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The history of South Australia from its foundation to the year of its jubilee (Volume 1) online

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in the wilderness. Not one shilling did England con-
tribute. Nay, more, let it never be forgotten that
before she suffered them to quit her shores she com-
pelled them to leave behind twenty thousand pledges
in the shape of so many pounds sterling, that they
should be no burden to the parent State. These recent
attempts by the Home Government to depart from the
terms of the Act constituting the colony could be'
likened to so many nibbles at the seal of the bond
entered into by the mother country and the colonists^


and this royalty imposition was the last and most
flagrant and most unjustifiable attempt to rob the
colony of one of its guaranteed and peculiar features."

The ringing cheers that greeted this speech proved
not only the spirit of sturdy independence in the
colonists, but also the futility of sending as their
Governor such a man as Major Kobe. Petitions to both
Houses of the Imperial Parliament were very numer-
ously signed, and so this stage of the opposition closed.

The next step was taken in the Legislative Council
on the 30th of September, when the New Waste Lands
Bill was introduced by the advocate-general. The
second reading was opposed by Mr. J. Morphett, who
moved as an amendment that the Bill be read that day
six months. This was seconded by Major O'Halloran,
and supported by Messrs. Bagot and Davenport ; but,
upon a division, the amendment was lost, and the
original motion carried.

Thereupon a scene ensued one of the historic
scenes of the colonial Legislature. Mr. J. Morphett
rose from his seat, and, followed at once by Major
O'Halloran and Messrs. Bagot and Davenport, left the
council chamber, and by so doing left the august and
astonished body without a quorum. The audience in
the strangers' gallery shouted " Bravo ! " while the
Governor and his executive stood dumfounded. When
silence was restored Major Robe declared the Council

A week later the Council reassembled, and the
Governor expressed in mild terms his disapproval of
the unconstitutional mode of opposing the Government
pursued by the non-official members ; but the recalci-
trant members justified their conduct, and retorted that
it was the only course left open to them, as " his Excel-
lency invariably neutralized the votes of independent
members in every case when the votes were equal, and
on every measure resisted by the non-officials."

On the motion for going into committee on the Bill,
the recusant members proposed, seconded, and sup-
ported an amendment that it was inexpedient to do

1846.] CHURCH AND STATE. 221

so until the fate of the measure proposed to be intro-
duced into the English House of Commons became
known. When the Council divided, the Governor again
exercised his casting vote, and in announcing the result
of the division said

"Having vindicated the dignity of the Crown and
asserted its right to insist on the presence of members,
he had no hesitation in saying that he should, in defer-
ence to the strongly expressed opinion of all the non-
official members, and in compliance with the earnest
appeal of their senior (Major O'Halloran), authorize the
withdrawal of the Bill."

Notwithstanding the unpopularity of the Governor, he
took no steps whatever to mend his ways. On the
contrary, he recklessly plunged into a fresh sea of
controversy on a subject concerning which men are
more tenacious of their opinions than on any other.

While the royalties question was still the topic of
the day, the members and adherents of the Church of
England called a public meeting to memorialize the
Governor to make a grant in aid of religion from the
public funds. Of course this stirred the Dissenters to
action, and they attended the meeting in such force
that when the first resolution was proposed by the
Church party, affirming that such a grant was desirable,
an amendment was moved by the Dissenters, and was
carried by an overwhelming majority. The meeting
being then in their hands, they passed resolutions con-
demning State aid to religion, and adopted a memorial
to the Governor, urging him not to give effect to the
views of the Church party. A deputation of leading
men was appointed to present the memorial to the
Governor, and in due course they waited upon him.
The document having been read, they waited anxiously
for his reply. It came in these terms : " I have no
remarks to make, gentlemen;" and, bowing, he dis-
missed the deputation. Whether the discourtesy were
intentional or not, it was, to say the least, irritating.

While feeling was still running high on this subject,
and in the same session in which the royalties question


had been so warmly discussed, Major Kobe threw down
the gauntlet for a pitched battle with the religious sects,
by introducing the question of State aid to religion into
the Council. He did so in these words: "The provisions
heretofore made from the revenues of the province for
purposes of religion and religious instruction are quite
inadequate. Judging from returns lately laid before
Parliament, it would appear that South Australia is one
of the most backward of all the colonies of the British
Empire in providing from its public resources for the
means of worshipping that Being to whom we owe our
existence and all the blessings we enjoy. This should
not be ; it is not in accordance with the spirit of the
colonists themselves. Let it no longer be a reproach upon
the Government and the legislative body of the province
having control over the public finances. The members
of the Church of England, forming more than half of
the entire population, have lately received the benefit
of two additional clergymen sent among them, but for
these we are mainly indebted to the pious zeal of our
friends in England. The due apportioning of Govern-
ment aid among the different sects of professing Chris-
tians is a question of some difficulty, but it is not, I
trust, unsurmountable."

In this speech Major Robe, more explicitly, perhaps,
than in his other oracular utterances, showed his total
incapacity to grasp an idea of the principles on which
the colony was founded. A Tory of the Tories, relying
on the vote of the officials in the Legislative Chamber
and his own casting vote, and unduly prejudiced in
favour of his own opinions, he had set his mind on
carrying a measure which the most bigoted would have
been ready to acknowledge was diametrically opposed
to the ideas of the fathers and founders of the colony, to
the Act of Parliament establishing it, and to the wishes
of the large majority of the colonists.

The history of this principle of disassociation of
Church and State is one of the most interesting in
colonial annals. Let us now follow the present phase
of it.


On the second day of the session Mr. J. Morphett,
destined hereafter to take a high place in the councils
of the province, presented a petition, couched almost in
the identical words of the Governor, praying for Govern-
ment aid to religion and education. It added that the
petitioners could not close their minds to the fact that
the voluntary principle had hitherto proved utterly
inadequate to supply the needs of the colony, and that
they considered the true interests of every Govern-
ment were best consulted by promoting the moral and
religious well-being of the community.

There were hundreds of men who, on the strength of
the voluntary principle being the law of the land, had
emigrated to South Australia, and this was the signal
for them to be up and doing. They held a meeting at
the "Company's" offices in North Terrace to discuss
measures for the defence and maintenance of religious
freedom, and set forth in an elaborate memorial a long
array of all the stock arguments against the proposal of
the Governor arguments too well known to need speci-
fying in detail and concluded with the prayer " that
every denomination should stand on its own basis,
without State interference, favour, or support, and that
no legislative enactment might be passed, or grant
made, for support of religion in South Australia."

Despite motions in the Legislative Council by Mr.
(afterwards Sir Samuel) Davenport and Captain Bagot,
urging delay, and a petition from the advocates of
voluntaryism, got up and signed in twenty-four hours
by two hundred persons, including many ministers
of religion, also urging delay, on the 16th of July
Mr. J. Morphett moved in the Council "that his
Excellency be requested to introduce with the estimates
for the financial year 1847, a sum of money for religious
and educational purposes, to be apportioned among the
different denominations of Christians in the province
in the rate of their numbers according to the late
census returns, and to be applied by their respective
bodies either in building places of public worship,
the support of ministers of religion, the erection of


school-houses, or the maintenance of schoolmasters or
schoolmistresses ; the sums, as apportioned, to be paid
to, and appropriated by, a limited number of individuals
in the nature of trustees to be nominated by the respec-
tive bodies ; the trustees to furnish a report to his
Excellency the Governor of the appropriation, accom-
panied by a proper statement of accounts to be laid
before the Council."

The speciousness of this motion will be seen as we
proceed. Amendments were moved against it, but
were lost, and, the vote having been taken, the matter
was allowed to rest for a time so far as the action of
the Government was concerned.

Meanwhile, meetings were held, and the discussion
of " political religion " became the order of the day.
Deputations were sent to the Governor conveying
memorials, the burden of which was in many cases
that the vote of the Legislative Council in aid of
religion without regard to its truth or error was a
violation of the rights of conscience, by compelling
individuals to contribute to the support of modes of
worship or forms of doctrine which they believed to be
unscriptural and erroneous ; that it was a misappropria-
tion of the public funds, a direct breach of the public
pledges given at the foundation of the colony, and not
justified by the then present circumstances of the
province ; and that it was, consequently, a measure
inexpedient and unjust.

In the suddenness of its introduction, and the haste
in which the vote had been passed, the advocates of
voluntaryism had been taken at a disadvantage. True,
there had been, during the administration of Captain
Grey, a skirmish on the subject, but it was conceived
that the ghost of a " State-aided Church " had been
laid. Now it was determined that, whether on the
present issue they lost or won, such steps should be
taken that, when another opportunity arose, they would
be in a position to fight the question to its bitter end.
Accordingly, a society was formed, called " The South
Australian League for the Maintenance of Keligious


Freedom in the Province," its object being not only to
oppose the present grant so far as it was still possible,
but to adopt such measures as should prevent the per-
petuity of any such action in the colony.

In a young colony, where the settlers are bent on
making provision for their wives and families, and of
seeing them in comfortable circumstances before the
bread-winners shall be overtaken by illness or old age ;
where the restraints of the mother country are to a
great extent thrown off, and every one feels himself to
be his own master ; when the old religious ties have
to some degree been broken and the enthusiasm of
Christian work has received a check by the breaking
up of old associations, it is a good thing to see large
bodies of men, at great self-sacrifice, take up with
enthusiasm a question of this kind. If the moral
history of South Australia were to be written this
episode which we now chronicle would probably be
represented as the sowing time of the great harvest of
moral and spiritual good which was developed in later

One of the first steps undertaken by the League was
to publish an address setting forth the position they
proposed to occupy. " In all political matters we know-
that obedience is due to the Government. We may
doubt the expediency or even the justice of their
measures, but we are still bound to obey them, except
in those rare cases which we may hope will never arise
in this colony. But in religion we owe no obedience
to the State. This is a matter beyond the control of
Government and in which they cannot rightfully inter-
fere. If the State should overstep its legislative
boundaries in this matter, resistance is always the
right, and may often be the duty, of every individual.
It is a point upon which there can be no concession
and no compromise, and at all times and under all
circumstances we are bound to protest against, and, so
far as may be done by lawful and peaceful means, to
impede the execution of laws which violate these our
highest and most essential rights. We are ready to



' render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's,' but we
render to God, and to God only, the things that are

It was maintained, and maintained truly, that this
principle was recognized in the Act of Parliament,
and by the Commissioners originally appointed to carry
it into execution; that in all printed statements this
was set forth as an inducement to emigration, and' that
they were justified in requiring a fulfilment of the
pledge which induced so many of them to emigrate.

The machinery of the League was soon in working
order, information was disseminated, memorials to
Queen and Parliament prepared, and it was soon
apparent that the members were actuated by a purpose,
and would shortly become the most able and active
organization ever formed in the colony.

Meanwhile numerous petitions were presented in the
Council Chamber for and against religious endowments,
until, on the 19th of August, the question of a grant was
formally introduced, when Mr. Morphett moved that the
sum of 1110 10s. be placed upon the Supplementary
Estimates for 1846, to be appropriated in accordance
with the terms of his previous motion, with the addition
that the trustees should be appointed in such manner
as the Governor might by proclamation direct, subject
to the proviso that such trustees should, on the 31st of
March, 1847, make a report to the Governor, to be laid
before the Legislative Council, of the manner in which
the moneys had been applied.

An amendment was moved, but it was found that
the mover and seconder were the only opponents to
the grant.

It must be admitted that the sum was not a large
one, although on a question of principle, of course, this
was immaterial. The proportion for the Jews, who
had petitioned to be included, was found to be 2 18s.
per annum !

Less than a month later, the conduct of the Lieutenant-
Governor and of the Legislative Council in voting this
money in opposition to the declared sentiments of the


great majority of the colonists was the subject of an
appeal to her Majesty and to the Imperial Parliament
for protection, the memorial to the Queen being signed
by 2530 persons.

Eventually good came out of the apparent evil. The
carrying of such a question in opposition to the wishes
of the large majority raised at once the desire for a
more popular system of representation, and zealous
efforts were forthwith inaugurated to this end.

Before the year closed the Governor, who had been
the cause of all the strife, had grown weary of his office,
for which it must have been obvious to himself, as. it
was to everybody else, that he was unfit, and had appealed
to the Home Government to relieve him of his respon-

Notwithstanding the fact that the year 1846 was a
year of controversy and political discontent, in other
respects it was marked by progress and prosperity. On
the 14th of January, 1846, the announcement was
made of Captain Sturt's return from the interior, after an
unsuccessful attempt to proceed beyond latitude 24 30'
and longitude 138 to the north-west and latitude 25 45',
longitude 139 13' northwards. Both he and his party
had suffered greatly from scurvy.

The arrival of the party at Adelaide was an event
of deep interest, especially to those who had witnessed
its outfit and start some eighteen months previously.
The procession was as novel as it was interesting the
long beards of the brave fellows almost hid their faces,
and, on account of the exposure to^which they had been
subjected, they appeared more like a race of beings
from the regions into which they had penetrated than
Europeans. The wheels of the drays were caulked and
stopped up with whatever materials could be spared to
fill up gaps and cracks to keep them together; the
woodwork of the drays showed that every particle of
oil and turpentine had been extracted by the heat of
the sun. But the most singular object of attraction
was the remainder of the flock of sheep following, from
habit, the last of the drays, as quietly and regularly as


a rear guard of infantry. As the expedition moved
slowly up Bundle Street and King William Street, the
spectacle appeared too impressive and suggestive to
excite shouts or greetings, but many and hearty were
the welcomes given when the party halted in Victoria

In the early part of the year (1846) the Governor,
accompanied by his private secretary and Mr. Burr,
deputy surveyor-general, proceeded in the Government
cutter, which on this occasion was commanded by
Captain Lipson, K.N., harbour-master, for the purpose
of. examining the bays on the south-east coast of the
colony, of which little was then known. The Governor
reported favourably of Lacepede Bay and of Guichen
Bay, at which a township had been laid out and was
about to be offered for sale. During his six weeks' trip,
in which he traversed about four hundred miles by land
and as much by sea, he gained and imparted so much
valuable scientific information, that towards the end
of the year he was induced to take another trip, this
time to Spencer's Gulf, to inspect the ports and inlets
along the coast. On his return he officially reported
the results of his visit, and in the course of his
geological observations remarked that on the western
side of the head of Spencer's Gulf the hills were of red
sandstone, in strata nearly horizontal. " In other parts
of the globe," he said, " coal is very frequently associated
with this formation." At Lipson's Cove he observed
that the rocks seen were gneiss and hornblende schist,
nearly vertical and having a general course north and
south. " This formation," he wrote, " is, in other
countries, frequently rich in metallic ores." If Major
Robe could only have made known how rich and
extensive the mineral deposits on Yorke's Peninsula
were, he would have made his name immortal. But
the great discovery was not made until fifteen years

The only other attempt at exploration this year was
undertaken in July by Mr. J. A. Horrocks, who, with
a small party and a camel, set forth to explore the then


unknown country north-west of the ranges of Mount
Arden. Progress was reported from time to time, but
in September came the sad tidings that by the acci-
dental discharge of a gun Mr. Horrocks had been shot ;
mortification set in, and he died. The expedition,
therefore, returned to Adelaide.

Wealth and prosperity, by the end of 1846, had now
fairly taken the place of previous depression. Agricul-
tural operations had been extensively increased, large
land sales effected, vast mineral treasures developed, and
trade and shipping considerably augmented. The result
of this commercial revival was the recommencement of

The new year (1847) opened auspiciously. Intelligence
was received that Lord John Russell had succeeded Lord
Stanley as Secretary of State for the Colonies, and that
one of the first acts of the new Secretary had been to
expunge the royalty clause from the imperial Waste
Lands' Bill. In this direction, therefore, the horizon
appeared clearer, but in another the clouds of religious
dissensions were still gathering blackness.

In April the Governor submitted to the Legislative
Council the reports of the trustees, showing how the
grants in aid of religion and education had been
distributed. A discussion ensued, in the course of
which the Governor said he considered the plan
adopted in New South Wales for the distribution of
money in aid of religion and education was preferable
to the one being carried out in South Australia, the
principle of the former being to assist voluntary efforts
in the proportion of half or equal the amount so raised ;
and a few days later he laid before the Council " A
Bill to promote the Building of Churches and Places of
Worship and to provide for the Maintenance of Ministers
of Religion." It proposed that whenever a sum of not
less than 150 had been raised by private contribution
towards a church or chapel, a grant in aid should be
allowed of any sum not exceeding the amount of the

* Four vessels arrived from England in one day, and 655 persona
lauded in one week.


private contribution, provided that no grant should
exceed the sum of 300. As regarded ministers'
stipends, when one hundred persons residing within a
reasonable distance of a proposed place of worship
subscribed to a declaration setting forth their desire to
attend the same, the sum of 100 per annum would
be granted towards the minister's stipend ; when two
hundred persons subscribed, the sum of 150 would
be granted; and when five hundred subscribed, 200,
which was to be the maximum rate in aid of stipends.
Various other scales for a lesser number than one
hundred subscribers were introduced into the Bill,
together with elaborate clauses relating to the duties
and obligations of trustees.

This Bill (which was designated by the Observer "a
legislative curiosity") set the members of the League
for the Maintenance of Eeligious Freedom to work in
earnest, as it preserved all the objectionable features of
the one it was intended to supersede and would
infallibly perpetuate and augment the dissatisfaction,
strife, and alienation caused by the former measure,
more especially as this was framed on a model to suit
the exigencies of a penal settlement.

On the second reading of the Bill the advocate-
general undertook the defence of the measure, and a
warm discussion followed. When the Council was in
committee on the Bill many amusing views were
propounded and some curious theological arguments
adduced. Thus, one member (Mr. Hagen) was of
opinion that the word " Christian " should precede
" worship," and read " places of Christian worship."
Major O'Halloran objected, on the ground that all those
who contributed should benefit, whether Chinese,
Hindoos, or New Zealanders, and by the proposed title
the Jews would be excluded ; to which the Governor
replied, " He only understood the Council was legislating
for the Christian religion the Bill for the promotion
of Mahornmedanism was not yet before them ! "

Meantime the League was busy in pulpit, press, and
platform, all over the province, while Mr. George Fife

1847.] EDUCATION. 231

Angas, to whom the petition for aid in the mother
country had been sent, was using every endeavour to
bring the matter under the notice of members of
Parliament and others in Great Britain interested in
the question. But, notwithstanding all this, the Bill
was read a third time and was carried.

During the session of the Council an elaborate
financial statement was made, showing that the land
sales had enabled the Governor to appropriate the sum
of 160,000 to immigration purposes, and that arrange-
ments had been made for the despatch from England
of one vessel per month. A large sum was also avail-
able for public works and buildings. In the matter
of education a Bill was introduced fixing the payment
of teachers as follows: Minimum rate for twenty
scholars, 26, and maximum rate for fifty scholars and
upwards, 50 ; for every advanced pupil, teachers
should receive 1 per head additional. A Board of
Education was constituted to carry out the provisions

Online LibraryEdwin HodderThe history of South Australia from its foundation to the year of its jubilee (Volume 1) → online text (page 20 of 34)