by his own wishes in the matter. I do not know. But when Lord Carrington (now the Marquess of Lincolnshire) invited the Colonial Premiers to a week-end at Gwydyr Castle, visiting Mr. Gladstone at Hawarden on the road, I felt that one of the greatest privileges of my life was offered me. No other conceivable engagement could have kept me away. With Lord and Lady Carrington, Sir Wilfrid Laurier, Mr. Seddon, and I went. I wondered how anyone could stay away!

Mr. and Mrs. Gladstone were in the garden, with members of the family. Mr. Gladstone took us through his famous library, and we had tea under a magnificent tree on one of the lawns.

He was then 87 years old; but that grand old face and those piercing eyes were still suggestive of their former power. The conversations were mainly general, but occasionally personal. His knowledge of Imperial affairs was obvious. The only remark he made about his own career was this: “Sixty-one years ago I was Under-Secretary for the Colonies!”

I never will forget the thrill I felt when, in parting, he took me by the hand and said: “May the Lord cause His face to shine on you and yours!”

We in the Colonies are able to admire British statesmen free from Party likes or dislikes. Mr. Gladstone had no more ardent admirer of his broad sympathies and intellectual excellences than I was. Yet, after that dramatic ordering of the British warships through the Dardanelles in 1878, few could be


  ― 155 ―
more ardent admirers of Lord Beaconsfield than I was. Before that I never looked upon him as quite an Englishman. After that I could not think of any man who was a truer Englishman. Britain had sunk to a level of European contempt that was astoundingly low. In an instant, by that fearless move, she recovered her vanished prestige, and became again the centre of the world's politics.

Photograph facing p.154. A reminiscence of Hawarden, 1897. Sir Wilfrid Laurier, Mr.W.Ewart Gladstone, Lady Carrington, Mr.Richard Seddon, Mrs.Gladstone, Sir George Reid, Lord Carrington, Sir Lewis Dawes.



There can be no doubt about this. Colonial isolation from any share in the exercise of executive power in things Imperial—a fact which makes the periodical gatherings of the representatives of the Cabinets of the Empire deliberations without decision—helps immensely to promote the harmony of such gatherings. Still there must be some evolution leading to closer and stronger relations. Defence seems the best subject on which to begin Imperial federation. This war is showing wonderful results of enthusiastic loyalty, but it is also showing us more clearly than ever the absurdity of treating defence as if it were a series of independent local conundrums.

From my arrival in London to my departure was a period of less than five weeks. That period included short visits to Wales, Scotland, and France. At this distance of time—nineteen years—I still feel bewildered by the multitude of business meetings, great spectacles, and overwhelming hospitalities which I, in common with my brother Premiers, survived.

Having left England when a child, and having spent between forty and fifty years at the other end of the world, the visit widened my views of everything


  ― 156 ―
to an extent which made me feel how singularly narrow my outlook had been. The broader views and clearer vision which thus came to me, whilst they taught invaluable lessons and strengthened my feelings of admiration for the British people, did not diminish—indeed, they enlarged—my sense of the golden opportunities and my belief in the future greatness of the lands oversea.

If we would only spend some of our leisure in observing the operations of our own minds, we should sometimes be interested in the results. That is my experience, at any rate. Very many years ago a young Australian actress, Miss Nellie Stewart, in one of her performances—I think it was as “Olivette” in The Two Admirals—introduced the song, “Nearest and Dearest,” which she sang delightfully. More than a quarter of a century later, as the train that was taking me from London to Liverpool, on my road home, was gliding out of the station, a London pressman called out to me, “Will you give me a farewell message to England?” I called out, “Nearer and Dearer!” Then Madame Emily Soldene, representing an Australian journal, called out, “Have you no message for Australia?” I cried out, “Nearest and Dearest!” When the first call came the song flashed into recollection; but, thinking of the land of my adoption, I altered it to the comparative, “Nearer and Dearer.” When the second call came the superlative was ready. If I had never heard that song about a quarter of a century before I do not think I could have responded so promptly and tersely in both cases. Just consider how many millions of


  ― 157 ―
mental impressions that one had to flash through on the spur of the moment!

Mr. (now Sir William) Lever had asked me to open a bridge at Port Sunlight, near Liverpool, in connection with that immensely interesting industrial concern of which he then was, and still is, the honoured head. I willingly consented, and fixed the day I was leaving for New York.

After naming the Victoria Bridge, we had a great gathering at luncheon, and they seemed to like the speech I made. A great deal had happened, both to Liverpool and myself, since I left it forty-five years before!

I embarked on the Majestic in the afternoon.

As I had to leave New York for Montreal on the day of arrival, and Toronto a few days afterwards, and was to embark at Vancouver a very few days after that, I had only time for a flying visit to the Niagara Falls. I had left Australia with such vague and exaggerated notions of the wonders ahead of me that reality in most cases had been disappointing. But Niagara was one of the rare sights which overwhelm even high flights of the human imagination. There, the accumulated energy of Nature dwarfed the lordship of man down to a point of insignificance. Perhaps the finest effect is that which I saw by the light of a full moon, a panorama of perpetual movement—cascades of palest green breaking into whirlpools of purest white. It seemed hardly an accident that those wondrous Falls should be on the border line of those two American federations to which so much of the world's future belongs.




  ― 158 ―

Sir William Van Horne, then head of the Canadian Pacific Railway, sent me over from White Bay to Vancouver in his car. At White Bay I had the good fortune to meet the Premier of South Australia, Mr. C. C. Kingston, and Mrs. Kingston, and Mr. and Mrs. (now Sir Charles and Lady) Mathews on the same train. This was a very pleasant chance, as I was able to offer them a share of my good fortune.

In Australia we have some long lines of railway, and some great elevations to pierce or surmount, but the Canadian Pacific is, I think, the grandest railway on the face of the globe. Running along Fraser River we saw the backs of myriads of salmon in close formation right against both banks. It was a sight of fishing opportunity never to be forgotten by a fisherman like myself, who had rarely realised expectations.

The western plains of Canada in those days (1897) were only beginning to have one big centre. Now they are vast wheatfields interlaced by important cities. No wonder that even prosperous farmers in the Great Republic so often emigrate to Canada and consent to change their flag and their President for our King!

Vancouver even then was an important place, but we had to go straight from the train to the R.M.S. Miowera.

We touched at Honolulu, Suva, and Auckland, reaching Sydney the day before that fixed for the opening of the second session of the Federal Convention.




  ― 159 ―

As we steamed up the harbour, then stopped to allow my wife and two little children and a host of good friends and loyal supporters to join me, I felt as if the happiest moments of my life had reached me.

I had a great reception from the citizens, who seemed to think that I had done well.




  ― 160 ―

15. Chapter XV The Convention Resumes

THE Convention resumed its sittings in the Chamber of the Legislative Assembly.

During the adjournment the Bill had been considered in detail in both Houses of the Parliaments of New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, Western Australia, and Tasmania, and many suggestions for amendment were made, but few of these were of importance.

The work in Sydney differed from that in Adelaide. There was no general debate at the outset. Even then the Draft Bill was only partially dealt with. The main discussion turned on the question of provision for possible deadlocks. This fact is a strange commentary on the go-by given to that question in the Convention of 1891, and the omission of any such provision in the Draft Bill as settled in Adelaide.

Under the able guidance of the President, Chairman of Committees, and the Leader of the Convention, our debates seldom got into a tangle, but there was a most troublesome one over the deadlock proposals. A test amendment revealed the fact that there was a two-to-one majority in favour of making some sort of “safety valve,” but what form that should take created numerous difficulties, behind which was the desire of the less populous to make the Senate as


  ― 161 ―
strong as possible, opposing the desire of the more populous States to get some sort of appeal against the Senate's decisions if a crisis arose. How the appeal should be made, and what should happen after it was made, gave rise to keen debates and intense struggles in which political strategy played a far more prominent part than usual.

After many attempts the result was—there might be a dissolution of the House, or a dissolution of both Houses, and on failure to agree after appeal to the people, a joint sitting. This was agreed to by 23 to 13.

As I was in favour of the joint sitting proposal I voted for it, even with the proviso that there should be a three-fifths majority, to which I was opposed, and hoped to remove afterwards. That was eventually done.

The burning questions as to the rivers and the railways were left over for a Melbourne Session to begin on January 20th, 1898. A number of the other clauses were also left over.

Owing to my absence from Sydney I was unable to deliver the Financial Statement until October 14th. I was then able to announce that the reforms in the Civil Service, whilst making it more efficient than before, had reduced its cost by about £300,000 a year.

A Bill was introduced by a private member to provide that the Federal Bill, when referred to the electors, should not become effective unless an absolute majority of the electors voted. On the second reading we strongly opposed the Bill, but it was carried by 46 to 27. In Committee there was a proposal to


  ― 162 ―
make it necessary that the number voting for the Bill should be 100,000.

I suggested as a compromise 70,000 to 80,000 votes, stating that I would have seriously to consider my position, and that of the whole movement, if 100,000 were carried. An amendment for 80,000 votes was proposed, and I accepted that to prevent the 100,000 from being inserted. When 70,000 was afterwards proposed I felt bound to stand by my agreement to accept 80,000, and voted against it. On the third reading, as on the second, my colleagues and I voted against the Bill, but we were beaten by large majorities on both occasions. I mention this to show the strength of the opinion of members, and to reply to many attacks made upon me for accepting the 80,000. If I had not it would most certainly have been 100,000.

As arranged, the Convention resumed its labours in Melbourne on January 20th, 1898. This was the last sitting. We had, therefore, to make a final effort to put the Bill into a generally acceptable shape.

There had always been a good deal of badinage between Sydney people and Melbourne people over the climatic conditions of those cities. As the heat during our Melbourne session was phenomenal, both in intensity and duration, the Sydney visitors had for once, at any rate, the best of the fun.

To give the reader some notion of the length of the debates in the three sessions, I may mention that the Adelaide proceedings were printed in one volume of moderate size, those at Sydney in one volume of 1,110


  ― 163 ―
pages, whilst the Melbourne debates filled two volumes containing 2,544 pages.

Nearly every contested issue between the supposed interests of the populous and less populous Colonies—between those who wished to expand federal control over the rivers and railways of New South Wales and those who resisted them—had to be fought out once more.

Towards the close of the proceedings, after a number of private conferences between delegates from the smaller States chiefly, an entirely new clause was proposed and carried by 21 to 18. This clause was afterwards known as the “Braddon” clause, often as the “Braddon blot,” Sir Edward Braddon, the Premier of Tasmania, being its sponsor. This clause required that three-fourths of the net revenue from Customs and Excise duties should always be returned to the States.

One of the notable changes of mind on the part of the Convention occurred in connection with Old Age and Invalid Pensions. The proposal to add these, which had been rejected before, was rejected again at the beginning of the Melbourne session by 25 votes to 20. At the end of the session it was resolved by 26 to 4 to include them amongst the federal powers. The change was made in the hope that it would improve the prospects of the Bill.

An even more sudden change was made in connection with the taking over of the Public Debts of the Colonies. On February 28th Sir George Turner carried by 25 to 8 an amendment that Parliament “shall” take over the debts. This was in the morning of that


  ― 164 ―
day. I arrived by the express from Sydney late in the day, and appealed to the Convention to reverse its decision. In this Mr. (afterwards Sir Frederick) Holder gave me most powerful support. We both pointed out that the “shall” presented all the existing holders of the State bonds with a Commonwealth guarantee, without any consideration whatever, and thus destroyed any hope of making favourable terms for the conversion of the debt. The next day, I am glad to say, the “shall” was altered to “may” by 19 to 18.

On the burning question of the conflicting claims of navigation and irrigation there was again a series of strenuous debates, with the following results:—

  • 1. The Federal power given over the River Murray in Clause 52, as settled in Adelaide, was withdrawn.
  • 2. A clause was inserted prohibiting the Commonwealth from doing anything to abridge the right of a State, or of the residents therein, to a reasonable use of the waters of rivers for conservation or irrigation.

Another burning question—that relating to the powers of the Commonwealth over State railways—was settled, after long discussion, by giving the Commonwealth power to forbid by law any undue or unreasonable preference; but this power was limited in two ways: (1) only the Inter-State Commission could adjudge any particular rate to be unjust and unreasonable, and (2) in considering such questions it was provided that due regard should be paid to the financial responsibilities of any State in connection with the


  ― 165 ―
construction and maintenance of its railways. The railways in New South Wales were really the stumbling-block.

The deadlock provisions also came up again, and provoked a long controversy. I supported an attempt to get the three-fifths majority at a joint sitting altered to a simple majority. I had accepted the three-fourths majority in Sydney because I greatly wished to secure some sort of provision to remove any serious Parliamentary deadlock that might arise. Dissolutions, even of both Houses at once, might leave the deadlock as grave as ever. The joint sitting was most likely to secure a settlement. There was no certainty, however, of any reasonable ending at all if the majority had to be three-fifths, because 66 of the members voting might be beaten by 45!

Mr. Higgins moved that the majority of three-fifths should be struck out and a simple majority inserted. I supported him, but we were beaten by 27 to 10.

The Bill was finally settled and the Convention adjourned sine die on March 17th.

A few days before I left the Convention I expressed my dissatisfaction with the shape in which the Bill then stood.

Shortly after my return to Sydney I addressed a very crowded meeting of citizens of Sydney, in order to give them and the people of the Colony an account of the proceedings of the Convention and an analysis of the provisions of the draft Bill. My duty as a representative at the Convention to give a full and candid review was, if possible, doubled by my position as Premier of the Colony.




  ― 166 ―

The following is from one of the newspaper descriptions of the meeting:—

“The gathering was a magnificent one. It was certainly one of the largest political meetings ever held in the Town Hall. The meeting could not very well have been larger. The whole of the hall was filled in a few moments. So also was the platform.

“No one knew exactly what attitude Mr. Reid was going to take. He was therefore ‘supported’ by persons of all shades of Federal belief. There were Federal delegates present as well as gentlemen who would have been delegates had the country elected them. Rabid Unionists were to be noted sitting quietly by the side of those who would not agree to Federation at any price. At ten minutes to eight o'clock Mr. Barton stepped to a front seat on the platform, and was received with loud cheers. The greatest reception, however, was reserved for the Premier, who, surrounded by several of his colleagues in the Ministry, and preceded by the Mayor of Sydney, came to the front just as the Town Hall clock chimed eight. The audience rose and cheered again and again, hats and handkerchiefs being waved in the air.

“The Premier received a splendid hearing. There was no actual disturbance from the beginning to the end. There was just a little interruption at the commencement. Mr. Reid, however, speedily managed to get his audience interested in the somewhat dry subject of the meaning of the Commonwealth Constitution. When he began speaking he held a few notes in his hands, but as soon as he warmed up


  ― 167 ―
to his subject he discarded them entirely, and quoted clauses and sections of the Bill without referring to any documents. This was the great charm of Mr. Reid's address. He avoided useless details, and dealt only with generalities. Nevertheless, he recited the main portions of the proposed Constitution with exactness and clearness, and as he avoided technicalities and spoke in his usual happy colloquial style it was easy for everybody to understand him. He specially pointed out that he intended to deal with the Commonwealth not as a partisan and not as an advocate, but with the deliberate impartiality of a judge addressing a jury. He was very candid over the matter, and explained his likes and dislikes without stint. But he was careful to explain as follows:—‘When I am dealing with this blot or that blot in the Bill, do not think that settles the matter, because no body of men could frame a perfect measure.’ The improvements of the Commonwealth Bill of 1898 as compared with the Draft Bill of 1891 were duly pointed out. So also were various matters which Mr. Reid regarded as blemishes upon the proposed Constitution. One of the chief points of interest was the discussion of the Federal Tariff. The Parliament would require at least six millions of money; but that did not necessarily involve a Protective policy. If Federation became an accomplished fact Mr. Reid said he would fight the battle of Free Trade in the Federal Parliament as he had fought it in New South Wales. This sentiment was received with ringing cheers.

“But what was Mr. Reid going to do? This was


  ― 168 ―
what the audience desired to know after the Premier had been speaking for an hour and three-quarters. Was it his intention to bless the Bill or to curse it altogether? So far no one could say. He had, so far, simply dealt with the measure after the same fashion that a judge sums up to a jury, quoting the case for and against. But the declaration had to be made. Mr. Reid spoke of the blessings of union. At this there was an outburst of cheering. He recognised there would have to be a federated Australia some day, and he dwelt upon the grandeur of such a nationality. The audience became enthusiastic. Let them, he remarked, look at the Bill honestly and fearlessly, and decide on their own consciences for themselves. ‘So far as I am concerned,’ he announced amidst terrific applause, ‘I feel I cannot become a deserter to the cause.”’

A very exciting campaign followed. A number of my own friends and supporters, all the leaders of the Labour Party, and some of the members of the Opposition, headed by Mr. Lyne, opposed the Bill as it stood. Many members of the Ministerial and Opposition parties, under the very able leadership of Mr. Barton, Mr. Richard O'Connor, Mr. McMillan, and Mr. Bruce Smith, Mr. Dugald Thomson, and Mr. B. R. Wise—all men of great ability, eloquence, and influence—conducted an enthusiastic campaign in support of the Bill. They denounced those even who would agree to the Bill if amended, as if they were all enemies of federation. As the conflict became keener, their eulogies of the Bill became more extravagant, and my warnings became more and more emphatic. I had


  ― 169 ―
publicly declared my intention to vote for the Bill, in spite of its drawbacks, and I felt that laid on me a heavier obligation to leave no one in doubt as to its defects. The more emphatic I became in my analysis, the more irritated the extremists on both sides became. One set denounced me for seeing so many defects in the Bill, the other set for not seeing more. If I had shut my eyes to its defects and magnified its merits I should have been extolled by those who shouted “Yes”; if I had seen nothing but defects I should have been extolled by those who shouted “No.”

The point that quite fairly exposed me to attack was the fact that, whilst I criticised some parts of the Bill so strongly, I intended to vote for it. The position of an ordinary elector who said, “Well, there are some parts of the Bill I don't like at all, but I am in favour of federation, and I will vote for the Bill in spite of its faults,” could not be attacked. But it is difficult for leaders to escape abuse if they pursue such a course. They become a target for both sides. That was my fate. It earned for me the epithet of “Yes—No!” I did not wonder at it, and did not resent it, because that is a reproach to which everyone who looks fairly at both sides of a burning question will always be exposed. It can be said of every judge who holds the balance fairly between any plaintiff (“Yes”) and any defendant (“No”).

The poll was taken on June 3rd, 1898. When the ballot boxes were closed, and the counting began in every polling booth in the State, the excitement of the day reached a climax. Mr. Barton and his lieutenants were assembled in the Empire Hotel in a room facing


  ― 170 ―
the board on which the Sydney Morning Herald displayed the progress of the count. As “Yes” sailed ahead they naturally rejoiced; as “No” crept up, naturally they did not. At one period of the evening, towards the close of the record, some enthusiast, or wicked wag, in charge of the board suddenly displayed for “Yes” a total which surmounted the statutory and indispensable number of 80,000 votes. The scene among Mr. Barton's assembled friends, as described in the newspapers, will not easily be forgotten. Speeches full of delirious joy and triumph were made—to be followed by a hideous chill when the index fell thousands lower a few minutes later.

The final result of the poll was 71,595 votes for the Bill, and 66,228 votes against it. The Bill, therefore, failed to reach the statutory limit by 8,405 votes.

Parliament was not summoned until the Referendum was over. In the Governor's Speech at the opening of the session there was the following paragraph:

“The Government are not prepared to abandon their efforts to arrive at a satisfactory removal of those features of the Bill which have prevented the people of the country from voting more largely in its favour, and which have caused so many thousands of the electors to vote against it.”

In the Assembly Mr. Lyne moved an amendment to the Address in reply. He asked the House to declare that it “declines to allow the present Government to deal with the important question of federation.” This was negatived by a very substantial


  ― 171 ―
majority—65 votes to 32, a majority of 33 votes, which showed that we had not lost the confidence of the House in the course we had taken.

Photograph facing p.170. Sir George and Lady Reid and family



As the life of the Parliament was nearing its end, a General Election followed. Naturally, the chief topic was Federation and the Convention Bill. Some of the most active members of my party were rabid opponents of the Bill, and so were some of the leading members of the Labour Party. The leaders of the “Billites” denounced those who desired serious amendments in the Convention Bill just as if they were furious Anti-Federalists. The Government, and the great majority of our supporters, were anxious to bring the movement to a successful issue, but stood out for amendments.

There was no subject before the electors of so much importance as Federation. But in the new crosscurrents which had been created by that question we had also to reckon with the hostility of the Protectionists, whose tariff we had repealed, and the enmity of the financial interests and landed proprietors, whom we had incensed by our land and income taxes. Besides, we had won two General Elections, and been in office for nearly four years—a very long innings in our part of the world at that time. Our hold over the Labour Party was also greatly lessened because our land and income taxes had become law.

Mr. Barton resigned his seat in the Legislative Council in order to contest a seat at Bourke; but he at once accepted a challenge I made that he should oppose me for King Division. I could not have had a more formidable antagonist. My old friends, however,


  ― 172 ―
stood by me, and I defeated him by a substantial majority.

To defeat Sir Henry Parkes and Mr. Barton in two successive elections was an achievement of which any man might be proud. My debt of gratitude to the electors who stood by me in those elections became a heavy but delightful one.

The other Premiers waited to see the result of the elections and their effect on my position before responding to the approach I had made to them. Any chance of getting Mr. Barton to deal with, instead of myself, was well worth waiting for, because he had not stood out for any alterations in the Bill in favour of New South Wales, and had always been their “white-haired boy,” whilst I was, as compared with him, a very “terrible infant” indeed. But when events showed that there was no hope of a change of leadership they at once responded to my advances. I ought here to explain that, apart from federal controversies, the other Premiers and I had always got on remarkably well. No one could wish for better colleagues in a Premiers' Conference than Sir George Turner (Victoria), Mr. Kingston (South Australia), Sir Hugh Nelson, followed by Mr. Dickson (Queensland), Sir Edward Braddon (Tasmania), and Sir John Forrest (Western Australia). Alas! Mr. Kingston, Sir Hugh Nelson, Mr. Dickson, Sir Edward Braddon, and lately Sir George Turner, have all passed away, leaving Sir John Forrest as the only survivor.

We did not secure an assured majority. The result showed that the beginning of the end was upon us. We greatly desired to stay in long enough


  ― 173 ―
to complete the federal process which we had begun and carried to so advanced a stage. We had to deplore the loss of three of our Ministerial colleagues—Mr. Gould, Minister for Justice; Mr. Sydney Smith, Minister for Mines and Agriculture; and Mr. Jacob Garrard, Minister for Public Instruction. Their places were filled up by the appointment of our Vice-President, Mr. John Hughes, to Justice; of Mr. J. A. Hogue to Education; the transfer of Mr. Cook to Mines and Agriculture; and Mr. Varney Parkes joined us as Postmaster-General.

The new Parliament met on August 16th. On August 31st I moved in the House a series of resolutions embodying the points which we desired to submit to the Governments of the other Colonies, with a view to their adoption as amendments of the Draft Bill. We thought it better to ask the House and the Council to express an opinion upon them.

The following is a brief summary of the purport of the resolutions:—

  • 1. In joint sittings of both Houses the three-fifths majority to be altered to a simple majority.
  • 2. As an alternative proposition, a national referendum.
  • 3. The capital of the Federation to be in New South Wales.
  • 4. Alteration of boundaries of any State to be made subject to the approval of a majority of the electors of that State.



  •   ― 174 ―
  • 5. The use of rivers for purposes of irrigation and water conservation to be more clearly safeguarded.
  • 6. All Money Bills to be put on the same footing as Taxation or Appropriation Bills—that is, shall not be amended by the Senate.
  • 7. Appeals from State Courts to be altogether to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council or to the High Court.
  • 8. The clause known as the Braddon clause, which secured to the States a return of three-fourths of net Customs revenue and excise to be removed.
  • 9. Further consideration of the other financial clauses earnestly requested.

The Leader of the Opposition moved what was equivalent to a vote of censure, and asked that the House should approve of joint deliberation between the Governments to settle upon any amendments that might be necessary without “laying down any preliminary conditions.”

The amendment was defeated by 58 to 54 votes, and the Federal Resolutions were agreed to as submitted, with two additions.

In the Council our resolutions were substantially accepted, but some amendments were made.

In my financial statement I alluded to the series of droughts which had affected the Colony during the previous four years. It was estimated that the difference between average seasons and those of the four


  ― 175 ―
years meant at least 50,000,000 sheep, 1,500,000 head of cattle, and 290,000 horses. I pointed out that the loads upon our current year caused by the annual charges in respect of past deficiencies were all paid, and a surplus of £135,000 remained. I also informed the Committee that, whereas the two previous Administrations spent out of loan funds on the average, one nearly £3,000,000 a year, and the other about £2,250,000, our own average was only £1,500,000 a year; and that our rate of ordinary expenditure was £7 3s. 2d. a head, as against £9 7s. 4d. in 1886—twelve years before.




  ― 176 ―

16. Chapter XVI The Second British Federation

ON the last day of 1898 I sent a dispatch in identical terms to the Premiers of Victoria, South Australia, Western Australia, and Tasmania, inviting them to meet me in conference to consider the amendments to the Convention Bill which New South Wales desired to make.

I also made an earnest appeal to the Premier of Queensland, Mr. (afterwards Sir James) Dickson, to join us.

The five Premiers thus addressed agreed to the proposed Conference, and we fixed it for January 28th at Melbourne. I had made many endeavours to bring Queensland in, and at last my efforts were rewarded with success.

When the Conference met I felt that the fact that Victoria, and South Australia, and Tasmania had all accepted the Bill as it stood, and that even New South Wales, by a majority—though not a statutory number —had also voted in its favour, made my task in submitting a number of alterations not an easy one. We sat for five days, and for a long time every day. I never had a more anxious or a more strenuous time. The Queensland Premier and I worked well together. The other Premiers were able fighters, and were not very willing to yield anything to me, especially as our


  ― 177 ―
interests on some of the points were in collision. When all was over I had got the two biggest of the concessions we sought. From first to last there was no unpleasantness of any kind.

The capital was given to New South Wales, but was to be at least one hundred miles from Sydney. The Conference agreed also to convert the three-fifths majority at a joint sitting of both Houses into a simple majority. The Premiers were willing to abandon the “Braddon blot,” giving the States three-fourths of the customs revenue; but when we all tried—and we did try desperately hard—to get a substitute that would give the smaller populations financial security in some other form, none of the plans submitted was acceptable. But one important concession was made. Instead of a place in the Constitution which could only be disturbed by a majority of States and a majority of electors, its currency was limited to ten years certain. At the end of that period Parliament could deal with the clause as it liked. The protection I sought against the alteration of the boundaries of a State unless that State concurred was granted. The provision relating to inland rivers was left intact. The Premiers would not consent to any alteration of the Constitution by means of a national referendum, our Labour Party's proposal, but they consented to a change which enabled either House to secure a referendum if the other House rejected a measure twice in consecutive sessions.

With reference to the safeguard against the selection of a site for the Federal capital within one hundred miles of Sydney, the Premiers agreed that


  ― 178 ―
it should not be “at an unreasonable distance from Sydney.”

I left the Conference with a determination to fight as hard as I could for the Bill as amended. I felt that no further changes were possible, and that I ought to invite the people of New South Wales to adopt it.

Of course those who did not think that the time had come for Federation, and those who strongly opposed the Bill, even in its improved shape, did their best to rouse public opinion against it. A few of the leading newspapers took that course—but very few.

Parliament was called together on February 21st to deal with the one question of Federation—in other words, to pass a measure submitting to the electors the Bill as finally amended at the Conference of Premiers.

In the Governor's speech the following statement of our view was submitted to Parliament:

“It appears to the Ministry that the Governments of the other Colonies have gone so far towards meeting the objections urged in New South Wales, that further delay or opposition to the completion of the great work of national union would not now be reasonable. In their opinion the momentous question is at last fairly narrowed down to an issue between those who really desire federal union and those who do not.”

On February 28th I moved the second reading of the Bill to submit the Convention Bill, as amended at the Conference of Premiers, to the electors. Provision was made for showing clearly the nature and effect of the changes agreed to. There was no division on the


  ― 179 ―
second and third readings, and certain amendments proposed in Committee were defeated by immense majorities.

In the Legislative Council there was strong opposition to the Bill. The following amendments were carried: (1) To postpone the vote for at least three months after the passing of the Act; (2) That if less than one-third of the electors on the rolls voted in favour of the Bill that should be equivalent to a rejection; (3) That Queensland should be one of the Colonies accepting the amended Constitution. The preamble was also amended to show that Parliament expressed no approval of the Draft Bill or the amendments made in it.

This action brought about a deadlock between the two Houses, and a Conference which failed.

We prorogued the House, and recommended to the Lieutenant-Governor, Sir F. M. Darley, the appointment of twelve new members of the Legislative Council, and Sir Frederick accepted our advice.

In those twelve nominations there were four who were members of the Labour Party. I believe I was the first Premier to make such nominations. Then I included Mr. (afterwards Sir Samuel) McCaughey, a pastoralist, who stood at the very head of that great class of colonists whose enterprise had surmounted untold difficulties. Sir Samuel was one of our finest pioneers in most of the station improvements and water developments which have set the pastoral industry on sound foundations. His enormous holdings of live stock in New South Wales and Queensland placed him above all his competitors. Sir Samuel


  ― 180 ―
earned my ardent appreciation by the contrast between his conduct and that of others in connection with my land and income taxes. These measures took several thousands of pounds out of his pocket every year, but that did not affect his friendship for me, or his support of our party, in the slightest. Others who had to pay only a few pounds became bitter opponents.

My staunch personal friend, Mr. Richard Jones, and my late colleague, the Hon. A. J. Gould, were also included.

Parliament met on April 11th. We submitted the Federal Bill in the same shape as before, omitting the preamble.

In the Council, Mr. Pilcher moved again his amendment, making this time more than one-fourth instead of one-third of the electors necessary to the approval of the Bill. This was the only division, 23 voting for, and 30 against the amendment. If the twelve new members had not been appointed, the amendment would have been carried by 23 to 18.

We accepted an amendment that two months should elapse before the vote was taken in the electorates. This was clearly a reasonable time.

The way was now clear for a referendum to the electors of the Convention Bill as amended at the Conference of Premiers.

During my experience of elections in New South Wales I never knew of one in which so much ability and enthusiasm were displayed on both sides. The weight of influence was curiously distributed. Against the Bill there was a great force of Conservative


  ― 181 ―
opinion, and in the ranks of Labour there were most influential leaders and a large mass of opinion on the same side, because the Bill was thought not to be Radical enough. There were also large numbers of those who thought New South Wales had better “paddle her own canoe” for some time longer. Then there was quite a substantial number of Free Traders who in 1899 were where I was in 1891. I had been called with some reason “Yes—No”; but a more just and friendly appreciation of my course would transpose the “Yes—No” into “No—Yes,” quite a usual attitude in all concerns, political or commercial, into which the element of bargaining enters. Some were rather absurdly shocked at the idea that “bargaining” should enter into so noble a national cause; but the fact remained that in every project of federal union a bargain, which means a compromise, or a compromise, which means a bargain, must be struck between national powers and provincial interests, and that involves other bargains in order to give effect to it, such as the relative powers of the House of the States and the House of the Nation.

The three most powerful opponents of the Bill on the platform were Sir Normand McLaurin, M.L.C., Mr. W. M. Hughes, M.L.A., Mr. Holman, M.L.A., and Sir William Lyne. Quite a number of fine speakers supported the Government. Sir Edmund Barton, Mr. Richard O'Connor, Mr. B. R. Wise, Sir William McMillan, Mr. Bruce Smith, Mr. Dugald Thomson, and a host of others. There was an unexampled fusion of political opponents in both camps. The finest feelings of the electors were stirred to their depths.


  ― 182 ―
The opponents of the Bill were animated with feelings just as patriotic, however mistaken, as those in favour of union.

The strength of the other side was shown in the number polled against the amended Bill. The result was never in doubt after the first dozen returns came in, but whilst our side polled 107,420 votes, the other side polled no less than 82,741 votes.

The result of this first referendum to the whole of the people of Australia was hailed with delight in every part of the Empire, as the Canadian Union was in 1867, and as the South African Union was later.

These three great Confederations have helped towards the consolidation of the Empire in quite a remarkable way. One shudders now at what might have been, if the War had found the people of the Dominions, now so magnificently solid and efficient at all points, a nebulous series of provincial formations.

The Address to the Queen was passed in the Assembly without division, and in the Council by 24 to 21.

This was the last stage in the process which the Ministry undertook to carry to a successful conclusion. The rest was in the hands of the Imperial Parliament.

It was to my colleagues, as to myself, a source of the highest gratification that we had been able to conduct this great national movement to a triumphant end.

We had to pay an almost immediate penalty for that, and a chance of punishing us arose. But the Opposition had no chance whilst Mr. Barton was its


  ― 183 ―
leader, because, although he was quite the best man on the other side, many of those who wished to displace us would not vote for any censure Mr. Barton moved.

Mr. Barton retired from the leadership of the Opposition on August 23rd. He explained that the pledge he gave not to raise the fiscal question was not concurred in by a large number, if not a majority, of that body, and in the event of a change of Government he could not sink his pledge. He thought it better, therefore, to retire. Sir William Lyne was elected in his place.

The very same day the first step was taken in a matter which was soon to prove fatal to the Ministry. I was entirely responsible for the subject of censure.

The late Mr. J. C. Neild was then member for Paddington. He was a man of great ability, zeal, and thoroughness, but had a very sensitive nature, was quick in attack, and most caustic in defence.

Among the many matters Mr. Neild took an earnest interest in was that of Old Age Pensions, which was |exciting a growing interest at that time. About to proceed to England, Mr. Neild expressed to me his willingness to make inquiries on that subject, and we gave him a formal commission to do so, in order that his researches should be conducted under the most favourable conditions. I made it clear to Mr. Neild, however, that we did not propose to grant any allowance of any kind for his expenses or in any other way. Later, when a question was asked in the House, I mentioned that fact to the House. That was on July 30th, 1896, more than three years before.




  ― 184 ―

Some time after Mr. Neild's return he submitted to me his report. I expected a comparatively small document that would be printed as a Parliamentary paper. To my astonishment, Mr. Neild sent in a report of many hundreds of pages, of singular ability and completeness, the result of exhaustive inquiries. When it was set up in the Government Printing Office, and submitted to me, I thanked Mr. Neild most warmly, and said that he should submit to me particulars of any expenses he had been put to, and I would place the amount, with something added for his own labours, on the Estimates. This he did and the item of £600—£350 for his out-of-pocket expenses and £250 for his personal labour—was noted for the next Estimates. During the recess, and before the Estimates could be submitted to Parliament, Mr. Neild appealed to me to advance his actual out-of-pocket expenses, in anticipation of the vote of Parliament. I demurred to this. During my whole term of office I had set myself against such anticipations of the discretion of Parliament. But he gave me a reason for his urgency which entirely enlisted my sympathy—a life policy that was in danger of lapsing—and I at last advanced the amount of the out-of-pocket expenses, £350.

In connection with this payment Mr. Edden moved that Mr. Neild had vacated his seat by accepting an “office of profit.” A select committee, consisting of the members of the Elections Committee, was appointed to inquire and report.

On August 16th, Mr. Carruthers made the Financial Statement for the year beginning July 1st, 1898.


  ― 185 ―
He began by pointing out that the Auditor-General had made our cash surplus for the first year of the cash system £16,000 more than I had, and for the second year £10,000 more. For the third year, 1897–8, he stated the cash surplus to be £62,000. The Treasury figures were £135,000. This difference arose from a charge he put against that year which belonged to the year 1895–6. The main fact remains that, whilst my opponents were always alleging that I had landed the country in a large deficiency, the new system of accounts had, both by the Treasury officials and the Auditor-General's certificate, always shown a surplus—small, but real. If my predecessor, Mr. (afterwards Sir John) See, had carried out his intention of putting the deficiency he stated in his accounts into Treasury Bills, there would have been no chance of making such a ridiculous charge.

On August 30th the Committee on Mr. Neild's case reported. The Committee found that Mr. Neild had not accepted an office of profit, but added their opinion that “the practice of the acceptance of payment from the Government by members of either House of Parliament holding commissions from the Crown without the previous consent of Parliament is constitutionally dangerous, and should be discontinued.”

The leader of the Opposition had given notice of a motion of censure framed in general terms “that the present Government does not possess the confidence of the House.”

Mr. Fegan proposed an addition to the motion in the following terms: “And deserves censure for having made payments of public money to Mr. J. C.


  ― 186 ―
Neild, member for Paddington, without asking Parliament, and contrary to the assurances given by the right hon. Premier.”

The Opposition naturally rejoiced over this chance of upsetting the Government. When we took office many good judges thought our term would be a very short one, as I had never shown much interest in party politics, and was known not to take public life very seriously. However, my term of office had now exceeded all previous records in New South Wales.

Some of my staunchest supporters had become enraged with me over the Federal movement, and the success of the second referendum, and some able and influential men in the Labour Party were in the same mood.

Besides, as previously pointed out, the General Elections had greatly weakened us in numbers. The Labour Party could give an immense majority on either side. That party always met to consider motions of censure, and voted together according to the decision of the majority. On this occasion the party met and decided by a narrow majority not to vote for the censure. That seemed to make us safe—at least, so I thought. Whilst in this frame of mind a very influential member of the party came to see me, and I expressed my satisfaction at their decision. I will not soon forget the ominous way in which he begged of me not to rely too much on that decision. True enough, the party met again, and I was afterwards informed that several threatened to resign their seats if the decision were not reversed, and it was reversed. I do not blame those who gave


  ― 187 ―
way to this pressure, because solidarity in a party so constituted was considered by its members a matter of life or death to the Labour movement.

I have more than once testified publicly to the generous and most loyal support given to me by a majority of the members of the Labour Party during the whole of my long term of office. Their leader, Mr. J. S. McGowen, the member for Redfern—one of the straightest and most courteous men I ever met—in the course of the debate referred to my relations with his party in the following terms: “I desire to emphasise what the Premier has said. In the position I have the honour to hold in the Labour Party I must say the right hon. gentleman has stated here what is absolutely true. There never was any arrangement made by the Labour Party with the Prime Minister. At no time was there even a tacit arrangement in regard to what kind of legislation he should bring in or what he should do for us.”

To me one of the most agreeable features of the debate was the speech and vote of Mr. Dugald Thomson. That hon. gentleman was not at that time a supporter of mine. He was a follower of Mr. Barton, placing Federation before every other public question. He was a business man, held in the highest repute in all circles, and had a singularly clear mind and upright nature.

The motion, with Mr. Fegan's amendment added, was carried by a majority of 34. If the Labour Party had voted as at first they decided to do the motion would have been defeated by 34.

I think that the Labour Party cannot be blamed for


  ― 188 ―
leaving us and supporting Sir William Lyne. He was expected to be, and he proved to be, a much more suitable Premier for their purposes than I should have been.

Then the Labour Party was at cross purposes with us on another important point. We were willing to carry compulsion in labour disputes to the point of compulsory investigation, but not so far as compulsory awards. The Labour Party urged me to go as far as they wished, and I refused.




  ― 180 ―

17. Chapter XVII Grateful Acknowledgments

I CANNOT pass from this phase of my career without placing on these pages most grateful testimony to my colleagues. All were, from first to last, efficient and devoted. If I may mention those who dealt with the more important measures, I would refer to the splendid way in which Mr. Carruthers dealt with land policy, ably assisted by Mr. Brunker. Mr. Sydney Smith's zeal in founding agricultural farms and colleges, and in improving the state of our coal mines, was also most noticeable. Mr. Want, one of the ablest advocates and one of the most delightful companions, was also a great ally, although on the Federal question we had to part company twice. Mr. Joseph Cook subsequently my right hand in the Federal Opposition, and afterwards Prime Minister, was also a singularly able and devoted colleague. The defeat of Mr. Albert Gould, afterwards a most efficient President of the Federal Senate, Mr. Jacob Garrard, and Mr. Sydney Smith brought in Mr. J. A. Hogue and Mr. Varney Parkes, all good friends and colleagues. Mr. Hogue was one of the best editors of a leading daily newspaper I have known, and, like all the rest, one of the most loyal of friends as well as of colleagues. The Hon. John Hughes was an ideal representative of the Government in the Council. When Mr. Want resigned,


  ― 190 ―
I became Attorney-General; Mr. Carruthers became Treasurer, Mr. Young took my office, and Mr. C. A. Lee became Minister for Works. As for my supporters in the House and Council, their loyalty and devotion were darkened by few exceptions.

Mr. Lyne formed a Ministry, in which Mr. See became Colonial Secretary. The new Premier took the office of Colonial Treasurer.

The difficulty between the Imperial Government and President Kruger was coming to a head whilst I was still Prime Minister. I confess I did not at all anticipate that the trouble would make a serious strain upon the resources of the British Government.

A month after the new Ministry was formed Mr. Lyne, as an urgent matter, submitted a proposal that we should send a contingent to South Africa, to act with the British forces.

I heartily supported the motion. The Secretary of State (Mr. Chamberlain) had been apprised by me of the desire of large numbers of Australians to volunteer for service. At that time he thought there was no real emergency calling for large drafts from Australia, but he was evidently pleased with the offer and desired to encourage the spirit which prompted it. He proposed that the Colonies should pay cost of equipment and transport to South Africa, but Imperial funds would bear the burden of everything else, including pay at Imperial rates after arrival, and transport back to Australia. Of course, the Colonial Government added to the pay of the men, as Imperial rates would hardly suit Australians. The total


  ― 191 ―
number from Australia was small at first, but as the war progressed several fresh contingents were dispatched, until at last the Australian force was a considerable one. One of the War Office stipulations in the telegraphic dispatch of the Secretary of State looked rather absurd afterwards: “May be infantry, mounted infantry, or cavalry. In view of numbers already available, infantry most, cavalry least serviceable.” In that country of long distances mounted infantry, especially our contingents of bushmen, proved the most valuable.

The Premier and Colonial Treasure made his first Financial Statement on December 6th. By taking the Treasury he got into the best possible position for discovering whether there was any truth in his constant attacks upon me in reference to the Public Accounts. The Treasury Accountant and his officers were there to be examined and cross-examined, and all the books were there. If there had been anything wrong, if I had at any time interfered with the discretion of the officials in keeping the accounts, there was a full opening for discovery and exposure.

But nothing of the kind was even suggested by my successor. He resorted to the Auditor-General's second set of figures, ignoring the first set kept according to law, in a further attempt to justify his position; but in his accounts for his new financial year he had to bring forward as a cash balance at June 30th, 1899, the amount stated in our accounts as existing at that date!

More than that, he made a complete answer to all


  ― 192 ―
his unfair attacks by quoting the reports of the Auditor-General for each of the four years of the new system, showing cash balances in each and every case.

But he proceeded to put the accounts as if my financial policy had not been approved by Parliament, and as if I were responsible for deficiencies and suspense accounts which concerned transactions before I took office!

Then I advanced moneys from the Trust Accounts to the Loan Acts, instead of raising loans, as we had to pay interest on the Trust Funds, and by doing what I did I saved the country many thousands of pounds which I should have had to pay for interest on loans raised when money on which I had to pay interest was lying idle!

In one of Mr. Lyne's statements then submitted he brought out a deficiency of £733,000 on the four years, by including payments which belonged to the old system and were not legally chargeable to the new.

Including such payments, he made the totals out to be, from July 1st, 1895, to June 3rd, 1899:

     
Receipts .. .. ..  £38,576,000 
Payments .. .. ..  39,309,000 
Deficiency .. ..  £733,000 

But the Accountant for the Treasury, rejecting payments that belonged to the old system, and which


  ― 193 ―

the Treasury could not legally charge against the new system, gave the true figures as follows:

     
Revenue .. .. ..  £38,395,000 
Expenditure .. .. ..  37,659,000 
Surplus .. .. ..  £736,000 

This return was certified by the Accountant to the Treasury, Mr. Donald Vernon, afterwards Auditor-General.

I thought it high time that the public credit should not be exposed any longer to these damaging misstatements, and said so.

I was quite willing that Mr. French, the manager of the Bank of New South Wales, and Mr. Dibbs, the manager of the Commercial Bank of Sydney, should be two of three Commissioners to inquire and report, and I said that I would consult with Mr. Lyne as to the third member.

When it came to the third member Mr. Lyne gave me no voice, but named one of my political opponents who had in his public speeches prejudged the question at issue. Mr. Dibbs was one political opponent and Mr. Yarwood made two! Then Mr. Lyne would not allow me to share in framing the questions to be dealt with, nor allow me to add any of mine to his! I therefore declined to recognise the Commission. The questions put to the Commissioners were skilfully constructed so as to compel answers that could not be favourable to my point of view, because they ignored the Acts of Parliament establishing the new system


  ― 194 ―
of accounts! In spite of all this the Committee put the following statement in the forefront of their report:

“We recognise that the accounts, as they were submitted, after the change of system to what has been termed the cash basis, conformed to the programme sanctioned by Parliament, and embodied by Parliament in the Audit Act Amendment Act of 1895 and the Treasury Bills Deficiency Act of the same year. The accounts as so made up brought out a surplus.” That was all that I had ever contended for. The rest was matter of policy and opinion.

To show that I did not wish to shirk full inquiry, I commissioned three of the leading accountants in Sydney to go over the accounts, and their report corroborated my figures.

The most important measure passed in the session beginning June, 1900, was the Industrial Arbitration Act. On this subject New Zealand had led the way. New Zealand legislation provided for (1) a court of conciliation, and (2) if that failed, a court of compulsion; but they were distinct tribunals. If the court had been the same, the tribunal sitting in conciliation would have had much greater authority, because it would have had beneath the velvet glove of conciliation the iron hand of compulsion. As it was, the conciliation process could be treated with contempt by either Party if it suited them, because it could settle nothing and enforce nothing.

The New South Wales Act did not work so well as the Wages Boards of Victoria. It seemed to breed disputes—the Boards seemed to settle them.




  ― 195 ―

Shortly after the Federal Constitution had been accepted by the whole of the six Colonies it was agreed by the respective Governments that a delegation should proceed to England to watch over the interests of the Bill before and at the passage of the Imperial Act. Mr. Barton was appointed for New South Wales, Mr. Kingston represented South Australia, Mr. Deakin, Victoria, and Mr. Dickson, Queensland.

The delegates were most cordially received, and were able to assist the Secretary for the Colonies materially. The only point on which any important controversy arose—in which the delegates themselves were not unanimous—related to the scope to be given for appeals to the Queen in Council. After strenuous but quite friendly discussions a compromise was arrived at.




  ― 196 ―

18. Chapter XVIII Birth Of The Commonwealth

A ROYAL Proclamation fixed January 1st, 1901, as the date for the beginning of the Commonwealth Constitution.

The next step was the appointment of our first Governor-General. In accordance with the prevailing desire Lord Hopetoun (afterwards the Marquess of Linlithgow) was selected. When twenty-nine years old he was appointed Governor of Victoria, and as his youthful charm and enthusiasm were backed up by a keen intelligence, and a large instalment of that best sort of tact which is at once shrewd and amiable, the surprisingly sudden popularity he achieved and maintained in Victoria had spread over the whole continent, and was the best sort of guarantee for his success in the new position. Lady Hopetoun—like all the wives of Governors and Governors-General—had also an arduous part to play—and she played it well. Her Excellency added to the charm of her appearance all those sterling qualities which confirm such first impressions.

The intention to make this appointment must have existed when the delegates were in England, because the only unpleasantness of Lord Hopetoun's career in Australia arose out of expectations derived from Sir Edmund Barton of supplementary grants for purposes of hospitality. An effort was made by Sir Edmund to


  ― 197 ―
give effect to these intentions, but the enthusiastic stage was over, and Parliament refused to concur; a grant for expenses connected with the Royal visit was substituted. Lord Hopetoun's hospitalities were generous to a point perhaps of lavishness, and the salary attached to the office did not cover one-half of his outlay. I am sure that there was no want of will on the Prime Minister's part.

As it was arranged that the ceremonies connected with the foundation of the Commonwealth were to take place in Sydney, and that the Governor-General would commence his Australian residence there, Lord Beauchamp, the Governor of New South Wales, determined to resign in order that Lord Hopetoun should be able to occupy Government House.

On New Year's Day, when Lord Hopetoun's official landing took place, the weather was gloriously fine, and the harbour—world-famous for its mingled beauty and commercial convenience—looked its best. After the landing, there was a procession along the central streets of Sydney, and out to Centennial Park, travelling a length of about two miles.

The new Ministry was a prominent feature of the procession. The Governor-General had an enthusiastic reception. I was without any official rank, but the affectionate fervour of the greetings I received all along the line from the men, women and children of the city in which I had lived so long gave me one of the greatest pleasures of my public career. No piles of money which I might have acquired from entire devotion to practice at the Bar could weigh for an instant against such spontaneous proofs of national good will.




  ― 198 ―

There were some most interesting incidents connected with the formation of the first Federal Ministry. If I had continued Premier of New South Wales I should certainly, as the Prime Minister of the leading State, have expected to be “sent for.” As it was, I had no such right or expectation. Lord Hopetoun sent for my successor, Sir William Lyne. I do not think he could, with propriety, have done anything else. The question whether he could succeed in his task or not was quite another matter. Whether he would be Prime Minister or not was also an open one. The commotion excited amongst those closely associated with Sir Edmund Barton led to some rather amusing developments, but in the end he became Prime Minister, and Sir William accepted a place in the Ministry. Sir Edmund Barton's personal and intellectual qualities, his devotion and brilliant services to the Federal cause—the popularity he enjoyed not only in his own State, but in all the other States—greatly enhanced as it was by the sympathetic attitude he had maintained on various burning questions affecting the interests of those other States—made his position as the head of the first Federal Ministry a perfectly suitable one.

The Ministry itself was a strong Protectionist combination. Sir George Turner, its excellent Treasurer, Mr. Kingston, its able Minister for Customs, Mr. Deakin, its brilliant Attorney-General, were, with the Prime Minister and Sir William Lyne, the leading members of the Ministry, and were confirmed—one would hardly be justified in saying that any of them were extreme—Protectionists. The Queensland Minister and the Tasm


  ― 199 ―
anian Minister were bound to seek a tariff yielding a large revenue.

Photograph facing p.198. Rt.Hon.Earl of Hopetoun, G.C.M.G. First Governer-General Australian Commonwealth



I felt, as a strong Free Trader, quite out of touch with the majority of the leading politicians of the Commonwealth, and the odds seemed much against me in the electorates.

Our Party, however, was a very large one. I had a number of able and devoted comrades, who were determined to put up an enthusiastic fight. Our backing in the Australian Press was quite equal to—perhaps more powerful than—that of the other side.

No other issue than the tariff counted in the first election. The Labour Party candidates were allowed to come out on either side of the fiscal issue. This enabled them to put up Free Trade candidates in Free Trade areas and Protectionists in Protectionist centres, which was a tremendous advantage. With the making of the first Australian tariff ahead of us, we threw our influence into the scale in favour of Free Trade Labour candidates when we had not a good man of our own Party.

As there was in every State a large number of electors belonging to neither camp, there was an obvious advantage in making the Protectionist appeal to the electors as moderate as possible, and the Prime Minister and Mr. Richard O'Connor, who had formerly been convinced Free Traders, were—quite unlike most of those who change their political creed—convinced moderates.

The prestige attaching to such an able collection of Ministerial talent was enhanced by a general desire to


  ― 200 ―
give the first Ministry of Australia a fair trial. As a Ministry, it had no past and a flying start.

I think that if we had had the good fortune to form a Ministry we should have had a good chance at the first election, for similar reasons.

But in the long run the revenue necessities of all the States except New South Wales would have told in favour of our opponents. The difference between a high tariff for revenue purposes and a protective tariff is not great, and the tendency always is to increase taxation in the direction which clamours for it as if it were a Waverley pen—“a boon and a blessing to men.”

On January 18th the Prime Minister delivered his manifesto speech at Maitland, the centre of the Federal electorate of the Hunter, for which he became a candidate.

After justly congratulating himself upon the able team he had formed, and paying a compliment to Mr. (afterwards Sir Frederick) Holder, whom many thought to have been worthy of a place in the Cabinet, the Federal Capital was the first topic of policy. The Administration was “to be carried on in Sydney,” the Parliament was “for the present” to be in Melbourne. This was an obviously impossible arrangement, and neither that Ministry nor any other could administer a Government 600 miles from the Parliament. The attempt was never made—but the applause was loud! The appointment of the Inter-State Commission—not made until long afterwards—“will prepare the way for the vast subject of taking over the railways, which can be done with the consent


  ― 201 ―
of the States. This is a subject which is now engaging the attention of a very clever man, my colleague, Sir George Turner.” In parenthesis I may add that from that night until now (1901–17) no proposal on the subject has been made! Defence was promptly to be organised. I stop here for a moment to register the great obligations of New South Wales and Australia to General Sir Edward Hutton, who commanded for several years in both places. The Old Age Pension system was soon to be introduced. Then came the question of taxation. “The power of taxation, I agree quite as fully as any Free Trader, is not to be lightly or rashly exercised.” Protection “must be moderate”; again, “We must have revenue without destruction—a tariff maintaining employment and not ruining it.” Again, “We hope to present to you a business man's tariff.” Again, “The first tariff of Australia ought to be considerate of existing production, and liberal in its attitude towards those engaged in production.” Again, “If you desire revenue with destructive government look for another representative.”

There are thousands of coal miners in the electorate. Most of them were and are Protectionists. The Prime Minister got into quite a different mood—became emphatic and fearless—he said, “In this district will anyone tell me that the coal mining industry will suffer from a policy under which capital will be invested and industries created at your very doors? Will that policy injure the coal miner? Will anyone tell me that?”

Preference and reciprocity, when possible, the Government favoured. Preference without reciprocity


  ― 202 ―
they “strongly favoured,” but it was a subject that “demands much careful consideration.”

Mr. Kingston—a great democrat with strong leanings towards the Labour Party, had been entrusted with the preparation of a Conciliation and Arbitration Bill.

As for the trans-continental railway, it “will not, of course, be adopted unless we see that the returns will outweigh the expenditure to be incurred. But at the same time I think it is our duty to Western Australia to institute a close and hopeful inquiry into the subject.”

As for Adult Suffrage, the Prime Minister had his own views, and had never hitherto declared himself in favour of Adult Suffrage. “I have resolved, however, that it is my duty now to advocate this principle of extending the franchise to women for the Commonwealth.”

On the question of a “white Australia” the Prime Minister was emphatic. “Legislation against an influx of Asiatic labour we shall regard simply as a matter of course.”

For the Federal elections several State electorates had to be constituted one federal constituency. The King Division, the Fitzroy Division, the Bligh Division, and the Belmore Division made up East Sydney, for which I became a candidate. My opponent, Mr. Reeves, was an able young member of the Labour Party. I had a great majority.

The number of Senators was, of course, 6 for each State—36 in all. The number of the House of Representatives was 75, made up as follows:—




  ― 203 ―

             
New South Wales . . . .  26 
Victoria . . . .  23 
Queensland . . . . 
South Australia . . . . 
Western Australia . . . . 
Tasmania . . . . 
75 

The two latter States had the benefit of the minimum of five.

The contest, as I have stated, was mainly upon the fiscal question. The Federal Ministry presented to the people a three-faced aspect in one respect. Protectionists of the advanced type swore by Sir George Turner, Mr. Deakin, Mr. Kingston, and Sir William Lyne. Protectionists of the moderate type could rely upon Mr. Barton and Mr. O'Connor. Those who were High Revenue Tariffists, because of the financial requirements of their States, could rely upon Sir Philip Fysh, Sir John Forrest, and Mr. Drake.

The doctrine of a “white Australia”—a term I invented—would have been a leading question if it had not commanded almost universal assent. But there was a side issue in reference to the Kanakas working upon the sugar plantations of Queensland, upon which there was more difficulty, many fearing that if these South Sea Islanders were returned to their homes the sugar industry would be destroyed.

On the Free Trade side the leading men were: Mr. Joseph Cook, Sir William McMillan, Mr. Bruce Smith, Mr. Dugald Thomson, Mr. Gould, Mr. Millen, Mr. Sydney Smith, and myself, in New South


  ― 204 ―
Wales. In Victoria no pronounced Free Trader was returned to the Federal Parliament except Mr. Winter Cooke. There were several very moderate men—Mr. William Knox and Mr. Thomas Skene, Mr. A. C. Groom and Mr. J. C. Manifold. In Queensland there was no Free Trade leader. In South Australia we had three strong leaders in Sir Frederick Holder, Sir Josiah Symon, and Mr. Patrick Glynn. In Western Australia we had also a strong leadership in Mr. Kirwan, Mr. Harney, Mr. Staniforth Smith, and Mr. Norman K. Ewing. In Tasmania Sir Edward Braddon and Mr. J. S. Clemons led our Party.

In the Labour Party we had staunch and able Free Traders, like Mr. Hughes, Mr. Pearce, Mr. Tom Brown, Mr. Fowler, Mr. McDonald, Mr. James Page, and Mr. Josiah Thomas. The leading Protectionists were Mr. Watson, Mr. Tudor, Mr. Watkins, Mr. Higgs, and Mr. McGregor.

The result of the elections was as follows:—

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

       
Ministerialists . . . .  33 
Opposition . . . . .  26 
Labour Party . . . .  16 
75 

SENATE

       
Ministerialists . . . .  11 
Opposition . . . . .  17 
Labour . . . . . . 
36 




  ― 205 ―

When you remember that the whole State was the constituency in the case of the Senate members, our majority of seventeen to eleven Ministerialists was indeed a triumph for the Opposition. On the fiscal question, since five of the Labour Senators were Protectionists and two could hardly be classed as Free Traders, the Party triumph to which I have referred does not apply to the fiscal question, taking the Senate as a whole.

In New South Wales, the only really Free Trade State, the figures were as follows:—

       
House of Representatives   Senate   Total  
Free Traders .  16 ..  5 ..  21 
Protectionists .  10 ..  1 ..  11 
26 ..  6 ..  32 

Taking the decided Fiscalists as opposed to the “Indifferentists,” the general results in the two Houses were:—

       
Free Traders . . . .  40 
Protectionists . . . .  46 
Indifferentists . . . .  25 
111 

By “Indifferentists” I mean honourable members whose desire for revenue rather than Free Trade or Protection made them neither of one brand nor of the other, but they were far more likely to vote with the Protectionists than the Free Traders if no question arose affecting their own electorates.




  ― 206 ―

So far as the House of Representatives is concerned, the matter was soon put to the test by a trial of strength.

One of the brightest auguries for the future of the Commonwealth was the high character of the new Houses. In not a single instance did the electorates return a man who did not bring with him an honourable desire to make and keep the reputation of the new Parliament for fair play and clean fighting.

The consent of the Queen to the proposal that H.R.H. the Duke of Cornwall and York and his gracious Consort should visit Australia to open the Federal Parliament awakened a depth and breadth of enthusiasm which only those who know the Australian people can understand.

By itself, the opening on May 9th, 1901, of the first Australian Parliament would have been a truly great event in modern history; but, opened by our future King and Queen, it also became a touching demonstration of the unity and loyalty of the British Empire.

In numbers our community was a small one; but the marvellous capacities of “the only British continent” for future greatness, and the wonderfully rapid and thorough spread of industry, civilisation, and an altogether unusual degree of human happiness and equality, over many of its vast distances, made the consummation of that Federal Union beneath the Southern Cross an event of world-wide importance.

On that memorable day the new nation cast two sheet anchors into the ocean of human progress—one


  ― 207 ―
for her own safety, and another for the stability of the Empire.

There was only one universal regret: Sir Henry Parkes, the great statesman who breathed a soul into the Federal movement, was not there to witness its triumph.

The opening ceremony took place in a vast building known as the Exhibition Building. The dais and its neighbourhood were crowded with the leading personages of Australasia. In front Queen Victoria's latest set of Ministers was placed, supported by the members of the Senate and House of Representatives. In the transepts and galleries, and in every other part of the vast building, many thousands of spectators, all under the sway of intense if suppressed emotion, witnessed the unique ceremonies.

From every point of view four personalities dominated the magnificent perspective—the Duke, the Duchess, Lord Hopetoun, and Lady Hopetoun.

Alas! the Sovereign whose unequalled reign had as its closing triumph this new federation had passed away, full of years and bequeathing many immortal memories. Her grandson had become the Heir Apparent to the Royal and Imperial Thrones.

The first thing done when the members of the House responded to the summons of His Majesty's High Commissioner was the singing of three verses of the “Old Hundredth.”

There are many spiritual ties of our race, which stretch with unimpaired sweetness and vigour over land and sea. Few sounds have greater majesty, few revive nobler memories in just and unjust alike,


  ― 208 ―
than the simple tune and immortal words of the “Old Hundredth.”

The Governor-General then read a prayer. The special supplications followed.

His Majesty's High Commissioner then delivered the Speech.

To my infinite regret I was too ill to attend the great ceremony, or any of the opening sittings. I journeyed to Melbourne for the purpose when not sufficiently recovered from an illness, and had a relapse. This is the only big occasion in my long life when illness has interfered with the performance of an important duty.

The candidates for the position of President of the Senate were Sir R. C. Baker, Sir F. T. Sargood, and Sir W. A. Zeal. The voting for the first-named was 21 votes, for the second 12 votes, and for Sir William Zeal, 3 votes. There can be no doubt that the most capable President was chosen.

Later in the day the Duke, having commanded the attendance of members of the House in the Senate Chamber, delivered an address.

Mr. Holder was elected to the Speaker's chair without opposition. His elevation was a great loss to the Free Trade party, but no better choice could have been made. I always had the highest possible respect for Mr. Holder's abilities—his power of clear speech—and his transparent honesty of purpose.

On May 10th, the Governor-General delivered the Viceregal Speech to both Houses. It naturally referred to a large number of legislative proposals, some of which, even yet, have not been achieved.




  ― 209 ―

Both Houses adjourned until May 21st. This was necessary owing to the important festivities in Melbourne and Sydney, of which Their Royal Highnesses were the centre.

Perhaps the military reviews in Melbourne and Sydney were the finest spectacles. I was at the latter display. The Imperial Government had sent a notable contingent, representing famous British regiments, and these fine fellows were immense favourites with the people. When I looked at the march past of our Militia and Volunteer regiments, and our Naval Brigade, I felt sure of their prowess. But who that day could foresee the wonderful achievements of our comparatively untrained youths in the present war?

At one of the great functions in Sydney the Duke and Mrs. Reid were discussing, in a humorous vein, the relative merits of New South Wales and Victoria, when His Royal Highness turned to the Governor-General laughingly and put to him this question: “Which do you prefer, Hopetoun, Melbourne or Sydney?” His Excellency could not have been asked a more delicate question, and every one near listened intently for the answer. Lord Hopetoun proved himself to be equal to the emergency, because he at once replied, “Oh, sir!—you must remember—I'm federated now!”

My new sphere of activity in Melbourne was nearly 600 miles away from the courts of law in Sydney. I had a lucrative practice, and I could not give it up altogether. This should have made impossible my election by the Opposition members as their leader. To have a leader away from the House for comparatively long periods was clearly a most undesirable


  ― 210 ―
state of affairs. However, the party was good enough to insist upon my leadership, “with all faults,” a deputy-leader, in the person of Sir William McMillan, being chosen. He most kindly undertook to act for me when I was absent.

In my speech on the Address in Reply, I alluded to the number of Revenue Tariffists returned, taking the members of both Houses together—Revenue Tariffists and Protectionists. In Queensland, there were seven out of fourteen, with one doubtful; South Australia, seven out of thirteen; Western Australia, nine out of ten, with one doubtful; Tasmania, eight out of eleven; Victoria, five out of twenty-nine; and New South Wales, twenty-one out of thirty-two. The total for both Houses was fifty-seven; there were fifty-two Protectionists, leaving two unclassified. But for all practical purposes the Protectionists were much stronger than those figures suggest, because there was very little to choose between many of the Revenue Tariffists and the Protectionists. The outstanding fact was that the cautious fiscal programme of the Prime Minister had triumphed. He had saved the Commonwealth from a high Protectionist tariff.

I laid great stress upon the alarming fact that in ten years Victoria, where Protection was rampant, had lost 117,000 souls by emigration over immigration.

The most important matters in this unique session were the Budget and the Tariff. An unprecedented but wise step was adopted by Ministers. They divided the Financial Statement into two. The first part, delivered by Sir George Turner, the Treasurer, related to general finance; the second part, delivered by


  ― 211 ―
Mr. Kingston, the Minister for Trade and Customs, dealt exclusively with the Tariff proposals.

Sir George was well placed as Treasurer. He had proved his quality in his management of the finances of Victoria, and in the courage with which he carried out colossal reductions of expenditure, bringing a most extravagant annual expenditure down to a singularly modest total.

The favourable position we had established in New South Wales was revealed by a table showing the amount that would be raised for the Commonwealth if the tariffs of the respective States were chosen as a basis. The table was as follows:

           
On New South Wales lines .  £4,972,000 
On South Australian lines .  6,642,000 
On Victorian lines .  7,349,000 
On Tasmanian lines .  10,684,000 
On Queensland lines .  11,646,000 
On West Australian lines .  19,499,000 

The loss to the revenue owing to Free Trade between the States Sir George estimated at £1,000,000.

The total revenue he proposed to raise by the new duties of Customs in a normal year was £7,388,000, and from Excise £1,554,000, or £8,942,000 in all.

The one-fourth the “Braddon Clause” allowed the Commonwealth out of Customs and Excise would cover all the Federal expenditure, and leave £500,000 on the right side.

Mr. Kingston discharged his onerous duty with great power and success. Everybody admired the rugged manliness of his style, and the sweetness and


  ― 212 ―
good fellowship of his personal character. He began by a rejoicing utterance over the approach of Free Trade all over the Commonwealth. On that point Free Traders and Protectionists were on common ground. Some of us found it difficult to regulate the soundness of a principle by boundaries on a map.

The Minister declared that the proposals he was about to submit were governed by two principles; moderate Protection, and the fiscal necessities of the States. He said, “Extreme of revenue production and Protection giving in any one line—the two things are mutually destructive.” Again, “The first condition is revenue, but Protection to existing industries at least must accompany it.” The worst thing about any system of Protection I have always said was the tendency to pass from moderate to extreme duties. Of late years that phase is not so much in evidence.

The rates on which the Tariff is based were given very clearly. Stimulants and narcotics bore the heaviest duties. Apart from them, the average of the ad valorem rates was 22·93 per cent.

On sugar the question of black labour employed on the canefields of Queensland came up. Mr. Kingston proposed to tax imported sugar at £6 a ton, and to fix an excise at £3 a ton, of which £2 a ton would be refunded to employers of white labour, and nothing was to be refunded to employers of black labour. There was an interjection from a very high authority: “You cannot grow sugar without black labour.” That was generally believed at the time, but experience has proved that sugar can be grown, and is now entirely grown, by white labour.




  ― 213 ―

I followed Mr. Kingston at once, and spoke with all the fervour of an ardent Free Trader, and the author of the five-line tariff of the Mother Colony. I did my best to touch the Minister, who was nothing if not a fearless and enthusiastic democrat, on “the raw” by an immediate exposure of the heaviness of the duties specially relating to the everyday necessities of the poorer classes. The true weight of some of these duties had been skilfully concealed under what is called “composite” duties, i.e. a specific duty and an ad valorem duty both wrapped up in one. Few of these composite rates were applied to luxuries.

On the point of “raw material” I suggested that every man's requirements were his raw material and every man's faculties too. Then manufactures in one industry are often the raw material of another. This is one of the knottiest points about a Protective tariff. I contrasted the duty of 20 per cent. on blankets with the duty of 15 per cent. on ladies' furs; the 15 per cent. duties on silks and velvets with the 20 per cent. duties on flannelettes; the 20 per cent. on tents for the bush worker and 15 per cent. on the trimmings “worn by ladies who do Collins Street”; the duty of 20 per cent. on mangles with the 20 per cent. on kid gloves; and so on. The trouble always is that the industries from which the Protective policy produces the largest results are those that make the articles which the masses of the people use.

The following week I moved a vote of censure in order to test the feeling of the House.




  ― 214 ―

19. Chapter XIX Early Struggles In The Federal Parliament

IN the course of the long debate that followed there were a number of able and eloquent addresses, beginning with the Prime Minister's reply to my speech.

Mr. Hughes (now the Prime Minister of Australia), who was the ablest Free Trader amongst the Labour members of the House, eloquently supported my motion.

The debate closed on October 31st, the result (including pairs) being 30 Ayes and 44 Noes—a majority of 14, which, in a House of 75 members, was a very large majority indeed.

Dividing the votes by States, the result was as follows:

               
Ayes   Noes  
New South Wales  15  11 
Victoria  19 
Queensland 
South Australia 
Western Australia 
Tasmania 
30  44 

The labour of going through all the items of the new tariff in Committee was a stupendous task. We


  ― 215 ―
Free Traders made a first-rate fight, and secured a number of reductions, thanks to the way in which Protectionists in principle were swayed by local or national interests in particular cases. Some Free Traders were swayed by local interests, too, but very rarely. The votes thus given were always the subject of good - natured chaff. Sometimes Ministers were visibly annoyed when their supporters on the general principle of the Tariff joined us in defeating or moderating their demands.

The two Ministers in charge of the Tariff, Mr. Kingston and Sir George Turner, displayed a degree of ability and constancy in fighting for their proposals which both sides of the House greatly admired.

I was not able to attend regularly; but the hon. members who supported me, under Sir William McMillan's zealous and efficient leadership, showed a wonderful degree of capacity and devotion to our cause. Where all were of such eminent service, it would be unfair to single out any individual member. I am bound to say that the great preponderance of judgment in the House was not in favour of extreme measures. The silent pressure of the moderates induced Ministers to agree to many reductions.

Some of the striking features of these proceedings were to be found in the lobbies of the House. Naturally enough, there were crowds of people in attendance striving to preserve or increase or reduce or defeat those duties in which they were personally interested. In this respect the Victorian interests were conspicuous—partly because the Parliament was sitting in Melbourne, and partly because Victorians


  ― 216 ―
were more dependent on the Tariff than any other State. We often called attention to the fact that after some years of our radically small tariff our manufacturers in Sydney rarely appealed for any consideration. In one memorable case three or four Sydney boot and shoe manufacturers, having very large factories of that class, actually preferred a request that the proposed duties on boots and shoes should be reduced!

In accordance with the procedure provided for such cases, the Senate in dealing with the Tariff in Committee did not amend the items, but requested the amendment of a number of items, always in the direction of reducing the duties. The Free Trade members were strong in the Senate and the Revenue Tariffists were moderate, with the net result that the Government was very often in a minority. The House fought a number of requests and gave way on some. On the outstanding differences a compromise was arrived at.

Thus ended the keenest and most prolonged contest over a measure the Commonwealth has had or is likely to have. The results of the first year's operation of the Tariff showed that the revenue estimated to be received from it was grossly under-estimated, because after numerous and some heavy reductions made in the duties, the receipts were still much above the estimate.

On our side we had predicted that result over and over again, and therefore felt no scruples in voting down genuine revenue duties. The burdens of the people would be sufficiently heavy, and we did not


  ― 217 ―
seek to make them heavier. Besides, the duties knocked off—such as tea—we thought might be useful later on if we got the power to cut down the Protective duties. As everybody knows, it is much easier to put duties on the people than to take them off; and unnecessary revenue breeds extravagance.

The Budget Speech for the financial year 1902–3 was delivered by Sir George Turner on September 23rd, 1902. The total revenue for the previous year was £11,087,000; that estimated for 1902–3 was £221,000 more. In both cases the special West Australian duties are excluded.

A few days afterwards the House approved of the appointment of a Committee of experts to report upon sites suggested for the Capital.

Reviewing the work of those days at this distance of time, I must admit that Ministers justified in many ways the high reputation they enjoyed in their respective States. The strain upon them was very great. The machinery of a new system of government had to be started, although the larger services were in existence as separate State concerns. Then the legislation called for covered a number of indispensable measures, some of the first order of importance.

I am glad to be able to pay my own supporters a high tribute for their ability and zeal. Whilst they fought hard on matters of principle, patriotic feeling kept party interest in the background, both in large and small affairs.

A Machinery Act relating to the Customs was just as necessary as a Tariff Act; and it involved a number of intricate precautions. When a tariff is a short


  ― 218 ―
one, without ad valorem duties, administrative checks are simple. When the tariff is a long one, with many ad valorem duties in it, it is almost impossible to prevent serious frauds.

One of the most interesting debates in connection with the Bill arose from a proposal that whilst an ocean-going ship was proceeding from one Australian port to another, until she left “her last port of departure in the Commonwealth,” her ship's stores, taken out from day to day, should be dutiable at federal rates. It was hotly contended that when a ship was on the Australian coast outside the territorial limit there was no power to tax the ship's stores. This seemed quite a sound position. A most ingenious, though not original, way of evading this point of jurisdiction was adopted, by giving power to local officers of Customs to affix seals on the places where ship's stores are deposited, and making it unlawful under a heavy penalty for any ship to come into any of our ports with any such seals broken. The Judicial Committee of the Privy Council decided that the Commonwealth had the power to impose such a condition on the use of its ports.

The Public Service Act was taken from various sources—largely from the Public Service Act of 1895, which we introduced in New South Wales. No pension system exists in the Commonwealth Service, not even in the case of judges. Civil servants are compelled to insure their lives, and these policies, which must be increased as salaries increase, are protected from assignment or insolvency.

The Commonwealth Franchise Act established a


  ― 219 ―
uniform franchise for Senate and House, every adult being entitled to one vote.

The Electoral Act was also passed in the first Session. The number of electorates is regulated by the number of members, one for each in the case of the House. In the case of the Senate each State is one electorate. The electoral divisions are to be made by three Commissioners in each State. The total number of electors in a State divided by the number of seats for that State forms in all cases the quota on which the divisions are to be based, but the law allows the Commissioners a margin of not more than one-fifth above and not more than one-fifth below the quota. When in each State the work is complete and a report is made, both Houses may approve by resolution. If either House does not approve, fresh proposals must be submitted. All the elections for the House must be on one day, and so in the case of the Senate. A candidate for the Senate may not spend more than £250; a candidate for a Division may not spend more than £100.

By a subsequent Act, passed in 1911, no comment relating to a candidate or any election topic can be published between the issue and return of the Writs, without the name of the writer, under a penalty of £50, and every newspaper editor publishing any such matters without signature is also liable to £50 for each offence. This extraordinary provision shows how sensitive even the roughest democrat can be to criticism, and to the power of the anonymous “We” of the newspapers.

One penalty imposed by an amending Act passed in


  ― 220 ―
1909 ought to command general approval. It was made an offence punishable by fine or imprisonment to act in a disorderly manner at any public political meeting held within the same period, if the offender were found guilty of an intention to prevent the purpose for which the meeting was held.

One of the great contests was on the question whether petitions disputing elections should be heard by a Committee of Elections and Qualifications or by a tribunal outside Parliament. Very wisely the latter method was preferred.

The Pacific Island Labourers Act of 1901 was passed in order that the Kanakas employed on the sugar plantations of Queensland and elsewhere should be repatriated, and that none of those islanders should be employed in Australia. There were liberal exemptions for the benefit of islanders who had lived for a long time in Queensland and those who had families born there.

The Immigration Restriction Act was designed to prevent the landing in Australia of undesirable immigrants of various kinds, but its main object was to keep out the coloured races. There was a great effort to make the Bill express this intention in plain English. I joined strongly in that attempt. The law now is that failure to write out to the dictation of an officer fifty words in any prescribed language is the test whether anyone was a “prohibited immigrant” or not. Every person, whether white or coloured, British subject or not, could be tested, and perhaps by a selection of language “plucked”; but in point of fact the officers do not apply the test to white


  ― 221 ―
immigrants at all unless they come under a specially named class of undesirable. Still, at any moment any person whom the authorities desired to keep out could be excluded in that way.

To show how far the Federal Parliament was prepared to go in its endeavour to punish offenders, it was enacted in one of the Acts that every averment in any information, declaration, or claim in a proceeding under the Act was to be deemed to be proved in the absence of proof to the contrary, except in the case of an indictable offence, or a case alleging an intent to defraud.

In considering the Post and Telegraph Act, 1901, there was a violent controversy over one drastic provision concerning letters or circulars sent through the post relating to racing sweeps. Mr. George Adams, of Sydney, who was a man of high personal character and considerable means, had become the head of a business in the way of promoting “sweeps” on sporting events. As Australians are much given to such speculations, and held Mr. Adams in high esteem, the volume of his business became immense. Every prize of large amount won by a domestic servant or poor worker added thousands to the number of his constituents. At last Parliament stepped in to suppress the “sweeps.” In order to avoid postal interference, Mr. Adams established his head office in Tasmania, where there was no such legislation. All sorts of methods were adopted to transmit the thousands of applications for tickets from the mainland to the little island, and the drawings took place there, the results being advertised throughout Australia. Tasmania received large


  ― 222 ―
additions to its postal revenues in consequence. When the Federal Bill was introduced, a dead set was made against the clauses intended to prevent the use of the Post Office by “sweep” promoters, but the clauses were adhered to.

The Defence Bill was not finished in the first session; indeed, the first measure was not passed until 1903.

The Inter-State Commission Bill also was dropped. I earnestly advised the Governments of New South Wales and Victoria to arrive at some friendly revision of their railway rates in order to make such a tribunal unnecessary.

There was no attempt to introduce a Bill to bring into operation the provisions of the Constitution relating to the High Court. A Judiciary Act was one of the most urgent needs of the Commonwealth, because until a High Court was established all the benefits of a Commonwealth system of law, redress, and appeal were postponed.

The reasons for the delay were not entirely of a public character, just as those for the long delay in passing a High Commissioner Bill were not.

When Lord Hopetoun resigned, Lord Tennyson, who was Governor of South Australia, succeeded him.

The second session of the first Parliament was opened by Lord Tennyson, on May 26th, 1903, and the Judiciary Bill was at once tabled.

In the debate on the Address in Reply, I denounced the action of the Government in refusing to allow six hatters from England to land in Australia. These men were members of their trade union in England, and


  ― 223 ―
came out with certificates to the union in Australia. They were eventually released, but the episode did us a great deal of harm in England.

I was able to congratulate my friends on the fact that although we had been attacked by the Government for reducing the Customs tariff by £1,000,000 to £1,500,000, in spite of all the reductions we helped to make, the actual revenue was £350,000 more than the original estimate. The Treasurer had estimated a normal year's receipts at £8,900,000, and after all our reductions the actual receipts were £9,250,000.

I cordially supported a Bill to give effect to a new agreement with the Admiralty.

A few days before the introduction of the Arbitration Bill, Mr. Kingston, who was to take charge of the measure, left the Ministry. The cause alleged—there were also other points of difference—was the refusal of his colleagues to bring under the Bill seamen employed in ships engaged in coastal trade as part of long voyages from and to England or other distant countries. Ministers promised to deal with oversea seamen and ships in a Navigation Bill, but he persisted in his resignation. The regret at his retirement was universal. Most of his friends thought he took an extreme course. But, if so, it was in keeping with the rugged independence and firmness of his character. He was one of the truly great men of Australia.

Mr. Deakin moved the second reading of the Bill which had caused this trouble. As in the case of the Judiciary Bill introduced in the first Session, he made a most able and eloquent address.

Under the Electoral Act Commissioners were appointed


  ― 224 ―
to submit schemes for systems of federal electorates in each of the six States. When their reports were sent in containing the proposed distribution of seats, many objections were advanced. I can only speak confidently with regard to my own State—New South Wales. The proposed distribution in that case was as fair as it could be. Unfortunately, it did not seem popular either with the Government or some of the Labour members. If the divisions proposed were disapproved by the House, two courses were open: one, to refer the scheme for a fresh report, or to hold the next General Election on the basis of the State laws passed before Federation for the election of the first House. The Government chose the latter course. This took us back to a state of things antiquated from every point of view. The change caused by the addition of women to the rolls would also be left out of account! The discrepancies in the latter case between the number of electors in populous electorates and the number in remote electorates would be enormous, and would quite falsify the principle of one adult one vote. Some of the New South Wales electorates, if the old State law were employed, would show differences so great that some constituencies might have 12,000 or 15,000 voters, and others 40,000 electors or even more!

In spite of all protests, the New South Wales scheme was thrown out, and some others too, and no proposals for fresh subdivisions were made. In order to emphasise my protest against this audacious abuse of power I resigned my seat immediately after the vote was taken. I challenged the Government to oppose me, but there was no response.




  ― 225 ―

The first step taken in connection with that difficult and important task, the selection of a site for the Federal Capital, was a proposal made by the Government in both Houses for a joint conference and ballot. The House adopted, but the Senate rejected this proposal. The Senate would have been 36 to 75 in such a gathering, which may have led them to stand on their footing of equality.

On the following day the Prime Minister tendered his resignation to the Governor-General, whereupon His Excellency sent for Mr. Deakin to form a new Ministry. Mr. Austin Chapman became Defence Minister, and Senator Playford became Vice-President of the Executive Council. Those were the additions to the Cabinet. Mr. Deakin became Minister of External Affairs in Sir Edmund Barton's place, Mr. Drake became Attorney-General, and Sir John Forrest became Minister for Home Affairs. The two Ministers who stood out were Sir Edmund Barton and Mr. R. E. O'Connor.

To Sir Edmund Barton's infinite credit, before resigning he offered the position of Chief Justice to Sir Samuel Griffith, who accepted it. Sir Edmund took the next position on the invitation of the new Government, and Senator O'Connor the third Judgeship of the High Court.

The late Prime Minister and Mr. O'Connor had led the Houses well during their term of office. Mr. O'Connor performed his duties with the greatest possible tact and ability. I was always proud of the fact that when, in the days of our youth, we were members of the Debating Club in the Sydney School of Arts,


  ― 226 ―
young O'Connor was always my right-hand man in the mimic ministries I formed.

The three Judges of the new Supreme Court commanded general approval. There were other conspicuously able men available, but no one quarrelled with the selections which had been made.

I was in Sydney when these developments occurred. Sir Edmund and I had been great friends in our youth, and, with intervals of fiery conflict, remained so. I never met a more diffident beginner as a speaker than he was. I often used to encourage him, when a very young man, to get on his feet and speak in a debating club to which we belonged, but he did not take to it kindly.

I sent Sir Edmund a telegram of congratulation; and his reply was: “Thanks for your kind words. Hope an old friendship may henceforth find no eddies in its current.”

Sir George Turner's Budget Speech was delivered on July 28th. In this he frankly admitted that he was entirely wrong when he proposed that the Commonwealth “should” instead of “might” take over the State debts. He said, with his usual candour, that his proposal in the Convention was “utterly and absolutely wrong.”

Since the Senate refused a joint sitting on the subject of the Capital, the House conducted a separate ballot. The process adopted was a progressive elimination of the sites proposed. The last ballot was between Tumut and Lyndhurst. Neither of these places was ultimately selected.

In the Senate the Bill sent up from the House


  ― 227 ―
was amended by striking out Tumut and inserting Bombala. Bombala is very far from Sydney in the south-east corner of the Colony, but was within a reasonable distance of a seaport—Twofold Bay.

The House was prorogued on October 22nd, and dissolved on November 24th, 1903.

The Arbitration Bill lapsed, and so did the Capital Site Bill.

The Defence Act was passed. It enabled the Government to constitute Standing and Citizen Forces, none of which could be compelled to serve abroad. It empowered the Governor-General, upon the application of the Executive Government of a State, after its Governor had proclaimed that domestic violence existed therein, to call out the Standing, and, if necessary, the Militia and Volunteer Forces, to protect the State.

As amended later (1909) all male British subjects between the ages of 18 and 60 were made liable to serve, and they might be called out by Governor-General's proclamation in five different classes. The unmarried between 18 and 35 first, the unmarried or widowers without children between 35 and 45 next, the married or widowers with children between 18 and 35 next, same between 35 and 45 next, and the last class, men between 45 and 60. Parliament, if not sitting, must be summoned to meet within ten days from the issue of any such proclamation. Amongst the exemptions are “persons who are not substantially of European origin or descent, and persons who satisfy the prescribed authority that their conscientious beliefs do not allow them to bear arms”—but


  ― 228 ―
that would not free them from duties of a “non-combatant nature.”

Great use has been made of the term “conscientious” and the term “conscience,” as if there were in the mind a mysterious entity distinct from its ordinary faculties and processes. I venture to question any such view. The exercise of reason and the power of judging, in relation to facts and beliefs, and fears concerning consequences, or expectations of reward here or hereafter—all these being ordinary mental operations—seem to leave no place or need for the theory of a separate and independent tribunal within the mind, such as conscience is supposed by many to be.

Powers were also taken in the Act for the formation of Senior and Junior Cadet Corps.

A universal obligation of naval and military training was imposed—as Junior Cadets from 12 to 14, as Senior Cadets from 14 to 18; in the Citizen Forces from 18 to 25. The training includes a certain number of drills and for the Citizen Forces continuous work in camp for eight days once a year. Between 25 and 26 years of age only one registration or muster parade is required.

Any member of the Force tried for an offence punishable by death is entitled to the assistance of counsel at the expense of the Crown.

The Naval Agreement Act passed during the session embodied important changes. It provided that new ships of a modern type, including one armoured cruiser of the first-class, two second-class cruisers, four third-class cruisers, and four sloops should be placed on the Australian station, and have their base in


  ― 229 ―
Australian and New Zealand waters, under a Naval Commander-in-Chief. Their sphere of operations was defined, and limited to the Australia, China, and East Indies stations. Provision was also made for the training of Australians in a Naval Reserve to consist of 25 officers and 700 men. The agreement to last for ten years, or longer, two years' notice before expiration being necessary. The expense of maintaining the force was to be divided thus: Great Britain 6-12ths, Australia 5-12ths, and New Zealand 1-12th—not to exceed £200,000 a year in the case of Australia and £40,000 a year in the case of New Zealand. The preamble asserted the necessity for a single Navy under one authority.

The campaign in connection with the second Parliament was dominated by the questions concerning the Customs Tariff. The three Parties went upon their own lines, but there was no other great question upon which, in that contest, they were sharply divided. My friends and I did our best to secure a result which would promptly reform the Tariff on lines of revenue, discarding its protective character, so far as that was possible in any revenue tariff.

Mr. Deakin and his supporters, largely backed by members of the Labour Party, appealed for “fiscal peace.” The result was in favour of fiscal peace, but not in favour of the Ministry, as it was weaker than ever.

The second Parliament met on March 2nd, 1904. The Ministerial forces in the House had fallen from 33 to 25, in the Senate from 11 to 10. The Opposition in the House had increased from 26 to 27; in


  ― 230 ―
the Senate our numbers fell from 17 to 12. The Labour Party was the only one to score an emphatic success. In the House it rose from 16 to 23 members, and in the Senate from 8 to 14. The Ministry, therefore, had only one-third of the strength of the House, and less than one-third of the strength of the Senate. There was no striking personality added to or removed from the Senate; it will be remembered that only one-half of its members had to retire.

In the House the changes do not call for special notice, except in one respect—the death of Sir Edward Braddon after his election and just before the House met.

Sir Edward merited the beautiful tribute to his character offered by Mr. Deakin in moving a resolution recording the profound regret of the House.

For five years we were brother Premiers, and he was one of the leading members on our side of the House. The mingled force and charm of his nature have left in my memory an unfading impression.

The Prime Minister felt very keenly the position he occupied, owing to the three-Party condition of things in the House. He said: “I have not the slightest idea as yet which two Parties are going to endeavour to unite, but unite they must.”

In the debate on the Address in Reply I quoted some figures showing that the gross inequalities in the voting strength of the electorates were even worse than I had imagined. If the law had not aimed at electoral equality such abuses could be more easily tolerated; but deliberately to prevent the law from operating in order to leave some constituencies with


  ― 231 ―
twice as many electors to a member than others, was disgraceful. As the practical outcome was to injure the Opposition, and help its opponents, we felt all the more angry, and Ministerialists all the more amiable!

The Prime Minister, after the Address in Reply was passed, moved the second reading of the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill. There was general agreement upon this Bill, except on one or two points, of which one was to prove fatal to the Government, and another to its successor.

The Deakin Ministry had determined to resist an amendment which included the Public Services of the States, especially the State railways, within the operation of the Bill. I supported them in that course, and thought they were absolutely right. The question had come up in the previous Parliament, and had been ventilated during the recent elections. It became known that the Government would resign if the amendment were carried. As all the Labour Party, a good many of the Opposition, and one or two of the Ministerial supporters were pledged to support it, the result was inevitable. On April 21st the Government was defeated by 38 to 29. I believe the defeated Ministers asked for a dissolution. If so, it was refused. Ministers thereupon resigned, and Mr. J. C. Watson, the leader of the Labour Party, was sent for, and formed a Ministry. It was constituted as follows:

       


  ― 232 ―
     
Prime Minister and Treasurer   Mr. J. C. Watson. 
Minister for External Affairs   Mr. W. M. Hughes. 
Attorney-General   Mr. Higgins. 
Minister for Trade and Customs   Mr. Andrew Fisher. 
Minister for Defence   Senator Dawson. 
Postmaster-General   Mr. Mahon. 
Vice-President of the Executive Council   Senator McGregor. 

Mr. Watson made a Ministerial statement, Mr. Deakin and I spoke, he as leader of the late Administration, I as leader of the Opposition. Mr. Deakin announced on behalf of his Party that he was authorised to assure the new Government that they would receive the “utmost fair play.” I reminded Ministers that it was clear that a majority of the electors had no desire to see them in office. The Houses then adjourned until May 18th.

Mr. Deakin and I had always been in different camps, but about two weeks after the above developments I learned from Mr. Sydney Smith that Mr. Deakin was willing to confer with me upon the situation. This led to an endeavour to bring about a Coalition between his forces and mine on the basis of a fiscal truce. The first step was a Conference between Mr. Deakin and Sir George Turner on one side and myself and Mr. Sydney Smith on the other.

We considered whether we could arrive at an agreement. There was one broad ground upon which united action by Mr. Deakin and his friends and our Party was absolutely wise and justifiable, and in the public interest. Most of the members of both Parties —if not all—had a strong objection to the despotic tendency of the Labour leagues and the secrecy of Labour caucus methods. Owing to our disunion, the Labour Party had an ascendancy in public affairs to which it was not entitled.




  ― 233 ―

The result of our Conferences was an agreement which was put into writing and published.

Mr. Deakin told me that his state of health would prevent him from joining any Ministry that was formed. This was to me a great disappointment. Against that he put the view that he could be of more service to a new Ministry if he sat amongst his friends on the Government side.

Our respective Parties met to consider these proposals for co-operation. Mr. Deakin told me the purport of his friends' views, and sent me a copy of the resolutions they had agreed to. One was a vote of thanks to Sir George Turner and himself “for their efforts during the past few weeks to bring about a better condition of the political situation.” The other was as follows:

“That this Party is not prepared to consider proposals for a Coalition except on the condition that the Prime Ministership of any Coalition Government be accorded to the present leader of this Party.”

I wrote to Mr. Deakin, asking whether that stipulation was the only point that prevented acceptance of union. His reply was: “I do not think that this would be the only stipulation on the part of some members, but believe that the majority would ask nothing more.” Mr. Deakin does not seem to have convinced his friends that his health would not stand the strain.

As things turned out, it was impossible to bring the whole of the Deakin Party into line with us, but Mr. Deakin and a majority of his followers joined in


  ― 234 ―
our truce. Thereupon the others, headed by Sir William Lyne and Mr. (afterwards Mr. Justice) Isaacs came to an agreement with the Labour Party.

Later disclosures brought out the fact that the whole of the Protectionist Party had been open to a union with the Labour Party, and that some efforts had been made to bring it about, before Mr. Deakin joined us. Mr. Deakin believes that he told me of this. My recollection is that he did not. The terms we employed in our agreement with reference to the Labour Party seemed to me to make the idea of a union between Mr. Deakin and that Party inconceivable. I allude to the following words:

“Unfortunately, the Party now in office—quite apart from any questions relating to its programme—maintains a control of its minority by its majority and an antagonism to all who do not submit themselves to its organisation and decisions, which seems to make it hopeless to approach its members upon any terms of equality, even under the present exceptional conditions.

“A Coalition between the two Parties sitting together in opposition to the present Government appears therefore to be the solution most in accordance with the views of the members themselves and of a great majority of the electors of Australia.”




  ― 235 ―

20. Chapter XX Prime Minister

MR. WATSON, after the necessary adjournment, made his Ministerial Statement. It was a very clear and manly one. He proposed to take up the Arbitration Bill at the point reached before the crisis. He also spoke of starting a tobacco monopoly, and of compelling the banks to deposit 40 per cent of their gold reserves in the Federal Treasury. The Senate had sent down to the House a message asking it to concur in the manufacture and sale of tobacco, cigars, and cigarettes in order to provide money for Old Age Pensions.

Mr. Deakin followed Mr. Watson, and made it clear that he and his friends had been equally open to receive overtures from us or from the Labour Party, and that he had been expressly authorised to do so.

State railways and State industries were included in the Arbitration Bill, but by 29 to 21 it was resolved against the Government that the measure should not include disputes “relating to employment in any agricultural, viticultural, horticultural, or dairying pursuit.”

An amendment from our side providing that no Trade Union should be registered whose rules permitted grants from its funds for political purposes


  ― 236 ―
was only defeated by one vote. An amendment that preference to Trade Unionists over other workers should not be given, unless in the opinion of the Court a majority of those affected by the award who had interests in common with the applicants approved of the application, was carried by a majority of 7, on the motion of the hon. member for Corinella (Victoria), Mr. McCay. This amendment excited great indignation amongst the Trade Unionists, who refused to allow it to remain in the Bill.

After the Bill came out of Committee, Mr. Watson moved that certain clauses be recommitted, and he included Clause 48, which contained the above amendment. Mr. McCay thereupon moved that the House should refuse to recommit that clause. Outside the House Mr. Watson had made it clear that he would resign unless the amendment was removed from the Bill. The words of a substitute which he intended to propose were circulated. They provided that if the Court were satisfied that the Union “substantially” represented the industry affected in point of the numbers and competence of its members, that was to be sufficient.

There was, of course, a very long and excited discussion extending over several days. Mr. Watson and Mr. Hughes made fine speeches. Mr. Deakin was much incensed by the attack made upon him by the latter.

When the division was taken the Government were defeated by a majority of two. With two pairs, and the Speaker, the whole House was accounted for.

Of the former Deakin party, he and fifteen others


  ― 237 ―
voted with us; Sir William Lyne, Mr. Isaacs, Mr. Groom, and others voted with the Labour Party.

Mr. Watson asked Lord Northcote to give him a dissolution, but the request was refused, chiefly, no doubt, because of the smallness of the difference between our amendment and the concession Mr. Watson was willing to make, and because the House was in its first year.

The Governor-General, before formally sending for me, asked me whether I thought I could form a Ministry that could carry on. I said I believed I could. I confess I soon found that my expectation of sufficient strength proved ill-founded, as Mr. Deakin's support of the new Ministry did not attract as many of his followers as I had hoped.

The difficulty of forming a Federal Government representing the six States is always great. In our case it was made more difficult, because the two parties to the Coalition had to be equally represented.

The Ministry when made up was as follows:

                 
Prime Minister and External Affairs   Myself. 
Minister for Trade and Customs   Mr. Allan McLean. 
Treasurer   Sir George Turner. 
Attorney-General   Senator Sir Josiah 
Symon. 
Minister for Home Affairs   Mr. Dugald Thomson. 
Minister for Defence   Mr. McCay. 
Postmaster-General   Mr. Sydney Smith. 
Vice-President of the Executive Council   Senator Drake. 

Photograph facing p.236. The Federal Ministry of 1905 (reid mclean administration). Sitting: Rt.Hon.Sir George Turner, P.C., K.C.M.G. (Treasury), Rt.Hon.George Houstoun Reid, P.C., K.C.(External Affairs), Rt.Hon.Lord Northeote, P.C., C.B., G.C.M.G., G.C.I.E. (Governor-General), Hon.Allan McLean (Trade and Customs), Hon.Sir Josiah Henry Symon, K.C.M.G., K.C. (Attorney-General). Standing: Hon.Sydney Smith (Postmaster-General), Hon.Dugald Thomson (Home Affairs), Hon.James Whiteside McGay (Defence), Hon.James George Drake (Vice-President Executive Council).



I can never forget Sir George Turner's chivalry in joining me when his health was in a most precarious condition. Having, with Mr. Deakin, met me in


  ― 238 ―
conference and agreement, since Mr. Deakin stood out, he would not desert me. It was at first arranged that Sir George and I should be “equal in all things,” but he assured me that it would mean a breakdown for him, and Mr. Allan McLean took his place.

Mr. Allan McLean was a man who united the best qualities of a Highlander with the best qualities of an Australian Colonist. No public man in Victoria was more widely or more affectionately esteemed.

Mr. McCay (afterwards General McCay) was one of the youngest leaders in Victorian politics. He possessed a clear, sagacious mind. He was in the first Australian contingent to leave Australia for the War, and commanded a brigade at Gallipoli with conspicuous courage and success.

Our Attorney-General—Sir Josiah Symon, K.C., of South Australia—is not only an eminent lawyer, but also a man of commanding ability in every other respect. Mr. Dugald Thomson was that rare combination—so far as Australia is concerned—a first-rate man of business and a first-rate man of affairs generally. When I was so unjustly attacked in the New South Wales Parliament in connection with the public finances, his vindication of my conduct was invaluable. His speeches were invariably clear, strong, and all the more weighty because of their moderate tone. Mr. Sydney Smith, when Sir Henry Parkes gave up the leadership of the Liberal Party in 1891, became a staunch friend and supporter. His enthusiasm, devotion, and efficiency as “Whip” made him an invaluable colleague, and his services in


  ― 239 ―
bringing about the understanding with Mr. Deakin and Sir George Turner could not be overlooked.

During my periods of leadership in New South Wales and in Australia I had the good fortune to enjoy the support of parties of singular fidelity and high capacity. The honour of leading them was great, but the enjoyment their loyalty and good fellowship always gave me had more to do with my perennial complacency than anything else. Looking back over thirty years of public life, I can only remember one clear instance of an attempt to shoot at me “from behind.” Perhaps there was another. Each, if there were two, strengthened my position, so the pain was not lasting.

Our Ministry never had a greater majority than two, and when the House was in Committee one of the two sat in the Chair. To make bad worse, the one who was left was a supporter of the most doubtful kind. Coalitions at all times are full of the elements of disaster, but a Coalition that was only half a Coalition, and had only (when in Committee) a majority of one—who could not be depended upon—that surely was a situation not devoid of humour!

After an adjournment Parliament met again on September 7th, and I made a Ministerial Statement. I pointed out that the result of the previous General Election had been a confirmation of the fiscal truce proposed by the Deakin Government, and that the Ministry was a guarantee for the truce during its existence.

On the question of preferential trade I proposed to follow the example of previous Governments and


  ― 240 ―
wait for definite proposals from the Imperial Government. When these would come was uncertain, because the Government then in power was opposed to any such policy. We intended to take up the Arbitration Bill, and recommit it for the purpose of making amendments. A number of those that were to be submitted by the late Government we could propose, a number we could not.

Then, as so many months of the session had passed, we would deal with the Budget and the Estimates.

A few days afterwards we sent the Arbitration Bill up to the Senate.

On September 20th Mr. Watson moved a vote of want of confidence. A decision was not arrived at until October 13th, when the motion was defeated by 37 to 35; with pair, 38 to 36.

The Budget Speech was delivered by Sir George Turner on October 18th.

Before the close of the session Mr. Deakin, in a very fine speech, moved a Resolution in favour of Preferential Trade and Reciprocity.

During the session Protectionists on both sides of the House desired an inquiry by Royal Commission into the operation of the Tariff.

Mr. Isaacs pressed the matter very much. He wished a Commission consisting of members of both Houses. I preferred one consisting of persons outside Parliament. He wanted to limit the scope of the inquiry. I preferred that the whole Tariff should be inquired into.

We appointed four Free Traders and Four Protectionists.


  ― 241 ―
One of the latter, Sir John Quick, we made Chairman; but he was not allowed a casting vote.

Strangely enough, in spite of our precarious position we went through the session, August to December, without any serious difficulty. It was in the power of any one of our supporters to create a deadlock. Mr. Deakin and all his friends stood by us most loyally.

In February we had an important Conference at Hobart with the State Premiers upon a number of questions.

During the recess nothing had occurred to show that Mr. Deakin or his followers had any intention to withdraw their support from our Administration. He and I met occasionally. I spoke very confidentially to him whenever we did meet. Our last interview was two days before his Ballarat speech. During that interview the same cordiality prevailed, and not a single word escaped from him which prepared me for a “notice to quit,” such as that deliverance undoubtedly was.

Our preparations for the opening of the session on the following Tuesday were almost complete. I had a “Speech from the Throne” drafted, which consisted of many clauses, containing a long catalogue of public business which we had decided to submit to the House. A meeting of the Cabinet had been called for Monday, the day before Parliament met, in order to finish it.

But the speech made by Mr. Deakin, reported in the newspapers that morning, completely altered our


  ― 242 ―
position. Even with the cordial support of Mr. Deakin and his friends we had only a majority of two. The speech showed that the cordiality and support seemed to have vanished.

Each of the eight Ministers sitting round the Cabinet table, including Mr. Deakin's old friend and colleague, Sir George Turner, had independently arrived at the same conclusion. We all felt that to meet Parliament and submit a legislative programme as if nothing had occurred was impossible. On the other hand, we had administered public affairs during a Parliamentary recess of six months, and did not relish the appearance of running away from our posts. After full deliberation we determined to meet Parliament, but to place in His Excellency's hands a Speech which would show that we would only stay in office to bring about an appeal to the country.

The view we took of the meaning of Mr. Deakin's speech was in harmony with the construction the Press put upon it. It was universally regarded as “a notice to quit.”

Mr. Deakin, when the House met, disclaimed any hostile intention, but he kept silence on Monday and on Tuesday, He had three intimate Protectionist supporters in the Cabinet—Sir George Turner, Mr. Allan McLean, and Mr. McCay, who had joined me with his approval. Neither to me, nor to them, did he intimate that everybody had made a mistake in thinking that his support had been withdrawn.

I still think he was censurable. Knowing our precarious position, he should not have said anything to


  ― 243 ―
weaken us, if he wished us to carry on; if he had determined to forsake us he might have treated us, or Sir George Turner at any rate, with fuller consideration. However, it is an old story now.

Parliament met on Tuesday, June 29th. The Speech from the Throne was the shortest on record. It simply proposed electoral business.

The suddenness of His Excellency's departure from the Council Chamber created an immense sensation.

At this distance of time it is hard to recall the indignation I felt at Mr. Deakin's conduct, but of course, the members of his own Party who had become my colleagues by virtue of his agreement with me had far more right to complain.

Sir George showed, even in his evident suffering from ill-health and disappointment at Mr. Deakin's conduct, an affection for him which was equally honourable to both.

He considered that the inquiry into the working of the Tariff which we had started was the best possible use that could be made of the period of “fiscal peace.”

Mr. Allan McLean spoke with intense feeling, which even our opponents deeply respected:

“So far as I am aware, the Ministry have not departed to the extent of a hair's breadth from the honourable understanding which was entered into between the honourable and learned Member for Ballarat and the Prime Minister. We acted up to it in every possible way, and I think it is only fair to the Prime Minister to say that he has never, upon any occasion, sought to take any advantage of the fact that the


  ― 244 ―
Free Traders predominated amongst the Government supporters. On the contrary, whenever there has been any little advantage to be given to one side or the other, it has always been given to the Protectionist members of the Government. Even in the case of the Tariff Commission, the chairmanship was given to a Protectionist, notwithstanding the fact that there was a large number of Free Traders sitting behind the Ministry. Upon every possible occasion the Prime Minister has honourably adhered to the bargain which he made with the honourable and learned Member for Ballarat. …”

Mr. Deakin moved as an amendment to the Address in Reply the addition of the words, “But we are of opinion that practical measures should be proceeded with.”

With his usual eloquence, Mr. Deakin defended his action. He disclaimed any intention to upset the Ministry. The Protectionists throughout Australia were afraid of a dissolution which would place them at a disadvantage. He knew that the arrangement was that there should be a fiscal truce during the Parliament, but considered that the reports sent in from time to time from the Tariff Commission must force the fiscal question to the front.

The following reveals a flash of sardonic humour which is unusual in Mr. Deakin:

MR. REID: “The Age said it was a notice to quit.”

MR. DEAKIN: “Even a notice to quit may be for six or twelve months, or any other period.”




  ― 245 ―

Mr. Deakin's amendment was carried by 45 to 28 (including pairs), a majority of 17. The whole of Mr. Deakin's following voted against us, leaving my three Protectionist colleagues to vote without a single Protectionist supporter.

This unexpected treatment of Sir George Turner and Mr. McLean left a painful impression on more minds than mine. We had one consolation: the outcome had relieved us from a position which had become intolerable.

Mr. Deakin imputed to me an unworthy attempt to injure the Protectionist cause by an improper use of the period of truce, and also of a design to dissolve Parliament. These were quite fallacious ideas, and the testimony given by Sir George Turner and Mr. McLean to the fairness of my conduct all through was a sufficient answer. The charge suggested their complicity, which was incredible in itself. There is little doubt that the Protectionists in some of the States and in the House persuaded Mr. Deakin to forsake us.

I had a very strong objection—as Mr. Deakin had —to the methods of the Labour Party. In one respect my opposition to that Party went much farther than his. He took too lightly the Socialistic gospel which they had declared. I hoped by the attempt to unite Mr. Deakin with the Opposition to present a solid front to a dangerous enemy. To do this I was quite ready to listen to Tariff changes that did not seriously raise questions of principle.

Ministers advised a dissolution, but the Governor-General did not accept our advice. Looking back


  ― 246 ―
upon the whole affair, I think the Governor-General arrived at a proper decision.

Up to that time I believe every defeated Ministry had asked for leave to appeal to the country, and each had received a negative answer. The practice in the Dominions is quite different from that in Great Britain. His Majesty's Ministers in England have their own way in such matters. It is not so in the Dominions.




  ― 247 ―

21. Chapter XXI Some Labour Legislation

A NEW Administration was formed by Mr. Deakin out of his own supporters. The Labour Party resumed its position of the “uncrowned king.” Mr. Deakin, after all his strictures upon its methods, its aims and ingratitude, came under its sway once more.

During the session the Government passed an Act known as the Contract Immigrants Act. The Labour Party and Trade Unions attached great importance to this. It made the landing of any person under contract to perform manual labour in Australia subject to a number of conditions. The contract must be in writing, the wages must be at Australian rates, the hiring must not be in contemplation of a labour dispute. The contract must have been submitted to and approved by the Minister. If the immigrant landed before or without such approval he became liable to a penalty—so did the employer—and the contract became void. Another important condition was that the contract was only allowable if the employer could not obtain in Australia workers of equal skill and ability.

The Opposition managed to obtain one concession—that the last condition should not apply to any British subject born in the United Kingdom, or descended from one born there.




  ― 248 ―

Some—indeed many—of the Labour Party affected to believe that a man who went to Australia under an agreement of work and wages was a “slave” and a “chattel.” It seemed to me that such a contract was as little consistent with slavery as any other contract to work. To prevent deceit on the part of an employer or his agent, precautions were entirely justifiable, but there was much more than that in view. The legislation reflected, I think, a general desire on the part of the Labour Unions to restrict such immigration as far as possible.

In the Trade Marks Act of 1905 there were some extraordinary provisions to provide for what is called “workers”' trade marks. This provision was the thin end of a wedge to be driven into the freedom of shopkeepers to buy and sell articles made by non-Union labour. The “Union label” was the right name for this trade mark.

The Opposition made an heroic effort to prevent this means of tyranny, but in vain.

All these devices came before the High Court, which, by majority, decided that the power in the Constitution to legislate respecting trade marks did not cover workers' trade marks.

Another striking provision of the Trade Marks Act is that establishing a Commonwealth trade mark! After its registration the Minister is to be deemed its proprietor. It is to consist of a distinctive device or label bearing the words, “Australian Labour Conditions.” This trade mark can only be applied to goods about which both Houses of Parliament declare by Resolution that “in their opinion the conditions


  ― 249 ―
as to the remuneration of labour in connection with their manufacture are fair and reasonable.”

Such a cumbrous and almost impossible method of securing the benefit of the mark seems comical in an Act of Parliament, but consider what follows. The next section provides that both Houses “shall be deemed” to have passed such Resolutions if the goods were produced in the Commonwealth “under conditions as to the remuneration of labour prescribed, required, or provided in relation to the goods by an industrial agreement, under an industrial law.” The cause of the Labour Unions was served by daring and ingenious lawyers in those days!

A Bill to constitute British New Guinea a territory under the Commonwealth had been before Parliament for a long time. It became law in 1905. The endeavour of White Australia to develop Dark Papua under a Labour Government will be watched with great interest.

Crown lands in New Guinea cannot be sold, and all rentals of such lands must be on the basis of unimproved value. It is estimated that the flow of the Fly River equals that of the Mississippi or the Amazon. If only it could be “laid on” to the adjacent continent!

Parliament met again on June 7th, 1906. The numbers of the Deakin Party in the two Houses were small. In the Senate they were powerless; in the House they were a small minority. If I exclude Ministers the numbers were utterly insignificant.

The course pursued by the Labour Party in putting us out and bringing Mr. Deakin and his friends


  ― 250 ―
back was quite sensible and legitimate from their point of view, because we were, as compared with the Ministers, not at all likely to help them in their endeavours to promote the interests of their leagues by class legislation.

The Labour Party did not bind itself to the Ministry so as to frustrate its own designs. It was a loose tie of convenience, which kept Ministers in power without prejudice to independent action at the approaching election. The Labour leader, Mr. Watson, whom we all esteemed, was a great admirer of Mr. Deakin, but was quite frank in his demands for a clear programme of future action, that would enable the Labour Party to know how to act in future eventualities. One definite demand was as to his views on the question of a progressive Federal land tax in order to “burst up” the large estates; the other was, whether Mr. Deakin would alter the Constitution, if he could, to permit of the “nationalisation of monopolies.” On the former point Mr. Deakin seemed to think that such a tax was more a matter for the States to consider, and that it involved intricate financial problems; on the latter point Mr. Deakin had stated that the question of Socialism—which he took to include such matters— was a matter also for the States.

Two projects for trade reciprocity with South Africa and with New Zealand were submitted to Parliament. That with New Zealand fell through, but that with South Africa became law in both countries.

The most thoroughly debated Bill of the 1906 session was a measure known as the Australian Industries


  ― 251 ―
Preservation Act—even more graphically described as “an Act for the preservation of Australian industries and for the repression of destructive monopolies.”

This Act, amended more than once, is one of the most interesting measures on the Statute Book of the Commonwealth. Besides the objects described above, it aims at the prevention of “dumping” and other forms of unfair competition intended to injure Australian industries “the preservation of which is advantageous to the Commonwealth.” A defence is allowed on the ground that the thing done “was not to the detriment of the public, and that the restraint of trade or commerce effected or intended was not unreasonable.”

The House was dissolved on the 8th of November, 1906. In the campaign which followed I made my main points of attack the helpless position of the Deakin Administration, its absolute dependence on the Labour Party, and the public dangers arising from the Socialistic aims of the Labour movement.

Most of the Labour candidates “watered down” their Socialism, and Mr. Deakin did not look far enough ahead. He professed to see no danger.

The new Parliament might be classified as follows:

         
Senate   House  
Ministerialists  20 
Opposition  15  29 
Labour Party  15  26 
36  75 




  ― 252 ―

Again the Government was in a deplorable position. The Deakin party had fallen from 25 to 20 in the House, in the Senate from 10 to 6.

My old friend and colleague, Lieut.-Colonel A. J. Gould, was honoured by a unanimous call to the position of President of the Senate. He followed a very able man, but his Parliamentary experience, judicial temperament, and personal worth, made him the most desirable choice. In the House Sir Frederick Holder was re-elected to the Chair, as he well deserved to be. His fitness for the position was obvious, but the loss to the active business of the House his presence in the Chair involved was as great as ever.

The House only sat for two days, and was prorogued, so that the Prime Minister could proceed to London to attend the Imperial Conference of 1907. Mr. Deakin made, as he was bound to do, a great impression in London. His suggestion for a secretariat in connection with these meetings was adopted. The fact that Ministers were unable to open the door to fiscal negotiations enabled our Prime Minister to give a free run to his impetuous oratory.

The second session of the third Parliament began on July 3rd, 1907. On the 30th Sir John Forrest resigned his position of Treasurer and his connection with the Government. His reason was that as he had fought hard against the Labour Party at the recent elections he could not continue in office by virtue of their support. His conduct was appreciated on all sides, and the speech he addressed to the House was an excellent one, full of frankness and


  ― 253 ―
also good feeling. Sir William Lyne became Treasurer, and the Postmaster-General, Mr. Austin Chapman, succeeded Sir William Lyne.

Sir William delivered his first Budget Speech a few days afterwards. The revenue for 1906–7 was £533,000 above the estimate, the expenditure was £32,000 below. A new tariff of Customs duties was submitted, containing a number of increased rates, but establishing preferential rates in favour of Great Britain.

The consideration of the tariff in Committee extended over several months—from August to December. The debates were of immense length. There were numerous divisions, many of them very close. The Government proposals were frequently reduced. There were the same cross-currents as on the first occasion—local interests, and a desire to let off the primary industries and people living in the interior as cheaply as possible—playing havoc with fiscal principles and party ties. The preferences given to goods of the United Kingdom were substantial, and not many of the new duties could be branded as extreme.

The Senate met again to deal with the Tariff Bill on January 22nd, 1908. The House did not meet until March 11th.

Under the power it possessed of making suggestions the members of the Senate spent several months in discussing the details of the Tariff Bill. It made 238 “requests” for alterations. In dealing with these requests, up to May 6th, the House refused 24, modified or partly agreed to 22, and accepted outright 66–112 in all.




  ― 254 ―

The session was brought to a close on June 5th. It began on July 3rd, 1907, so that it lasted for eleven months. The tariff was the sole reason for the extraordinary length of the session.

The House received with general regret the news of the retirement of Mr. J. C. Watson from the leadership of the Labour Party. He was a great loss to them. No leader of that Party before or since could hold a candle to him so far as tact and mental balance were concerned, and his abilities were all of the best sort for a political leader. Mr. Andrew Fisher was his successor. With a different style, Mr. Fisher was a thoroughly reliable and straightforward chief. They were both able to devote the whole of their time and energy to the duties of leadership. My case was sadly different. I could not give up my professional career. I was therefore irregular in my attendance, often devoting the whole force of my mind to cases in Courts hundreds of miles away from Parliament. That I was able to remain leader of the Opposition at all was a proof of the extraordinary confidence my supporters had in me, and the strength of their desire to retain me in that capacity. But, obviously, the anomaly of a leadership in Parliament, and a leadership at the Common Law Bar, divided by a distance of six hundred miles, could not last much longer. Whilst the Labour Party solidly supported the Deakin Party in office my constant presence could not have altered the position of affairs. When the Labour Party began to weaken in their support of Mr. Deakin the situation changed in such a way that a leader who could always attend the House became a necessity. The able and


  ― 255 ―
devoted services of Mr. Joseph Cook, as deputy leader of the Opposition, were the main factors in making my position tolerable. Had he been less able, or less loyal, or less devoted than he was, a leadership so long and so often suspended as mine was could not have lasted for a single session.

An Act providing for bounties to encourage the production of various articles of Australian origin and manufacture was passed in 1907. I had no difficulty in principle over these proposals. They seemed to me to be preferable to duties of Customs, because the expense of the national policy came out of the pockets of the nation and not out of the pockets of those encouraging the local articles by buying them; and as nearly everything is a raw material of something else, users were not penalised. Power was given to the Minister to withhold the bounty if the rates of wages paid were below standard. Should no standard exist, they must be fair and reasonable.

In the same session an Act was passed authorising the survey of a route for the transcontinental railway connecting Kalgoorlie in Western Australia with the railway systems of the rest of Australia at Oonadatta in South Australia, a distance of about 1,000 miles, mainly over dry and unpeopled areas. The cost of this survey was not to exceed £20,000. But the opposition the Bill had to encounter was formidable, and in more than one session, not because of the amount involved, but because of the great expense of constructing a line afterwards, and the dubious prospect of any adequate return. None of us believed that the line would become self-supporting at any early


  ― 256 ―
date; but the importance of the connection was great, from the military point of view, and because of the immense resources of Western Australia—one million square miles of the whole continent.

On May 12th, 1908, the death of Mr. Kingston was reported to the House. He was a man of such rare ability and winning qualities that he fully deserved all the tributes paid to his memory.

The visit of the American Fleet was the outstanding event in the history of the Commonwealth for 1908. We owe that to the sagacious policy of President Roosevelt, who has always had a far-sighted view of the future relationship of America and Australia as the guardians of the Pacific. Another great object was the improvement of the Fleet in seamanship, discipline, and gunnery. The reception of that magnificent Fleet was so enthusiastic that it firmly cemented a long-standing friendship. The two democracies were brought face to face in a more pleasant and impressive fashion than could have been possible in any other way. Admiral Sperry, his officers, and men created a fine impression. The humblest lad of the Fleet had any number of Australian homes open to him, such was the intimacy of the feelings awakened by the visit.

The North American Review published an article from my pen on that memorable visit. In a letter I got from the Admiral later he mentioned the wonderful benefits that had followed this unrivalled expedition, particularly the improvement in gunnery.

The 1908 session began on September 16th. Sir William Lyne produced the Budget early in the


  ― 257 ―
session. A few days later I moved that the financial proposals were unsatisfactory.

This motion gave Ministers a severe shaking. It became evident that Labour support was becoming uncertain. The two main points of my indictment were the gross confusion in the Postal Department and the proposal to establish Old Age Pensions without making due provision for them.

A few days later the Labour Party withdrew their support from the Ministry. There was perfect good temper on both sides, but the way in which the crisis began and ended was unique.




  ― 258 ―

22. Chapter XXII Mr. Fisher Becomes Premier

BUSINESS on November 6th was suddenly interrupted by Mr. Fisher, who announced the withdrawal of the support given by his Party to Ministers. No definite reason was given, except perhaps this, “that he had sought to restrain within reasonable bounds adverse criticism, and he could no longer do so.” Mr. Deakin asked: “Does not the hon. member propose to take any further step?” “Not now,” Mr. Fisher replied. I doubt whether any such abrupt proceeding had ever occurred.

Mr. Deakin was now in a position extremely like that in which he placed me—except that Mr. Fisher gave “notice to quit” with a directness which was impossible in the case of so amiable a man as Mr. Deakin. He had now to consider precisely the same questions as those which he forced me to consider: Was he to tender his resignation, now that his basis of support was destroyed? or, Was he to invite the “happy dispatch”? He had from Friday until Tuesday to consider what he should do.

On Tuesday the Prime Minister made a long statement of the position of Government business, but acknowledged that the power of dealing with it had been taken from him. He did not intimate a resignation;


  ― 259 ―
on the contrary, he submitted himself to the pleasure of the House. There may have been a lingering hope in the Ministerial breast that members on our side might come to the rescue of the Government, in which case any move on the part of the Labour Party would be defeated; but we could not lend ourselves to such a transformation scene. Mr. Deakin must have felt as I did, that he could not leave office on a mere verbal intimation, although the “notice to quit” served on him was not one of the description he gave in my case, when he said “a notice to quit may be for six or twelve months or any other period.”

After an objection from me to the motion he proposed without notice, Mr. Deakin submitted the following motion:

“That the House at its rising adjourn until tomorrow at 3 o'clock,” and said that he would accept any amendment as a challenge. Mr. Fisher then moved that all but “that” be struck out. This was done by 49 votes to 13, a striking proof of the weakness of the Deakin Party even when united again.

Referring to the solitary word “that” left in, Mr. Deakin made a good-humoured exit, saying: “In order that the House may give full and profound attention to all the possible meanings that are to be found in the one word of my motion remaining, I propose to move that the House, at its rising, adjourn until Friday.”

When Friday came Mr. Fisher appeared as Prime Minister, and announced the new Ministry. He took


  ― 260 ―
the position of Treasurer, Mr. Hughes that of Attorney-General, Mr. Batchelor that of Minister for External Affairs, Mr. Tudor that of Minister for Trade and Customs; the other offices were filled by Messrs. Mahon, Thomas, and Pearce. Mr. Hutchison became an Honorary Minister, and Senator McGregor became Vice-President of the Executive Council.

The Labour Party had put a very able team together. Of course, in point of ability and energy Mr. Hughes was quite the foremost man. Physically far from strong, his mental power and range, and his volcanic energy, both as a speaker and a writer, were of a high order. His “hardness of hearing,” like that of my old friend and ally, Sir Joseph Carruthers, was a genuine drawback, which had occasionally great advantages. When attacks were sudden and dangerous, it served as a shield of seeming unconsciousness that gave him more time for reflection.

The new Ministry began with a following of 27. If Mr. Deakin and his friends acted as if two good turns deserved another Ministers would have a comfortable majority. When we remember that the Labour Party had kept Mr. Deakin and his colleagues in office for three years 1901–4, and again for three years 1905–8, it seemed that common gratitude should give the new Government a fair show, especially as the Deakinites seemed to think that the public welfare pointed more to an alliance with Labour than with us.

If the new Ministers had any hope of a grateful return, or that the affectionate relations, which existed when the Labour Party was in support of Mr. Deakin,


  ― 261 ―
would continue when the Labour Party was sorely in need of his support, it soon disappeared.

As I have already admitted, to have a leader of the Opposition who had to be away so much was an unprecedented thing. From the first I made it clear that it was impossible to give up my practice entirely, and that I only held the office until the Party was able to make a better arrangement. So long as Mr. Deakin was entrenched behind the Labour Party, as he was for six years, it was simply impossible to bring about his defeat, if I had been at every sitting. But when the Labour Party threw him over a new situation arose, which made an absentee leader of the Opposition impossible. I therefore retired, hoping that Mr. Cook would be chosen in my place. Mr. Deakin and I could never come together again, Mr. Deakin and Mr. Cook might. Mr. Cook was chosen, as he richly deserved to be.

I have among my valued possessions a letter from the Opposition proper, and a salver presented to me by the Opposition Corner, which at that time consisted of Sir John Forrest, Mr. J. Tilley Brown, Mr. George Fairbairn, Mr. Hedges, Mr. (now Sir William) Irvine, Mr. Knox, Sir John Quick, Mr. Sampson, and Mr. Agar Wynne.

But the letter from those hon. members who so loyally and magnificently supported me from first to last in my fight for Liberal principles against league caucus and domination naturally takes an infinitely higher place in my regard. It comes from the pen of that venerable statesman and good friend, Sir Philip Fysh, more than once Premier of Tasmania.




  ― 262 ―

December 9, 1908.

“MY DEAR MR. REID,

“When your regretted resignation of Leader of the Parliamentary Party in Opposition reached the Members I was deputed to send you a series of Resolutions passed by the Members, expressive of their great regret that circumstances personal to yourself rendered it advisable that, for a time at least, you should resign the leadership.

“It has since been considered fitting that the Members so loyal to you should in a more formal way convey the text of those Resolutions in a permanent shape. Therefore accompanying this you will receive an illuminated address, which may be treasured as a memento expressive of the continued unity of the Party which you have for so many years led in Parliament, and bound together by your uncommon gifts of eloquence and judicious leadership.—I am,

“Yours very sincerely,

“PHILIP FYSH (Chairman).”

Very soon after Mr. Deakin's retirement from office he and Mr. Cook came together.

The House was prorogued on December 11th.

After many contests and changes of opinion, the site for the Federal Capital was finally settled in both Houses. The contest between the advocates of the different localities was very fierce. Two famous political strategists—Sir William Lyne and Mr. Austin Chapman—had been fighting for once on opposite sides, for each had more than one site in his electorate.


  ― 263 ―
At last the contest was narrowed down to one between Dalgety and Yass-Canberra.

Dalgety was in a good climate, was near the Snowy River, but in all other respects was unsuitable. Yass-Canberra contained a fine site, not far away from the main line of railway between Sydney and Melbourne. It was, as the Premiers' Conference of 1899 agreed it should be, “at a reasonable distance from Sydney.”

The final choice was in favour of Yass-Canberra—in the House, by a substantial majority; in the Senate there was a tie between Dalgety and Yass-Canberra. Then Senator McColl (Victoria) changed his vote, giving Yass-Canberra a majority of two. Two conditions annexed were, that the area of the Federal territory should be 900 square miles, and that it should have access to Jervis Bay. The last point probably decided the choice.

The Invalid and Old Age Pensions Act, 1908, as amended, gave all old people of 65 and upwards—if permanently unable to work, of 60 and upwards—a pension not exceeding 10s. a week, less if there is other income, none at all if the income is £52 a year, Any person over 16, if permanently unable to work, was placed on the same basis.

The Parliament was summoned for May 26th, 1909. Before that date the two wings of the old Opposition and Mr. Deakin and his followers coalesced, and Mr. Deakin was, on Mr. Cook's motion, elected leader.

A very ingenious, if rather rude, method was adopted by the Deakin-Cook Party, which defeated


  ― 264 ―
Ministers at once. Mr. W. H. Kelly, after Mr. Deakin and the Prime Minister had spoken on the Address in Reply, rose and moved the adjournment of the debate. Under our Standing Orders there could be no debate on this. The result was the immediate defeat of Mr. Fisher's Ministry by 39 to 30.

Mr. Hughes, the present Prime Minister, poured out all the vials of his wrath upon Mr. Deakin. Incidentally—more, I fear, to sharpen the point of his sword—he bore striking testimony to the fairness of my dealings with Labour Parties. The compliment is really such a pretty one that I must quote it:

“Let me ask what he has done for us? What has he done for the right honourable Member for East Sydney? It was my fortune to be associated with the right honourable Member as a member of the New South Wales Labour Party in the State Parliament for five years. We have often said things of each other which might perhaps with advantage have been left unsaid, but this I will say, that that right honourable Member never gave us his word that he did not faithfully carry it out. Whenever he made a pledge to us, it was carried out to the letter and in the spirit, whether it extended to a small thing or encompassed a large one. We have differed, and we are now in separate camps. But he has never pretended, since we broke with him, or he with us, to regard us alternately with that fawning affection, or that intolerant antipathy, that the honourable member for Ballarat, at different intervals, has displayed.…”




  ― 265 ―

Mr. Fisher having resigned, the new Administration was sworn in as follows:

                   
Premier (without Portfolio)   Mr. Deakin. 
Minister for Defence   Mr. Cook. 
Treasurer   Sir John Forrest. 
Trade and Customs   Sir William Best. 
External Affairs   Mr. L. E. Groom. 
Attorney-General   Mr. Glynn. 
Postmaster-General   Sir John Quick. 
Home Affairs   Mr. G. W. Fuller. 
Vice-President   Senator Millen. 
Honorary Minister   Colonel Foxton. 

When the Ministry met the House Mr. Fisher moved a vote of censure. This gave him and his followers a full chance of saying the things which they had been prevented from saying by Mr. Kelly's stratagem.

From this time the strain of feeling was great. Sir William Lyne, who was one of the most amiable of men in private life, in debate could be one of the rudest, and he made frequent vitriolic attacks on his former chief.

The Speaker had done his best to keep the warring factions in order; but his health was gradually ruined, and after an all-night sitting he had a seizure whilst in the Chair at 5 o'clock in the morning, which proved fatal a few hours later.

The sorrow of the House was profound. Sir Frederick had been an admirable Speaker, a clear-sighted, efficient public man, and had besides a personality which won and never forfeited cordial esteem.

Mr. Deakin, before the House rose for a Christmas


  ― 266 ―
adjournment, made an exceedingly able speech, unfolding the defence policy of the Government, and including a system of universal compulsory training, in the case of cadets and young men, coupled with new departures in the naval defence of our ports. The Prime Minister also favoured the termination of the Naval Agreement and the concentration of the ships on the China, India, and Australian stations in one fleet-a course that war would make inevitable.




  ― 267 ―

23. Chapter XXIII To London As High Commissioner Of The Commonwealth

THERE must have been some “hidden springs” which prevented the passing of an Act to constitute the office of Australia's High Commissioner in London. Viceregal speeches, notices of motions, the introduction of Bills, came to nothing until the latter part of 1909, when a Bill was passed. Such an appointment should have been one of the earliest Federal developments. I fear there must have been some personal considerations at work which were not accessible to the light of day. During the whole of the period named I kept clear of any sort of relationship to the matter. My view was that the man who lifted a finger to indicate his own wishes or qualifications for such an office stood self-condemned. Sometimes friendly interest, or unbridled curiosity, broached the subject; but my invariable reply was that it would be quite soon enough to consider the matter if the position were ever offered to me.

Early in December Mr. Cook sounded‘ me as to my willingness, and then the Prime Minister conveyed the offer in the following graceful terms:

“The Act creating the position places its occupant in the most confidential relation with the Government


  ― 268 ―
of the day, both in his defined duties and in the large sphere of influence beyond them presented to him at the heart of the Empire of making the honourable ambitions of Australia and the ardent spirit of its people better understood. You will be able to maintain the friendliest attitude to the Government of the Mother Country and the representatives of her dominions and dependencies. My colleagues and myself have no doubt but that these opportunities of promoting the strength and integrity of the Empire will weigh with you when considering this invitation. Our High Commissioner will be able to take an active personal part in the realisation of those constructive ideals shared by the vast majority of the people of the Commonwealth.”

Considering the fact that from first to last I had been a very strenuous fighter, and had crossed swords with many antagonists, the cordiality which greeted my acceptance of the office was an agreeable surprise. I had always tried to make up for the aggressiveness of my political style by personal relations of goodwill, and I am glad to place on record that the vast majority of my political opponents were men for whom one could cherish friendly feelings.

I could not leave Sydney without saying a special goodbye to my two latest Hon. Secretaries for election campaigns in East Sydney. Mr. C. W. Beal had given his services for many contests, and most valuable they were. Mr. Carroll joined him some years before I left. I thanked them most gratefully.

From one end of Australia to the other, in all the


  ― 269 ―
States through which I passed, I was the object of friendly demonstrations and good wishes.

Photograph facing p.268. Sir George Reid in 1910



I came to England in the Orvieto, one of the new steamers of the Orient Company's fleet. Outside the Navy and Army there is nothing British in which discipline and method are so absolute as on one of the great ocean liners. I do not think that any stride democracy can take will ever interfere with the despotic rule of the commander of a ship, which, until human nature changes in some wonderful way, will be one of the best features of life at sea.

I have not yet been able to visit India, but Ceylon is an intensely interesting miniature of our Oriental rule. The greatest of all the triumphs open to our race—the most gradual and difficult, too—will be the restoration to their full vigour of those higher faculties of the races of Hindustan which ages of brutal conquest paralysed, but could not utterly destroy.

The Suez Canal is, of course, one of the wonders of the world; but it is also a monument of our own colossal stupidity, in failing to give the project a friendly reception. I really do feel inclined to the belief that the lost ten tribes of Israel landed in Britain when I reflect upon the number of instances in which Providence seems to save us from the consequences of our short-sighted policy of “muddling through.”

My arrival in London on February 29th, 1910, reminded me of my solitary electoral defeat on that date twenty-six years before. I think there is no better time for a remembrance of one's misfortunes


  ― 270 ―
than when one's career is passing through an auspicious transformation.

I was supremely happy to find myself in the greatest of all cities, accredited to the greatest of all Empires, as the servant of one of its greatest dominions. A deeper personal chord was touched when I reflected upon the generous confidence of my supporters in East Sydney for nearly thirty years, of my colleagues and supporters in the Parliament of New South Wales, and in the Federal Parliament, and of so many thousands of electors in Australia, which made such a happy fate possible. To serve Australia in the Mother Country with untiring zeal and faithfulness was the least return I could offer for the long and prosperous career I had enjoyed.

I was warned that the cold winds of March were most dangerous. I found them the most enjoyable winds I ever struck. They supplied a long-felt want. After a life, mostly spent in Sydney, which has a bright and glorious climate for eight or nine months in the year, and a still brighter but not at all glorious climate for the other three or four months, the one thing I craved for was “a nipping and an eager air.” I got it.

The duties of the High Commissioner cover a wide range. I had to act as confidential medium between the Australian and Imperial Governments in a large number of matters not covered by the official dispatches passing between His Excellency the Governor-General and the Secretary of State. One of the most important of the objects of my appointment was the spread of information at this end of the


  ― 271 ―
world, especially in the British Isles, concerning Australia and the varied openings it affords, as a source of raw materials and food supplies, as an attractive home for the emigrant, and as a place for the investment of British capital. It was also necessary to remove a large number of false impressions arising from distance or ignorance.

The peaceful annals of a Continent at the Antipodes, however vast the spread of its development and the potentialities of its future, were crowded out too often by less important but more interesting events nearer home. The quarrels of insignificant countries, the eternal round of conflict in Home politics, events in the theatrical world, sporting news, society gossip —everything, in fact, that had little or nothing to do with 12,880,000 square miles of the 13,000,000 square miles of the British Empire—were the stock in trade of everyday English journalism. Our main chance of a good place in its columns in those days was a first-class crime like the Deeming murders in Melbourne, or the fraud of the Wapping butcher who returned to England from New South Wales as a candidate for the Tichborne title and estates, or, to breathe a purer atmosphere, the exploits of our Australian elevens in the cricket field.

No one can possibly admire the ability, fearlessness, fairness, and freedom from “yellow” outrages, of the British Press more than I do; but I did feel that it was exposed to the reproach I have mentioned. The chief causes, of course, lay in the insular tastes of its readers. If they had wanted more Colonial intelligence in their newspapers they would have got more.




  ― 272 ―

To give the newspapers a better chance of paragraphs on Australian topics, I established a Publicity department, under the management, able in every way, of Mr. H. C. Smart. A copious stream of paragraphs was constantly flowing from us to the Press, and it gives me great pleasure to acknowledge the liberal way in which the newspapers responded to our advances. A sense of grievance gave way to a feeling of gratitude.

One of the most agreeable welcomes I received was that from a large gathering of London editors, who accepted the invitation of Captain Muirhead Collins, the Official Secretary of the Commonwealth, to meet me.

Many names well known in the newspaper world, even in Australia, became most interesting personalities that day. As in our country, I found in London that the most vigorous political enmities disappear, as a rule, in personal intercourse.

Each of the Australian Colonies has a representative in London, known as its Agent-General. A long line of more or less distinguished men have occupied those six positions. They were all ably represented at the date of my arrival in London, and the first of a long series of dinners was that which they arranged in my honour.

The Secretary of State for the Colonies at that time was Lord Crewe. He was good enough to preside at a banquet which the Royal Colonial Institute gave. There was a most interesting gathering of Australians and Anglo-Australians there.

Lord Crewe made a most interesting and graceful


  ― 273 ―
speech, to which I endeavoured to offer a suitable reply.

The Prince and Princess of Wales had honoured me with an invitation to dinner for the same evening. To my infinite regret I had to plead the other engagement. A few weeks later His Royal Higness informed me that the dinner at Marlborough House was really intended as a welcome to me, and that I was the only absentee!

However, I soon had the happiness of meeting their Royal Highnesses at a dinner given to them by Lord Rosebery. On that occasion I had my first experience of a mistake which often happened later, in consequence of there being two Sir George Reids. A very distinguished lady paid me a number of charming compliments upon a painting of her husband I had done. She took me for Sir George Reid, the President of the Royal Scottish Academy. How could I feel in the least annoyed? The other Sir George was not only an eminent painter, he was a remarkably handsome man!

Shortly after my arrival His Majesty was good enough to receive me in audience, and at once displayed a lively interest in Australian affairs, congratulating me on my appointment as Australia's High Commissioner, and said: “You made the best speech at that Imperial Institute dinner in 1897!”

I was delighted with the compliment, especially as Lord Rosebery had expressed the same opinion at the time. My own opinion was that Lord Rosebery's speech was ever so much better. I did not feel any


  ― 274 ―
difficulty, however, in receiving such flattering assurances.

Having asked and obtained the King's permission to make a personal remark, I expressed my astonishment that His Majesty had been so often allowed, without much criticism, to become his own Foreign Minister, immensely to the advantage of the Empire.

Those who think that a British sovereign has ceased to be a leading factor in the active, even the political, life of the nation make a very great mistake.

Two of the earliest calls I made were upon the Japanese Ambassador, Baron Kato, and the Chinese Minister, Lord Li. To Baron Kato I expressed, on behalf of the Australian Government, the most cordial feelings of respect which we all entertained for the Japanese nation. I said that the recent war between Russia and Japan had done more than reveal the courage and devotion of the sailors and soldiers of Japan; it had made known in an equal degree the chivalry of the Japanese character. I asked His Excellency not to place an offensive interpretation upon our immigration laws. We were a small community, and felt, almost as keenly as Japan herself had always felt, a fear of losing our racial integrity, to which we, like all the peoples of the East—indeed of all countries—attached supreme importance. To the Chinese Minister I conveyed also the most friendly sentiments. I afterwards submitted what I had said to my Government, and was glad to receive its approval.

It has always been obvious to me that in large as in small affairs the more necessary it is to pursue a course open to an unfriendly interpretation, the


  ― 275 ―
more necessary it becomes to observe the rules of courtesy.

It was, for similar reasons, a source of great satisfaction to me to become the chief guest of the Japanese Society in London at one of its annual dinners, and to propose the toast of the evening.

At a Livery dinner of the Worshipful Company of Carpenters given shortly after my arrival I proposed the toast of the Empire, and in the course of my remarks strongly advocated juvenile emigration to Australia. Later on, some Australian newspapers took a strong line in opposition to my views. I confess I could not understand it. The boys would settle down to Australian life infinitely better than grown men.

When I arrived in London I completed the circle of High Commissioners. The senior was Lord Strathcona, High Commissioner for Canada, then ninety years of age. His history was one of the most remarkable records of patience and success. The humble Scottish youth, the indomitable Hudson Bay outpost man who suffered from a superior's injustice for twelve years without remonstrance, the successful railway speculator, the Canadian millionaire, then High Commissioner, his princely gifts in peace and war, his immensely long and active career—combine to make a wonderful record, which is reinforced, in my case, with many memories of personal kindliness. He really was one of the most obliging men I ever met. The simplicity of manner which he displayed in his younger period he preserved to the last; but behind that simple look what depths of shrewdness


  ― 276 ―
lay concealed! I enjoyed my association with him immensely.

Sir Richard Solomon was High Commissioner for South Africa, a different type, but a sterling man, with whom, also, it was a privilege to work.

Sir William Hall-Jones was High Commissioner for New Zealand. He most worthily represented that Dominion under difficulties, because the salary and allowances attached to his office were inadequate.

We all found it easy to work well together, and the Colonial Office was most sympathetic at all times. Regretting the transfer of Lord Crewe to the India Office, we found in his successor, Mr. Lewis Harcourt (now Viscount Harcourt), a man whose manners were so charming that if he had not been the admirable Colonial Secretary he proved to be, we would still have been fond of him!

Sir Francis Hopwood was the Permanent Under Secretary of State at the Colonial Office when I arrived. Sir Francis is one of the ablest men in the Public Service. I don't know many places of high responsibility in which he would not be likely to do well. He left to take charge of the Development Commission, and afterwards became one of the Civil Lords of the Admiralty.

Sir Charles Lucas succeeded Sir Francis Hopwood. Sir Charles visited Australia and other dominions with Mr. Pearson, some time before, to acquire a closer knowledge of Colonial affairs. The tour of these two gentlemen was a great success. Sir Charles, amongst his many good qualities, possesses a quaintness


  ― 277 ―
of academic diction that formed a charming setting for his speeches, which I always enjoyed.

I very soon discovered that in London a man in my position had to regard attendance at dinner and luncheon functions of a public or semi-public character as a primary duty. One might safely avoid those overcrowded receptions in which there can be no pronounced success for a hostess unless her guests are made supremely uncomfortable. A few hours after writing my name in the visitors' book at Buckingham Palace I was honoured with a command to a State Dinner. It was the latter one of the two official dinners, the first being given to Ministers, and the second largely to members of His Majesty's Opposition. I had never seen such an important assemblage or so much grandeur. As I surveyed the gold dinner service I wondered whether there was any Australian gold in the dazzling outfit! I was thankful that there was no French Envoy to keep us waiting for thirty-five minutes! The wait at Marlborough House in 1897 could only happen once in a lifetime!

King Edward spoke to all his guests in turn. The Prince of Wales was equally agreeable. Looking at the brilliant scene, I did not feel madly anxious to revert again to the Opposition benches in the Federal Parliament!

I notice that in one of the speeches I made when I arrived, in speaking of international relations, I made a remark which became prophetic without my knowing it in the least. I said: “Even a treaty is worth little or nothing in an emergency.” I had not


  ― 278 ―
Germany or Belgium in my mind then, I must admit.

I had one great grief in those beginning days. I received a cablegram announcing the death of my only surviving brother, Mr. H. R. Reid, Chairman of the Melbourne Shipping Company, which he had founded many years before. He was a man who might have excelled in public life, but could not be induced to leave his business career and life of unobtrusive philanthropy. He was, indeed, one of those rare men who combined keen business aptitude with unaffected generosity and piety. I had an unbounded appreciation of his good qualities, and felt that I had lost my best man friend, as well as a brother of whom I was proud.

My first visit to a great industrial centre was to Glasgow, then I visited Bristol, with its fine new docks built for oversea trade, and then Birmingham, when I was a guest at the annual dinner of the Chamber of Commerce. In response to the toast of the Commonwealth of Australia at those and all similar functions I always tried to avoid the saying of things that would damp that “after-dinner glow” which every grateful visitor should endeavour to promote. You never have a better chance of doing good by saying sensible things than after you have “tickled the ears” of those whom you wish to persuade. This applies to every occasion, but more so when processes of digestion are hard at work!

The greatest of the annual dinners in the London season is that of the Royal Academy of Arts. I was always honoured with an invitation, and in my first


  ― 279 ―
year with a request to respond to the toast of the guests, and to propose the Academy. I suppose there is no gathering in London which combines in so eminent a degree the great men of England in art and in public affairs. On this occasion the Prince of Wales was the chief guest, and made one of those excellent speeches of his which are not only full of stimulating thought, but also sound well and read well.

I felt rather nervous when my turn came, but was told I had done well.

It is usual, after the banquet, to inspect the pictures and sculpture. I was going along one of the avenues with Lord Brownlow, when I saw the Prince standing some distance ahead. I felt that I could not seem to seek his notice, after the pleasant things I had been saying. I therefore turned away into a corner, as I thought out of sight. But a few moments later the Prince found me out, and we had a conversation which to me was profoundly interesting. Little did we think that in six days the Prince would become the Sovereign!




  ― 280 ―

24. Chapter XXIV George V. Ascends The Throne

EDWARD VII., in his short but glorious reign, did many fine things for England. Perhaps his greatest service was the good understanding he effected with France. His Majesty had to forget a good deal before he could visit Paris after the Boer War. I cannot help thinking that the visit I allude to had a bearing upon the troubled relations and approaching war between Russia and Japan. France was Russia's ally, and Britain was the ally of Japan. If war broke out a situation might arise dragging Britain and France into the struggle on opposite sides. It therefore became of supreme importance that a better understanding should be established as a safeguard against such a catastrophe. King Edward's visit did establish that cordial relationship, and when the strain arose out of an alleged assistance to the Russian fleet by the French authorities in the Far East it was strong enough to stand it.

The grief of Queen Alexandra and King George must have been softened by the depth of the national sorrow and its spread over the whole Empire. I had seen the English people thronging streets and windows in a national rejoicing over the sixty years of Queen Victoria's reign. I now saw the English people again, with bowed head, watching the departure of


  ― 281 ―
our great King's remains to their resting-place at Windsor.

Photograph facing p.280. King George V



Thoughts strayed away sometimes to the figure of our new Sovereign, who was suddenly called to rule as King-Emperor over one-fifth of the surface and one-fifth of the inhabitants of the globe. No one could then foresee that in four swiftly flying years the serious troubles facing him in British politics would be succeeded by a world-wide agony of strife and bloodshed, in which our gigantic fabric of Empire would be tried more tragically than ever before. Those who knew him knew well that a more widely travelled, more keenly observant monarch, or one more likely to honour his obligations to his people, never grasped a sceptre.

At the funeral of King Edward the importance of the British self-governing dominions was fully recognised for the first time, and their High Commissioners formed an intimate part of a Royal Procession. This was owing to the special thought and desire of His Majesty. We were in the ninth carriage after the Chief Mourner, but still the heads were all bared, still the faces were all sad! This unaffected parade of national sorrow and sympathy touched my heart far more deeply than even the magnificent gaiety of the nation, with its lavish fringes of flags and flowers, on the day of the Diamond Jubilee.

In the morning, before the procession started, Mr. Roosevelt, who represented the United States, Lord Strathcona, who represented Canada, and I, representing Australia, happened to meet. I could not help saying to them: “We three, standing together


  ― 282 ―
here, represent nearly 10,000,000 square miles of the earth's surface.”

The best, if not the only, blessing that ever came to us “made in Germany” was Prince Albert!

Queen Victoria and the Prince Consort, King Edward and Queen Alexandra, King George and Queen Mary—the three reigns beginning in 1837—when compared or contrasted with the three previous reigns, or any three previous reigns anywhere, give us a better idea of the wonderful good fortune this nation has enjoyed in recent times.

My first dinner with the members of the Savage Club, which, as everybody knows, is, if you look for a combination of sociable effervescence and brain power, one of the liveliest and most desirable of the many clubs in London, was a function that still lingers in my memory.

In speaking to them I took an opportunity, which in other ways I often repeated, of dwelling on the importance of giving the child life of the British Isles a better chance.

The visit of Mr. Roosevelt to London after a “big game” hunt in Africa, and the visits he made to other European capitals, were notable events. So many lions of sorts are placed in the foreground of the social menagerie in London from time to time that the advent of a real live lion of the first consequence interested all classes intensely. That genuine “hero of the hour” received a rare distinction when he was made a freeman of the City of London. His speech on that occasion was delightfully natural, not only because it was full of life and happy phrases, and


  ― 283 ―
fine practical ideals, but also because he broke all the rules by a frank criticism of our policy in Egypt, which he thought committed the cardinal error of mistaking the flabbiness of amiable weakness for the sagacity of firm administration.

I was not one of those who doubted his wisdom or was amazed by his frankness. On the contrary, I rejoiced that a champion American democrat, in judging our dealings with subject races, did not attack us because our sway was tyrannical, or even arrogant, but because it erred in the other direction. There was another reason why we should highly esteem our most distinguished guest. Not once, but often, Mr. Roosevelt, when President of the United States, paid several public and memorable tributes to the humanity and efficiency of British rule, especially in the Indian Empire. He never betrayed any fear of offending hyphenated voters, even in those days!

We used to be so accustomed to American attempts to twist the tail of the British lion, that when that truly great American patted him on the head we felt doubly pleased.

On May 28th I had the happiness of receiving Lady Reid and my three children on their arrival in London.

On the 30th my wife and I gave a reception to Mr. and Mrs. Roosevelt at the Ritz Hotel.

The people who came to meet them formed a most interesting and distinguished company, all eager to do honour to the chief guest.

It was rather amusing to observe the way in which Lord Kitchener—who did not often attend such functions—endeavoured to make an unobtrusive entrance,


  ― 284 ―
by evading the man who was announcing the arrivals. He seemed to have succeeded; but shortly afterwards that personage—who, for a wonder, did not murder the King's English—saw Lord Kitchener, and rolled out all his titles with immense gusto. The object of these proclamations looked less at ease than when under fire in the Equatorial regions.

I paid an interesting visit to Paris on the invitation of the British Chamber of Commerce. This Chamber includes a number of influential men, of British birth, many of whom have carried on business there for a long time. Sir Joseph Walton was President in 1910. I was so glad to find that, under the auspices of our Ambassador, Sir Francis (now Lord) Bertie, and of Sir Austin Lee, his Commercial Attaché, the Embassy was in close touch with the Chamber of Commerce. There is no silly—I will not say snobbish—gap between Diplomacy and Commerce in France. The good results are obvious, and I found them, on various subsequent visits, to be constant and substantial. I suppose there is no more humiliating contrast than that between German methods, which interlock so wonderfully every form of patriotism, from the highest Excellency to the humblest hotel waiter, and British methods, which seem to keep every form of public service in a series of independent layers. There will be a great improvement in these matters in the course of the next hundred years—perhaps!

At Leicester I gave an address in reference to the grave possibilities of the future, in connection with the safety of the Empire.




  ― 285 ―

I had the honour of staying at Balmoral in September, when Their Majesties were in residence. The difference between Royal State and simple country life is made absolute at Balmoral Castle. I was graciously invited by His Majesty to stay on to meet the Duke of Connaught.

The King was out shooting every day except Sunday. The Queen invited some of us who did not shoot to motor out to delightful spots in the vicinity.

The night before my departure Their Majesties presented me with their photographs, graciously autographed. Thus ended a visit full of pleasant memories not at all likely to be forgotten. The photograph which is published in this book by His Majesty's gracious permission was taken by Lord Revelstoke.

The opening of the Imperial Parliament by the King in person in February, 1911, was marked by a new departure so far as the High Commissioners were concerned. We were accorded a special row of seats on the right of the Throne.

I paid a visit to Hull during the same month, and saw some wonderful developments in the shape of new docks, actual and in the course of excavation.

One of the most important and interesting ceremonies to which I was invited in 1911 was the unveiling of the memorial erected in front of Buckingham Palace in honour of Queen Victoria. This triumph of modern sculpture is surrounded by features which attest the Imperial character of the design.

Is there any contrast possible in human history greater than that between the sixty years of Geroge III. and those sixty years of Queen Victoria? What


  ― 286 ―
a happy day for the United Kingdom, the Empire, and the world that was which saw once more a maiden Queen upon the British throne.

Just as valuable as the loyalty of Queen Victoria to the Constitution, and her wisdom in council, were the overflowings of her womanly sympathy, and her visits to her poor neighbours at Balmoral. Thus were set examples of intimacy and esteem between the Sovereign and the masses which were sadly wanting in former reigns.

As the King and the German Emperor walked to the unveiling, I thought of the majestic power behind those two rulers and grandsons, and breathed an unspoken prayer that Queen Victoria's memory might keep them both side by side in future years. Alas!

A very important step was taken when invitations were sent not only to Prime Ministers, but also to oversea Parliamentary delegations to be present at His Majesty's Coronation. An Imperial Conference was also due. The Prime Minister, Mr. Andrew Fisher; the Minister for External Affairs, Mr. Batchelor; and Senator Pearce, the Minister for Defence, came to England for both events.

The delegation from Australia was chosen by Parliament from the two Parties in both Houses.

In addition to the official delegation, the following members visited England: Sir John Forrest, Sir Josiah Symon, Senator Fraser, and Mr. W. Kelly.

Of all those distinguished visitors, perhaps my closest and most reliable personal friend was Senator Fraser. That hon. gentleman was, and, although


  ― 287 ―
now 84 or 85 years of age, is, a delightful personality. He was born of Scottish parents in Canada. Emigrating to Victoria, he began as a contractor, going from one stage to another, until instead of tendering for culverts, he became the constructor of important railways. The combination of Scottish, Canadian, and Australian influences which helped to mould his views and form his character created a mental type of singular interest. When Mr. Fraser engaged in public life his good qualities and sound views became more widely known. And as he added to these a wonderful vivacity of body and mind, animated by a strange combination of boyish impetuosity and keen shrewdness, his popularity grew, until no man in Australia was more sure of election to the Senate when he became a candidate.

Although a great Orangeman, one of his most intimate friends was that able, charming, and faithful son of the Roman Catholic Church, the Hon. Nicholas Fitzgerald, M.L.C.

I paid an interesting visit to Lord Mayor Hutchinson at Liverpool to attend his annual dinner to the Press. I arrived at his house just before it was time to change into an evening suit. To my great annoyance I found that my “dress clothes” had not been sent. Of course I had to go to the banquet, and of course there was no immediate prospect of a spare suit that would contain me! In the course of my speech I accounted for my unconventional appearance in the following way:

“My Lord Mayor and Gentlemen of the Press,—Forgive my appearance in one respect—the absence


  ― 288 ―
of proper raiment. I have been the victim of undue confidence. I was assured that there was in this great city an emporium at which evening suits of all sizes could be hired. When I visited the shop I found that the whole of the dress suits had been hired out. ‘How was that?’ I asked. The shopman said, ‘It always happens here when a dinner is given by the Lord Mayor to the gentlemen of the Press!’ ”

I willingly went with our visiting Prime Minister, Mr. Fisher, to that part of Scotland where he was born—Crosshouse, in Ayrshire. The people gathered in large numbers to see him. Many of them knew the young miner who had left the place about twenty years before to return Prime Minister of Australia!

The hon. member who succeeded the Scottish miner as Prime Minister of Australia was, I believe, a miner in Staffordshire in his young days. When Mr. Fisher and Mr. Cook were in their cradles, how many millions of chances to one there must have been against such a destiny for either of them!

Not far away was “The Burn,” the home of my father's youth. When a boy my father and a young fellow named Nelson were playmates. Both became clergymen, and both emigrated to Australia. The son of one became Premier of Queensland (Sir Hugh Nelson) and the son of the other became Premier of New South Wales. Sir Hugh and myself were Premiers at the same time.

In Ireland there were two boys at school together. One of the two became Sir Frederick Darley, Chief Justice and Lieutenant-Governor of New South Wales, and the other, Mr. Higginbotham, became Chief Justice


  ― 289 ―
of Victoria. These two Judges were of that splendid type of Irishman of which more specimens seem to flourish out of Ireland than in it.

I was honoured by the King with a promotion from the rank of Knight Commander to that of Knight Grand Cross of the Order of St. Michael and St. Geroge.

There were many social festivities during the weeks prior to the Coronation.

Lady Reid and I held a reception at the Imperial Institute on the night of June 8th, in honour of the Australian Ministers and other Australians in London. That large building was full of life and light, and was the scene of a brilliant success. The following were among those assembled to do honour to the Australians:

The Prince and H.R.H. the Princess Alexander of Teck, the Duke of Argyll, the Duke of Fife, the German Ambassador, the Austro-Hungarian Ambassador, the Japanese Ambassador, the Turkish Ambassador, the Swedish Minister, the Norwegian Minister, the Chinese Minister, Princess Karadja and Princess Despina Karadja, the Duke of Somerset, the Duchess of St. Albans, the Marchioness of Salisbury, the Earl and Countess of Selborne, Earl and Countess Carrington, Earl and Countess Cadogan, Georgina Countess of Dudley, the Earl and Countess of Darnley, Earl and Countess Beauchamp, the Earl and Countess of Granard, the Earl and Countess of Harrowby, the Countess of Jersey, the Earl of Kintore, the Earl and Countess of Londesborough, the Earl and Countess of March, the Earl and Countess of Shaftesbury, the Earl and Countess of Stradbroke, the Earl and Countess of


  ― 290 ―
Warwick, Viscount and Viscountess Esher, Viscount Haldane, Viscount and Viscountess Hampden, Viscount and Viscountess Helmsley, Viscount Knutsford, Field-Marshal Viscount Kitchener, Viscount and Viscountess Maitland, Viscount and Viscountess Ridley, Viscount and Viscountess Bury, Lord and Lady Aberdare, Lord Brassey, Lord Chelmsford, Lord and Lady Den-man, Lord and Lady Farquhar, Lord and Lady Hindlip, Lord and Lady Kinnaird, Lord and Lady Lamington, Lord Lucas, the Dowager Lady Loch, Lord and Lady Pentland, Lord Strathcona, Lord and Lady Charles Beresford, Lord Richard Nevill, Admiral the Hon. Sir Edmund and Lady Fremantle, the Hon. Sidney Greville, the Hon. Alfred and Mrs. Lyttelton, the Lord Mayor and the Lady Mayoress, Admiral Sir Cyprian and Lady Bridge, Admiral Sir Lewis Beaumont, Vice-Admiral Sir Richard Poore, Lieut.-General Sir Robert Baden-Powell, Major-General Sir George and Lady French, Admiral Sir Reginald and Lady Henderson, Sir Wilfrid Laurier, Mr. and Mrs. Lewis Harcourt, the Hon. Sir William and Lady Hall-Jones, the Hon. Sir Walter and Lady Hely-Hutchinson, Sir Rufus and Lady Isaacs, Sir Gilbert and Lady Parker, the Dean of Canterbury and Mrs. Wace.

It was always tremendously difficult in ordinary years to secure a really representative social gathering in which Colonial visitors and the people of the Home circles could assemble together on a large scale. The above occasion and a similar gathering in the same building under the auspices of Lord and Lady Strathcona were especially interesting as exceptions to the general rule.




  ― 291 ―

On the eve of a Royal Jubilee or a Coronation, London contains the most imposing assemblage of people on the face of the globe. The great ones all come out of their obscurity, and so do those of humbler origin. Enormous sums of money are circulating, and an enormous population with little to spend is making desperate efforts to get the worth of its money.

For many days before “The Day” all ages and classes of the native born, and all ages and classes of the Colonial and foreign visitors are inspired with a common purpose—how best to see the best that can be seen. There is, of course, some vanity, and much curiosity in it all; but a good, healthy soul predominates, full of loyalty and that best sort of cheerfulness which comes from a great occasion and a holiday honestly earned.

First impressions concerning the world's greatest city are disappointing. None of the approaches to London are impressive. The railway terminals are large, but they are very ugly. There is seldom an appearance of comfort or cleanliness. Some of the stations in New York and Washington are the last word in magnificence, brightness, and cleanliness. The difference between London and other great capitals to my mind is this: In the latter you get your best impressions soon, and then the curve of interest is downward. The charm and the greatness of London have to fight their way through first impressions. When they do they seem to increase their sway as the weeks and the months pass by.

Manifold were the troubles and anxieties of those who had to make the Abbey on that Coronation Day


  ― 292 ―
hold three times its proper number, and yet leave ample room for the pomp and ceremony of the central scene; yet those were simple tasks compared with that of arranging the invitations. The Duke of Norfolk—whose recent death is so widely deplored— superintended this invidious task wonderfully well.

I had only a small number to look after. Still, I made a serious blunder. Two of the people I should have thought of first I overlooked, owing to their late arrival in London. The mistake was discovered at the last moment. In frantic haste I appealed to the leading official in the Colonial Office who had charge of that part of the invitation list. There were, as I feared, no seats left. I was in despair. He then quietly said, “I have two places. I will give them up to your friends.” I shrank from such a sacrifice, but he insisted. I ought to have stood firm, but I gave way, and the situation was saved for me by that act of generosity.

Westminster Abbey never contained a fuller representation of the public men of the Dominions and of the princes of the Empire of India and of foreign nations than that which filled it to witness the enthronement of King George and Queen Mary. The wonderfully elaborate ritual and the ancient ceremonies were a glorious puzzle to Colonial eyes. What an auspicious Coronation this, when for the first time in the history of the world a newly crowned Emperor and his Empress had visited all parts of an Empire which marches with the sun.

A reminiscent thought of the 1911 Imperial Conference invites comparisons; the Imperial Conferences


  ― 293 ―
held in 1897 and 1902 were much like those of previous years. But those of 1907 and 1911 marked new departures of real importance. The Prime Minister presided at the openings in 1907 and 1911, and the holder of that office will be ex officio President of every future gathering. The members of the Conference of 1911 were admitted to the inner councils of the Cabinet—including those of the Foreign Office, the Admiralty, and the War Office—a concession never before thought of. I do not for a moment suppose that all the hidden mysteries were revealed, but many were. It is from developments such as these that we must proceed to larger schemes of union and co-operation. The difficulties in the way of a real Imperial federation are enormous, but that ideal is at once so necessary and so grand that every step that marks a sound advance should be hailed with delight. Not every one, perhaps, reflects, that three great stepping-stones were well and truly laid when Canada, and Australia, and South Africa federated. Our Empire is so vast that Imperial federation means a federation of federations.

In 1897 I considered my distinguished friend, Sir Wilfrid Laurier, the most interesting of the Colonial Premiers. The wonderful events since then have made General Botha the most interesting of all the later Prime Ministers. He was so stanch an enemy and so soon became so stanch a friend. There were many fine speeches at the Conference of 1907; but General Botha's excelled them all because of the massive, manly terms in which he voiced the sincerity of his new allegiance to his former enemies. We now know


  ― 294 ―
it by deeds of valour and constancy which will shine out as long as the Dutch and the British races last.

A few weeks after the Coronation festivities were over I was down at Ramsgate with my wife and daughter, on a visit to my younger son, Clive, who was then at a preparatory school at Broadstairs. My daughter and I had motored over on Sunday to bring Clive to luncheon after the morning service. On our way back to the hotel, at a cross-road, another car ran into ours, dashing it against an iron tram standard, which saved us from perhaps a worse fate. My right arm was broken, and my daughter was very badly shaken. Clive had only a slight shock. Fortunately, my wife had not come with us.

When such painful accidents as that which injured me occur there is generally a “silver lining” in the shape of friendly sympathy. I forgot my misfortune in the multitude of cables and telegrams and letters which came to me in the nursing home at Broadstairs. The King was travelling from Ireland to Edinburgh at the time, but sent two gracious messages of inquiry. Queen Alexandra also telegraphed a most gracious personal message.

I was laid up for a long time, and at last had to get the ends of the two broken bones cut and rejoined with two silver plates. Dr. Rock Carling did his work well. I have never felt a pain there since the eight screws were put in! I had only one regret—I forgot to have my name and address engraved on the plates!

It was a long time before I was able to resume active life. The most important event in the latter


  ― 295 ―
part of 1911 was the launching of the first battle cruiser built for the new Australian Navy. This took place at Clydebank, Glasgow, on October 25th. Lady Reid performed the ceremony, christening the cruiser the Australia, and adding, “May the old flag and the new flag ever fly together in peace and war.”

A great assemblage crowded all the available space. When the chocks were hammered out, and the vast hull trembled with her first movement, then slowly and silently began, and then swiftly and with a vast disturbance of water, ended her descent to the river, the spectacle seemed to link the present loyalty of Australia with her future greatness on the oceans of the world. The dominant hope and prayer, as the two ensigns fluttered in the breeze, were well expressed, I think, in my wife's words.

At the invitation of the Royal Scottish Geographical Society I delivered an address on February 22nd, in Edinburgh, repeating it, as is usual, in Glasgow the following night. I had no leaning towards geographical subjects, and I felt rather puzzled in thinking of a subject when honoured with the invitation. By a more or less ingenious play upon words, I got to a subject in which I did take an intense interest— the character and education of the human mind. This was the title of my address: “The Two Geographies—that of Matter and that of Mind.”

In April I paid a visit to Bath as the guest of the Chamber of Commerce. Ancient history has quite a number of visible landmarks there, showing the firm hold the Romans had of that part of England. The Roman occupation has been a more lasting source


  ― 296 ―
of profit to the city than the once fashionable assemblies of the eighteenth century.

Lord Alexander Thynne proposed my health in such flattering terms that my prospects for the next world seemed to be of the brightest. These eulogies reminded me of an opinion of a very different sort, which, when interjected at a great political demonstration in Victoria, some years before, left me, for the very first time, I believe, at a public meeting, quite destitute of any gift of “repartee.”

As a rule, my friends used to enjoy, and my opponents used to dislike, a way I had, both in the House and at outside meetings, of amusing my audiences. There was a method in this. Most, probably all of my leading opponents, were men whose speeches, however able, were conceived in a serious vein. An average Australian audience is very keen generally, but dearly loves a joke, especially one of a satirical kind. My natural disposition, quite as much as my desire to please, led me to give a merry—I fear too often a frivolous—turn to the current of my thoughts, as I expressed them in public. This exposed me to various offensive epithets, such as “clown” and “buffoon.” I did not resent these insults; indeed, they seemed a gratifying proof that I had attained at least one of my two real objects, which were to amuse those whom I wanted to convince, and to upset those whom I wanted to defeat.

I don't care where you “belong,” you will open more doors to the understanding and interest of those you address by humorous fancies than by any other means. When his audience is smiling, a speaker's


  ― 297 ―
best opportunity for impressing and persuading has been won. Of course, the humour must be genuine and well aimed. Nothing could be more ineffective than attempts to make people laugh with you that make them laugh at you! Those who “joke with difficulty” had better not joke at all.

Photograph facing p.296. On board R.A.N. battle-cruiser Australia before her departure for Australia, June 30, 1913 King George V, The Prince of Wales, and Sir George Reid in Second Row



At the meeting to which I have referred I developed a gloomy view of things in general, and of my own chances in particular. I expressed a belief that my public career was nearing its close; “in fact,” I added, “I feel that I am approaching that ‘bourne from which no traveller returns.’ ” A man at the back of the hall at once chipped in, and addressing me without a trace of personal hostility, exclaimed, “By Jove, George! won't the fat be in the fire then!” I laughed as heartily as the audience did. What else could one do?

In the course of my speech at Bath the fact that the first Australian Governor, Captain Phillip, was born in that city, suggested thoughts as to the obligation the Anglo-Saxon race owes to the pioneers of our Empire.




  ― 298 ―

25. Chapter XXV Voyaging Again

IN May, 1912, I visited Germany on the invitation of Consul-General Henoch, who was engaged upon an enterprise in which I took an active interest—that of founding a trade in frozen meat and other products to be shipped from Australia to Germany.

Herr Henoch was a gentleman whom I had much pleasure in meeting, especially as he was keen in his efforts to carry out the above scheme. His secretary, Herr Heineken, I also liked—most agreeable and obliging travelling companions they both were.

For the first time in my life I travelled in a foreign ship—the Kaiserin Augusta, from Plymouth to Bremen. It was very interesting to observe different groups of German families—mainly of Jewish descent—returning to visit the Fatherland after an obviously auriferous time in the United States. Some of the faces suggested far-off times and Eastern origin. Some of the passengers ran to a circumference which was beyond criticism—it was so like my own.

We met the two gentlemen I have named, and then proceeded to Hamburg—I suppose the only part of the German Empire which is said to be a republic. The importance of Hamburg as a seaport is of modern, indeed recent growth. It is a beautiful city when you get away from its business centres.


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I had never been in Germany before, and was anxious to see as much of its life as possible. Berlin and its suburbs had a new but substantial and prosperous look. I was struck with the robust strength of the people and the neat way in which their children were dressed. The men gave one the impression that if they had not yet “arrived” they were determined to do so soon.

The Secretary for Foreign Affairs, the late Herr Kiderlen-Waechter, was good enough to give a luncheon for me, and there I met Herr Zimmermann, then Under Secretary, now Foreign Minister, who could speak English, which was a great point in his favour with one who had lived long in a country where one language covers all.

I delivered in the Reichstag building an address on the trading relations between Germany and Australia. I was interested to learn that it was the first occasion on which a foreigner had enjoyed that privilege.

Whilst at Wiesbaden I was the recipient of what I then conceived to be a distinguished honour. I was summoned by the Kaiser to “a special audience” at Homburg Castle, where he was then in residence.

On the road I considered whether I should ask the Emperor for a message to Australia. I knew that such requests must not be made unless they were sure of an agreeable reception, and would not lead to undesirable results. I then reflected that I was the representative of a Labour Socialist Government, and that if His Majesty vouchsafed a gracious reply, it


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would assuredly be published. If it reached Germany his Socialist subjects might ask, “When is our Emperor going to send a gracious message to us?” I did not suggest it, therefore; and if my memory serves me, Australia did not enter into our conversation, which to me was full of interest, and embraced a number of other topics, lasting for three-quarters of an hour.

I ventured to say: “What a horrible thing it would be if the German bulldog and the British bulldog got their teeth into one another, allowing some inferior animal to climb over their mutilated remains?” The Emperor's hand flashed from beneath his military cloak, and he exclaimed, “Never! Never!”

My impression then was that the Kaiser looked upon war between Germany and Britain as inconceivable. It has since occurred to me that His Majesty may have scouted the idea that the German bulldog would, in the event suggested, reach the stage of “mutilated remains.”

After taking off 50 per cent. for the extra impression made by words flowing from Royal and Imperial lips, there remained with me a vivid impression of Kaiser Wilhelm's ability and up-to-dateness. That a little more than two years afterwards he would risk the rapidly growing power and wealth, and the future destinies of his House and Empire, in a war with France, Russia and Britain combined, would have seemed at that time the maddest possible conjecture.

When I visited Paris on my return journey I could not help contrasting the prospects of France with those of Germany: the widening gap in point of population, the comparative stagnation of French


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energy and the giant strides Germany was making in home industries and foreign trade; French ships and commerce dwindling, if not actually, relatively to the broad advance of Germany. Lovers of France might well be anxious. Only one thing could revive the fortunes of France: a great war. For it is in war now, as always, that the genius and the soul of France, her valour, and her patriotism, combine to restore her to eminence in the affairs of the world.

Lady Reid and I paid a visit to Canada and the United States. I left Liverpool in August, 1912, in the Laurentic for Quebec. My wife joined me later in that city.

My first engagement was an extremely interesting one. I acted as the representative of my Government at the dedication of a tower erected at Halifax to commemorate the opening of the Parliament of Nova Scotia more than 150 years before.

The Governor-General, H.R.H. the Duke of Connaught, opened the tower. There were several massive gifts from other lands, including one from Australia. These will form permanent adornments. The Governor-General was accompanied by the Duchess of Connaught and Princess Patricia.

I stayed with Mr. and Mrs. George Campbell, of Halifax, and greatly enjoyed their hospitality.

The chief attraction of the tour was the Toronto Exhibition. My wife, who had come across in the Royal George, reached Quebec in good time, and after visiting Montreal we went on to Toronto.

The Exhibition there was quite the largest I had seen in any of the Dominions, and it attracted in the


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short time it was open about 1,000,000 visitors. One of the most interesting features of the gathering was the presence of contingents of cadets from Britain, Australia, and New Zealand. The more one travels amongst the various communities of the British race at home and abroad the more one gets interested in the broad varieties of character and aims, accent, idiom, and social ways which distinguish one from the other. That might be equally true of other races if they had as many settlements abroad, but I doubt it. When I got to Canada and mixed with the people I got a new stock of such impressions. Although the daughter lands have still much to learn from the Mother Country, it would be well for the British people to know how much they would learn—if they tried—from the people of the Oversea Dominions. Already, in political vigour and initiative, the Colonials could teach their parents a tremendous lot. They had a clean slate to write upon, a footing of equality, and have had no solid social stratifications to break through. Youth, free from debt, and backed by immense resources, can make daring experiments without any serious risk of disaster. In the Mother Country, with her too many millions living from hand to mouth, changes are attended with greater risk, and opposed by stronger influences. But in spite of all these things—in spite of, or because of, new and tremendous rivalries—the strength of her enterprise, her finance, and her trade has made the pre-eminence of Great Britain more wonderful than ever.

It goes without saying that in literature, and philosophy, and the fine arts, the people of the


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Dominions are, with some few exceptions, in the apprentice stage. Speaking generally, the emigrants who laid the foundations of society in Australia, Canada, and New Zealand, and who built upon those foundations up to the present time, had not been bred in academies of any kind. It was just as well that they were not.

The problems to be faced in the pioneer stages of new countries are those which call most for manual labour and physical grit. They find their level not in the heavens above, but in the earth beneath. But in the case of Australia the discovery of gold, and in the case of Canada the nearness of that vast land of opportunity, attracted many splendid specimens of British manhood, who were capable of achieving almost everything that did not require a degree in classics. It must not be forgotten that although in Australia the early Colonists were not men of learning or leisure, their desire to give their children a good education was unmistakable. Before long, therefore, schools were established everywhere. Later on, avenues for the more gifted scholars were opened up, linking the Universities with every other grade of public instruction. There is no page of Australian history more stimulating.

Compare German, or American, or Colonial systems of education with that prevailing in England, and you cannot fail to observe how far behind the English system is. There were dreadful arrears to make up when Mr. Forster's Act of 1870 was passed. A very few years before that more than half of those who married were unable to sign their own names! Very


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considerable progress has been made since then, but the great masses of the finest race in the world are thrown out into the fighting lines of the battle of life with little more than the mechanical arts of reading, writing, and arithmetic. I don't know what would have happened but for the practical education they get after they go to work. I fear there are still more than a few in England who think a better education too much of a good thing for the masses! The prestige attached to birth is fading, but the prestige attached to a style of education which few can reach is almost as rampant as ever. The number of openings for professional men, for literary men, and for the Public Service at home, or in the dependencies, adding the number of men who have enough to live on without working at all, is far below one in a hundred. The ninety-nine in every hundred have no chance of making even a nodding acquaintance with those dead languages which so few of those who learn them ever write or speak. That matters little if they were only taught something else!

The range of “headings” in the annual reports of the nation's teaching has greatly increased in the right direction, but the actual results in the way of novelty are skeletons at the best. There are a good many symptoms that the War—that awful curse!—will galvanise British statesmen into some real effort to improve the education of the masses of the English people.

One of the differences between our people in the old land and their offspring in the new lands is also very much in evidence in Canada, as it is in the other


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Dominions. There is no “croaking” about Colonials'! Their pride in their part of the Empire, and their confidence in its future greatness are obvious always— too obvious sometimes!

In the Motherland, when things go wrong, too many say, “It's always so!” When things are neither better nor worse, they still say, “The country's going to the dogs.” When things really brighten up, “They are not half bad!”

The War has done one good thing for our race and Empire. It has shown how superficial the faults and failings of the British character are, and how true it is, in its inner soul, to the noblest traditions of the past, and how capable it is, in every rank of life, and every kind of calling, when called upon, to equal the bravery and cheerfulness of our fighting ancestors. The youngest generation has eclipsed the greatest of them all.

After leaving Toronto we visited Ottawa. This was my second visit, as I called there in 1897 on my road home from the Diamond Jubilee.

That use of the expression, “on my road home,” reminds me that when about to leave for England Australians say, “We are going home”; and when they are leaving England for Australia they still say, “We are going home.” The colonising genius and the loyalty of our race are revealed in that genuine double-barrelled feeling of affection for the land from which their fathers came and the land of their birth. It represents that union of affection which alone makes the British Empire possible and may make it immortal.




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The fierce conflicts over the selection of Ottawa as the federal capital of Canada were especially interesting to Australians like myself, who had to do with the selection of a federal capital for Australia. Queen Victoria had to choose Ottawa. The strong claims of each of the chief cities—Montreal, Quebec, Toronto, and Kingston—prevented a local choice by agreement. In our case the rival claims of Melbourne and Sydney had much to do with the decision for a country capital. When I persuaded the other Premiers in 1899 to give the capital to New South Wales, I could not resist Sir George Turner's “not less than one hundred miles from Sydney.”

During my stay in Ottawa I gave an address to the Canadian Club. The Prime Minister was away, but he was well represented by Mr. (afterwards the Right Hon. Sir George) Foster, his chief colleague. It would be difficult to get in any part of the Empire more able or estimable leaders than Sir Robert Borden, Sir George Foster, and Sir Wilfrid Laurier. Fortunate indeed is the Dominion that has such level-headed, reliable statesmen.

I was able to see a great gathering of supporters of the Prime Minister assembled to do him honour at the Hotel Laurier, which is, I think, the finest hotel in Canada.

I left Canada full of admiration for her immense resources, and with a very high opinion of her citizens, many of whom I came to know. Canada will develop rapidly and safely. There seems to be no limit to her possibilities.

New departures in trading policy after the War,


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not only within our Empire, but also within the Russian, French, and Italian Empires, may give Canada some important advantages over her neighbours. It is becoming more and more manifest also that she will receive large reinforcements, both in men and money, from the United States.

One can realise the strength of the pride Canadians feel in their country and themselves from a small circumstance. The Canadians are not at all annoyed when the United States and their inhabitants are called America and Americans. They rather welcome the terms as making the distinction between Canada and the United States more evident!

The change from England to Canada is far more obvious in many ways than the change from Canada to the United States. In England there are many dialects, but the descendants of the English in North America have only one accent in speaking our language, from the Arctic Circle to the Panama Canal, and from the Atlantic to the Pacific, except when one meets with the softer tones of the Southern States.

I found in Chicago one of the wonder spots of the modern world. In less than fifty years that city has made it plain that there is a third capital in the United States—Washington, New York, and Chicago —and that the last is going to be the greatest in population and wealth. In 1913 the result of that wonderful mosaic of different races seemed a strong argument for hastening the advent of “the Parliament of Man, the federation of the World.” The War has since shown how remote such dreams still are! The Jewish race is making for itself lands of promise in


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many quarters of the globe, but I really think that Chicago is going to be the new Jerusalem!

The people of the United States have Nature working harder for them than any other people have. Australia would be her equal in that respect if she had a river system like the American—or even one Mississippi!

We were most heartily welcomed in the Western capital. There we met two Australians—Dr. and Mrs. Cooke Adams—who had done much to “pave the way” for us. Dr. Adams volunteered in the kindest possible manner to “see me through” my visit to the United States.

The British Empire Association gave us a most enjoyable dinner and entertainment, which will linger long in my memory.

President W. K. Pattison, Toastmaster Samuel Insull, Mr. John Crerar (the President of the Illinois St. Andrew Society), and Mr. Cy. Warrnan, the Canadian poet, who recited his notable poem “Old Quebec,” helped to make the evening a delightful one.

The Americans are the happy possessors of an enormously big and rich area, and size and wealth stand for much in their eyes. I could always make them “sit up” when I referred to the country I stood for as “bigger than the United States.”

I reminded my audiences also that though the British Isles are small spots on the map, the British Empire is several times bigger and more populous than the Great Republic.

The luncheon given by the Press Club of Chicago


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was also about as bright and enjoyable a compliment as any man could wish for.

I visited an “Old People's Home” a few miles out of Chicago. It befriends only men and women of Scottish origin who are stranded in their old age. That does not happen often to my fellow countrymen abroad. We were received with a furious blast by a band of Scottish pipers. I was assured of a comfortable home in my old age in one spot at any rate. I must add that the musicians do not live on the premises!

Amongst the new centres of industry and population in the world Chicago is easily first, both for the rapidity and the solidity of its growth. In 1840 its population was 4,000. It is now far more than 2,000,000. The vast railroad system of the country finds its centre in Chicago, and the same might be said of water transport. The total tonnage of the vessels trading to and from that city is greater than that passing through the Suez Canal! Employers, by an ingenious subdivision of labour in the chief industry —meat packing—quickened the efficiency of labour to a wonderful degree. Nowhere have refrigerating processes worked greater marvels.

One afternoon I took a run in a tramcar, in order to see some of the outskirts of Chicago. I noticed that the conductor looked rather hard at me when collecting the fare. Shortly afterwards he returned and said, “Do you come from Australia?” I said, “Yes.” “Is your name Reid?” I said, “Yes.” “I thought I knew you,” said he. “Why,” I replied, “were you ever there?” “No; but I


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have a brother there, who sends me the Sydney Bulletin, and I saw the likeness at once!” I never felt more hurt!

Leaving quite a crowd of pleasant newly-made friends behind us, we went on to Niagara. As I stood watching, I felt an awe as profound as when I saw the falls on my previous visit. No one can say anything new about that stupendous wonder, although everybody seems to try. Its thunders perpetually acclaim the greatness of the two new nations to whom it equally belongs. You seldom get an impression of age in the United States or Canada. But the dripping of water upon stone which began the Falls of Niagara must have had quite a long life before Europe was of much account.

The manners of some of the hotel assistants there, especially in the telephone department, were hardly less primitive. I will give one instance. Our sitting-room telephone rang. My secretary answered the call. “Is Reid up there?” came through. Asked, “Do you mean Sir George Reid?” the only reply that came was, “Oh! shut up.”

Our next destination was Boston, where I was to represent Australia at an International Congress of Chambers of Commerce. We put up at the Plaza Hotel. In the assembly room of this new and fine hotel—not equal, of course, to the marble palace of the same name in New York—the Congress met.

An immense number of delegates, representing all nations, and every important part of the British Empire, attended.

My impression of such gatherings, in a number of


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which I have taken part, is that, admirable as the conception is, the results are often disappointing.

Among the delegates from the London Chamber of Commerce I had some good friends. I recollect particularly Mr. Faithfull Begg, the late Sir Edward Bingham, and the Hon. J. G. Jenkins, once or more than once Premier of South Australia, and now a most useful citizen of London.

There was an interesting piece of by-play behind the scenes, which I can now see was of deep significance. It arose from a suggestion that the Congress should pass a resolution in favour of a world-wide peace. Merchants are supposed to be men of peace. To my surprise, difficulties were raised, questions of order were put in the way. All these points and difficulties came from one quarter only—the German delegation! After much by-play a resolution was eventually proposed and carried.

The importance attached to the Congress was signalised by a banquet which the President of the United States, Mr. Taft, honoured with his presence. There were also some other distinguished Americans. Besides the President, whom one “takes to” at once, I met Mr. Robert Bacon and Mr. John Barrett, Director of the Pan-American Union. These two hon. gentlemen also greatly impressed me.

I had not intended to visit Washington, but Mr. Barrett easily persuaded me to do so, as “the only proper thing to do.”

After President Taft and President Wilson the leading American I met in Boston was Mr. Hayes Hammond. He is a singular combination of scientific and political aptitude.




  ― 312 ―

Mr. Taft's speech was like himself—tall, straight, and weighty. The occasion inspired him; the stress of the campaign for a new President made him solid.

The same night I met his antagonist, Dr. Woodrow Wilson, who had come to address the people of Boston.

At first sight the future President seemed more in frame as a man of learning than as one of the commanders-in-chief of an American political campaign. He seemed a sort of David up against two political Goliaths. Of course, in his triangular duel he had an advantage which was not offered to Midshipman Easy, because the triangle doubled his chance of victory.

I eagerly seized the chance of hearing Dr. Wilson's speech. His audience was a large one and intensely in earnest, but it had none of the liveliness to which I was accustomed in Australia—in fact, there was only one interjection!

I met here quite a different cast of mind and body from that of Mr. Roosevelt or Mr. Taft. The intellectual resources of those two distinguished men are reinforced by splendid physique. One could easily imagine either, especially Mr. Roosevelt, taking the electors “by storm.” Dr. Wilson has to rely entirely upon the qualities of his mind, and these are all of the first class. In that campaign his cues were excellent. His attack on the Trusts and their monopolies glowed with indignation and was wonderfully impressive. He described the high ideals of the American democracy and the tyranny and greed of its mobilised millionaires in simple but thorough fashion. Time after


  ― 313 ―
time, he said, the nation had relied upon Republican promises and had been deceived. He declared that the eagerness with which his adversaries repeated their stale pledges when figured out amounted to nothing more than a deathbed repentance.

Before leaving Boston we were invited to meet the President and Mrs. Taft by Mr. and Mrs. Hayes Hammond. I found that both the President and my host knew a great deal about Australia, and hoped to visit it.

An afternoon with some of the students at Yale, and our meeting with Dr. Eliot, then President of that famous University, was one of the chief of our pleasant experiences in the quaint city of Boston.

From Boston we went to New York, and then to Washington.

Congress was not sitting. But a Senate Committee was; to inquire into political campaign funds. Whilst we were present Mr. Roosevelt “took the stand.” The questions put were all amiable ones—when the members of the Committee got a chance of putting in a word. The fact was that the witness took possession of the whole affair. His evidence consisted of a succession of speeches, fortified by documents, making a clear, connected, and persuasive vindication. Mr. Roosevelt's vivid methods of utterance and the tremendous force of his personality combined to make his appearance on the stand a triumphant success. There must have been an immense lot of money gifted to the politicians for campaign purposes, but it is always so difficult to get the right man in the witness box.




  ― 314 ―

Washington is the only big American city I know kept free from “sky-scrapers” and factory smoke. Everything is on a grand scale, but so new! The plan which makes all the principal avenues converge on the Capitol works out well.

It will take Canberra a long time to overtake Washington; but it will also take Washington a long time to acquire the fascination of the capitals which link up ancient associations with modern greatness. Still, youth is the best thing, especially when it has the certainty of a glorious future.

My visit to the United States happened when the proposal to give the ships of the Republic the freedom of the Panama Canal, whilst making the ships of other nations pay toll, was straining the good relations of our two countries.

The treaties between Britain and the States made it quite clear that all ships were to be treated alike, as in the case of the Suez Canal.

Shortly before the difference the United States had led the way in making arbitration in international disputes a leading principle of their foreign policy; but on this occasion they did not seem inclined to accept their own prescription.

As for the selection of a tribunal, I believe that we would have been prepared to accept the decision of the Supreme Court of the United States—the finest product of the American people and their Constitution.

That unfortified boundary line of several thousand miles between the United States and Canada is, I think, the grandest fact in the Western hemisphere.

Photograph facing p.314. On the hills at Balmoral. Queen Mary, Princess Mary, Lady Mary Trefusis, Prince Francis of Teek (sitting), Sir George Reid and the Hon. John Fortescue.






  ― 315 ―

When we observe the greatness of the United States at a distance many dark spots are visible. But when we get nearer, their “spots in the sun” disappear, because of the vigour and brightness of the power and promise which meet our eyes.

I had crossed the Atlantic in the Majestic in 1897, and in the Laurentic on my outward passage this time; but I had never been in a “floating palace” until I found myself on the Lusitania, now of tragic memory.




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26. Chapter XXVI The Centenary Of Peace

AFTER a Christmas and New Year spent in Switzerland, 1912–13, I proceeded on a short tour, with business objects in view, to Vienna, Berlin, and Paris.

In winter the Grindelwald is one of those places one can never forget. The change from London at that time of the year is delightful, almost overwhelming in its grandeur, but for the presence of some of the latest editions of tourist humanity. These establish trying contrasts between civilisation at its worst and Nature at her best.

In Vienna I was graciously received in audience by the Emperor. Count Hoyos, of the Foreign Office, acted as interpreter. The aged Emperor's health was the subject of rumour at that time; but His Majesty seemed wonderfully well. I asked leave on behalf of Australia to congratulate him upon his long and peaceful reign, and assured him that we looked to his powerful efforts in the future to maintain the peace of Europe. His Majesty, in reply, asked that I would convey to my Government his intention, so long as he lived, to do his best to preserve peace amongst the nations of Europe.

This was eighteen months before the ultimatum to Servia!




  ― 317 ―

Some of those in the United Kingdom and the United States who never tire in their efforts to strengthen the growth of a good understanding between the two countries, set to work upon an ambitious scheme to celebrate in 1914–15 the hundred years of peace which date from the Treaty signed at Ghent.

Influential committees were formed. Earl Grey stood at the head of the British Committee and Mr. Choate at the head of the American Committee. Both bodies were of a calibre worthy of the object in view.

A memorable gathering at the Guildhall took place, when the Prime Minister delivered a wonderfully able address.

The next step was a proposal from the American Committee that a delegation should be sent to a conference to be held in New York in May, 1913, at which a programme for concurrent celebrations could be settled.

Lord Grey told me that both committees hoped I would accompany the delegation, and my Government approved.

Of all missions with which I was ever associated that was the most attractive.

The British delegation was composed of the following gentlemen: Lord Weardale (Chairman), Sir Arthur Lawley (Vice-Chairman), Earl Stanhope, Sir Herbert Eustace Maxwell, Mr. Shirley Benn, M.P., Mr. J. A. Baker, M.P., Mr. Neil Primrose, M.P., Mr. C. T. Mills, M.P., Mr. Moreton Frewen, Mr. Henry Vivian, and the Secretary, Mr. H. S. Perris.


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I went as representative of Australia. A Canadian delegation was to meet us at New York.

In spite of its Conservative and Liberal elements, then far removed from a state of fusion, the party assembling on the White Star Caronia forgot for the time their hostile relations. The enterprise on which they were engaged brought out their best qualities, and we were from first to last a happy family.

Lord Weardale and Sir Arthur Lawley could hardly have been improved upon. There was nothing insular about them. Both made themselves very popular everywhere, and their guidance was invaluable. As for the rest of us, we did our best and enjoyed ourselves immensely.

I had one drawback. I had no right to be alive in the United States, because some months before the American journals had printed handsome notices of my death. As I have previously stated, there were two Sir George Reids in those days—one a President of the Royal Scottish Academy, the other myself. It was Sir George, the eminent portrait painter, who had passed away. I will never have so comprehensive a claim for remembrance set up on my behalf again, because my American obituary notice dwelt quite as much upon my excellence as a painter as upon the events of my public career. I felt compelled, indeed, when the Pilgrims received us with a luncheon, to explain during a speech my reluctance to join the mission, as I was the last person to desire “to cast even the slightest shade of a shadow upon the veracity and accuracy of the American Press.”




  ― 319 ―

I suppose the most puzzling cablegram I ever got came to me two or three weeks after my distinguished namesake died. It was a message from my good friend, Mr. George Wilson, Vice-President of the Pilgrims, and also Vice-President of another great “Equitable” organisation which he probably finds more remunerative. The message, when I opened it, contained these words, “Hurrah! I am glad you are alive!” I speculated furiously. I wondered whether he had heard of my severe influenza and thought I was heavily insured in his society. My wife solved the mystery. During that illness she had received a cable of condolence from my friend, which she would not show me, and had written to let him know of the mistake. This cleared up a transient doubt in my mind as to the mental balance of one of the “cutest” Americans I know.

The Conference met on May 5th. There was quite a large number of American delegates. The Canadian delegates were headed by Sir Edmund Walker.

The Conference was unanimous in spirit, but some of the proposals tabled were wildly impracticable.

Venerable in years, but young in fact, that truly great man, Mr. J. H. Choate, presided. The placid, innocent manner in which he “steered” the deliberations of the Conference was inimitable. A great deal of time was saved by his occasional deafness, which ignored some of the most troublesome desires to have things “put to the meeting.”

The scheme for improving the lessons given in American history and British history, as to events of


  ― 320 ―
mutual concern, was perhaps the best suggestion of all. The text-books in the States up to that time were so written as to feed the patriotic appetite of Young America at the expense of the character of the British people, who had as little to do with the creation of American wrongs as the American patriots had.

The German-Americans in the States did not take kindly to our visit. They feared that an alliance between Britain and the United States, to the prejudice of Germany, was aimed at.

Lord Weardale, on our behalf, gave public assurances that the object of the peace celebrations was not to bind Great Britain and the United States together to the exclusion of other nations, but to show to the world the beneficent effects of peace, in the hope that other nations would follow this Anglo-Saxon example.

Of course there was a great banquet. Mr. Choate presided. The Secretary of State, Mr. W. J. Bryan, was the chief speaker. He was quite in his element at this peace demonstration.

Our engagements included a charming visit to Colonel Roosevelt at Oyster Bay. Included in the company were Mr. Alton B. Parker, who was the Democratic candidate against our host for President in 1904, and had not “met” his successful opponent since—until that day. Mr. Andrew Carnegie was there; he drove Lord Weardale and myself out in his splendid motor-car—his men in “real English” livery. Mr. John A. Stewart, the able and zealous Chairman of the Executive Committee of the American


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Peace Society, was present. Mr. Choate came too; there had been an “interval” between himself and his host also.

Mr. Roosevelt is a genial host always, but he seemed to excel himself in the kindly enthusiasm of his greetings.

The toast he proposed was: “Peace with justice and righteousness between the nations and within the borders of each nation.” He strongly advocated arbitration for the Panama Canal dispute. As for international disputes, “there are certainly some subjects which under certain conditions I would never consent to submit to arbitration. But, as far as the British Empire and the American Republic are concerned, I am prepared to agree in advance to the settlement of any question that may arise, either by mutual agreement or by arbitration, or by any other method that would not induce friction.” With great emphasis he added, “War between those two countries was, and must be, inconceivable.”

He reminded us of his Dutch descent, and expressed an earnest hope that “the British and Dutch in South Africa may blend together in as complete and friendly a manner as they had done in the American Republic.”

The house was full of trophies of sport and travel.

I never heard the word “bully” used as a word of welcome before, but as we came in sight he exclaimed “Bully!” several times.

In the afternoon we went to a reception given by Mr. and Mrs. Carnegie. We were shown some interesting


  ― 322 ―
things. He had been sounded informally as to the bestowal upon him of some mark of Royal favour. This approach he discouraged, as he thought he could have no greater honour than that he posessed as an American citizen. He let it be known, however, that he would highly appreciate an autograph letter from King Edward.

In due time he received one, which he highly treasures. It made graceful allusion, I saw, when reading it, to Mr. Carnegie's benefactions and their cosmopolitan character.

One of the refusals to do a good work that was suggested to him was so entirely to his credit that I must allude to it. Some years before there had been a rather destructive fire at the Bodleian Library, at Oxford. Someone suggested that he should offer to make the damage good. He refused on the ground that he thought the honour of restoring the library of that ancient and learned foundation should not be bestowed upon an American citizen, proud as he would have been to enjoy it.

I went on with our leader to Washington. Some of the others made a hurried trip to Chicago and then joined us.

The President, who was, I believe, a supporter of the movement, received us at the White House.

There was a memorable banquet in our honour on May 12th. Senator Elihu Root presided. There were several Ambassadors and Ministers present, including Sir Cecil Spring-Rice and the French Ambassador. The chairman's address was the address of the evening. It was worthy of his eminent reputation. Mr. Root


  ― 323 ―
is one of those men who are rather rare in new communities—men who utter weighty thoughts in a matter of fact manner, without resort to the arts of rhetoric or elocution.

Our Ambassador made an excellent speech also, and so did the Secretary of State, Mr. W. J. Bryan, whose oratorical powers are of a high order—sometimes too suggestive of the pulpit.

The evening was bright in every way, the whole of the very distinguished gathering being heart and soul with the movement to make Anglo-American relations more and more intimate and genuine.

The band excelled itself in the fury of its efforts to do justice to the great occasion. I often think that the possessors of wind instruments would be far more agreeable if they spared themselves more than they do! Perhaps I should add that this is equally true in the case of fluent speakers—like myself.

At a breakfast given by Mr. J. A. Stewart next morning Mr. Bryan allowed the exuberance of his fancy to describe a vision he had of a new kind of ship: “Its compass is the heart; its shells carry good will; its missiles are projected by the smokeless powder of love; its captain is the Prince of Peace. I want you to drink with me to the battleship ‘Friendship.’ No target will withstand the projectiles which friendship sends abroad.”

It was noticed that so far no official assurance had been given of the support of the Government to the celebration proposed.

At Philadelphia there was another right royal gathering. It was a dinner at which the ladies were


  ― 324 ―
just as numerous and far more interesting than the men. This is no disparagement of the men!

The Mayor, Mr. Blankenburg, was one of the best results I have met of the influence of America upon the German. He took our fancy immensely.

Sir Arthur Lawley, who is a first-rate speaker, excelled himself. Speaking of the excellent throwing we had seen at a baseball match that afternoon, he said that he thought George Washington was the best thrower America had ever possessed because he once threw “a sovereign across the Atlantic.”

I don't know that I ever spoke with such happy effect as I seemed to do that night. When I finished the whole company rose and I received three hearty cheers. Stay! Was it because I had finished?

There is an annual gathering in May at Lake Mohonk in the interests of peace and arbitration. It is associated with the name of Albert K. Smiley, a man of eminent good service, especially to the Indian races. He created, out of the smallest of beginnings, a summer resort at the lake on temperance principles. He achieved such a success that the Hostel is now an immense concern. The Conferences bring together notable assemblages, who are all guests of the family. One of the most impressive features of these gatherings is their Christian character. I went to the Conference, and was glad I had done so. Talking of international arbitration, Professor Shepherd, of the Columbia University (over which Mr. Nicholas Butler presides), said that there could be no arbitration in the present state of public opinion over a question like the Monroe doctrine; it was just as impossible


  ― 325 ―
as one over the national independence of the United States.

At the close of the Conference a hymn, “God be with you till we meet again,” was sung with a fervour of deep religious feeling which made upon my mind an impression I shall never forget. The young lady —a member of the Smiley family—who led the singing had a voice which breathed the very soul of the music and the words, with an effect beyond that of many sermons.

From first to last the visit was a most successful one. It had a good influence, it brought out many valuable demonstrations of goodwill, and gave us all a most enjoyable time.

I had heard and read much about the undue familiarities of American journalism, and the relentless inquisitiveness of the American interviewer. Of course I cannot speak for more important visitors, but I would like to say that during my visits to Canada and the United States I met with unvarying politeness and friendly treatment from all the Pressmen I met and all the newspapers I happened to see.

So far as their own citizens are concerned, many of the newspapers of the States do publish personal paragraphs as if the people of the great Republic were one vast family circle whose most intimate affairs are common property. In that respect there is a huge gap between the British and the American Press.

The intellectual capacity of newspaper writers in the two countries is pretty even, but the men who make the headlines in America have either a great


  ― 326 ―
deal more of vacant space or have to strike harder to awaken the intelligence of their readers.

The size and range of some of the American dailies and weeklies are astounding. Every village in the radius of their circulation has its place of honour, and the number of “worthy and public-spirited citizens” in those villages whose good deeds have to be chronicled, and the number of people who have to be disciplined seem to be immense. By the time full justice is done to everybody within that local radius there is little room for the affairs of the rest of the Universe. All this, of course, was before the war.

I happened to sit next the proprietor of a leading New York journal at a dinner given by Mr. Cornelius Vanderbilt. He assured me that American public opinion was moulded far more in the Middle West than in New York.




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27. Chapter XXVII In Australia Once More

ON June 30th, 1913, His Majesty visited our battle-cruiser, the Australia, then lying at Portsmouth, before departing for her station as flagship in the Southern Seas. The visit was a strictly private one, as the King was, I believe, anxious thoroughly to inspect without ceremony the latest product of the naval genius of the Empire. The Prince of Wales went down with His Majesty, who graciously invited me to go too. The only great official commanded for the occasion was the Commander-in-Chief, Portsmouth, Sir Hedworth Meux, who is one of the new members of the House of Commons. I had looked forward to the visit with rather anxious feelings, because I was not at all fitted for the task of inspecting every part of a modern battleship. However, with that kindliness and tact which never seem to fail, the King placed me in the care of the Commander-in-Chief on the main deck, where a massive capstan of my own circumference proved a friend in need.

An unusual honour was conferred upon our first Commander-in-Chief, Rear-Admiral Patey, who was knighted on the quarter-deck.

A few weeks later, on July 24th, the King gave a further proof of his cordial good will for his Australian Dominion by laying the foundation stone of Australia


  ― 328 ―
House, our new offices in the Strand. Her Majesty, bringing with her Princess Mary, also honoured the ceremony with her presence. It was a beautiful day. The streets along which the Royal progress was made were thronged with spectators, who cheered Their Majesties heartily. A most interesting group of spectators crowded the improvised pavilion. I presented to Their Majesties Lady Reid and my daughter Thelma—from whom the Queen was graciously pleased to accept a bouquet; next the Agents-General; then the Chief Justice, Sir Samuel Griffith; and the Official Secretary. I presented an address to the King, of which the following was the closing paragraph:

“I feel I need not remind your Majesty that this new building will proclaim something more than the industrial growth of Australia. It will also testify to the increasing intimacy and harmony of the political relationship between the Mother and the Daughter lands. Some ties have gone, but the ties that really do unite Britain and the Dominions beyond the seas—mutual betterment, pride of race, grandeur of tradition, glory of achievement, loyalty to the Throne, a resolve to stand shoulder to shoulder when our King calls—all these remain, and they are strengthened by the flight of time.”

Photograph facing p.328. Queen Mary



The King, having accepted the address, which was illuminated on a purple silk scroll, replied as follows:

“It gives me much pleasure, and not less pleasure to the Queen, who accompanies me, to be present on this interesting occasion for the purpose of laying the foundation stone of the new offices of the Commonwealth Government in London. I congratulate


  ― 329 ―
the Commonwealth on the acquisition of this splendid site and on the noble structure which it is proposed to erect upon it. When completed it will take its place as a worthy and welcome addition to the buildings which adorn the centre of the Empire, and it will not only serve those useful purposes for which it is designed, but will also call to the mind of all who pass by the immense opportunities and limitless resources of the great continent under the Southern Cross. I cherish the most happy recollections of my two visits to Australia in 1881 and 1901, and of the warmth of the reception accorded to me in all the States on both occasions. My second visit remains to both of us an inspiring memory, when I was deputed by my dear father to inaugurate the first Parliament of the Commonwealth. Nothing can gratify me more than the testimony which you bear to the growing sense of kinship and unity which pervades the self-governing communities of the Empire, and to those indissoluble ties which knit them to one another and to my Throne.

“I am well assured that, as in the past, in any national emergency Australia will be ready to play her part for the common cause, and that the loyalty of her sons will never be appealed to in vain.”

After the reference to the “indissoluble ties” which bind the self-governing communities to the Throne, the King had to wait, which he did smilingly, for what seemed to be fully a minute before the tumult of applause subsided sufficiently to permit him to continue his reply.




  ― 330 ―

The King and Queen were highly gratified, as the Secretary of State telegraphed to me later in the day.

At one stage of the proceedings His Majesty smiled broadly. Some people thought I had indulged in a joke. The fact was that in the excitement of the moment my tongue got back to the courts far away, where I had practised for so many years, and I addressed the King as “Your Honour”! On a previous occasion I had amused King Edward by the beginning of a similar blunder. I had begun to address His Majesty as “Your Excellency,” when I suddenly recovered myself before finishing the word. I got as far as “Your Ex—”

My proposal to the Government in connection with Australia House was a more modest one than that adopted. I suggested buying the whole of the existing Strand frontage to a depth of about 70 feet. A building on that site would have left a small estimated loss (under £5,000 a year) on the transaction. When the Prime Minister, Mr. Batchelor and Senator Pearce, and the delegation of members of the Federal Parliament visited the site, they were so pleased with it that the question went round, “Why not take the whole block?” And we did take the whole block. There will be a large lettable space to reduce the annual charges; but the War and the abstention of five of the States will make the figures look very bad for a long time to come.

Having been accorded leave of absence for the purpose of visiting Australia, I arranged to sail on September 12th, with Lady Reid, our daughter, and


  ― 331 ―
two sons, in the Otranto, another of the fine new mail steamers belonging to the Orient Company.

I have had a great many compliments in the course of a long public career, but one of the least expected and most welcome of them was offered me, in the shape of a luncheon before my departure, at which I was asked to be the guest of the British Press. This event took place at the Trocadero on September 8th.

When leaving London for the Tilbury Docks we had an adventure which might have ended badly. We were on the platform talking to a large number of friends. No whistle sounded, and no warning was given. Suddenly the train began to move away. Our compartment was some distance ahead. I began to run, so did my wife and children; but the train was going faster and faster, and but for some friends who helped us, my attempt to enter the carriage might have ended fatally. I had not attempted to run during the previous twenty years, and had never done so foolish a thing in “catching” a train before. It did not prove to be a bad omen, because it was the only approach to an accident during the whole trip.

There is no voyage which gives one so impressive a series of proofs of the position of Great Britain as a World Power as that between England and Australia.

The British Channel, Gibraltar, the Mediterranean, Port Said, the Suez Canal, the Indian Ocean, Colombo, the South Pacific, and Australia, and the vessels that steam over those seas, reveal the supremacy of the White Ensign, and of the Red Ensign too.




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Any Power seeking to rise to the first place amongst the nations must feel sore at this universal lordship of the waterways of mankind, backed up as it is by such a splendid empire on four continents.

A long sea voyage is the greatest enjoyment the world can offer me, especially if some of my fellow passengers can play bridge! I don't know any combination of science, and contrivance, and forethought for human comfort, which equals a first-class ocean liner. The weather was beautiful, the passengers were numerous, and there were no tremendous swells, real or make believe, to disturb the complacency of the ordinary traveller.

When I left Australia in 1910 I had to give up many valued intimacies, and cut myself off from a generous body of supporters in all parts of the Commonwealth and from the electors of East Sydney, who only rejected me once, and then I deserved it.

When I reached Fremantle a legion of pleasant memories leaped out of their brain cells and became part of my active life again.

My outlook upon the world and its affairs—the Empire and its interests—had become, I hope, larger and clearer; but nothing I had seen or learned had lessened my love for Australia and Australians, or the ardour of my desire for their continued progress and prosperity. In every part of Australia I met opponents who were generous enough to greet me with cordiality. Of course, stronger feelings were revived when I met my old political friends and supporters, and when I addressed Australian audiences again.




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In the short time we had in Adelaide we managed to do several pleasant things. We lunched with the Governor and Lady Bosanquet; went on to a large garden party given by the Mayor, who happened to be a son of one of my old friends, Sir Langdon Bonython; and then went to the seaside to visit Sir Samuel Way, the Chief Justice, who was not very well. He was one of the most agreeable hosts in Australia. His record as a Chief Justice, if we may judge from the way in which the Privy Council supported his judgments, was very high. The number of important duties he performed as a good citizen, his overflowing courtesy and geniality to everybody, great or humble, his unfeigned goodness, and his youthful old age, taken together, made him the “Grand Old Man” of South Australia. I associate with his name numberless proofs of a friendship that became affectionate.

Proceeding to Melbourne, we landed on October 20th. My last look at the Otranto, for the time, was like that of many ocean-goers—a curious mixture of regret at leaving the ship and pleasure at arriving in port.

The Lord Mayor of Melbourne, Mr. (afterwards Sir) J. D. Hennessy, invited me to the Town Hall, where a large number of people had assembled, including the Prime Minister, Mr. Joseph Cook; the leader of the Federal Opposition, Mr. Andrew Fisher; Mr. William Elliot Johnson, the Federal Speaker; Mr. Alfred Deakin; Sir John Forrest, and many others. Nothing could exceed the warmth with which the Prime Minister, the Leader of the Opposition, and the Chief


  ― 334 ―
Secretary of Victoria, Mr. Murray, referred to my efforts as High Commissioner worthily to represent the Commonwealth in London.

Thus was begun an unbroken series of kindly demonstrations of goodwill. I am not ashamed to confess that even if my efforts were overpraised that fact did not at all diminish my gratitude.

Naturally my thoughts turned most to the people of the State and the city where I had lived for so many years, and whose backing had enabled me to rise to the position of prominence I had reached. If any man ought to be grateful to New South Wales and Sydney I ought to be.

Of course, I went to the Melbourne Cup. The wonderful way in which the whole show is regulated beats everything else of the same kind anywhere. The Epsom course in England is a primitive affair by comparison. The Victorian Racing Club Committee, whose Chairman Mr. R. G. Casey has been for years, has, in Mr. Byron Moore, a Secretary whose taste has made the central features of the display effective far beyond anything else of the kind I have seen. The Cup Dinner given at Government House is one of the chief functions of the kind in Victoria. Lady Reid and I were among the guests of the Governor-General and Lady Dudley. The banquet at the Town Hall on November 9th attracted a big gathering. The Lord Mayor made an excellent chairman. The speeches were interesting. The success of after-dinner speakers is more largely owing to the glow of the “inner man” in those who listen than to the excellence of the speeches. I ought to be a good judge in both capacities.




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We went on to my old home. A great many things had happened to me since I left Sydney about three years before. I had seen many great spectacles at the centre of things in the Old World in those three years, but the return to Sydney seemed to blot out everything but old and pleasant memories.

The Lord Mayor gave a great banquet to me, to which a very distinguished company was invited. Before the dinner there was a reception which enabled me to shake hands with a large number of old friends and supporters.

I had the pleasure of visiting several of the leading towns of New South Wales—Newcastle, Armidale, Bathurst, and Goulburn.

Newcastle is one of the great coal ports of the world. Its harbour is generally full of shipping from all parts of the world. The ships then in port were decorated with bunting when I arrived—a fine sight! My eldest brother John—whom I greatly loved—was in business there as a shipping agent for many years. His two sons, John and Mark, succeeded him. I am very proud of these two nephews of mine, also those in Melbourne, Sydney, Queensland, and Perth—all fine young men of business capacity.

I next visited Queensland, taking with me my son Douglas, who was acting as my private secretary. When in Brisbane we were the guests of the Governor and Lady MacGregor. I also visited Toowoomba and Rockhampton. When in the latter city I went out to re-visit that famous gold mine, Mount Morgan, now also a copper mine. My former impressions of the great future ahead of Queensland were confirmed.


  ― 336 ―
It was a pleasure to renew my friendship with Sir William MacGregor.

I got back to Sydney on December 15th, and stayed there until January 6th.

I gave an address in the Town Hall to young people. There were four or five thousand present. We veterans should be more ready to give beginners the benefit of our experience and advice.

Before leaving Sydney we had a gathering of my relatives there, which included my sister, Mrs. James Ewan, my nephews William and Alwyn Reid, William and Oswald Ewan, and my nieces, Mrs. Murray Will, Mrs. George Armstrong, Mrs. Cuthbert Hall, Miss Nellie and Miss Daisy Ewan; also Mrs. Manson, Dr. Murray Will, Dr. George Armstrong, and Dr. Cuthbert Hall. I went up next day to Sutton Forest to spend a week with Sir Gerald and Lady Edeline Strickland, and a very pleasant week it was.

I then went on to spend a couple of days with Sir Samuel McCaughey, M.L.C., at North Yanco, a beautiful station of which only the grounds surrounding the mansion are left to him, the Government having resumed the estate for agricultural purposes. I enjoyed my stay with my old friend—the “Uncrowned King” of pastoral enterprise—immensely.

Going on to Victoria, I went down to Queenscliffe, at the mouth of Hobson's Bay, on a visit to another great friend, Senator Fraser. This gave me a chance of boating and fishing—the former a certainty, the latter a pleasant expectation.

During my visits to Victoria I addressed meetings at Geelong, Bendigo, and Ballarat.




  ― 337 ―

Although I was such a champion of the interests of my own State, I always used to find Victorian audiences cordial and generous. Australians, too, keenly appreciate banter, even when at their own expense. May I interpolate an instance of this? Addressing a meeting of miners in Tasmania, I was met with a fearful outburst of noise the moment my first word was uttered. In a lull I said I was anxious to make a humble apology. This they were willing to receive, and they became quiet. I then said, “I only called you ‘gentlemen.’ ” That slender attempt at a joke so tickled their fancy that I had a quiet time for the rest of the evening.

Before leaving Melbourne I wrote to the Minister for External Affairs, the Hon. P. McM. Glynn, asking whether he could tell me what the intentions of the Government were in reference to a renewal of my term of service as High Commissioner. That term would expire in January, 1915, a little short of a year from my time of writing. I was naturally anxious to know, with a view to my future plan of life. A few days afterwards the Minister informed me that there was no difference of opinion in the Cabinet as to my reappointment, but that there was a difference as to the new term, whether it should be for the full period of five years or for three years. I replied that I preferred five, but would accept three. The Minister assured me that the new appointment would be made in a few months. Unfortunately, or fortunately, I did not ask for a written reply to my letter, or that the verbal reply should then and there be placed on record. I was dealing with a Cabinet of friends, and


  ― 338 ―
was so satisfied that I did not afterwards mention the matter to the Prime Minister or any of his colleagues.

I visited Tasmania, arriving at Launceston on February 10th. On this occasion my wife accompanied me, as that beautiful island is the place of her birth, and she was anxious to visit her relatives. I will never forget the active footsteps of her father, Mr. John Bromby, then eighty-three years of age.

At Launceston I told them that I was greatly attached to Tasmania, not only because of her beauty, fertility, and climate, but also because she had given to me one of the best wives in the world.

In Hobart I enjoyed the hospitality of Sir Ellison and Lady Macartney. The Mayor invited me to a pleasant luncheon gathering, and I addressed a crowded meeting in the Town Hall, which Sir Ellison and Lady Macartney honoured with their presence. It was a great pleasure to meet them. Lady Macartney is a sister of that never-to-be-forgotten martyr of Antarctic exploration, Scott.

On my return to Melbourne I addressed a large gathering of the students of the training college for teachers affiliated to the Melbourne University. My very good friend Sir Alexander Peacock, now the Premier, then the Minister for Education, presided.

I know of no more pleasant or valuable chance of doing good within the reach of a public man than that of addressing young people—above all, that of addressing young people who are in training for the work of teaching, which is one of the noblest, although school teaching is still the “Cinderella” of the professions.




  ― 339 ―

The people of Victoria are in the front rank of Antipodean energy and intelligence, and the young Victorians I addressed were a singularly interesting crowd, reminding me of that—to me memorable—occasion when I addressed a similar gathering of teachers in the Great Hall of the University of Sydney, which Anthony Trollope favourably compared with that of Oxford.

In the address I delivered I pointed out that a man or woman might become the cleverest scholar in the world and yet be the worst possible teacher, even for an infant school. I urged them to place first in the order of their ambitions not personal ends, but a love of the children they would be privileged to teach. Thoroughness and intentness were the biggest factors of success—you could see them in struggles for a tin pot or parties for a dance. “I do not say in the latter case that the ladies looked like competitors, but they did look their best.” To encourage those who did not shine in examinations I reminded them of the fact that brilliant success in such cases might mean a brilliant memory in an inferior mind; that in the real battles of life outside memory must fall into its proper place, “the humble and obedient servant of higher faculties, condemned to fetch and carry, forbidden to reason.”

Sir Alexander Peacock, estimable in many ways, is unrivalled in one. His laugh is probably the most wonderful in the world. He cannot subdue it, or regulate it, or stop it. It begins with reverberations as sharp and independent as the discharge of a battery of field guns; it continues with rises and falls of overwhelming


  ― 340 ―
and contagious jocularity. Just as you think that something fearful must happen, it stops as suddenly as it began. When Sir Alexander was making an important speech at the Federal Convention, I thought I would try to discover whether he could control his risible faculties under those conditions, and I made a somewhat comical interjection. In a flash the Convention was amazed at the transition from earnest sedate reasoning to a tempest of obviously uncontrollable laughter.

On February 19th I left Melbourne to visit Mount Gambier in South Australia to open the Caledonian Hall. To do that I had a railway journey lasting about fourteen hours, and seventy-five miles of motoring on bad roads. The fourteen hours were the hottest I ever had, and there were several changes from one train to another. I opened the hall, and stayed from Saturday until Monday with Mr. George Riddock—“one of the best”—at Koorme station. On Sunday I felt so unwell that I had to cancel all my engagements. I did so with very great regret.

Sir Samuel Way received me at the railway station in Adelaide, bringing Dr. Lendon with him. Dr. Lendon ordered me at once into hospital, where I remained until March 6th, when we started on our homeward journey in the same good ship, the Otranto.

During my illness Sir Samuel and Lady Way— both, alas! now dead—showed me most kind personal attention. Sir Langdon Bonython, proprietor of the Observer, Mr. W. J. Sowden, the editor of the Register, both newspapers of a high order, Mr. Justice Gordon, Sir John Downer, Sir Josiah Symon, a distinguished


  ― 341 ―
colleague in my Federal Administration, Sir Douglas Mawson, Lord Richard Nevill, and others also brightened my stay in hospital.

Sir Samuel, who was Chancellor of the Adelaide University, informed me of the intention of the Senate to confer on me the honorary degree of LL.D., which I most gratefully accepted.

No one, I suppose, knows better than I do the strength and weakness of Australian development. Wonderful affection for the “Old Country,” which it can idealise vividly in spite of its immense distance, is blended with an equally enthusiastic belief in the progress, resources, and future greatness of Australia. Under any other form of relationship these two pre-dispositions might have been modified profoundly; but, happily, British statesmanship has been able, during the last fifty years, to keep step with Colonial initiative and daring, and self-appreciation.

Magnificently solid and rapid as the spread of settlement in Australia has been, enormous difficulties remain to be faced. The settled areas are splendid; but as you go farther inland towards the centre, an appalling trinity of desert, drought, and distance confronts you: no rivers, no mountain ranges, no rain worth mentioning. To redeem that vast area—even to invade and occupy its fringes—seems at present to lie beyond human powers. Almost everywhere the soil is full of fertile energy; water from above, below, or abroad is the one vital problem. Even mineral discoveries, if not of enormous quantity and richness, could not give life to a really large movement of population.




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Fortunately the present area of habitable land is vast enough for an immense development of national greatness.

The darkest shadow on the radiant picture of Australian progress is the current of population which has set in for the capital cities of the coast, away from the country industries. The development of industries on the coast line in cities where wages are higher, hours of labour are shorter, and comforts are greater, is bound to operate in that way, unless it is checked by a tendency to prefer an open-air life which leads to life in the interior. It is supremely important to encourage that tendency—the opposite tendency will always fight its own way.

One of the most interesting studies is the effect of Australian conditions of life on the British type of man and woman. It is far too soon to generalise, but it seems clear already that there will be more than one type of the Anglo-Australian in the future. The difference between the bushman and the townsman in the central States suggests that already. As for the type that can, or will, occupy the tropical regions—an area of more than one million square miles—that seems to be a remote speculation.

Another beautiful voyage via Colombo was ended by our arrival in the Thames on April 12th.

A few days before I reached England the Daily Telegraph devoted a leader to me, headed “A Great Imperialist.” I was intensely gratified by this tribute. The fact that it praised my public services far beyond their merits did not at all lessen the pleasure it gave me.




  ― 343 ―

Soon after my return from Australia, at a luncheon given me by the Royal Colonial Institute I contrasted the wonderful kindness I received in London as High Commissioner for Australia with the lot of the ordinary Australian visitor. Clubs—except the British Empire Club—were closed against him. For such a man London seemed to me to be the loneliest city in the world. There was a film over the English character which had the effect of a freezing chamber for Colonial enthusiasm. In the Colonies people shake hands freely and often; in England that rarely happens, except, perhaps, at a funeral. I mentioned a case that often occurred to me in my long railway journeys. I could not travel long with any man from a Dominion without an interchange of civilities. I have travelled often with an Englishman for hundreds of miles without a gleam of sociability. On one occasion, after 300 miles of silence between myself and the only other occupant of a compartment, I thought I would risk a remark. I said, “Are you an Englishman?” A gruff “Yes” was the reply. I apologised.

But beneath the film there are in the English character reserves of kindly feeling and downright good nature which quickly respond to any real call that is made upon them.

In May, 1914, there passed away one who stood easily first among the great nobles of Britain in his devotion to the Dominions—the Duke of Argyll. I have no doubt that the Duke helped the other High Commissioners as frequently and as readily as he helped me. Her Royal Highness the Princess Louise


  ― 344 ―
is happily still prominent in the same long list of public-spirited services.

Perhaps one of the most striking differences one meets in England is that which exists between the ways of those who have spent some time in the Dominions and those who have not. Those who have visited “the Colonies” never seem to lose their interest in Colonial affairs. I know of no exceptions, but I allude specially to the Governors-General, Governors, Admirals, Generals, and the ladies of their families. They showed when at their posts a keen interest in their surroundings; and they prove the sincerity and the strength of that interest by their good deeds after they return to the Mother Country.

The dinner in June, 1914, of the Australasian Chambers, over which I presided, was honoured with the presence of Prince Alexander of Teck, Mr. Page, the American Ambassador, and Lord Bryce.

Prince Alexander had just been named as the Governor-General of Canada, in succession to the Duke of Connaught. Those three distinguished guests made excellent speeches.




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28. Chapter XXVIII On The Brink—and Over

IN the middle of 1914 the power and prosperity of the Empire were at the highest point yet attained. Although Britain was confronted with a rapidly growing Germany, and with the marvellous development of the United States, she remained the centre of the world's shipping and finance. Her attractiveness seemed to be increasing. Her trade was booming, her industrial population was better off than ever before, and the way in which she “took on” new forms of manufacturing industry showed even in that department that her initiative was as bold and vigorous as ever. Her methods of pushing her wares, however, left much to be desired.

The naval power of Britain was still pre-eminent, and kept in good fighting trim. It had to be, as the distances between the nation and its food, and between its industries and raw materials, are so immense. Military training was compulsory, and military service too, in every other European country. But in Britain, the ruler of one-fifth of the world's surface and inhabitants, a few thousands of partially trained volunteers were thought to be the only necessary call upon the citizens. So dense was the prejudice against military development that even the rudiments of drill were not possible in the playgrounds


  ― 346 ―
of the British elementary schools—a form of compulsion by which seeds of patriotic efficiency might be sown, and in which the schoolboy would delight.

Our maximum contribution of soldiers to a world war had been fixed at an expeditionary force of 150,000!

For a hundred years our wars had mainly been fights with badly-armed people of slender military resource, however brave in spirit. The Boer War opened our eyes a little. But in the middle of 1914 War Lords of Europe could look down on us as a Great Power without armies.

But why should there be danger of war? Peace was enthroned—on the lips—of every ruler, statesman, and diplomatist. We can see now that on some Royal and Imperial lips those peaceful professions were as hollow as the prayers of a professional burglar. The refusal of Germany to consider a limitation of naval expenditure, coupled with her large army increases, should have been warning enough. I could not help saying, though I suppose at the time it seemed absurd to most people, “We are on the brink of great events which will throw the whole world into some dreadful catastrophe of war.”

To sum up, no Great Power was ever less prepared for a military war on a large scale than Great Britain was in the middle of 1914.

The excuse of the assassinations was exploded by the revelations made by Signor Giolitti that Austria was only stopped from attacking Servia months before by the energetic interference of Italy, who persuaded Germany to stop Austria.




  ― 347 ―

The pretence made by Germany to our Ambassador, and to Sir Edward Grey, that Germany was afraid to interfere lest Austria might do something rash eclipses every previous exploit of lying diplomacy. Austria at last consented to discuss her grievance against Servia. Just then Germany flung her declaration of war at Russia. If, instead, Germany had told Sir Edward Grey that she was in favour of a peaceful settlement and a European Conference, or even a friendly conference between Austria and Russia, the awful plunge might never have been taken.

Great Britain never had so momentous a decision to make as that between Peace and War in the beginning days of August, 1914. A Liberal Cabinet is more likely to say “No” to war than a Conservative Cabinet. For some days no one could say what the decision would be. At the critical moment the Conservative leaders sent an assurance of support in the event of war.

The Government, in making an invasion of Belgium the touchstone, took high moral ground. Every other consideration concurred. The Entente was really a defensive alliance, as the Triple Alliance was. If Russia, France, or Britain had attacked Germany or Austria, Italy was bound in honour to fight on the side of the Alliance. Not by any such document was Britain bound to stand by France and Russia when Germany attacked them, but in honour and good faith she was equally bound. If she had stood out, France and Russia would have been betrayed— her dominions would have despised her—her enemies would have covered their infamy with her shame—and


  ― 348 ―
the contempt of the neutral world would have overwhelmed her. We would have helped Germany to get strong enough to vanquish us later. Germany could at once assure our deserted Allies that her object in declaring war had been attained by the exposure of their false and cowardly friend, who had become unworthy to hold such a world-wide Empire. All Europe would be against us, body and soul.

If Napoleon sealed his doom when he attacked Russia, the German Emperor was madder still when in his endeavour to crush France and Russia first he took on Great Britain and her Empire.

Although our course was plain, it made for us an entirely new situation in every sphere besides that of war. When the history of the first month is written the public will be astonished at the immense operations that were effected, quite apart from military preparations. As for these, it was soon seen that there would be swift need for men and munitions on a stupendous scale. There were no adequate foundations to build upon. A nation mobilised for peaceful industry and nothing else for a hundred years had to mobilise for a tremendous war without military training, or depots, or arms, or cannon, or commissariats, to meet the sudden smashing blows of armies, timed to the exact moment, trained to the highest point, and equipped to the last button. Great fighters, too! If the face of our First Lord was radiant, the face of the Quartermaster-General might well look ghastly.

Had we a soldier or a civilian fit for this gigantic job? If we had, would he be thought of? British


  ― 349 ―
statesmen are rather clever at not sending for the best men. There was one great soldier available. He had served and organised brilliantly many times, and had never lost a battle. He had filled very high posts, except the one he was supremely fitted for—that of Secretary of State for War! He was always on the outer edge of official sunshine, never near the centre! When the War broke out his post was far away, but he happened to be in England. Every unofficial eye turned to Lord Kitchener. But every official eye seemed turned the other way. Lord Kitchener's holiday over, he started for his distant post. Either on the steamer or on the pier he found that he was wanted in London. He returned to London. How he discovered what he was wanted for, and when, will be matter for more intimate telling. But he did come to his own at last! He did enter the War Office at last as the controller of the military destinies of the British Empire. The rest is well known.

The call of our beloved King, the name and fame of Kitchener, and the patriotism and valour of British manhood, combined to achieve the miraculous in producing millions of young volunteers fit to stand against the German legions even when half trained and half armed.

No glory of victory can ever outshine the retreat from Mons to the Marne of our first Expeditionary Force.

The War brushed everything else aside from end to end of the Empire. What Britain took to with quiet resolve the Dominions took to with outbursts of


  ― 350 ―
enthusiasm. They knew that a fight with Germany must come for our place in the sun. The possibility of a change from the British hand of friendship to the jack-boot of the Prussian jarred every nerve of the oversea democracies. Over and above that, those new communities look forward to an ever-brightening career of liberty and progress, and this they associate with the British flag. They hate the memories of those dark ages of brute force, of which Germany, Austria, and Turkey are the champions. Undying love for the “old folks at home” crowned all.

The Dominion I represented, Australia, had a population of 5,000,000, far removed from the war zone, but it set to work as if it were in hourly danger of invasion. From the loneliest outposts of settlement the Colonists began to move, all keen to join the army of Australian volunteers. In every home loving fingers began to work upon Red Cross comforts. “Australia Day” yielded no less than £700,000. The total gifts collected for British and Allied needs greatly exceeds £2,000,000. The number sent across those remote seas at our King's call exceeds 300,000 men.

The first Australian and New Zealand divisions reached Egypt early in December. I went out, and so did the High Commissioner for New Zealand, to see our men. We arrived at Cairo on December 24th. The Australians were encamped near the Pyramids. The Officer Commanding was General Bridges. The Brigadier-General commanding the First Division was Minister for Defence in my Australian Government—Brigadier-General McCay. I met many old


  ― 351 ―
friends on the Staff and in the tents. I never felt more relieved than when Lord Kitchener proposed to me that our men should train in Egypt instead of England, because an English winter, with a doubt about huts, and plenty of mud for certain, would have been a severe trial for Australians and their horses.

Our force, about 25,000, was divided into two, so that I should review them on two successive days. Before the review they were on each occasion brigaded, and I delivered a short address, which I venture to subjoin:

“Sir John Maxwell, General Birdwood, Mr. Mackkenzie, General Bridges, officers and men.—I am glad to see you all. I am only sorry that I cannot take each of you by the hand of friendship. Many anxious mothers have implored me to look after their sons. Alas! it is impossible, but I rejoice to think that you are under officers who will be true guardians of you throughout the length of this great venture. The Pyramids—the youngest of these august Pyramids was built 2,000 years before our Saviour was born— have been silent witnesses to many strange events, but I do not think that they could ever have looked down upon so unique a spectacle as this splendid array of Australian soldiers massed to defend them.

“Who can look upon these majestic monuments of antiquity without emotion, without regret?

“How pathetic, how stupendous, how useless have been these gigantic efforts to preserve the bodily presence of Egyptian kings from the decay to which all mortality is doomed! It is the soul of deeds that


  ― 352 ―
lives for ever. Imperishable memories have sprung from nameless graves on land and sea, whilst stately sepulchres are dumb. The homes of our Imperial race are scattered far and wide, but the breed remains the same, as stanch, as stalwart, as loyal in the East and West, and in our own South, as in the Northern motherland.

“What brings these forces here? Why do their tents stretch across this narrow parting of the ways, between worlds new and old? Are you on a quest in search of gain, such as led your fathers to the Austral shore? Are you preparing to invade and outrage weaker nationalities in lawless raids of conquest? Thank God! your mission is as pure and as noble as any soldier ever undertook—to rid the world of would-be tyrants.

“In this bright climate, beneath these peaceful skies, which tempt so strongly, do not forget the awful ordeal which is near you. Do not forget the fearful risks which you are approaching. Do not forget the desperate battles long drawn out which you must fight and win. Do not forget Lord Kitchener's warning to the soldiers of the Empire. Do not forget the distant homes that love you. Do not forget the fair fame and stainless honour of Australia committed to your keeping. A few bad ones can sully the reputation of a whole army. If such there be in these ranks before me they must be shunned. They must be thrust out. The first and best of all victories you can ever win is the victory of self-control. Hearts of solid oak, nerves of flawless steel, come that way.

“Remember the generous rivalries that await you.


  ― 353 ―
Remember the glorious soldiers of the British Isles, of the British Empire, who long to greet you in the battle line. Remember the heroes of Belgium, of France, of Russia, of Serbia, and of Japan. Remember all the fleets watching on every sea. The allied interest is deep and vital, but there are interests deeper and more vital still. The destinies of the whole world are at stake in this Titanic struggle. Shall the hands of Fate point backward to universal chaos or forward to everlasting peace? Backward they must not, shall not, go. It is impossible. True culture, crowned with chivalry and good faith, will prove too strong once more for savage tricks and broken faith. May God be with you, each and all, until we meet again!”

Familiar as I was with Australians, I confess that the men fairly astonished me. Sir John Maxwell was so pleased with their appearance that he came out to see the second march past. General Birdwood predicted that after some training and experience they would prove first-rate soldiers. No one, of course, could have foreseen the prodigies of dash when dash was wanted, and prodigies of tenacity when that was wanted, which they so gloriously displayed when “hanging by their eyebrows” to the cliffs of Gallipoli.

I don't think the Egyptians ever got such an ocular demonstration of British might as when the young Australians thronged the streets of Cairo.

I had the honour of an audience with the new Sultan, and later of lunching with him. Nubar Bey, a grandson of the celebrated Nubar Pasha, acted


  ― 354 ―
as interpreter. The Sultan had a high reputation for philanthropy before he reached the throne of Egypt, and his rule will not call for the forcible guidance that of his predecessor the Khedive so often needed.

Under the hospitable auspices of the Administration, Mr. (now Sir Thomas) Mackenzie and I, with his son, and my own, enjoyed a delightful trip up the Nile, in a Government steamer, furnished with every comfort. Luxor and the Great Dam were the main features of our journey. Farther in from Assouan, now that massacre and slavery have ceased to be the alternatives of human existence, there is a possibility of immense developments.

Our visit to Egypt was interesting and enjoyable from first to last.

Two of the pleasantest evenings I ever spent I passed dining with General Bridges and his staff at Mena Camp on Christmas night and New Year's night. Many of these genial companions have been killed or wounded. General Bridges was fatally wounded, and died on the voyage to Alexandria. He was a man whose unaffected modesty was equal to his personal merits, which were conspicuous. He was Chief of the Staff, and then Head of the Military College, in Australia before the War.

The worst things in Egypt are the separate jurisdictions for the punishment of offences committed by British subjects, French subjects, and Italian subjects. Many a brave young soldier's life was blasted by disease, which was rampant, mainly owing to divided control. A centralised vigorous police force


  ― 355 ―
could have swept out of existence hotbeds of filthy disease which the native population were able to keep away from, but which were traps worse than death for young Australia.

My colleague's son, Mr. Clutha Mackenzie, is a fine young fellow, over 6 feet, but under age. Later on, at Gallipoli, shell shock deprived him in an instant of sight. The brave and cheerful way in which he has risen superior to that awful calamity has excited the admiration of all who know him.

Photograph facing p.354. Group taken at Parliament House, Melbourne, 1914. Rt.Hon.Andrew Fisher, Earl Grey, Hon.Joseph Cook (Prime Minister of Australia), General Sir Ian Hamilton, M.L.Shepherd (Private Secretary to Premier), Sir George Reid, Senator T.Givens (President of Senate), Major Ashmore (Military Secretary), Senator McColl (Vice-President of Executive), Sir William Irvine (Attorney-General), Brigadier-General G.Ellison (Chief of General Staff), Hon.Littleton Groom (Minister of Customs), Hon. Senator Oakes, Sir John Forrest (Treasurer), Hon.W.H.Kelly, M.P.



On our return journey we touched at Malta and Marseilles.

The Bay of Biscay had no terrors for me. I found a storm there only once in eight times, and that was sixty-four years ago!

The year 1915 witnessed a complete change in the work of the High Commissioner's office. My campaign for suitable emigrants was stopped. It had been very successful in 1910, 1911, and 1912, the number having more than doubled in the two years. But in 1913 the movement began to decline owing to good times in the United Kingdom. When a state of war began propaganda work was impossible, as no loyal subject would wish to take men away from the Homeland. Then our advertising and publicity systems were almost stopped too. Expenses had to be cut down also because Australia was determined to bear the expense of all her military expeditions, which will tell very heavily upon the resources of so small a population, the pay all round in our forces being at a rate which would ruin each and all of the Great Powers.




  ― 356 ―

Our young Navy was invaluable in the South Seas. The presence of the battle cruiser Australia, and the fear of her presence in places where she was not, saved the Commonwealth from many dangers. The Australian ships soon accounted for the German possessions in the South Pacific, and convoyed the New Zealand Expedition to German Samoa. Some day the services performed by the Australia in covering immense distances on various errands, one of which was the pursuit of the German ships of war that met their fate at the Falkland Islands, will become better known. The prompt way in which the Sydney disposed of the Emden showed that Australians, who formed more than half the ship's company, are as brave and dashing at sea as on land; in other words—for that is what it comes to—are worthy “chips of the old block.” Captain von Mueller was the only German commander who combined success with humanity and a sense of humour. His work as an officer on British tramps before the War had done him a world of good. From a diary found in the Emden wreck, von Mueller seems to have been so thorough in his precautions that he never allowed lights in his ship after dark.

The news of the Sydney's exploit arrived in London a few hours after the Guildhall banquet given by the Lord Mayor. If it had come in time what a memorable demonstration the ancient Guildhall would have witnessed!

I was present at many confidential conferences in connection with war business—financial, naval,


  ― 357 ―
military, and commercial. I am bound to say that I saw no slackness in high places, and many proofs of capacity and “go,” as far as I could judge; but, of course, we High Commissioners were never really behind the scenes. My interviews with Lord Kitchener gave me the strongest impressions. Every time I entered his room I lost every trace of the bustle and pressure of the outside world. I never saw a single paper on any desk in his room. His manner was leisurely, as if he had not a care. If I did not know otherwise I could have believed that he was a country squire in London for an hour or two. When he spoke his words were few and distinct.

Some thought him cold-hearted, and so he was when he was dealing with incompetents and offenders. His sense of duty was supreme. Nor did he carry about with him those cheap coins of calculated civilities which help men of inferior merit. But his was a warm heart, all the same. He was the only man in England who used to greet me with, “Hullo! old man!” I used to feel that such a greeting meant that he thought me fit for my job!

Mr. Lloyd George, at the Treasury, was one of the great successes. The strain in his relations with the City soon disappeared, and in a short time the Radical Chancellor became a favourite amongst the leaders of finance. His quick methods of political fighting became quick methods of learning. He became a master of the art of taking good advice. No one wanted him to leave the Treasury, but his magnetic personality was wanted even more in the creation of a new department of surpassing moment—that of munitions, of


  ― 358 ―
which he knew absolutely nothing. Again his immense driving power took the right turns; again he achieved a wonderful success; then he became our War Minister; and now he is Prime Minister. Who forced the pace of the Liberal Ministry for the years before the War is a question that needs no answer now.

What other living statesman would have dreamt of taking on as an “extra turn” a settlement of the Irish question? The result was almost inevitable, but the attempt was a magnificent display of daring in a good cause.

The Coalition Government was only possible because the leaders and the rank and file of the Conservative Party were ready to sacrifice their Party interests to the public welfare. It was, indeed, a noble sacrifice. Promises of loyal support and co-operation—yes; but they would leave the Party free to inherit office if Liberal mismanagement went too far. To forget all former quarrels and yoke up fully with their former enemies in the dreadful responsibility of Government—that was a course which will command the admiration of posterity.

If one may interject a personal note, we celebrated my seventieth birthday on February 25th, when His Majesty and the Queen, and Queen Alexandra sent me gracious congratulations.

I celebrated that, to me, interesting event by a dinner at the Athenæum Club. Before the War it would have been a daring step to invite any of the leaders of the two great parties to meet at the same dinner table. I felt, however, that the bitterness of past


  ― 359 ―
party conflicts had been effaced by the country's call to arms, and so it proved. My guests were:

               
The American Ambassador  Viscount Bryce. 
(Mr. Page).  Lord Stamfordham. 
The Archbishop of Canterbury.  Mr. Lloyd George. 
Mr. Lewis Harcourt. 
The Marquis of Crewe.  Mr. Austen Chamberlain. 
The Earl of Rosebery.  Mr. Winston Churchill. 
Earl Grey.  Sir Edward Wallington. 
Earl Kitchener.  Mr. Douglas Reid. 

On May 19th, 1915, there was a patriotic demonstration at the Guildhall which was remarkable as the first really Imperial gathering within its venerable walls. The object was to show how grateful the nation was for the help, in men and gifts, received from all parts of the Empire. The Prime Minister and Mr. Bonar Law made the chief speeches, and admirable they were. I spoke also, and I was reported as follows:

“I ask the Prime Minister and Mr. Bonar Law to accept Australia's most grateful thanks for their splendid utterances and most generous acknowledgments. Their gracious and enthusiastic approval will equally delight the Australian people. (Cheers.) A long procession of memorable events adorns the archives of this civic temple of the world's greatest city. For many generations songs of praise and hymns of gratitude to God have made sweet music here. But, naturally enough, all the noble monuments and inspiring memories relate to the good deeds of warriors, statesmen, and benefactors of the British Isles. To-day,


  ― 360 ―
for the first time, perhaps, in the history of the ancient Guildhall, it contains a demonstration of a truly Imperial kind. More than that, the great leaders of the British Parliament are yielding the place of honour to the Dominions and the countries of the Empire beyond the seas. On this platform to-day every member of the great family of races and nations has an official representative. What a world-embracing vista of Imperial power that simple fact suggests. It covers one-fifth of the earth's surface and includes one-fifth of the human race. In these cruel times, in this dreadful war, those facts, magnificent though they be, are only the outward setting of facts infinitely bigger and brighter.

“All the peoples who inhabit that vast surface, across which is never seen the flash of a tyrant's sword, affirmed afresh their unshaken loyalty and devotion to the throne and person of His Majesty the King. (Loud cheers.) Every sea has carried on its bosom volunteers; and the cry is ‘Still they come,’ hastening from all parts of the Empire to every point of danger, ready, if need be, as the Prime Minister and Mr. Bonar Law have said, to lay down their lives in defence of our Sovereign and our Flag—the one beloved Sovereign and the one beloved Flag that no deed of arms, or trick of knaves, or coward's blow can trample in the dust. (Loud cheers.) The most wonderful feature of this marvellous display of universal loyalty is not the stanchness of our own race. There is nothing new in that. It is the loyalty, the solidarity of hundreds of millions of our fellow-subjects to whom our race is alien, who do not know our


  ― 361 ―
language or comprehend our ways, or believe in our religion, yet stand shoulder to shoulder with us in Britain's darkest hour. (Loud cheers.) It is that spectacle which astounds the world. Is not that a sublime and overwhelming tribute to the honesty of British rule, the equity of British justice, and the wholesome integrity of human nature—when it lacks German culture? (Laughter and cheers.)

“India, one of the inscrutable wonders of the world —how much closer to us now are the princes and the people of India? (Loud cheers.) Surely we shall always find for India a place in the heart of our affections? (Hear, hear.) From budding time to sere and yellow leaf—(laughter)—I have spent my life in Australia, a land in which there is plenty of room— (laughter)—and sunshine and opportunity, and where a man can really laugh and grow fat. (Laughter.) Many seas roll between, and some twelve thousand miles of distance separate Australians in their island continent from their ancestral home. Not a single hostile shot has ever been fired on the coasts of Australia. Yet safely stored in the ardent soul of young Australia are hatred of outrage, love of freedom, and the fighting instincts of our Northern race. (Hear, hear.) The rape of Belgium startled the young lion in his distant home, and now Australia is one vast recruiting ground, and fills your trenches. But yesterday Australians leapt into the Ægean Sea with empty rifles in their hands, and facing storms of shot and shell, won their dauntless way to beach, and then to shore, and then to precipice, and placed our Flag victorious on the highest summit, as if the very best


  ― 362 ―
of all our fighting ancestors had come to life again. (Cheers.) Australian statesmen deserve a word of praise. Before the storm burst they called their young men and boys to warlike training. They brought a fleet of warships into being. And when the storm did burst, Australians held up the Southern seas, and tore down every German flag that flew beneath the Southern Cross. (Loud cheers.) How joyously the sprightly Mueller rushed the Emden out to meet and crush the silly youths that manned the Sydney! There may be some differences between John Bull, Senior, and John Bull, Junior, but there were none that day! (Loud cheers.) In the lurid glare of things as they are, we see to what horrible dangers the Empire was drifting. Twenty years more of German friendship would have been worse than asphyxiating gas, that last word in diabolical cowardice. (Cheers.) Twenty years of German hate—why it would be a healthy bracing tonic! One of the painful astonishments of the war is the strange ferocity so suddenly developed in the average German. It does seem to justify what some said of him—that from his cradle to his grave he is such a creature of authority that he will do anything which anything in a uniform tells him to. (Laughter.) Last year I was a member of an Anglo-German Friendship Society. It seems ages ago. I was such a lover of peace that I laid hands on every International Peace Society I could find. I am now more than ever a lover of Peace. (Cheers.) But the only sort of Peace Society I will ever join now is one pledged by a solemn bond to teach a lesson that will endure unto the third and fourth generation


  ― 363 ―
of those who repay chivalry with murder. (Cheers.) And to please my friend, Dr. Lyttelton, I will add this: In the sure and certain hope of making them better Christians! May I take the liberty, before I sit down, of asking you to join me in giving three cheers, full of admiration and gratitude, for the heroic soldiers and sailors of our Empire, and for all our brave and faithful Allies.”

The great audience leapt to their feet and cheered heartily.

At the beginning of September I visited Sir John French at General Headquarters, and saw some of the battlefields. I did not go into the trenches because I am not “built that way.” The sound of the first shot fired in anger within my hearing gave me a curious sensation, as if it had been fired at me; as a matter of fact, the shell exploded half a mile away.

The Prince of Wales honoured me with a visit whilst I was at St. Omer.

The most astonishing thing I noticed at the front was this: even when short of munitions the men under fire were a jolly sight more cheery than many one meets on this side of the Channel. The best of Old France and the best of Old England have been blended and superfined in the battle lines of this War.

The extension of my term for one year made January 21st, 1916, my last day in office. I offered some months before to continue in office without salary whilst the War lasted. This offer was gratefully acknowledged, but the Government had other views.




  ― 364 ―

In the middle of December the other High Commissioners—Sir George Perley, Sir Thomas Mackenzie, and the Rt. Hon. W. P. Schreiner—gave me a dinner on the eve of my retirement from office. There was a very agreeable gathering. I found myself sitting between the Prime Minister and Mr. Bonar Law. Later in the evening Mr. Asquith stated that His Majesty had been graciously pleased to confer upon me the Grand Cross of the Bath. I had not the remotest idea of the great distinction that was in store for me. The G.C.B. in one step is a rare, if not an unprecedented, honour. This recognition of my services was far in excess of their merits, but that made the element of goodwill on the part of His Majesty and his Ministry all the more marked.




  ― 365 ―

29. Chapter XXIX I Become A British M.P.

THE date of my retirement was January 21st, 1916, when I should complete six years of office. I looked forward to the future with some anxiety. I had always spent an active life, and for many years I was in the very thick of things. I did not feel ready for the tideless pond that seemed waiting for me, because I felt full of energy. London is a splendid place for men of affairs, but deadly dull if you have nothing to do. You seem to belong to a museum or a social sanatorium, when you join the “have beens.”

I did not dream on January 4th that on the 6th I should be “hurrying up” the Governor-General in Council to let me leave office without a moment's delay.

On the 4th I was sitting “over the clock” listening to the Prime Minister's speech when moving the first reading of the first Military Service Bill. A friend in the House—Mr. Hugh Edwards—came up and invited me to join a dinner party he was giving in the Harcourt Room. I did so. I noticed a look of surprise on the face of the Chief Conservative Whip, who was at the next table. He told me some time afterwards that it had been decided to invite me to stand for St. George's, Hanover Square, and a


  ― 366 ―
messenger was even then trying to find me. After dinner the matter was fully discussed by Mr. Steel Maitland and myself. The next day I was invited by electors on both sides to stand as an independent Imperialist. On the following Tuesday I was elected without opposition. No fewer than fifteen times I had been a candidate without a walk over! I had to wait for one at the sixteenth time—and at this end of the world!

The generosity of my new constituents in returning me without a single pledge, on a broad Imperialist footing, without joining the great Party whose seat it was, will be to me a source of everlasting gratitude. Mr. T. G. Bowles and Mr. Mackenzie Bell, by their retirement, helped me to that happy fate.

A record was established when a Conservative and a Liberal Minister—Mr. Bonar Law and Mr. Lewis Harcourt—did me the honour of escorting me to the Table of the House.

Instead of a descent into the “tideless pond,” I found myself in the greatest Parliament in the world, in its most notable period, sitting for one of the premier constituencies of England.

After thirty years of membership, and twenty of leadership, in Australia, I suppose I ought to have felt quite at home in the House of Commons from the first. But indeed I did not. I felt much more at home in the Strangers' Gallery! The fact is, although the forms are very much the same, the difference in the business is almost complete, and so is the difference in the ways of the House of Commons, and so again is the difference between the styles of speaking


  ― 367 ―
that “take.” I was in that most trying of positions—an old hand in a new world. There are almost as many differences in the precincts of the House as I found in the House itself. I am bound to say that most of the differences were, as might fairly be expected, to the advantage of the Mother of Parliaments.

I never saw the power of the Chair or its efficiency more in evidence. The House enjoys Mr. Speaker's sarcastic or humorous touches, which seldom miscarry and never detract from his authority, as they might easily do if he were a less skilful occupant of the Chair.

Of course, this War has put the House on its best behaviour. Party strife, and all those unlovely things that come out of it, are conspicuous by their absence.

The speeches, as a rule, do not strike one's ears forcibly at first. In an Australian Parliament there is more eloquence—of sorts—far more physical emphasis and repetition. Personalities and points of order are not frequent in the House of Commons. They do not form part of the stock in trade of any member so far as I have observed. The style of speaking which catches the ear of the House of Commons is that which suggests information worth having, carefully arranged, tersely expressed, and reasonings that do not soar too high or swerve too much. But, as everybody knows, there have been occasions of great heat which made the House just as excitable and disorderly as the younger Parliaments.

When one remembers the large number in England who can afford the best training for public life from


  ― 368 ―
youth upwards, and the numerous chances which the municipal systems of Great Britain offer to talent short of cash, one's pride in the achievements of the Parliaments beyond the seas is more than ever justified. Take the case of Australia. In an incredibly short space of time her Parliaments have spread over a vast new area forms of administration of a complete and thorough kind. Great schemes of public works have been thought out, legalised, carried out, and worked under Parliamentary control. There is no country in which life and property are safer or prosperity more equally shared. There have been mistakes serious enough, and “scenes” often enough, but these were only spots on the sun, and I am as proud as I ever was of my connection with the Parliamentary life of Australia.

In the House of Commons oratorical fervour never makes up for loose or discursive speaking. A speech that would “bring down the House” in a debating club is hateful in both Houses. Nothing but the conversational style goes down except on great occasions, which are rare, and, even then, departures from that even pace must only be occasional. Except as a study in diction and elocution, the massive beauty of a speech by John Bright might miss fire to-day nine times out of ten. As I write, I remember that even in Burke's days it was very much the same.

Amongst the things in which Oversea Assemblies resemble the House of Commons are the thrust and parry of questions and answers, the pertinacious loquacity of the few as contrasted with the studied restraint of the many, the frequency with which


  ― 369 ―
business is transacted and decisions arrived at outside the Chamber, the snub administered to bores or cranks by a sudden move to the doors, the gradual thickening as more popular speeches are made, the sudden inrush when the Prime Minister begins an important statement, the extraordinarily small percentage of the total number who transact the bulk of Parliamentary business, the quick amusement which the smallest tolerable joke excites, the stealth of Party moves, the modesty, real or affected, which conceals the personal ambitions of men fitted to lead, and the failure of the unfit to disguise their foolish aspirations. The younger Parliaments may use stronger language, and their battles may be fiercer, but in point of chivalry and generosity they are a splendid copy of the Mother Parliament.

When a leader for so many years in New South Wales, and afterwards in the Commonwealth, I got the full benefit of that chivalry and generosity. No man ever had more loyal supporters or colleagues.

Comparisons as to the ability or oratorical power of the leaders of the various Parliaments are almost idle. The surroundings differ so widely. In point of natural ability I do not think there is any difference of level. The weight of most of the public speaking in England would, I think, be greatly enhanced if it came from a warmer temperature of mind; and the weight of most of the public speaking in Australia would, I think, be greatly enhanced if it came from a colder temperature of mind. A little more of the ardour of the sun would do England a world of good. A little less would do Australia a world of good.




  ― 370 ―

In two vital respects, the despatch of public business and that self-restraint of members which promotes it, the House of Commons is still pre-eminent. Unless the Parliaments in Australia have rapidly reformed since I left, many additional volumes of Hansard would be needed if 670 Australians were in the House of Commons!

I hope now that I have completed a year's experience of political affairs in the House—and have sent this book to the press!—to take a more active part in its deliberations. So far, hon. members have suspended their rights and privileges in order to keep the way clear for a vigorous prosecution of the War. I think Sir Edward Carson, when acting as a leader, was very judicious in the way he endeavoured to stimulate without obstructing the activities of the Government.

During my term in England as High Commissioner, I used to attend the House of Commons and the House of Lords on especially interesting occasions. The most important of all these was on Monday, August 3rd, 1914. By that date public opinion had been thoroughly aroused. It was known that the Cabinet had been “at sixes and sevens.” The imminence of the violation by Germany of the neutrality of Belgium did more to quicken the war instinct than anything else; and it is conceivable that if Germany had left Belgium alone our Government would have been hopelessly divided, and thus have made an awful mistake. On the previous day the Cabinet had, by a large majority, I fancy, determined to go into the War if Germany broke the Treaty.




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Another point that had great weight was the fact that the western coasts of France were undefended owing to a concentration of the French fleets in the Mediterranean, by friendly arrangement with us.

The House, on that momentous day, overflowed into the side galleries. Every inch of sitting space was occupied by members and spectators. The House of Lords compartment in the Southern Gallery and the Ambassadors' Box were both thronged. Everyone felt that the destinies of our country and its Empire, and those of the whole world, were at stake, and that the House was about to be invited to support a decision that would preserve the honour of our race, or one which, if rejected, would destroy it. The attitude of the Government had not yet been made clear. Sir Edward Grey's statement would call for an answer from the House, which alone could give the Government strength to proceed to extremities. The atmosphere of the Chamber was electric. Memories of former tragedies and triumphs must have flashed across the minds of some of the spectators. How could it be otherwise? The point at which the House pronounced its decision for war was at the conclusion of the following sentence, when thundering cheers, long sustained, showed the loyalty of Parliament to the noblest traditions, as well as the best interests, of the British people:

“My own feeling is that if a foreign fleet, engaged in a war which France had not sought, and in which she had not been the aggressor, came down the English Channel and bombarded and battered the undefended coast of France, we could not stand aside and see this


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going on practically within the sight of our own eyes, with our arms folded, looking on dispassionately— doing nothing.”

When the neutrality of Belgium was in discussion before the Franco-Prussian War of 1870, Mr. Gladstone asked whether this country “would quietly stand by” and witness the perpetration of the direst crime that ever stained the pages of history, and thus become “participator in the sin.” Even in the view of that veteran peace-loving statesman, quietly standing by in the presence of crimes against the law of nations might be neutrality amounting to a participation in sin.

It is only now that our Ministry deems it necessary to take a decided step towards enforcing national economy in food. What will be done may be quite judicious, but how can economy be enforced if in millions of households skill in the practice of economy —which means getting the most nourishment out of food, and making it go the farthest in supplying moderate wants—is an unknown art? If the troubles ahead of us make our housewives really more thrifty and clever in dealing with larder problems—in other words, compel our rulers to provide girls with a sensible education before they start keeping house—one great blessing will come out of our afflictions.




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30. Chapter XXX The Future Of Our Empire

THE coalition of Parties and leaders and the suspension of Party warfare have saved this nation and Empire from many calamities, but they have left many hopes unfulfilled. I believe the continuation of the political truce to be necessary so long as the War lasts, and far more necessary when the War is over. But there have been too many instances in which the action of Ministers has followed instead of led public opinion. This has become painfully obvious, and must lead to startling changes.

While the War lasts we have the guidance of our naval and military authorities, and the splendid valour and constancy of our sailors and soldiers, to sustain us. But when the havoc wrought by the War has to be made good; when armies have to be disbanded and re-enlisted in the services of peace; when social conditions and the structure of national and international trade and finance, have to be remodelled; when Capital and Labour have to give us of their best in order to found on better lines an industrial concord never yet realised; when a new policy promoting a fuller use of British resources in the supplying of British needs, a closer union between national capacities and Imperial resources, a better relationship with our allies in trade and enterprise, and drastic


  ― 374 ―
measures for the discouragement of our crime-stained enemies—the lowest depth of folly will be reached if we have to revert to the sordid squabbles of the past in which statesmanship was the plaything of wire-pullers. No! The nation will call more than ever for harmony and for united effort to place our storm-tossed ship of state on an even keel, in a haven of universal patriotism.

As the struggle becomes more and more bloody and disastrous, can we wonder that projects to banish war for ever from the world are forced upon our notice? “A league of peace.” What a noble enterprise! How much would such a league be worth if Germany, and Austria, Turkey, and Bulgaria were to win this war? When we defeat them, how much would the league be worth if they joined it?

Every approach to a real peace will be hailed with delight. If any project of international authority can even help to make peace more likely our whole power would be behind it. But could the traitors to the cause of peace, who have thrown the world into mourning, maddened by defeat, full of the old treachery and new schemes of revenge, sit down in honest conference with apostles of peace? The idea has one merit—that of sardonic humour. I do not suppose that any detected and defeated burglar would refuse to exchange the confinement of a gaol for a seat of honour on a council for the suppression of crime.

A Great Power which can stand in or out of a European War—for a long time at any rate!—is in an ideal position for such beautiful dreams.

The nature and extent of our Empire, which has


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boundaries to protect in every quarter of the globe, and interests to defend everywhere; the degree to which the people of Great Britain are dependent for their existence on oversea supplies of food and raw materials; the fact that without sea supremacy the continuance of the Empire is impossible—make any surrender of our power of self-defence unthinkable at present. That very surrender would, it seems to me, weaken, not strengthen, the prospects of peace and goodwill amongst the nations.

Concerning many large divisions of the Empire, the ignorance of the average Englishman is astounding. I suppose it will continue until our school systems are reformed. His attention will then be attracted more frequently to that vast, mysterious assemblage of races, living in the Indian Empire, which contains about 325 millions of the King-Emperor's subjects, with room for 325 millions more. The increase of its population in one generation nearly equals the total number of His Majesty's uncoloured subjects at the present time. Its area of cultivation covers 250,000,000 acres. The annual amount of its seaborne trade just before the War was £327,000,000—it had doubled in ten years! India is no pauper clinging to the skirts of Imperial charity. If the magnificent loyalty of her princes and peoples continue to the end of this War, a more honoured place must be found for her in our family circle of nations.

Another member of the Imperial family is at the moment undergoing a time of political testing. Across


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the seas, under the Southern Cross, the national evolution gave in recent years the representatives of the working men an ascendancy in the Federal Parliament, the progress of which has been watched with great interest. The crucial moment came this year, and the first great strain has proved fatal to the Labour Caucus and Labour League domination in Australia. The fusion of the Liberal Party under Mr. Cook, with what is left in the Ministerial ranks under Mr. Hughes, is a transformation so violent that one asks, Can it possibly last? It represents the purest patriotism, or the most desperate need, or a mixture of both.

The break and the fusion were so violent that the future of the latter is, of course, uncertain. The Labour Leagues, having achieved supremacy by solidarity, will probably try hard to regain power by restoring it. If the fusion survive that ordeal, the fiasco of the Referendum for Compulsion will have rendered one good service. Without sacrificing any just claim of the trade unionists, Parliament will take better care of the rights of others, and the interests of the whole community.

Whilst the main object of the approaching Imperial Conference may be to reinforce effort in the last desperate stages of the War, it may also be intended to gather the views of Dominion statesmen as to the terms of peace, and as to the lines of agreement possible in matters of trade.

I sincerely trust that it will prove another milestone on the road to a closer union of Empire forces. But I must warn my readers that the goal of final


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achievement—an Imperial Parliament—will not soon gladden our eyes. The Dominions will be ready, probably, to take as large a share in the management of affairs as the British Parliament is prepared to offer them, but they will be slow to surrender any of their own powers of self-government, especially in matters of trade and immigration.

When people talk of an Imperial Parliament, they rarely appreciate the obstacles to be overcome. Would that be an Imperial legislature in which 370,000,000 —83 per cent.—of the Empire's population had no voice? If the 83 per cent. were represented, could you refuse, say, to India the control of her own local affairs? If you granted that, would it not lead to immediate chaos? Would it not irritate the 83 per cent. if the Dominions, while helping to rule over them in an Imperial Parliament, shut them out from seven-twelfths of the Imperial area? Would not racial demands assail the new Parliament, and could an answer to them be evaded?

Such suggestions do not aim at the destruction of a noble ideal. They are only offered for serious consideration as reasons for cautious methods of procedure.

The two most pressing problems of an Imperial union can, I hope, be dealt with in an easier way. Surely, after the War, by agreement a system of Imperial defence could be established and also an Imperial policy of trade? An Imperial tariff is impossible; so is free trade within the Empire, for reasons “too numerous to mention.” But a scheme of preference and reciprocity could come in between the two fiscal


  ― 378 ―
policies without seriously clashing with either. A little “come” and a little “go,” such as was exercised when our Parliament set aside political rivalries for a common end, will produce harmony.

A precedent of great interest will be established if the Irish Question come before the Imperial Conference. Hitherto it has been a salutary rule that the domestic troubles of each division of the Empire should be settled locally. But if the Irish trouble could be settled by that innovation no one would quarrel with the means employed. Would Ulster accept Colonial interference if it does not view its claims with favour? Would the Nationalists in Ireland accept it if it does not favour their aspirations? Would not both repudiate the interference if it satisfied neither?

The statesman from the Dominions who does not see a vital difference between Home Rule in Australia, Canada, South Africa, or New Zealand, and Home Rule in Ireland, makes a deplorable mistake. Separation was the unwritten corollary of Colonial Constitutions. There was no condition of “indissoluble union,” or pretence of it, in Colonial Home Rule Acts. If any of Britain's legislative offspring desired to start on his own account a parental blessing awaited him. But separation, however strongly demanded, could never be allowed to Ireland, who may resemble a discontented wife, but certainly not a son. To suppose that any words in an Act of Parliament can stay the evolution of events, or forbid the progress of a national movement, is to betray childish ignorance. Hence, above all others, is that previous question—


  ― 379 ―
Have we arrived at a time in Irish history when the great mass of the Irish people will accept Home Rule as if it were a hand-clasp of eternal friendship and union? The most ardent British supporters of Irish Home Rule, from Mr. Gladstone downwards, would repudiate the movement if they believed that it would end in a separatist agitation. A drawing of the sword by the Mother of Parliaments, to take the life of her youngest child, would surely be the most awful catastrophe in that long and dismal history. Many years ago I put my fear of such a catastrophe to Lord Aberdeen when he was in Sydney. He assured me that it could never happen. I had begun to hope, when that pro-German outbreak in Dublin in April, 1916, even when Home Rule was on the Statute-book, awakened all my former fears. When will North and South each love Ireland more than their own end of it? The laws of Nature have made Ireland an essential part of that awfully narrow base on which rests the stupendous fabric of an empire which marches with the sun.

The Ministerial crisis which gave such a dramatic close to the year 1916 is quite the most wonderful in British history. It was a peaceful political earth-quake, which may be succeeded by others not so harmless.

The making of the Coalition Government of 1915 involved a notable sacrifice on the part of the Conservatives. The making of the new Coalition Government gives the late Prime Minister and his colleagues a chance of self-sacrifice, too. They have begun admirably. If anything could exceed in patriotism


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the first speech in the House of Commons of the new Prime Minister, it was the reply of the new Leader of the Opposition.

The change has brought men of practical knowledge, with no political training, into some of the high offices of State. This is nothing less than a revolution of great promise. Mr. Fisher, the President of the Board of Education, has a chance of doing more for the British people than most of his colleagues. Will he make teaching a really attractive calling? Will he have the souls of our children fed with nourishing ideas instead of the husks which contain them? Will he act so that Britain, in the grim industrial battle before her, will get into childhood and youth something more than the accomplishments of reading, writing, and arithmetic? Surely the beginnings of knowledge in things that help most in the real battles of life might be given in compulsory continuation schools on some of the nights of the week? The Universities, old and new, might also be persuaded to make science, the useful arts, and modern languages more fashionable. There is, I admit, a serious risk attending such changes—the number of students who are trained to murder afresh languages already dead would undoubtedly be lessened, and the study of prehistoric mysteries may be turned into more modern channels.

I hope that the Imperial Conference will pave the way for great and beneficial changes—indeed, that is all we can expect it to do. The relations of the various divisions of the Empire in defence


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and trade come first in the order of pressing and practicable topics. When the Conference comes to questions of Imperial and international trade it must begin by casting aside all fiscal creeds and battle-crises. Nothing short of that will clear the way for satisfactory adjustments which all wish in the abstract, but will find it difficult to establish. The politicians, economists, and leader writers must sit at the feet of the experts.

Conclusion

Our own Empire, and those of Russia, France, and Italy, hold sway over 25 or 30 millions of square miles, and 730 millions of the human race. They offer openings for mutual trade and enterprise so unprecedently great that one's highest hopes centre round one question: will that grand alliance of Empires, which has been strong enough to save the world in war, be wise enough to crown its military triumphs by a lasting brotherhood in the arts of peace?

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