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The Dictionary of Australasian Biography/Darling, Sir Charles Henry

Darling, Sir Charles Henry, K.C.B., third Governor of Victoria, was the eldest son of Major-General Henry Charles Darling, Lieut.-Governor of Tobago from 1833 to 1845, by his marriage with the eldest daughter of Charles Cameron, Governor of the Bahamas. He was the nephew of Sir Ralph Darling, Governor of New South Wales from 1825 to 1831, and was born in Nova Scotia in 1809. He was educated at Sandhurst Military College, whence he obtained an ensign's commission without purchase in the 57th Regiment of Foot in Dec. 1825. In 1827 he was appointed assistant private secretary to his uncle, the then Governor of New South Wales, and in 1830 became his military secretary. When Sir Ralph Darling retired in 1831, his nephew re-entered the senior department of the Sandhurst Military College, and in 1833 was appointed on the staff of Sir Lionel Smith, whom he served as military secretary in the West Indies from 1833 to 1836, and in Jamaica from 1836 to 1839. Sir Charles Darling was made captain in 1839, and retired from the army in 1841. Two years later he was appointed by Lord Elgin, then Governor of Jamaica, Agent-General for Immigration and Adjutant-General of Militia on that island. Subsequently he was the Governor's secretary till 1847, when he was appointed Lieut.-Governor of St. Lucia, and in 1851 Lieut.-Governor of the Cape Colony during the temporary absence of Sir George Cathcart, on whose permanent departure he acted as administrator from May to Dec. 1854, during which period parliamentary government was established in the colony. Sir Charles Darling was then appointed Governor of Antigua and the Leeward Islands, but never took up the appointment, as on his return home he was sent to administer the government of Newfoundland, where he inaugurated responsible government, and acted as Governor until Feb. 1857, when he was appointed Governor of Jamaica. In 1863 he was nominated successor to Sir Henry Barkly as Governor of Victoria, and assumed office on Sept. 11th of that year. He unfortunately arrived on the eve of the most embittered crisis which ever disturbed the politics of the colony. The facts of "the deadlock," as it was called, will be found fully narrated in the notice of Sir James MᶜCulloch, and need not be recapitulated here. Suffice it to say that Sir Charles Darling went heart and soul with his Ministry and the majority in the lower house in their contest with the upper chamber over the rejection of the Protectionist tariff both in its separate form, and as a "tack" to the Appropriation Bill of the year. A protest was sent home by the Legislative Council, and at the end of 1865 a petition was sent to the Queen protesting against the Governor's conduct, signed by twenty-two out of the forty-five executive councillors of the colony. In commenting on this petition in a despatch to Mr. Cardwell, the then Colonial Secretary, Sir Charles Darling made a fierce attack on the signatories, accusing them of "a treacherous conspiracy against the Governor" and intimating that but for liability to misapprehension he would "have suspended them all from office until her Majesty's pleasure was known." He then incautiously declared it " impossible that the relations between the petitioners and myself can, in the face of this conspiracy, be such as ought to subsist between the Governor and gentlemen holding the commission of an executive councillor, whether occupying or not responsible office; and it is at least to be hoped that the future course of political events may never designate any of them for the position of a confidential adviser of the Crown, since it is impossible their advice could be received with any other feelings than those of doubt and distrust." A little later, and a despatch was received from Mr. Cardwell plainly intimating that the Governor's conduct in assenting to the devices of his Ministry for obtaining money without the assent of Parliament had been inconsistent with the policy announced by himself of rigid adherence to the law. The despatch did not, however, go beyond censure. A second, received in April 1866, in reply to that of Sir Charles Darling above quoted, however, contained the mandate of dismissal, Mr. Cardwell pointing out with a cogency which it was impossible to dispute that Sir Charles Darling had precluded himself by his conduct from acting freely with those whom the course of parliamentary proceedings might present to him as confidential advisers. "It is your own act now," Mr. Cardwell insisted with merciless logic, "which leaves me no alternative. You force me to decide between yourself and the petitioners. It must be evident to yourself that you occupy a position of personal antagonism. … It is impossible after this that you can with advantage continue to conduct the government of the colony." On the other hand, the Legislative Assembly passed a resolution asserting that the country was "greatly beholden to him for his steady adhesion to the principles" of responsible government. They further decided to vote a solatium of £20,000 to Lady Darling by way of compensation to the Governor for his forfeiture of the pension which he would lose by his recall. Sir Charles Darling declined to permit any member of his family to receive a gift pending the signification of the Queen's pleasure. In the meantime, on May 5th, 1866, Sir Charles Darling left Victoria, a demonstration of his sympathisers being made on his departure. A vast crowd turned out to bid him farewell with every mark of respectful regret. On his arrival in England, Lord Carnarvon, who had replaced Mr. Cardwell, declined to allow him to accept the proffered gift, intimating that if he did so, he must not look for anything further at the hands of her Majesty's Government. Sir Charles took the hint, and resigned, and a series of rejections and "tacks" now ensued on the proposed vote of £20,000 more insurmountable and irritating, if possible, than those which had arisen in reference to the tariff. Later on Sir Charles Darling made his peace with the Colonial Office, and withdrew his resignation, withdrawing also his acceptance of the much-debated gift The cause of contention between the Houses was thus removed, and almost immediately after came the news of Sir Charles Darling's death, whereupon the grant was "untacked," and an annuity for life of £1,000 a year conferred on Lady Darling, together with a lump sum of £5,000 for the education of her children. Sir Charles Darling, who was created K.C.B. in 1865, died at Cheltenham on Jan. 25th, 1870. He was thrice married, his third wife, who is still in receipt of the £1,000 a year pension from Victoria, being Elizabeth Isabella Caroline, the only daughter of Christopher Salter, of Stoke Poges, Bucks, to whom he was married in 1851.