My Life in Two Hemispheres/Chapter 29
THE McCULLOCH RÉGIME
The Governor's salary—Government action during my absence And afterwards—Mr. Ireland's malafides—And my repudiation of it—The "Darling Trouble"—Removal of the Governor—Higinbotham's Education Bill—It is withdrawn—I am elected for Dalhousie—Death of Sir Charles Darling—McCulloch's system—The McPherson Ministry, and its policy—Immigration stories—Fall of the McCulloch Ministry—I am authorised to form a Cabinet—Letters and news from Dublin—Letters from McCulloch and Parkes—Protection—Opinions of Carlyle, Mill, and Bright.
Before returning to Australia I had to consider events which happened in my absence, and had excited universal interest in the colonies and the Mother Country. A new Governor had come into office before I left, promoted from the West Indies. His predecessor had received a salary and allowance voted in the days of profusion following the gold discovery, which equalled the united salaries of the Prime Minister of England, the Speaker of the House of Commons, and the President of the United States. When the Legislature awoke from its frenzy a reduction of this inordinate provision was ordered, but the Colonial Office intimated that disastrous consequences would follow such an economy; the best class of men, they suggested, could no longer be counted on to go as Governor to Victoria, and we must be content with what we could get. The names of various noblemen were published in the London papers as having refused the office on the retirement of Sir Henry Barkley, and at length Sir Charles Darling, who had been originally a stipendiary magistrate, was promoted from the West Indies—perhaps to punish our insolence.
A ripple of cynical laughter went round political circles when the new Governor arrived in Melbourne, and men whispered, "Here, no doubt, is the inferior article with which we were threatened." There was, however, more good sense than appeared at the outset in the prodigal policy of the Colonial Office, for in the end the most serious troubles sprang from the fact that the Governor was impecunious, and ill acquainted with Parliamentary law and practice. Sir Charles Darling himself, with great frankness and simplicity, told us he got the office "because the bigwigs would not take it." But though the salary has since been further reduced, noblemen and gentlemen of distinction have accepted it in later years.
During my two years' absence the Government had been making a dubious character. It started with great advantages. It was the first coalition strong in the interests it represented, in the opposition it put to rest, and in the possession of two law officers of exceptional ability. The Constitution, in imposing the necessity of having two lawyers in the Cabinet, created a difficulty which was the embarrassment of many future Premiers, but was a strength to this fortunate coalition; Mr. Michie, the Attorney-General, was the most vigorous and accomplished debater in Parliament, and Mr. Higinbotham, the Solicitor-General, was a man of such prodigious force of character that he may be said to have taken possession of the Administration and wielded it at his discretion. He was a man of ability, principle and integrity, constantly embarrassed by honest prejudices and profoundedly erroneous convictions. This Government lasted seven years, with only two interruptions of a few months each, when they were superseded, as we shall see, once by a segment of their own party, and once by their natural opponents. Repeated appeals to the people sent them back to power again and again, with increased strength and confidence, and the sympathy with them was wider and more intense than any public men had hitherto won; but in my opinion they maintained their power largely by political corruption and by setting at nought for selfish ends some of the main principles of the Constitution; they brought the affairs of the country into disastrous confusion, and fatally lowered the character of Parliament. While I was in Europe an Amending Land Act was passed by Mr. Grant, under which I was assured a great wrong was done to the hopes of free selectors. When the Land Act of '62 was under discussion, it was urged that the farmers who had purchased land at auction would be at a great disadvantage competing with selectors who obtained virgin soil, and paid the purchase-money in eight instalments. To put them on the same footing, Parliament gave each farmer the right to select an allotment equal to his purchased land, provided it did not exceed 320 acres, and enabled him to pay for it in the same manner and hold it on the same conditions as the free selectors. The Amending Land Act increased this power, and I was assured that many thousand farmers had got certificates entitling them to selection, and instead of using them to obtain new farms, sold them to squatters, some of whom had accumulated a number which entitled them to claim wide districts of fertile land properly belonging to intending settlers. But it was contended they remained liable to the penalty of five shillings an acre, if they did not within a year make the improvements required by the Act. A Quieting of Titles Bill was introduced to relieve them from this necessity, and in the debate Mr. Ireland declared that he had always foreseen and intended that the omission of the words "and assigns" should carry the fatal consequences which followed from it. To me the announcement was like a blow in the face. I was not in Parliament, but I immediately wrote to the Argus that if Mr. Ireland had any such knowledge or intention when the Land Bill was under debate, he had never communicated them to me; had he done so, I would not have remained a moment a member of a Government responsible for such a deception. The Argus, commenting on my letter, said with contemptuous sarcasm, "Mr. Ireland now avows that he knew all along that his colleague was under a misapprehension, and we have not the slightest doubt that the hon. member for Kilmore states the exact fact when he confesses that he also knew what would be the effect of the omission of the words 'and assigns.' We are driven to the conclusion, however, that he did not obtrude his views on the point very pressingly on the Cabinet of the day." The effect was electric. Mr. Ireland had not much character to lose, but that little was lost for ever. His election committee immediately sent him notice that he need not return to Kilmore, which he then represented, and though he tried another constituency when the opportunity came, he was never during the remainder of his life re-elected to Parliament—a signal instance of public justice.
What was called the Darling trouble arose in this way:—
In the General Election which immediately followed my departure for Europe, the main policy of the McCulloch Government was the protection of native industries, and they obtained a large majority pledged to this policy. The wealthiest men in the colony, bankers, import merchants, and their friends, had a strong interest in resisting Protection, and a fierce controversy ensued. It soon became manifest that the Upper House was in sympathy with the Opposition and would probably reject any Tariff Bill establishing Protection. The arbitrary will of Mr. Higinbotham was not easily baulked, and he advised the Government should fall back on a practice abandoned for a century in England, and tack the Tariff Bill to the Appropriation Bill, which the Council were not entitled to alter and could only reject with the most disastrous consequences to the colony; but party passions had grown very fierce and the Council, when this Bill reached them, declared their privileges to be imperilled, and the practice of Parliament violated by the tack, and ordered the Bill to be laid aside. The Government, after protracted trouble, did what they should certainly have begun by doing, they sent up the Tariff separately. But meantime new difficulties had arisen. Since the passing of the Protectionist resolutions, there were practically two tariffs in existence, it being the established practice to collect duties on the vote of the Lower House, while the necessary Bill was passing through its stages; but this practice was improperly protracted by the controversy between the two Houses, and certain merchants had obtained decisions of the Supreme Court against the Government who had proceeded under both. The separate Tariff Bill contained a retrospective clause negativing these judicial decisions, and on this ground the Council rejected the measure. It is not necessary to follow the conflict into detail, but practices were adopted to enable the Government to pay the public creditor—without an Appropriation Bill which it is impossible to justify in cold blood. As all these measures had the assent of the Governor, a fierce wrath against him sprung up in the community, and an address to the Queen assailing his public conduct as a violation of his duty and of the Constitution, was signed by nearly every Executive Councillor in the colony except those holding office. But a more fatal stroke came from his own* hand. In a despatch to the Secretary of State referring to these Executive Councillors the Governor said that if the current of public opinion carried them into office, he must receive their advice with doubt and distrust, and as this was far from the neutral feeling which a Governor ought to entertain towards his probable advisers in the future, the Imperial Government determined to remove him from office. As the loss of his appointment would ruin Sir Charles Darling, who was a poor man, Mr. Higinbotham proposed to grant him compensation for what he considered a serious wrong, by a vote of £20,000. The proposal was adopted by the Assembly, and the item was accordingly placed in the Appropriation Bill; but as the Council insisted that so grave and unprecedented a policy ought to be submitted to them in a separate measure which they could modify or reject, they refused to pass the Appropriation Bill containing this provision. To this crisis affairs had arrived when I returned to the colony. I had always been opposed to the excessive pretensions of the Council to interfere in fiscal questions, but this was a case in which I thought they were justified. Our Constitution provided for a balance of powers between three branches representing the Crown, the propertied classes, and the democracy; but if one of these branches could bribe another branch with a vote of money, the balance was overthrown. I resolved, therefore, to vote against the proposals of the Government. If the grant was embodied in a separate Bill to be reserved for the Queen's pleasure, the honour and character of the Assembly had got so implicated, and the confusion of public affairs had become so disastrous, that I suggested it might be better to accept it and send it home for the Queen's judgment than permit the colony to be ruined, but I would on no account vote for it as an item on the Estimates. I reminded the Government that if it were proper to compensate the Governor for losses sustained in a party contest, the money ought to come out of party funds, not out of the Treasury, which belonged equally to his opponents and his supporters.
There was another difficulty, perhaps more serious. Such an overwhelming majority of the Assembly had declared for Protection, that that policy seemed certain to prevail for many years to come.
But the section of the Government policy which concerned me most was their method of dealing with the Land Question. Mr. Grant applied himself to opening the lands for the people as far as he was permitted with a squatter at the head of the Government who held more runs than any man in the colony had ever done before, and could not maintain his position without the vote of the squatters in both Houses. Mr. Grant's intentions were excellent, and he got a hearty recognition of all he did, and of much that he did not do. He had found a method, it was said, of reconciling central authority with local knowledge and experience, from which much might be expected. And so he had indeed, but he found it in the Land Bill on which I had been put out of office, and incorporated it in his Act, without any addition or alteration whatever. The best administration of the best law where there are great personal interests at stake needs vigilant criticism, but while such criticism was still forthcoming on Free Trade it had become languid and intermittent, I was informed, on the question of the public lands. An old agitator assured me that this apathy arose from the death or insolvency of most of the early agitators, who had been ruined by neglecting their own affairs. Many of them were Irishmen, and Dr. Owens had recently said to him that the Irishmen were the only class who had any politics except their own interest, and their zeal was abated since the O'Shanassy and Duffy quarrel. Mr. Higinbotham did not hesitate to declare that the new Land Act would have failed completely but for the 42nd Section, which Mr. Grant strained wisely, as the lawyer thought, to purposes never contemplated by those who passed the measure. I find the groans of a disappointed reformer in my diary at this date:—
"There is no intention, I understand, of bringing out the foreigners skilled in Southern industries, provided for in the Land Act, and who would enrich the colony. Some of the ministers, who are commission agents, have no sympathy with the design, and others don't understand it. Punch thought it a fine stroke of wit to represent the foreign immigrants as Irishmen in masquerade. 'What are you, Mike?' 'I'm a Swish.' Other of my reforms go the same way. I established a system of competitive examinations in the department of Land and Works. No sooner was I gone than it was discontinued. I established a system of recording the services of officers with a view to their permanent promotion, which also stopped the moment I left. A man must do the duty of his position or die of selfcontempt, but let him not mistake the penalty. Of all the ills that have befallen me, not very great indeed, but sometimes very irritating, the majority have sprung from doing my duty. I am assailed daily by G. P. S., who I am told is nephew of a squatter whom I prevented from outwitting the Land Department, and often by W., whom I punished for a detected fraud, but it is idle to complain. So it was always. Leave, as Mangan sings:
'Fools to their foolishness;
Granite was hard in the quarries of yore.'"
Before I found a seat in Parliament, a Bill to establish a new education system was introduced to the Assembly by Mr. Higinbotham, at that time the most powerful man in Victoria, and known among politicians as the Dictator. From the foundations of the colony two systems of education, one secular, one denominational, had been supported by the State. But a Royal Commission, of which Mr. Higinbotham was the principal member, inquired into the working of these systems, and reported that in the denominational schools religious education was totally neglected except in the case of the Catholic schools. The remedy proposed under these circumstances cannot be matched out of "Gulliver's Travels." It was to punish those who had performed the duties they had undertaken, and reward those who had neglected them. The denominational schools were to be suppressed and a new system established under which something described as religion without dogma would be taught, and at which the attendance of children would be compulsory. To many members of the Church of England, and to the entire Catholic population, amounting together to nearly half the community, this proposal was profoundly objectionable. The main difficulty of the case was that Mr. Higinbotham was an honest man, possessed by a complete belief in his own fads. He was full of early prejudices, and as determined to insist upon them as upon the most obvious fundamental truths. Education supplies a more stringent control of character than natural endowments, and often contends successfully with the philosophy and experience of manhood. Thomas Carlyle, in the acme of his intellectual force and scornful indifference to thrones and conventions, was to the end of his life, in many of his prejudices, a Scotch Calvinist. And Mr. Higinbotham in manhood was influenced and controlled by the prejudices which an Irish Protestant boy rarely escapes. He had been educated at a school endowed from funds diverted from Catholic purposes, and in a Protestant University endowed with the confiscated lands of a Catholic University; but instead of being impatient to redress such wrongs for other Catholics when he came to power, he was prepared to inflict on them, in Australia, a system not widely different from that which they had endured in Ireland. He had ordinarily a lively sense of injustice, and in the case of any other people would have sympathised with the sufferers; but not so here. He was not a conscious bigot, but he had for allies all those who had transplanted the secret conspiracies and rancorous bigotry of the old world to the new—those who would not only deny Catholics religious liberty, but deny them civil liberty if they could, a companionship in which he could hardly feel comfortable.
Mr. O'Shanassy, who had ordinarily conducted the Education contest of the Catholics, was still absent in Europe, and the Bishop had gone on a visit to Rome. Father Dalton, the Superior of the Jesuits, came to consult me on what was fit to be done. Mr. Higinbotham, I replied, is trying to do what Henry the Eighth and his son and daughter could not do. He proposes to compel Irish Catholics by a penal law to attend schools where some religion which is not theirs is taught. The proposal is folly, he cannot do it, and he shall not do it. We summoned a meeting of Catholics at their principal Church in Melbourne, which was attended by delegates from all parts of the country. I opened the case of the Catholics, which was further dealt with by various ecclesiastics and laymen. The proposed measure, we said, was one the Catholics could not accept under any conditions. They had resisted such a system for two hundred years in Ireland, and they would not accept it in this free country. But what they asked was not much and was not unreasonable. It was simply to leave standing the system which had existed from the foundation of the colony, or if a new system were adopted for those who approved of it, let the Catholics have the proportionate share of the public money they were entitled to, and they would be content that their schools should be placed under the strictest inspection as far as the qualification of the teachers and the management of secular education were concerned. If more funds were necessary they must, of course, supply them themselves. To deny them this was to violate religious equality, which was a recognised principle of the constitution. What they asked was practically what had been conceded in England. When Mr. Foster established a general system of education on a common basis, the denominations who preferred to teach their own children as their conscience directed, not only had their schools preserved intact, but they were granted additional endowment that the training of -their pupils might be as effective as in the common schools. If the result of the measure was to give the same sort of complete control to Catholics, would the community endure it. If not, let them do to others as they wished to be done by.
The appeal of the Catholics met a generous and almost universal support from the Press. They admitted that our complaint was a just one, and insisted that religious inequality should not be established in the colony. We followed up our success by getting a deputation of representative Catholics to wait on the Chief Secretary and the Attorney-General, who received us in the Chamber of the Executive Council. I pressed the principal points personally on our opponents, and Mr. Lalor, who was an habitual supporter of the Government, followed on the same side. It was suggested, as a compromise, that religious education might be given separately; but an American writer has said, with admirable truth, that you might as well give children the salt that ought to flavour their daily meals to eat by itself at a separate hour, as give them the religious teaching which ought to flavour their daily lessons in the same fashion. The future of this country mainly depended, not upon legislation or immigration, but upon the sort of men and women we were going to rear at home. Under these circumstances we submitted that the Government should either withdraw the Bill altogether, or amend it so as to make it apply only to those who are able and willing to combine of their own accord in the same system. Its destiny would not be determined in the Parliament House so much as in the schoolhouse; and statesmen throw away the most powerful of all influences for good when they reject the influence of early moral training. After three months' conflict we had a complete success. Mr. Higinbotham announced to Parliament that the Bill would be withdrawn. It was the most serious defeat he had met, and he was conquered but not converted. The controversy happily turned public attention on other important educational problems. I insisted that the existing system, and the one it had been proposed to substitute, had equally ignored questions of high import. The education which was finding favour in the best organised states in Europe, was not limited to the merely instrumental parts of knowledge, but was industrial, technological, and scientific. Count Von Moltke is said to have ascribed the success of the German armies to the fact that the officers were accustomed to use the blackboard and a piece of chalk—that is to say, to their exactness of scientific detail. In peaceful pursuits we have the same results. The little canton of Zurich, in Switzerland, with a population about a third of that of Victoria, succeeded in establishing a ribbon trade, producing a million and a half annually, ten times more than the ribbon trade of Macclesfield and Coventry; and this trade sprang out of their industrial schools. Our schools might be made seed-fields of national prosperity by uniting industrial teaching with ordinary education, especially the teaching of industries suitable to the climate, but unknown to our Northern population.
A few months after my arrival in Melbourne, the constituency of Dalhousie became vacant. It was an immense territory, containing farming districts, mining districts, and several substantial towns. A requisition was sent to me inviting me to become a candidate, which was so largely signed that I determined to accept it. At Kyneton—the principal town—deputations offered me the support of nearly all the districts in the constituency. My central committee divided a territory of a hundred and fifty miles into convenient meeting places, and announced in one advertisement the successive days on which I would address the electors.
It is creditable to the generosity and civilisation of the colonists that at all these meetings, where I often did not know a single person but the few friends who accompanied me, I was received with courtesy and respect, though a fierce opposition was in active preparation. There was only one exception, and it is pleasant to my memory as an evidence how a little good humour can turn frowns into smiles. At one meeting a man, whom I afterwards learned was a Scripture reader, contradicted me repeatedly, and in a most offensive manner. Some of my supporters were becoming angry, and to avoid unpleasant consequences, I invited the objector to mount the platform, and take a place behind me, where he would be out of danger's way. He was quiet for a while, but at last found something I said unpalatable, and burst out, "Ah, Irish rebel! Irish Papist!" This was too much for some of my countrymen, who made a rush at the platform crying, "Turn him out; turn him out!" I stopped them good-humouredly, saying, "What, boys, are you ashamed of Irish rebel or Irish Papist? For shame!—the gentleman describes me with great accuracy." A roar of cordial laughter from the audience generally, welcomed this sally, and the trouble was over. But my old enemies the squatters brought a candidate into the field, and indeed never but once from the passing of the Land Act of '62, did they allow me to obtain a seat without opposition. In five-and-twenty years I never lost an election, but their expectation was not to win, but to embarrass me with expenses. Even in this they were disappointed, for many members have paid more for a single election than I did for more than twenty. I had always unpurchasable service from my own countrymen, and often zealous and effectual help from others only united with me in opinion. It is not necessary to dwell on the contest except one incident. My opponent declared that he came on behalf of the Government, and that if Mr. McCulloch sent an old hat on a stick the people of Victoria ought to elect him without question on such an introduction. A young foreigner in the employment of one of my committees made a large wood engraving of a battered hat on a crooked stick, which was placarded far and wide as the Ministerial candidate for Dalhousie. On the day of pollig the constituents sent him back to Melbourne with the assurance that there were too many Ministerial sticks in Parliament already.
The Government had still a decided majority in the new Parliament. The Darling deadlock lasted for more than a year, when Mr. Higinbotham determined to throw upon the Council and their friends the impossible task of governing with such a hostile assembly. Sir James McCulloch resigned, and Mr. Sladen, a member of the Upper House, formed a Government. Time had greatly mitigated the determination of the Council, and the Darling vote was made an open question, and after a little time one of the new Government undertook to introduce a bill sanctioning the vote, but the new Opposition treated their complaisance with disdain. Everything they proposed was negatived. They were not even allowed to move the adjournment of the House till next day, the task being always assumed by Mr. McCulloch, the Leader of the Opposition. The Government, I presume, considered they were maintaining the Constitution by continuing in office under all circumstances till an unobjectionable Appropriation Bill could be obtained, but it may be doubted if Responsible Government was vindicated by ignoring the repeated decisions of the popular chamber, whose confidence is the necessary condition of its legitimate existence. I find in my diary of that day some speculations on the subject:—
"I do not believe that Mr. Sladen has any undue desire to remain in office, but under some influence which I only imperfectly understand, he consents to set an example pregnant with the most evil consequences. He evades authority, he violates the Constitution; what have any who went before him, or what can any who come after him do worse than this? The Queen enjoys her throne on the specific condition that she shall maintain and not violate the Constitution of England; and she is sworn to this pact, such safeguard being considered necessary for the ancient and robust English system; and yet Mr. Fellows makes a jest of the fact that the new Government strains and dislocates a Constitution not a dozen years in operation and ill able to endure such a process. Hitherto there has been no undue clinging to power. Governments retired promptly. It is strange that the Constitutionalists should disregard the principles of the Constitution. If the Government does not accept the decision of the House, it has no locus standi; if it does accept it, the result is immediate with an appeal only to the constituents."
Deliverance came in a manner no one expected or desired. Sir Charles Darling died, worried to death by troubles inadequately comprehended, and the Assembly marked its sympathy with his misfortunes by granting the sum in dispute for the support of his wife and the education of his children. The McCulloch Government returned to office, but their position was not a happy one. In his new selection of colleagues the Prime Minister left many of his zealous supporters discontented, and there was a very general murmur that there must be no more crises on any terms. Mr. Michie retired, and the Attorney-Generalship was conferred upon a new man without position at the bar. One of my colleagues who afterwards held an important neutral office affirmed that all our troubles sprung from the greed of McCulloch. It was he who first introduced men without adequate capacity or character into the offices of Government, and had recourse to any policy to keep his place. The opposition of the squatters to me at the poll was legitimate, but some of them had recourse to other means of exciting prejudice against me which were not legitimate. Shortly after the second McCulloch Government came into office the walls and wharves of Melbourne were covered with a green placard inviting Irishmen to attend what was called a Fenian funeral on St. Patrick's Day.
"The Government (says my diary) immediately got horse, foot, and artillery in position to resist this alarming demonstration. I thought it my duty to ascertain immediately with whom this proposal had originated, in order to remonstrate with them on their imprudence, but no Irishman could give me the slightest information on the subject. The police were more successful, however; they traced the placard to its author, and we discovered that the Irishmen of Melbourne were invited to muster at a Fenian funeral by a foreigner named, I think, Ducrow, of whom the only thing known was that he had recently been house-servant with one of the principal political squatters in the country. The object of this ingenious device was not far to seek."
On the succeeding page of my diary I find an entry, the truth of which time has rendered only more clear.
"Sir James McCulloch owes the permanence of his position in a great degree to not performing the duties of his office. He never reproves a member who is disorderly or misconducts himself. He avoids personal contests, except with some one like L., who has no friends. He sits silent and passive during the most disorderly scenes. When it is essential that the Government should take a course he often does nothing. He condones the loosest conduct, as in the case of G., or the most offensive insolence, as in the case of J., when it secures tranquillity at home. All the labour I bestowed on bringing the House into conformity with Parliamentary usage and practice has scanty fruits left."
But this was not the way to secure permanent or solid power. His supporters had made many sacrifices to keep him in office, but now they were ready to hear and echo complaints which a few years earlier they would have denounced. It was asserted that the Board of Land and Works was influenced in its decisions by members of Parliament who made it a trade to solicit the Minister and sell the favours they obtained to their clients, and at length a select committee was granted to investigate these charges. At the same time the Government were caught in an indiscretion, which arose partly from their ignorance of constitutional usages, and partly from confidence in their power to do anything they thought fit without question.
The office of Commissioner of Customs was at this time vacant, and it was inconvenient to fill it, as the Government would have to make a selection among jealous rivals. But there were certain acts which the law required to be done by the Commissioner of Customs, and on behalf of the Opposition I demanded how they were performed. It was admitted that Mr. Francis, who was not then a minister, visited the Custom House daily, and gave the requisite orders. My gorge rose at this insolent supersession of the law, and I gave notice of a motion on the subject. I told the House that when the Government in England found it necessary in some great public crisis to supersede an Act of Parliament, they did so by an Order in Council, and immediately introduced a bill of indemnity, and if Parliament did not grant this indemnity the Government fell. While the House was much agitated on this question, I sat one day on the Select Committee on the Land Department. The new Attorney-General, who was one of the members, lounged into the room and told us, as an interesting piece of political gossip, that the Government had at length appointed a Commissioner of Customs. Who was the chosen man, became the subject of immediate inquiry, for there sat round the table several men who thought themselves entitled to the office. The man, he said, was Mr. Rolfe, who, though he was not in Parliament, had always been an eminently useful and respectable supporter of the Government, and then the learned gentleman lounged out again. The Ministerial party were furious, and some of them broke into immediate revolt. To select a Minister outside the House was a manifest declaration that there was no suitable person inside. There were at least half a dozen votes of want of confidence framed on the instant, some of them quite irregular and impossible. I took aside Robert Byrne, the most calm and sensible of the discontented, and we framed a suitable motion which he consented to move from his ordinary position behind the Ministerial Bench. When the question came on in the House a couple of days later nobody but Mr. Francis defended the Ministry; several of their most habitual supporters voted against them, and they were beaten by a decisive majority. The Governor sent for Mr. Byrne, and authorised him to form an Administration; Mr. Byrne communicated with me. He wished me to aid him in selecting a Cabinet and to take the place of Prime Minister. When we looked into the matter a little it became plain that we could not make a Ministry which would obtain a working majority, except by preponderating concessions to the party of the late Government. It was finally agreed to make an Administration exclusively from the deserters, and the late Opposition agreed to support them at the hustings and in the House till the McCulloch régime was effectually broken up. The new Government were not strong in capacity or experience. The ablest man was Mr. Aspinall, who was a great wit and a great orator, but not a great lawyer. The Chief Secretary was Mr. McPherson, the son of a squatter, almost unknown in politics up to that date.
The Under-Treasurer told me a characteristic story about the new Government. Passing through the hall of the Treasury, a gentleman whose face he knew asked him whether the telegram in the Argus about the rate our debentures sold at in London was correct. He replied civilly but coolly, "Yes, it was." "Did Verdon's despatches," the gentleman continued, "lead one to expect this result?" Mr. Symonds, who thought this was prying too far, replied, with some reserve, that Mr. Odgers could tell better than he. "Do you know me, sir?" cried the stranger, and, seeing a negative in his face, added, "I'm Mr. McPherson, the Chief Secretary."
Before noting the career of the new Government I must borrow a few fragments from my diary dealing with the period of the previous administration:—
"Ministers and ex-ministers generally went to the Governor's levée in evening dress. It is notable that a diplomatic uniform was first assumed by democrats in their Coalition Government, and did not find much favour with their conservative colleagues. I was conversing with two ministers at a levee, when one of their colleagues appeared arrayed in a Windsor uniform. One minister asked the other with pretended perplexity, 'To what fire brigade does this fellow belong?'
"But in my opinion the democrats were right—there was something due to the position which the people conferred on them. The state assumed by Washington was princely. He dressed sumptuously; all persons stood in his presence, his guests were in full dress, the servants in livery. He drove six horses, and Mrs. Washington, on her arrival in New York, was received with a salute of thirteen guns. Surely this was more respectful to the nation which he represented, than the dusty déshabille of Abraham Lincoln.
"Higinbotham's political conscience is a perplexity to me He is ordinarily fair and generous, but never so when Irish interests are concerned. Last Sunday, coming away from St. Kilda Church, I met him by the way and walked home with him. He talked frankly of many projects, especially of a design he was considering of turning the colony into one constituency for Parliamentary elections. He asked me what I thought of it, and I said I thought it highly objectionable. It would throw all the elections into the hands of wire-pullers in Melbourne, and new candidates would have no chance except by courting their favour, besides it would be most disastrous to minorities; I belonged to a minority which in some era of political frenzy might be left without a single representative. Oh, no, Higinbotham said, he felt sure the managers in Melbourne would always give them one representative to express their opinions. One representative! their just proportion being nineteen or twenty. And he said this with a placid and serene countenance as if it were the perfection of justice."
My friends in Dublin reported to me, as a piece of pleasant badinage, that one of Dr. Cullen's latest bishops, my old friend Dr. Moriarty, administered a little tonic to him in the funeral sermon of Dr. Blake, my lifelong friend. "The deceased prelate," said the preacher, "was a patriot in the truest sense of the word. I have mentioned his earnest co-operation with O'Connell in his struggles for the liberation of Ireland. But Dr. Blake was not one of those narrow-minded men who can sympathise only with those who think and act like themselves. He loved all who sincerely loved their native land, whether they were old or young; and if some loved her with more of ardour than of wisdom, he was not the man to join in the vulgar howl of those who denounced as infidels all who differed from them in politics. When a virtuous and highly gifted Irishman, whom his country knew too little, Charles Gavan Duffy, was leaving Ireland, Dr. Blake, old and infirm as he was, would go hence to Dublin to bid him a last farewell."
During Mr. McPherson's year of office a further amendment of the Land Law was effected, which gave practically free selection throughout the colony. Every squatter had originally obtained a pre-emptive right of a square mile for a homestead and home paddocks, and the new law enabled the Minister of Lands to give each of them under certain conditions a second pre-emptive right, and he was also authorised to reserve any portion of a run, the withdrawal of which would seriously injure the industry.
I would have declined to support a Government which undertook to settle the land question with a squatter at the head of it but that five out of the nine new Ministers personally promised me that they would not consent to the Land Bill becoming law if the ten years' tenure to the squatters were continued in it. On this promise I gave them a warm support at their election and for a time in Parliament; and this promise in the end was not kept. Two of those who promised lost their seats and were removed from the place where they could have given it effect; one continued faithful to his promise, and spoke and voted contrary to the bulk of his colleagues to the end, and the other two simply violated their engagement. As respects Mr. McPherson himself, when his Government was defeated, he deserted his colleagues and accepted office in the new Administration under McCulloch, where he was rewarded by the post of Minister of Public Lands. It was alleged that he had deserted not merely his party but his principles; at any rate he employed to an inordinate extent the power of making reserves on "runs" where selection and settlement were forbidden, and it was at last whispered about that the numerous runs of the Chief Secretary were especially favoured.
From the foundation of the colony immigration had been a frequent cause of suspicion and anger, and now the difficulty arose again. At the beginning the colony remitted large sums to an Imperial Board to pay the passage of suitable emigrants. In Ireland the selection of these persons was entrusted exclusively to parsons and squires, and it was said they selected protégés devoted to their side in politics, or, worse, persons whom it was an advantage to get rid of, and that they were sowing for a future nation with rotten seed. But the requisite number could not be made up without admitting many Irish Catholics, who were the chief emigrating section, and an ingenious device was adopted to check a result considered politically dangerous. It was directed that a large proportion of the Irish immigrants should be female servants, who, having no votes, could not disturb the balance of parties. Johnny Fawkner, who considered himself the founder of the colony, hit on a bolder measure of protection. The Germans were our kinsmen, he said, and co-religionists, and they might be brought out on the same footing as British subjects, and a considerable sum was sent home for this purpose, and lastly a provision was put into an Immigration Act that for the first nine months of the year emigrants should be selected in exact proportion to their number in the population of the United Kingdom, and the fund be open only during the last three months to applicants irrespective of nationality. It was a subject of constant banter how completely these precautions had failed. The Irish servants got quickly married, and it became well known to the wirepullers in politics that no vote was so certain for a popular Irish candidate as the husbands of Irish wives. At my first election it was a marvel to me how often my committee, in speculating on the votes of electors, sometimes with Puritanical or Covenanting names, declared, "Oh, he is all right; he has married an Irishwoman." In another and wider constituency, where there were few roadside inns, the chairman of one of my election meetings, a German settler, invited me to be a guest at his house, and as he drove home I was perturbed with the thought that I understood his language so imperfectly that I would scarcely be able to ask for a cup of tea from the Frau Mama. But when we approached the house I found it lighted up from basement to garret, and a kindly, sonsy woman came out of the hall door and welcomed me. "Arrah, Misther Duffy, am n't I glad to see you under my roof. I give you the Caed Mile failthe." The Teutonic experiment broke down more fatally. Johnny Fawkner supposed that to say German was to say sound Protestant, but the immigrants came from an overcrowded quarter of the Rhine district near Cologne, and every soul of them were Catholic. The bulk of them were settled at Albury on the Murray, and Michael O'Grady who visited the district twenty years after told me that the local priest asked him to inspect his schools, and proposed that he should hear the children of Johnny Fawkner's German immigrants sing a national song. To his amazement they broke out with "We'll crown the world with Irish boys, with Paddies and no more." But the devices for checking the Irish invasion were not exhausted. I was informed at this time from London that directions were sent to the Board of Advice, who had the management of immigration, to take care that the bulk of Irish immigrants were selected from the north of Ireland. I asked the Commissioner of Customs in the House how he considered himself entitled to modify an Act of Parliament by a secret instruction of this nature. He replied that the order had not come from him, and that for his part he considered it a matter of complete indifference whether immigrants were taken from the north of Ireland or the south. As it was a matter of complete indifference, I said the order might be withdrawn, and some effectual measures taken to prohibit any future devices which the Minister might find it necessary to disown. I saw the Chief Secretary on the subject, and asked him to appoint a gentleman to represent Irish Catholics on the Board of Advice, and at my instance he selected Mr. Cashel Hoey.
The finances were still in an unsatisfactory condition, and towards the end of this period the Government proposed to replenish the Treasury by a Property Tax of sixpence in the pound. It seemed to me that this tax would bear with peculiar severity on industry, and I offered it a decisive opposition. The Argus supported it strenuously, and I illustrated the unfairness of the proposal by the way it would affect a farmer among my constituents and the proprietors of the Argus, the farmer being taxed on nearly his entire income, and the newspaper proprietor only on the premises where his business was transacted.
The country took up the resistance vigorously, and after a couple of weeks I was enabled to announce that the colony answered the appeal of the Government, as the philanthropist in Canning's squib answered the needy knifegrinder: "I give thee sixpence? I'd see thee d——d first." The McCulloch administration fell, and the Governor sent for me and authorised me to form a new Cabinet.
Before entering on the business of the new Administration, let me despatch briefly some of the correspondence of the current period. My well-beloved friend, Sir Colman O'Loghlen reported some notable successes he had made in consolidating religious liberty in Ireland.
"Merrion Square, Dublin,
"Wednesday, September 18, 1867.
"My dear Duffy,—As I know you still take an interest in Irish legislation, I enclose you copies of two Acts I succeeded in passing this last Session. One of them abolishes the Declaration against Transubstantiation, &c., which has been so long a disgrace to our Statute Book, and the other opens the Chancellorship of Ireland to Roman Catholics—enables Catholic Judges, Mayors, &c., to attend Divine Service in their robes—and establishes one uniform oath for all officeholders, &c., abolishing for ever the offensive Catholic oath which the Emancipation Act imposed on Roman Catholics who might accept office or honours. These bills I carried by great majorities in the Commons, and the Lords had to swallow them as the Government had to support them there after what passed in the Commons. Next Session—if I live—I shall open the Lord Lieutenancy to Roman Catholics. I think you will say that religous liberty, at least, is progressing at this side of the globe. The Telegraph this morning announces that you have a Ministerial crisis at Melbourne. I hope that this crisis will result in your being in power again. Of course you have heard of the 'leap in the dark' we have taken this year under the guide of Disraeli. The Liberal Party for the present is 'nowhere'—Disraeli regularly 'dished the Whigs' last Session."
After my return from Europe, I wrote to Judge O'Hagan:—
"Melbourne, July 15, 1868.
"My dear O'Hagan,—I cannot refrain from telling you the satisfaction with which I read your charge and address to the prisoner in the case of Captain Mackay. I am not sure that any other Judge would have the courage to treat a Fenian prisoner as a fellow- creature, a man of capacity and honour, and inferentially a patriot. But the thing being done, and generous hearts on all sides having recognised how right and wise it was to do it, I am persuaded there are some of them who wish they had. The stale and stupid lie that all these men of Irish blood and feeling who left a prosperous country which offers a career to every one, for what was plainly a forlorn hope, are merely robbers in pursuit of plunder outraged common sense. We would not believe it of Italians, Hungarians, or Poles, and nobody did believe it of the Fenians, however solemnly it was enunciated. But when what is true of the best of them is admitted (as you admitted it in the case of Mackay), multitudes who would shut their minds fast against an admonition heralded by a falsehood will be ready to admit in return that Fenianism cannot possibly accomplish its purpose, and that it is wicked to foster a hopeless insurrection. And we have been effectually taught by spies, informers, and assassinations (like the murder of poor M'Gee) that the Fenians are not all Mackays.
"Next to your charge the thing which gave me most satisfaction in connection with Irish affairs, since my return, was Mr. Gladstone's admission that Fenianism prepared the way for disestablishing the Irish Church. It required high courage to say this in the face of the prevailing cant of English newspapers; but it was true, and when it was once said there was a chorus of assent. Disestablish the Church by all means, but there will be no tranquillity in Ireland till you give the farmer a secure tenure, and forbid the landlord to kill or banish him for non-payment of an exorbitant rent.
"I have read with a great deal of amusement Mr. Mitchel's lectures to the Fenians. The folly of going to war with England when she is at peace with the world; the childishness of trying to frighten her with exaggerated estimates of Irish resources; the wickedness of misleading the people with hopes that cannot be realised; and the madness of arraying a people without arms or discipline against regular armies, are texts upon which Mr. Mitchel may claim to speak with authority. But as the man in the Critic says, 'I think I have heard all that before'—when Mr. Stephens was not the delinquent."
Nine months later I wrote to him again, when he had become a peer and head of his profession:—
"Melbourne, March 1, 1869.
"My dear O'Hagan,—I have not had such a thrill of satisfaction since I saw you last, as on reading your name as Lord Chancellor. That office ought to carry with it the Government of Ireland in all important matters, and a career as fruitful as Thomas Drummond's and as brilliant as Plunkett's. To govern Ireland wisely and nobly implies heroic works of reform in various directions. I declare before Heaven you have no right to expect tranquillity till an Irish peasant can live in Ireland as prosperously, and an Irish gentleman, of the Irish race, can feel himself as much at home there, as the peasants and gentlemen of other European countries in their native lands. It is for this reason that I estimate so highly the public advantage of having you in your present place.
"When I first held office here there was next to no Catholic Irishmen in the public service, the magistracy, or local force; and they were nearly as discontented as at home. I urged on my colleagues the policy of satisfying their just and reasonable demands, and it was done by Governments in which there were never more than two Catholics in the Cabinet out of ten. Done as a policy proclaimed and defended, not by stealth. In Ireland it is not by offices and honours, but by wise laws and a vigilant executive the people will be contented. If I were Chief Secretary of Ireland, I would set myself the task of making the Irish farmer as secure and prosperous as the Belgian farmer; if I were Lord Chancellor (which Heaven forbid) I would treat the Belfast riots as sternly as the English Government treated the Manchester riots till the idea of an Orange procession or any wanton provocation of the people died out. I would pass an Act of Parliament repealing the insolent and virtually penal law, which maintains the statue of William III. in College Green as a badge and symbol of conquest. (You are aware that it is maintained by law.) The mass of the people would consider the fact of its removal as significant as the fall of the Establishment. 'William III. was a wise and moderate, &c.' Of course, but he is set up there by a penal law to insult the Irish race. You have given up celebrating the battle of Waterloo to conciliate Louis Napoleon; is it indispensable to continue celebrating the battle of the Boyne to insult Irish Catholics? What an insignificant, what a sentimental grievance! I daresay it is, but in conciliating a people you can scarcely leave sentiment out of the calculation. And I don't propose you should undertake the task to-morrow; but place it somewhere between you and the goal you intend to reach. "I do not wish you to write, but make your Secretary send me, from time to time, any speeches, correspondence, or documents in which you disclose, or defend your policy.—Always yours,
"C. Gavan Duffy."
I proposed at this time to some of my political friends especially to two or three ecclesiastics of remarkable ability a project which I greatly fancied. I suggested that we should hire a hall in Collins Street, and deliver a weekly lecture on the subjects on which Catholics and Irishmen were most habitually assailed, opening the door freely to all comers. The project was taken up eagerly, but it is an Irish failing to be more ready to project than to perform, and in the end, as I found nobody else was ready, I delivered a lecture I had prepared for the series entitled—"Why is Ireland poor and discontented? " It had considerable success in Australia, but still more in Ireland. John O'Hagan wrote to me:—
"22, Upper Fitzwilliam Street, Dublin,
"Oct. 5, 1870.
"My dear Duffy,—I read with pleasure your lecture on the Land Question. Never were you more vigorous, eloquent, or true, nor your language more terse and choice. The Chancellor gave it to Lord Spencer to read bound up with Hoey's article, and the L.L. said he was especially struck with the clearness of your English style. As to the substance, it was truth itself. But is not the passing of the Land Act, as well as the Church Act last year, most wonderful—wonderful especially in the absolute penury of Irish public men and the impotence of Irish public opinion? Great questions seem to have a momentum in themselves—they gather and roll like a snowball, independent of external force. True, no doubt, that the Manchester and Clerkenwell exploits of the Fenians had much to say to the result, but above all the strange and rare providence that for once in half a thousand years put an honest and earnest man at the head of affairs. That the effects will be most beneficent there is no doubt. May you be here to share in and promote them!
"Long before you receive this you will have been overwhelmed by the news of the French disasters. I cannot express to you how they are felt here. It is like the anguish of our own flesh. But is not this strange, Duffy? The old monarchy of France has been written down by Carlyle and a host of others as the very type of a degrading and corrupting régime. Yet a generation which came to manhood under that régime not only manifested, as regards the bulk of the nation, a magnificent national valour and energy, but produced at once a crop of first-rate captains in the flower of their years. And now, after a century of regenerated institutions, there seems neither adequate spirit nor a man to guide it, I am tempted to agree with an old countess in one of Balzac's novels, who protested that the two things most blasphemed against within her knowledge were God and the eighteenth century. Returning to domestica facta I know how deeply you must have been gratified by O'H.'s elevation to the Chancellorship and the Peerage. I read your letter to him on the former occasion. He is very much awake to the necessity of reforming and, as far as possible, reconstructing the local administration of Ireland; but in such matters he must proceed very gradually. Of his own personal authority he can do little."
Cashel Hoey, before this lecture could reach him, described to me an article he had written in the Dublin Review, urging on Irish Nationalists that the policy which Gladstone and Bright were pursuing ought to be welcome to them, as I had laid down in the revived Nation that to obtain these reforms was the surest method of reviving the national 'spirit and the claims for a national existence.
"Do me the honour of reading an article in the April Dublin headed 'Is Ireland Irreconcilable?' upon which the Times (April 2oth), to my utter astonishment, and the Spectator (April 16th), to my great satisfaction, has written extravagant panegyrics. No Irish paper has yet said a syllable on the subject. This is the first political paper I have really been able to write for a long time, and I wrote it as if it were to be the last trying hard to tell the truth on all sides right round. But beyond this I had a word of justice to say in your regard, and in so doing to give our unfortunate and absurd successors a good excuse to slip out of a desperate position. The Times works this point admirably, and quotes nearly all I give of the new Nation's programme. As I write, a batch of letters of congratulation arrives, inter alia, from Lord O'Hagan—who says, 'I am charmed. It is nobly written, and full of wise and generous thinking'—from Dr. Russell, MacCarthy, &c. I hope you will think it holds not unworthily our old line.
"What is the secret of your wrong relations with Lord Canterbury? It has since I wrote come to my knowledge, in a way I dare not mention, that he has set a very black mark against your name."
A week later he wrote announcing that he had appended my lecture to a republication of his article as a pamphlet, and that his experiment had been successful.
"Old Hall House, near Ware,
"May 20, 1870.
"Your lecture reached me the day after I last wrote to you. You will receive by this mail a batch of pamphlets, and will see what use I made of it. The effect of my article on English opinion had already been extraordinary—Times, Spectator, Saturday Review, Telegraph (the latter mainly on your lecture about 5th of May) all came out on the same key. I have had letters or messages from Gladstone, the Lord- Lieutenant, Lord Dufferin, and last, not least among ministers, my Lady Waldegrave—and on the other hand the pamphlet is selling and telling in Ireland. Mr. Sullivan devoted six columns of garbage to it. The Belfast and Cork papers are very enthusiastic and in fact the effect on one side of the Channel is not less than on the other.
"I breakfasted with Monsell yesterday, and I read him your letter written on the eve of the Dissolution. We now know that McCulloch is in, but that is all. I need not say how anxious I am for the arrival of the mail just telegraphed. Monsell asked me to suggest to you to write to me for publication a letter on the Land Law. It would, I think, be a real public service."
At the same time he announced the death of an old friend.
"I have to tell you sad and shocking news. George Henry Moore died at his place in Mayo three days ago quite suddenly of apoplexy. It is a great grief to all who knew him—a peculiar one to me. We differed and tended to differ more and more every day as to public business, for he intensely disliked and distrusted Gladstone."
Marcus Clarke spoke to me more than once of a story entitled "His Natural Life" which he was publishing in a Melbourne periodical. He invited me to look at it, which I promised to do whenever I had leisure, and finally, as it was drawing to a close, he sent me the portion published:—
"My Dear Sir,—I take the liberty of sending some numbers of the Australian Journal containing all that is yet published of my new novel, 'His Natural Life.' 'His Natural Life' is an attempt to expose the infamies that attended the old transportation system, and the episodes are merely dramatised versions of facts. I have taken much trouble to collect materials for the story, and to read up and collate the almost-forgotten records of early colonial prisons, &c. I want to show that in many instances the law makes the criminal.
"I should be very grateful for a criticism from you on the story—if you can find time to look over it—as I hope to publish it in England as soon as it is completed in monthly numbers.—I am, my dear Sir, very faithfully yours,
I examined the story carefully and answered his inquiries with the frankness due to a man of judgment and discretion. The narrative was, in my opinion, a singularly powerful and original one, marred by serious faults. For example, it was intensely painful—a sentiment which would become tragic if it concerned persons whom we respected; but whom did he intend us to respect? The hero was an unhappy creature, suffering innocently a life-long martyrdom, without any adequate or almost any intelligible motive. Unless the motive justified such a sacrifice, the reader would not sympathise with him, and the story would necessarily want interest—a fatal want. The narrative was long and it was unduly protracted, as it seemed to me, by introducing the Ballarat riots under a leader caricatured as Peter Brawler; all this in my judgment ought to be mercilessly expunged. And the song in French argot, with a translation into English slang, would be taken for his own if it was not specifically disowned; but it could not possibly be his own, as I had read it in Blackwood's Magazine before he was born. The translation was probably by Dr. Maginn. The novelist had precipitated a douche-bath of criticism on his head, but he bore it manfully. In his reply he took the objections in good part, and set to work forthwith to amend the original plot.
"The Public Library, July 22, 1870.
"My dear Sir,—I have to thank you very much for your kindly criticism. Such observations as those which you have made are exactly what I wanted. I confess that I feel a pang at your suggestions for vigorous cutting, but I am sure you are right. I will act upon your advice, and cut off the beginning and end of the book. As thus:
"Open on board the convict ship. Make Dawes a noble fellow who has sacrificed himself to spare a woman whom he loves and whose lover has committed the offence for which Dawes is condemned. (North might be this lover and thus heighten the effect of the story.) When North thinks of taking away Dora, Dawes says, 'I am the man who is suffering for your sin,' &c. North remains in the prison and Dawes escapes. In the meantime Rex, having claimed and enjoyed the money, is discovered. Dawes's conscience and identity simultaneously disclosed. The wreck; Dawes saves child Dora who dies, Maurice is murdered by prisoners, Dawes is saved, and departs like Monte Cristo. Thus the Ballarat Riots and that idiot Dorcas, who was worse to me than Mercutio was reported to have been to the divine William, excluded, and the compactness of the novel preserved. The great difficulty, however, is the motive. What motive would induce a young man to suffer himself to be transported for the life of another?
"You speak with praise of 'Long Odds' and 'King Billy's Breeches.' King Billy is so-so, but 'Long Odds' appears to me now to be the greatest trash. Many thanks again for the trouble you have taken. When I have altered the book according to your suggestions I think it will be readable. I shall then ask your permission to dedicate it to the Hon. C. Gavan Duffy, as the only way in which I can express my thanks.—Very faithfully yours,
But he had not yet done his best; on further consideration he adopted the present plot, in which the- protection of his mother's honour furnished a high and adequate motive for the tragedy of his hero's life and death.
Since my return from Europe I had taken up again the question of Federation, and obtained a Royal Commission which made an important report. This notice of it in my diary will perhaps suffice:—
"Victoria and all the self-governed colonies from which Imperial troops have been wholly withdrawn, presented the phenomenon of responsibility without either corresponding authority or adequate protection. They were as liable to all the hazards of war as the United Kingdom, but they could influence the commencement or continuance of war no more than they could control the movements of the solar system; and they have no assurance of that aid against an enemy upon which integral portions of the United Kingdom can confidently reckon.
"In the Royal Commission on Federal Government I suggested a method by which these free self -governed colonies would be entitled to claim the right of remaining neutral in wars in which they had no immediate interest. The subject has been much debated in our local journals, some of them holding that we could and ought to take this course, others contending it is impracticable. The proposal has since been submitted to the neighbouring colonies, and three or four eminent lawyers in Australia affirm that the principle of constitutional law insisted upon is sound and think the end sought for may be attained. Statesmanship will find only one of two courses safe—either to secure the neutrality of the colonies, or to come to an understanding with the mother country that, instead of their being left, as at present without a single British soldier, the empire should take her fair share of the task of defending the colonies in wars which will originate only in her quarrels."
Sir James McCulloch was of opinion that I was bound to hand over my work to him, to be dealt with at his discretion:—
"Melbourne, May 27, 1870.
"My dear Sir,—I much regret that I did not more carefully consider the terms of your notice regarding Federation which you kindly submitted to me last night. I find that you propose a 'conference of delegates from the Parliaments of the Australian Colonies.' My opinion is that the motion should be in terms of the one you carried in 1857.
"I think you will agree with me that the carrying out of such important changes in the relations of the Colonies should be entrusted to the Executive Governments of the respective Colonies. At all events, the action of the House should be confined in the first instance to considering the best means of accomplishing the 'Union,'—I am, my dear Sir, yours truly,
"The Hon. C.G. Duffy."
Much may be said for this view of the case, and now happily I will be able to accommodate myself to it without relinquishing my work to strange hands.
At this time, I had a claim from friends in Dublin to help the construction of a statue to Smith O'Brien in that city; £100 would complete the necessary funds. In reply I urged that it ought to be set up in a public place as a noble example to his countrymen of integrity and disinterestedness, and I was able to forward £200, subscribed by his friends in Australia, without the necessity of any public appeal.
Parkes came into conflict with my countrymen in New South Wales, in which it was my belief that he was seriously wrong, and for a considerable period our correspondence ceased. When it became necessary to write to him on public business, I told him frankly my opinion of his policy. This was his reply:—
"Sydney, Dec. 23, 1870.
"If you have met with any person who has had opportunities of knowing what my feeling has been during the time that our intercourse has been interrupted, he will have told you that my personal regard for you has remained unaltered. I am therefore very glad to receive your friendly note of the 14th, wearing something of the old affectionate face.
"Sometime or other you will begin to understand that ' you and all the race from which you are sprung ' have persisted in viewing my conduct when in office through the false light of men who were not more my enemies than the enemies of your 'race,' but who could do nothing without using the Irish people. They have used them for their scandalous and disastrous purposes and now are flinging them aside like so much filth. I may have been urged on by the influences around me, and by circumstances of irritation from without, do extreme things in office, but all my actions were so falsely coloured by the deluders of your 'race' that I could hardly recognise one of them in the form in which they discussed them. But enough of this for the moment. "I unreservedly think with you on the temper of the times and the portentous difficulties that are rising up in the way of real progress and solid prosperity. I fervently pray to God that a way may be found out for your 'race to mix with mine as fellow-citizens, apart from that power which hitherto in every political crisis has guided them in one direction, right or wrong. Like you, 'I prefer men of brains not only as allies, but as opponents,' whether English or Irish, Protestant or Catholic. But these brains will be useless if they do not guide rightly the hearts that are under their influence."
During my absence from Victoria, the Protectionist Party were so undeniably in the ascendant that it was plain their opinions must long prevail. I thought that to plant new industries, for which the raw materials existed in abundance in the colony, by State aid of some sort was justifiable. But beyond this there was the problem whether a man who desired to settle the Land Question, and the Education Question, was altogether to abandon public life, if public opinion went decisively against him on one point, like Protection. I consulted three men in whose judgment I had great confidence: Thomas Carlyle, John Bright, and Stuart Mill. Carlyle made no bones of the matter; he said no country had ever got manufactures established without State assistance, and that it was prodigious nonsense to treat such a practice as an offence.
This was Stuart Mill's reply:—
"I feel it a very high compliment that you should wish to know my opinion on a point of conscience, and still more so that you should think that opinion likely to be of any assistance to you in the guidance of your own political conduct.
"The point mentioned in your letter is one which I have often and carefully considered, for though my own course in public matters has been one which did not often call on me to co-operate with anybody, I have reflected much on the conditions of co-operation, among the other requisites of practical public life. The conclusion which I have long come to is one which seems rather obvious when one has got at it, but it is so seldom acted on, that apparently most people find it difficult to practise. It seems to me, in the first place, that a conscientious person whose turn of mind and outward circumstances combine to make practical political life his line of greatest usefulness, may, and often ought to, be willing to put his opinion in abeyance on a political question which he deems to be, in the circumstances of the time and place, of secondary importance; which may be the case with any question that does not, in one's own judgment, involve any fundamental principle of morality. But, in consenting to waive his opinion, it seems to me an indispensable condition that he should not disguise it. He should say to his constituents and to the world exactly what he really thinks about the matter. Insincere professions are the one cardinal sin in a representative government. If an Australian politician wishes to be in the Assembly for the sake of questions which he thinks much more important, for the time being, than that of Protection, I should hold him justified in saying to a constituency 'I think Protection altogether a mistake, but since it is a sine quâ non with you, and the opposite is not a sine quâ non with me, if you elect me, I will not oppose it.' If he conscientiously thought that the strong feeling of the public in its favour gave them a right, or made it expedient, to have it particularly tried, I should not think him wrong in promising to support it; though it is not a thing I should lightly, or willingly, do. He might even, for adequate public reasons, consent to join a Protectionist Ministry, but only on condition that Protection should be an open question—that he should be at liberty to speak his mind publicly on the subject. The question of expediency in these matters, each must decide for himself. The expediencies vary with all sorts of formal considerations. For instance, if he has considerable popular influence, and is, in all other respects than this, the favourite candidate, it will often be his most virtuous course to insist on entire freedom of action, and make the electors feel that they cannot have a representative of his quality without acquiescing in voting against some of their opinions. The only absolute rule I could lay down, is not to consent to the smallest hypocrisy. The rest is matter of practical judgment, in which all that can be said is, Weigh all the considerations and act for the best."
Mr. Bright, in a letter to the Times, declared that when he saw me at home, he did not remember that we had any conversation about protection in.Australia, and as the opinions held by Mr. Mill were very like those I attributed to him, it seemed to him probable I had confounded one with another.
"If a government thought," Mr. Bright added, "that a new culture might be introduced into a country, such as of the grape or of tea, it might legitimately appropriate a sum of money to make the experiment, leaving its future progress or fate entirely to the industry and disposition of the people. But to enact a tariff imposing heavy duties on important articles of import was an unsound and injurious policy."
I replied that if I were trusting to my memory I would feel bound to accept Mr. Bright's denial, but I kept a diary at the time, and all fair men, and Mr. Bright among them, would acknowledge that after ten years it was more probable that he had forgotten the conversation than that I had misunderstood it the morning after it had happened. This was the extract from my diary:—
"Saturday, April 21, 1866:—Called upon John Bright, by appointment, at his lodgings, 4, Hanover Street. … Speaking of the colony, he asked me what was the system and condition of education, which he considered the question of questions. Seven generations of educated (men) had made the people of New England the first in the world, as they had shown in their recent contest with the South, and would probably show again in their present contest with their rowdy president (Andrew Johnson). I described the condition of the democracy in Victoria, the large majority for protection, and asked him what he would do in my place. He said he would endeavour, under the circumstances, to come to an arrangement with the protectionists to take an act imposing a duty of 25 per cent, for ten years upon certain articles, upon the understanding that it was then to cease. His free-trade convictions would not hinder him from doing this in the circumstances in which we found ourselves. I told him that manhood suffrage sent us an unexpectedly bad class of representatives sometimes; he replied that he knew no system under which this misfortune could be avoided."
I added that it would be unjust to hold Mr. Bright responsible for amendments in the Victorian tariff, but if, as he admits, the State may properly appropriate a sum of money to introduce a new culture into a country, it was no longer a question of principle, but simply a question of discretion whether it was better to make the experiment in one case or in several cases.
This controversy is introduced somewhat before its time, as the advice I obtained at home influenced my action in the Government about to be formed.
- "In their own name, Messrs. McCulloch, Sellar and Co., hold nine stations, and are also understood to be interested in several others. These stations are not in parts of the country at present almost inaccessible to the agricultural settler, but, on the contrary, many of them are on the proposed line of the North Eastern Railway, and great care appears to have been taken to ward off the vexatious incursions of free selectors by means of special reservations."—Argus.
- A young priest in this district was fond of telling a story, which deserves to outlive the political gossip of the day. He accompanied his bishop on a pastoral visitation, and so pleased the prelate that he made him a gift of a handsome horse he had lent him for the journey. The young priest thought he could not do better than name the horse after the donor, and he called it "The Bishop." Saddle the bishop, water the bishop, bring out the bishop, became the ordinary language of the stable. After a time the Bishop made a pastoral visit to the parish, and was met at the station and driven home in triumph, and all the notabilities of the district invited to meet him at dinner. As they sat down to table the priest's groom put his head in at the door demanding, "Might I say a word to your Reverence." "Not now, Mike, not now, you see I am engaged with his Lordship; come to me when we leave the dining-room." "It will be too late then, your Reverence." "You had better hear him at once," says the bishop good-naturedly. "Go on, Mike, his Lordship permits me to hear you." "It's a horrid hot day, your Reverence, and that drive from the railway was killing. Don't you think I ought to throw a bucket of water over the bishop?"
- August, 1867.
- Let me acknowledge with gratitude that in this election, and in several that followed, Mr. Armstrong, the editor of the local journal, and a Scotchman, gave me the most generous and effectual assistance.
- July, 1868.
- September, 1869.
- The brochure to which Cashel Hoey referred was a review article afterwards published in a pamphlet entitled, "Is Ireland Irreconcilable?" It painted with exceeding vigour, and in a style which was graceful and picturesque, the new Irish policy Mr. Gladstone had initiated. The Irish establishment had fallen, not before an organised Irish agitation, or before a great leader of the Irish people, but because one British Statesman, stepping beyond the traditional policy of his party, had declared that the Irish Church as a State Church must cease to exist. Mr. Gladstone was now engaged in revising the Land Code in a similar spirit, and the writer admonished the National Party that it was their duty to make this policy fruitful, by repressing the tumultuous spirit of driftless discontent which prevailed so widely at the very time these reforms were being executed. Mr. Hoey treated the revival of the Nation in 1850 as the rally of the people after a disastrous defeat, and quoted my language in the early articles as with the reforms Mr. Gladstone had undertaken. He published as an appendix to the pamphlet my recent lecture in Melbourne—"Why is Ireland poor and discontented?"—which he regarded as a continuation of the same policy.