Henry Parkes.

Speeches on various occasions connected with the public affairs of New South Wales, 1848-1874 online

. (page 1 of 48)
Online LibraryHenry ParkesSpeeches on various occasions connected with the public affairs of New South Wales, 1848-1874 → online text (page 1 of 48)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook








Sydney 125 New Pitt Street









The substance of the speeches here collected has been
gathered from various sources, but chiefly from printed
reports in the local newspapers; the earlier ones from the
Empire, and most of the later ones from the Sydney Morn-
ing Herald. In two instances special reports were taken.
All the reports have undergone more or less of verbal

It is to be added that the introduction was written
without any co-operation with Mr. Parkes. It is an entirely
independent composition. As the volume was being printed
in Melbourne, Mr. Parkes requested me, as a friend, to see
the sheets through the Press, and to write an introduction.
On the ground of having had some personal acquaintance
with that gentleman five-and-twenty years ago, I complied
with this request; but of Mr. Parkes personally, or of
New South Wales politics, during aU that time, I knew
nothing directly. The introduction is based wholly on the

D. B.

^£\A cicin


I. Elective Franchise —

Speech at Public Meeting in Sydney, Jan. 22nd 1849 ... 1

„ „ „ Sept. 1st 1857 ... 76
„ on Self-registration of Voters, in Legislative Assembly,

March 5th 1873 ... 370

II. Transportation Question—

Prefatory Note ... ... ... ... ... 3

Speech at Public Meeting in Sydney, June 11th 1849 ... 4

„ „ „ June 18th 1849 ... 5

„ „ „ Sept. 16th 1850 ... 7

„ „ „ April 3rd 1851 ... 9

„ „ „ April 6th 1852 ... 10

„ „ „ June 30th 1852 ... 14

III. Constitution Act—

Prefatory Note ... ... ... ... ... 17

Speech at Public Meeting in Sydney, Aug. 15th 1853 ... 18

„ „ „ Sept. 5th 1853 ... 25

IV. Election Speeches—

Election for Sydney, May 1st 1854 ... ... ... 38

V. Agriculture—

Speech in Legislative Council, July 3rd 1855 ... ... 43

VI. Taxation and Free Trade—

Prefatory Note... ... ... ... ... ... 49

Speech in Legislative Council, July 5th 1855 ... 60

„ „ „ July 25th 1855 51

„ on Ad Valorem Duties, in Legislative Assembly, Dec.

20th 1865 197

„ on Border Duties, at Albury, May 15th 1866 ... 202

„ at Public Dinner at Albury, May 15th 1866 ... 206
„ on Border Customs Duties, in Legislative Assembly,

June 19th 1872 ... ... ... ... 339

Speech on Policy of Protection, in Legislative Assembly, Oct.

29th 1873 384

VII. Eight- Hours Movement —

Speech at Meeting of Trades, at Sydney, Nov. 17th 1856 ... 70

VIII. Pacific Mail Koute—

Speech in Legislative Assembly, Aug. 6th 1858 ... ... 86

IX. Defence of the Colonies—

Speech in Legislative Assembly, Dec. 20th 1859 ... ... 97

„ „ „ in reply ... ... 109

iv Table of Contents.

X. State of Politics — page
SpeechatMeetingofE. Sydney Electors, Nov. 29th 1860 ... 112
„ at Meeting of Electors at Kiama, Aug. 10th 1865 ... 181
„ at Public Dinner at Mudgee, July 3rd 1866 ... 209
„ to Working Classes at Mudgee, Aug. 4th 1866 ... 212
„ in defence of Martin Government, in Legislative Assem-
bly, Jan. 10th 1868 ... 259

„ on Coalition of Sir James Martin and Mr. Kobertson,

at E. Sydney, Feb. 10th 1872 ... 324

XI. Land Question—

Speech on Price of Land, in Legislative Assembly, March 6th

1861 ... ... 136

XII. New South Wales as a Field for Emigration—

Speech in Town Hall, Derby, Oct. 7th 1861 ... .. 141

„ Town Hall, Birmingham, Oct. 22nd 1861 ... 148

„ Working Men's College, London, May 17th 1862 ... 154

XIII. Friendless Children —

Speech at Annual Meeting of Sydney Ragged School, July 1st
1863 ... ... ... 168

XIV. Eesponsible Government—

Speech at Public Dinner, at Braidwood, March 31st 1864 ... 171
„ „ at Kiama, Aug. 15th 1865 ... 191
„ on Evils of a Weak Government, in Legislative Assem-
bly, April 27th 1870 ... ... ... ... 305

,, on Eeform of Legislative Council, in Legislative Assem-
bly, Feb. 13th 1873 .351

XV. Public Education —

Speech on Public Schools Bill, in Legislative Assembly, Sept.

12th 1866 ... ... ... ... ... 217

„ on Administration of Public Schools Act, at Dundas,

Sept. 4th 1869 ... ... ... ... 276

„ on Progress of Education System, at Liverpool, June

4th 1871 316

„ on State of Public School System in 1873, at West

Maitland, Aug. 5th 1873 ... ... ... 374

XVI. Federation of the Colonies —

Speech at Melbourne, March 16th 1867 ... ... ... 252

XVII. Case of the Prisoner Gardiner—

Speech in the Legislative Assembly, June 3rd 1874 ... 404

A Chapter of History [Appendix A] ... ... ... 438

XVIII. Appointments to Magistracy —

Appendix B ... ... ... ... ... ... 460

XIX. Appointments to Civil Service—

Appendix C ... ... ... ... ... ... 462


The publication in Australia of a volume of speeches
delivered, for the most part, in the Legislature of an
Australian colony is an incident that marks the political
growth of these communities. It is the first contribution
of the kind made to our local literature, although single
speeches have been frequently printed for general circula-
tion. The single speech, however, seldom or never forms
an addition to the permanent literature of a country : it is
at best a fugitive pamphlet, designed to serve a special and
transient purpose. But the collected speeches of a states-
man who has also established his reputation as a public
orator are always a substantial and valuable contribution
to the materials for national history. Regarded in that
light alone, the present volume may claim the merit of
forming an excellent precedent which, it is to be hoped,
will lead in time to the publication of many similar
volumes. For there can be no reason why political oratory
should not be as sedulously cultivated, and held in as high
estimation, by the citizens of these young Australian
repubhcs as it was amongst the citizens of ancient Greece
and Rome, and as it still is in all civilised countries enjoying
the blessings of free" institutions. In merely literary value
it stands high amongst the agencies of civilisation. For
what factors would express the worth to the world's
heritage of intellectual wealth of the printed speeches of
Demosthenes and Cicero, of Burke, Grattan, and Canning ?
But a still higher value must be assigned to political oratory
considered as an agency of popular education. What tests

VI « Introduction.

and standards could measure, for example, the direct effect
in the diffusion of popular enlightenment on all the mani-
fold topics of national interest of the reported debates
in the British House of Commons? Or of the speeches,
whether delivered in Parliament or from the public plat-
form, of statesmen such as Mr. Gladstone or Mr. Bright ?
And, highest of all, the function of political oratory con-
sidered as the public exposition of the principles of
wise and just and liberal legislation, as the open defence
of the true principles of political freedom, and as the
fearless advocacy of all that aids in making a nation
prosperous and exalted — this function of an. intrinsically
noble art is of simply inestimable worth, not only to the com-
munity for whose benefit it is primarily exercised, but to man-
kind at large. Its influence for good in this respect is limit-
less and imperishable. "To do justice to that immortal
person" — said Grattan, in his own grand style, of Charles
James Fox — " you must not limit your view to his country.
His genius was not confined to England : it was seen 3000
miles off, in communicating freedom to the Americans ; it
was visible, I know not how far off, in ameliorating the
condition of the Indian ; it was discernible on the coast
of Africa, in accomplishing the abolition of the Slave Trade.
You are to measure the magnitude of his mind by parallels
of latitude."

The period has hardly yet arrived in the growth of the
Australian republics when due weight will be given to these
considerations. The sentiment of nationality has still to be
created amongst us. Or if there be some first faint stirrings
of any such sentiment, they are confined to a few individual
minds of superior stamp. There never, perhaps, was an
English " plantation" — to use the fine old Baconian phrase —
which, having a magnificent future before it, certain, and not
remote, possessed so dim a forecasting of that future. There
is probably less of those ennobling anticipations amongst us
than there was amongst the American colonists long prior to

Introduction. vii

their earliest movements towards independence. Nor, let it
be observed, is there in the language I am here using any-
intentional latent reference to the British connexion. The
future of the Australian colonies is now, in fact, quite
independent of their continued allegiance to the Crown of
England. They are separate, independent, and self-govern-
ing republics, to the full extent that they would be such
if their common connexion with Great Britain were entirely
severed. No such immediate and marvellous expansion in
population, trade, commerce, and general enterprise, would
result from the severance as followed upon the achievement
of independence in the American colonies. The simple truth
is that the British supremacy here — in so far as it affects the
internal development of the several colonies, the growth of
a sentiment of Australian nationality, or the republican
freedom and simplicity of our institutions — has ceased to
be anything more than nominal. The fact reflects glory
on the mother-country. When she gave us our freedom, she
gave it in amplest measure, and with no grudging hand.
May the silken bond that unites the venerated parent and
her children in the sunny South prove of asbestine strength
and durability! But, although an Australian Colonial
Governor keeps constantly a dutiful watch over the inte-
rests of the distant Power whose delegate he is, the change
to the colony he governs would be quite imperceptible
if, to-morrow, his patent of ofiice were to be exchanged
for that of first President of an independent Australian

The absence of the sentiment of nationality, then, is in no
degree owing to the presence of the British connexion. It
is due, indeed, to far different causes — to the intensity with
which individual and purely local interests are regarded, to
lurking mutual jealousies amongst the various colonies, and
to the littleness of mind and narrowness of view which
these engender. A haunting conviction of this littleness
and narrowness makes itself felt in every department of our

viii Introduction.

social and political life. It pervades both the common con-
versation of the marts of business and the debates in the
Legislature. It shows itself alike in journalism, literature,
and politics. Allusions to such subjects as the federation of
the colonies, the creation of an Australian national senti-
ment, the splendid future awaiting these colonies, or the
desirableness of cultivating commercial relations with the
populations inhabiting the vast world lying to the north-
ward of our continent, usually evoke no worthier comment
than a derisive smile or a whispered remark of " talking to
Buncombe." For so far, the mind of the youthful Austral-
ian is stUl left wholly unoccupied by any feeling either of
traditionary or of anticipated national greatness.

It is the crowning quality of the speeches contained in the
present volume that they are each and all instinct with this
feeling in both relations. The speaker glories in being
an Englishman, and he equally glories in being an Austral-
ian colonist. Genuine home-born loyalty to the land of his
birth does not in the least dim his clear perception of the
grandeur of the destiny in store for the land of his adoption.
In this respect the speeches are not alone superior to, but
they hold a place apart from, those of any other Austral-
ian politician which I have ever read. There is in all of
them that underlying, instinctive sense of national greatness
which is so characteristic of the speeches of leading English
statesmen, notably of Mr. Gladstone. The immediate subject
under discussion may be of the very smallest importance, but
the elevating sentiment is always present. It may be the
Compound Householder, the Cattle Plague, the dues of the
River Weaver, or the Budget for the year : but always the
speaker is an English statesman.

The second leading quality of the speeches is the con-
sistent assertion of the genuine principles of republican
freedom. From the first speech to the last, alike in 1849 as
in 1874, the speaker clearly discerns and lucidly expounds
the right relations of the people to the free institutions they

Introduction. ix

now enjoy. What he claimed for them before those insti-
tutions came into existence, he vindicated and confirmed by
his action when he himself became a popular representative
and a responsible Minister of the Crown under the better
system. The beginnings of freedom in New South Wales
were not favourable to its vigorous growth. The people
required educating up to it^ and the course of their educa-
tion is legibly traced out in these speeches. Both courage
and ability were required to fulfil the self-imposed mission
of the teacher. The small and rigidly exclusive class that,
in the earlier days, had monopolised all the political power
and social privilege in the colony were indignant at the
bare idea of any man from among the people "coming
between the wind and their (sham) nobility." Their fixed
idea of the only political institutions suitable for the mass
of their fellow-colonists was what, in one of the speeches, is
caustically but truthfully described as a " Norfolk-Island
Government." The Constitution, as they originally framed
it, was merely an elaborate machinery for perpetuating the
odious monopoly which they held. They dreaded the people
and distrusted their capacity for political freedom. A truer,
higher, manlier sentiment — " an ampler ether, a diviner air"
—breathes through these speeches. The "Norfolk-Island
Government" conception is here witheringly exposed and
scornfully rejected. Time and the progress of events have
abundantly confirmed the correctness, as well as the innate
nobleness, of the views herein enforced. Nothing less than
the unconditional simplicity of republican equality would
have stood for a single month in a community where all
men are of the same political fank. But nevertheless it was
a hard and strenuous fight for liberty. The leaders in the
struggle had to endure much opposition and persecution
of a meanly unworthy kind. The old monopolist class-
many of them men destitute alike of good birth, breeding,
and intellectual culture — were loud in their parrot-cries of
" demagogue," " socialist," "revolutionist," and similar cant

X Introduction.

phrases. The class has passed away, and the cant phrases
have dropped out of use ; but the enduring victory remains
with the faithful friends of popular freedom and social
justice. As a record of the main points in the bygone
struggle, these speeches may claim to have lasting import-
ance for the people of New South Wales. As a sustained
pleading for freedom, they should be held by the colonists
invaluable. " The speeches of great orators," says Lieber,
" are a fund of wealth for a free people, from whidi the
schoolboy begins to draw when he declaims from his Reader,
and which enriches, elevates, and nourishes the souls of the

The distinctive quality of statesmanship becomes evident
in such speeches as those on Taxation and Free-trade, on
the Federation of the Colonies, and especially on Public
Education. Measures of this high class embody principles
of Political Economy and of Civil Government which, like
the axioms of geometry, are of permanent and universal
application. A clear apprehension of such principles does
not, of itself, demand the statesman's faculty; but that
faculty is certainly required for their practical application
under given conditions of place, time, and social circum-
stance. The highest and most diflScult function of Legisla-
tion lies, not in the large and comprehensive grasp of prin-
ciples, but in the wise discernment of needful limitations.
This truth is beautifully wrought-out in one of Tennyson's
earlier poems, unnamed, but evidently addressed to some
rising young statesman amongst the Laureate's friends,
whom he counsels to " watch what main-currents draw the
years" —

*' Not clinging to some ancient saw ;

Not mastered by some modern term ;
Not swift nor slow to change, but firm ;
And in its season bring the Law."

The familiar stanzas of this finely thoughtful poem were

frequently suggested by the perusal of the present volume.

Introduction. xi

The speeches on Taxation and Free-trade in 1855 exhibit
a most careful and conscientious study of the writings
of John Stuart Mill, and of recent Parliamentary deli-
verances from leading English statesmen — certainly the
very best text-books that a colonial legislator could
have chosen for the purpose of forming his own code
of principles in relation to Taxation and Public Finance.
For several years subsequently those principles were set
aside* and a system of ad valorem duties was imposed by
Ministries to which Mr. Parkes was hostile; and on his
assumption of office, in 1873, one of the first acts of his
Government was to repeal the duties, and to simplify the
tariff as nearly to the limits of free-trade as existing circum-
stances would permit. This is an example of true states-
manship. There is, first, the comprehensive grasp of sound
principles, gained by patient study, and next there is the
prompt embodiment of the same principles in practical
legislation when the opportunity arrives. Such sustained
consistency of public conduct is, unhappily, not frequently
displayed by Australian politicians. The temptation of
winning a brief and uncertain term of office is quite suffi-
cient, in most cases, to induce an open recantation of the
avowed principles and cherished convictions of a lifetime.

On the cardinal question of the Federal Union of these
colonies the right key-note is struck in the speech delivered
in Melbourne in 1867. But the Australian politician who
holds the views set forth in that speech is in advance of his
age by at least a generation. Even upon the incidental
subject of Border Customs Duties, it is still found impos-
sible to induce neighbouring colonies to come to a mutual
understanding based on a common interest. In practice,
the present state of things is exactly what would exist in
England if every two counties separated by a river had
different tariffs ; and, in fact, the boundary between neigh-
bouring colonies is sometimes not any definite natural feature

xii Introduction.

at all, but only an imaginary line. Federation, an Australian
Zollverein, and the abolition of all the practical absurdities
involved in jarring tariffs, will only become possible for us
when our local statesmen shall all be imbued with that
spirit of generous local patriotism, combined with those
sound views upon political economy and the enlarged
sentiment of Australian nationality, which are the pervading
characteristics of these speeches.

But it is as the author of the system of Public Education
now firmly established, and working so beneficially, in New
South Wales, that the author of the speeches makes good
his claim to be ranked high on the roll of Australian states-
men. A nobler monument for himself and heritage for his
country could not be bequeathed to posterity by any man.
On this question, also, a striking example was given of
sustained consistency. From the outset of his public career
— as these speeches testify — Mr. Parkes had clearly before
his mind the paramount necessity of a broadly popular and
thoroughly liberal scheme of Education. Upon every fitting
occasion he gave expression to this conviction ; and almost
his first act upon gaining office was the framing and carrying
of the Public Schools Bill. So far as I am aware, the speech
delivered on the second reading of that Bill has not been
excelled by any Parliamentary deliverance on the same great
question, either in this or the mother-country, for compre-
hensive grasp of principles, lucidness of detail, and adaptation
to the special circumstances of time and place. It is at once
exhaustive and unanswerable. It forms a manual of the
question to which, on all future occasions when discussions
arise either on the principles or the details of the Act of 1866,
ultimate reference will be made. And, without repeating
any of the well-worn truisms on this subject, a word of warm
congratulation must here be given to those Australian
statesmen who, in the various colonies, have fulfilled the
highest of all their duties to their fellow-citizens by pro-

Introduction. xiii

viding them freely with ample and efficient means of ele-
mentary education. To " make knowledge circle with the
winds," as the Laureate counsels, is in a democratic
community the truest conservatism. For, an ignorant
democracy is self-destructive; and it surely is the first
duty of every State — as Paley defines it to be of every
Government — to make provision for its own preservation.
Nor even upon this open field of public advantage was
success won without a hard and prolonged struggle. The
opposing foe of the friends of enlightenment was, not
popular ignorance, but Sectarianism. To wrest the sacred
function of public education from the iron grasp of Secta-
rianism was an achievement of itself sufficient to found
a lasting reputation for any Australian statesman. It is
a fact of the largest significance and the brightest promise,
that the legal recognition of Sectarianism is now erased
from the Statute-book of every one of the colonies. The
religious freedom of the citizens is thus made commensurate
with their civil liberty. It may be hoped that the bene-
ficent operation of our systems of free and universal educa-
tion upon the young Australians will, in the course of a
generation or two, completely extinguish in their minds
even the traditionary recollections of sectarian hatred.

The absence of any speeches on the Land Question strikes
me as a peculiarity in the volume. Mr. Parkes, no doubt,
has had his full share in the successive struggles that have
taken place in New South Wales for the institution of a
liberal Land system ; and the omission mentioned may be
solely due to the fact that Land-question speeches are never
very readable, however important they may be when
delivered. But the omission is the more marked for me,
because that, in Victoria, the Land question is the key to all
the political discussions. Parliamentary embroilments, and
IVIinisterial changes, that have taken place since free insti-
tutions were first established. The history of the Land

xiv Introduction.

question, largely written, would really be the entire political
history of the colony from its foundation. To gain pos-
session of the territory has been the inflexible purpose of one
powerful party from the first. That purpose has always domi-
nated, and still dominates, every political movement and
every legislative measure. Up till the present moment, the
one question that ultimately determines both the personal
composition and the tenure of existence of any Victorian
Ministry is its attitude in relation to the Land question.
If this be not so in New South Wales — as the absence of
any speeches in this volume on the one supreme topic would
imply — then is that colony in a much sounder condition
politically than her neighbour Victoria.

There are in the volume two speeches in which the
personal element is unusually conspicuous. These are the
speech on the coalition of Sir James Martin and Mr.
John Robertson, and Mr. Parkes's defence of his conduct
in the case of the prisoner Gardiner. Now, in deliverances
of this character, the point to be specially noted is the
serious impeachment conveyed against other persons. A
politician cannot successfully defend himself from grave
accusations of inconsistency, amounting to a deliberate
violation of all honour and principle, without sheeting
home to his accusers charges equally grave. In the
two instances in question this retributive action of plain

Online LibraryHenry ParkesSpeeches on various occasions connected with the public affairs of New South Wales, 1848-1874 → online text (page 1 of 48)