A Royal Visit –
Prince Edward and George –
The mayoral Ball –
Great Picnic to Enoggera –
Death of Bishop O’Quinn –
Irish Home Rulers
Prince Edward or “Eddie” and the present King (then Prince George) came to Australia in 1881 with a squadron commanded by Admiral Lord Clanwilliam, who was son-in-law of the Governor of Queensland, Sir Arthur Kennedy.
The Princes were just lads – Edward, tall, sedate, and reserved; George a merry little chap, full of fun, and rather a handful for the Rev. Dalton who was the special tutor of the pair.
Brisbane set out to give the squadron, and the Princes especially, a mighty good time, and there was a period of intense gaiety. A special ball was given at Government House, and it certainly was a brilliant affair.
The officers and men of the fleet were typical Britishers, and Clanwilliam especially a cheery soul, despite a somewhat saturnine expression. He had a distinguished record, but was a hero of the mildest manners.
A sensation amongst the womenfolk was caused by the handsome and distinguished Prince Louis of Battenberg, who was one of the most unassuming of men. Later he became an admiral in the British service and at the outbreak of the big war it was he, with Winston Churchill, who had the British Fleet ready for action instead of dispersed after the manoeuvres.
It was a sad day for Louis of Battenberg when he had to stand down after was declared, because of his German birth and ancestry. He was heart and soul a Britisher, and, though he retired from the navy, he and his family wrought right royally for our cause. He and the rest of the family took the name of Mountbatten, and there was some talk about “disguise under a new name,” but our King – I think the best and most truly constitutional monarch who ever occupied the British Throne, God bless him – changed his name from Wettin to Windsor. And do not the English people, or part of them, call themselves the Anglo-Saxon race?
Here it may be said that some of our most brilliant soldiers in the war were of German descent, just evolved Britishers.
For two years I was Queensland President of the Returned Sailors and Soldiers’ Imperial League, and unveiled various war memorials. On every memorial I have seen, except that of Redland Bay, there is a string of German names, lads of German descent, who gave their lives for our Empire, and may the Great Comforter take their souls to his keeping. For that digression I do not intend to offer any apology.
Mr. John Sinclair was Mayor of Brisbane on the occasion of the visit of the Princes. It is not very long since Mr. Sinclair went to his rest, but he will not be remembered by the later generation, unless it will be as a bent old man driven about in a phaeton with a smart pair of darkish-grey ponies – shapely little chaps, but ill-coloured.
Mr. Sinclair was a partner in the firm of Smellie and Co., and I think, head of the firm after the retirement of Mr. Richard Smellie. He was tall and broad shouldered, a man gentle in many things, but dour in others, and with all the old Covenanting obstinacy. He was very popular.
He gave a splendid ball in the old Exhibition Building, which was on the site of the present Queensland Museum, and was later destroyed by fire.
Mr. Sinclair was greatly helped by Miss Kennedy and other ladies, but the hostess was Miss Sinclair, the daughter of the Mayor, and who later became Mrs. George Townsend, a son of old Captain Townsend, of Sandgate.
George Townsend had been in the Native Police, was one of my old Northern pals, and afterwards was with Mr. J. O’Neil Brenan in the Immigration Department. He was a tall, straight, dashing chap, generous and remarkably clever.
At the Mayoral Ball, at the ball at Government House, and in the gaieties generally, partners for the young Princes were selected by Miss Kennedy.
The favourites were Miss Kitty Austin (now the wife of Colonel Richard Dowse, associate to the Federal Chief Justice), and Miss “Pigeon” or, as she was more familiarly known, “Pidgey” Austin.
These were the beautiful daughters of a well-known surveyor of Queensland.
A brother, Captain Colin Austin, was a comrade of mine in Africa in “the days when our beards were black,” and he “went west” in the Great war – a gallant comrade.
John Sinclair was a handsome and distinguished host and on a dais in the Exhibition ballroom there was a fine array of “fair women and brave men.” Those who came to visualize John Sinclair as he was in 1881 may step up to the Town Hall, where a very fine portrait of the man is to be seen, with others who did good things in the civic life of Brisbane.
Those of us who were at the Mayoral ball in honour of the Princes will never forget the occasion. We have no such brilliant affairs in these later days. And we danced literally until the cows came home. One need not be snobbish to revel in the memory of those days when Queensland’s best were men and women of character and culture – not that there is the slightest idea of invidious comparisons. And it was the fashion in those days for woman’s attire to be décolleté. But, bless us, the dashing women of those days would be “frumps” now, when Susan Jane cannot wear her best gown because she has a bruise on her left hip!
A Parliamentary picnic to the waterworks at Enoggera, then one of our favourite show places, was exclusive. We went out in carriages, hired waggonettes, and per horse. The Princes rode on very good horses, drawn from goodness knows where. Miss Kennedy rode her beautiful blood mare Queen of the Forest, and my mount was a handsome chestnut, New Chum, by Newbold, bred by Mr. John Finnie at Drayton, and bought by myself and Mr. W. H. Kent for hurdle racing.
Both the royal lads were good horsemen, after the Hyde Park manner, some of us thought, but both had done more hunting in pretty hard country than we then knew. They wore grey suits, and grey pot hats, low-crowned and narrow-brimmed. The trousers, or “slacks”, as we know them, were strapped down tightly under lustrously polished boots.
The picnic, with the little boating trips on the beautiful artificial lake, with its revel of blue and white lilies, was delightful, and the luncheon was superb, done in the best manner of Mr. Charles Baldwin, of the Parliamentary Refreshment Rooms, a man of great taste and skill, though he had just drifted into the job – a very pleasant, educated, and cultured man, whose hobby was church and benevolent work, a pillar of the old St. John’s.
Morehead outshone himself that day in a brilliant and witty speech, and Clanwilliam proved himself a speaker as well as a fighter. But the honours of the day were with Mr. Jacob Low, a fat little man, gentle in nature as his own merinos, the owner of a sheep station out St. George way, and member of the Legislative Assembly for Balonne. As a recognition of his contours we rackety youths called him the member for Balloon! At the close of his speech he implored Clanwilliam to ignore the order to leave Brisbane, and quoted as justification the story of Nelson applying his blind eye when a signal for withdrawal was given on a very famous occasion.
Mr. Jacob Low was ingenuous, sincere, and with a spice of mother wit which few suspected. He and Clanwilliam practically fell on each other’s necks, and for the rest of the day were arm in arm.
Clanwilliam said to Dalton and the Princes: “Look here Dalton; tell your charges that this is one of the pioneers of Australia, one of the men who are making this country so great, and he really looks well for a man fed on damper and mutton.”
Then turning to Captain O’Callaghan, he said: “Look here, Corney – what the devil is damper?”
It was a delightful day, full of fun and the joy of living, and the return to Brisbane was quite late in the evening.
The real organisers of the entertainment of the Princes and the squadron were Captain Cornelius O’Callaghan, A.D.C., and Private Secretary of the Governor, and Mr. A. V. Drury, who for so many eyars was clerk to the Executive Council. “Corney” O’Callaghan was a witty Irish soldier, but with no end of solid sense and judgment. He was a business man to the finger tips, and I often told him that he would make a fortune as a hotel proprietor, though it was coarsely put: “in a pub.”
“Corney” said he had serious thoughts of the game, and he was only waiting for an attractive widow with the notice experience. He was always scrupulously arrayed, mainly with London clothes, but he had his boots made by Banfield, who had a shop in Queen Street, next to Poulsen’s Studio, opposite the present Treasury Buildings. Many of us wore such boots. They were of black leather, for which we had a most lustrous polish, and the tops were of grey cloth with pearl buttons. Banfield was an artist.
A.V. Drury was one of the most cultured men of his day, the son of an English parson, and educated partly on the Continent. He was a wonderful organiser; his hand was over everything yet rarely seen. He knew how things should be done, and McIlwraith and Palmer – especially Palmer – gave him a free run. Mr. Victor Drury is a son, Mrs. Peirson (wife of Major Arthur Peirson of the Prisons Department) is a daughter. Other daughters are Mrs John Hunter Brown and Mrs. Tabart. They were all quite small kiddies in the days the Princes were here. Ebeu fugaces!
“Corney” O’Callaghan went home to his Irish castle – upon his possession of which we insisted – and we lost sight of one of the kindest and most accomplished men – I had nearly said gentlemen – that Queensland has known. A. V. Drury lived for many years, and stuck to his post. He had the close confidence of every Government and of every Governor with whom he was associated , and wherever delicate affairs of a constitutional nature cropped up, it usually came to “Leave it to Drury.” Now Drury was a very strong man in things official, with much experience, and in emergencies Governors were glad to have him for private secretary.
In noting the visit of the late Prince Edward and of his brother, Prince George, now our King and Emperor, it might have been mentioned that His Majesty came to Brisbane on two occasions. The first was as a bright and sturdy midshipman, the second as Duke of York, with the Duchess, now the Queen Empress.
The second visit was mainly for the opening of the Federal Parliament in Melbourne to seal the Australian unity. It fell to my lot to command the escort when the Duke and Duchess of York came here, and we had a very brave show. I was a Major in the Mounted Infantry – we had not yet been turned into cavalry – and the escort was a splendid lot of lads, well mounted, and trained to the duty at Lytton, where the Citizen Forces were in camp.
We had a rehearsal from what is now the Nixon-Smith wharf, then occupied by the Howard Smith Co., up Queen Street, across Victoria Bridge, back to Government House. That was the route taken with the Royal party.
Our text books laid it down that the commandant of the escort rode a little in rear of the door of the saluting side of the carriage, but the Duke’s equerry was placed there, and my place was fixed about two lengths further back. A very serious and extremely nervous commandant impressed upon me that, despite the equerry, I was to dash forward in the event of any miscreant attempting to attack the Duke.
“You have your sword!”
I suggested that a good waddy would perhaps be better, but was seriously told that I was not to carry a stick – only a sword. Happily, I had not to slay any of my fellow citizens, and the only turbulent person was an old lady, who ran out to the side of the carriage and said to the Duke, “Kiss me, my dear!”
My next meeting with his Majesty was at a review at Salisbury Plains in 1917.
During the festivities in connection with the visit of the young Princes in 1881, “a Prince of the Roman Catholic Church” – as a clerical writer in the “Observer” expressed it – and a great citizen of Australia died. It was Bishop O’Quinn, who, in earlier days, was Bishop Quinn.
The authorities who had in hand the arrangements for the entertainment of the Princes, were greatly exercised, and the Government considered the question of modifying the programme; but the situation was relieved by an intimation from a high source that the Bishop would have been greatly distressed had he in living contemplated any change in the scheme for making pleasant the stay of the grandsons of Queen Victoria.
Bishop O’Quinn, on the occasion of the opening of St. Stephen’s Cathedral in Brisbane, had proposed a toast of the Queen in terms of glowing loyalty, and he said that Victoria had by the purity of her Court and her own great example of devotion, set a great example to the world.
A very fine appreciation of Bishop O’Quinn appeared in the “Observer” on August 20, from the pen of Father O’Donohue, who was doing occasional literary work for the paper.
Father O’Donohue’s article was credited to me, and I received many compliments upon it. It was rather painful to relinquish the glory, but many put my disclaimers down to sheer modesty.
The “Courier” also had a very fine article on August 18, and considering that Bishop O’Quinn had died at 1 o’clock on the morning of that day, the work was very creditable. Tribute was paid to the Bishop’s great work in the country, and his efforts for the general good of the community. With some people he was not popular because of his keen hostility to anything which seemed to discriminate against the people of his church.
Under Dr. Lang, and later under Mr. Henry Jordan, the immigration work was confined largely to the English provinces, while a good sprinkling came from London. Naturally then the great majority of the newcomers were Evangelicals, and mainly radical Protestants, who did not hide either their political ideas or religious views under a bushel. They were a splendid lot for a new country, or for any country, but Bishop O’Quinn did not at all relish the circumstances that his flock was losing its proportion in the population. He strove hard for immigration from Ireland, and many of the founders of good industrious Australian families came out under his auspices.
A statement, apocryphal, perhaps, attributed to him that he would “male this colony not Qld, but Quinn’s Land.” Probably this was an invention of the enemy. It may be added that the Bishop tool the “O” to his name on the occasion of the O’Connell centenary celebrations.
I saw Dr. Quinn only a few times, and that was on Press business. He was cheery temperamentally, but none the less a strong man, whose austerity on occasion was well known. Perhaps his weakness was a little inclination to trail his coat. However that may be, he was a lover of peace, and on the occasion of a riot at Charters Towers he gave great help to the authorities. On an occasion in Brisbane the Orange fraternity was to hold a picnic at Oxley Creek, and there were rumours of interference and probably some “divarsion.” Bishop O’Quinn wanted nothing of that sort of thing, so he went to the picnic and made a couple of speeches full of Irish humour and gentle good nature. He was a scholar, and his university career was brilliant.
Talking about Father O’Donohue reminds me that he was a conspicuous figure at a dinner given by Mr. Patrick Perkins at Lennon’s Hotel in honour of Mr. John Dillon, M.P., then one of the best known of the Irish members of the House of Commons.
Our old friend, George Bate, now head waiter at Rowe’s in Brisbane, was the butler at Lennon’s – he was in charge of everything. The dinner was very enjoyable, not only because Mr. Perkins and the Lennon’s chef “did us” remarkably well, but because we were a very merry company. I think I was the only Pressman present, and the favour probably was because I was a Home Ruler.
John Dillon was tall and stooped slightly; he was very pale, and that was accentuated by his black beard. He spoke freely about Irish affairs and of Australian affairs also. The question of electing our own Governors was then in the air, one of the emanations from McIlwraith’s radicalism perhaps, and the idea seemed good to me.
John Dillon took quite the other view, and I remember well how earnest he was in saying that it would not be a partisan.
“Besides,” he said, “if a Governor is elected he may very well challenge the authority and power of Ministers, and even challenge them to go to the people, their mutual masters. No, you can’t do better than to let the British Government send your Governors, who will not be partisans, and who will take the advice of their Ministers.
John Dillon surprised me by his warm admiration of the British element in the administration of our country. Not a few of us had begun to take notice of Nationalism, and some silly asses brayed about “cutting the painter.”
John Dillon did not appear to me to be either a republican or a separatist, and in that respect he was like another illustrious Irishman who visited Queensland, and of whom I saw a great deal.
I met John Redmond first at dinner one night at a Lytton Encampment, when Colonel Blaxland was commandant. Dr. O’Doherty had taken Redmond there as his guest, and there was some little feeling in the headquarters’ mess about it.
John Redmond was a leading Home Ruler, and his brother Willie, who was in Australia with him, had been in prison for the advocacy of those things which the greatest in our Empire now concede.
And that was the Willie Redmond who, though well above the age limit, went into the trenches in France in the late Great War, and as a major holding the King’s commission, gave his life for the British Empire and world freedom.
And that was the man who, in our own city of Brisbane, was called a traitor.
His main desire in going out to fight in the Great War was to prove that despite the Easter rebellion of 1916, the Irish people knew patriotism as something wider than a parochial extremism.
From the Lytton camp John Redmond and I rode up to Brisbane together – there were no trains or motor cars laid on in those days – and we had a beautiful talk.
Next day we were together at Goodna, where he went to either lay the foundation stone, or open the Roman Catholic Church.
There was never a word from Dillon or Redmond to which the keenest loyalist of today would object; but they were firm for Home Rule, as were Kevin Izod O’Doherty and John Flood.
In the rooms of the Queensland Irish Association there hangs the picture of John Redmond, but the man of later years, not the keen and splendid horseman whom I knew in 1881.
The pioneer ship of the British-India Company in the Qld trade was the Merkara. The service had been arranged by the McIlwraith Government for trade and immigration purposes, and for mails via Torres Straits. The Merkara came along shortly after I arrived in Brisbane, and I represented the “Observer” (then a morning paper) at the luncheon on boar given by Captain Ballantyne, the commander.
The Government was in strong force, with Charles Hardie Buzacott at the head of affairs, for when he was Postmaster-General he was very actively concerned in arranging the mail contract with the British-India Company. A little later on he found himself a stately home in Vulture Street, and called it Merkara; and Edgar Walker, manager of the New Zealand Insurance Company, was his neighbour – but that is a digression.
The party went down in the good old Kate, with Captain Page in command, and we had a very merry time.
Morehead was in great form on the toast of “The Press.”
At the time there had been some friction by the Chief Justice, Sir Charles Lilley, and Mr. Buzacott in connection with Press matters, and Morehead made some capital out of it. He said, referring to Mr. Buzacott: “He will probably die a martyr to the freedom of the Press, and be glorified by his sainted image placed as an example to the youth in one of the new Grammar School, with a lily (Lilley) blossoming on his breast.” I looked up the exact words in the “Queenslander.” There I saw also that Mr. Buzacott responded for the “Courier,” Mr. Haggard for the “Telegraph,” and Mr. Browne for the “Observer.”
Mr. Henry Haggard was associated with the “Telegraph” for many years. He was very musical, played with the first violins in the Musical Union under R. T. Jeffries, was wonderfully good as Perkin Middlewick in “Our Boys,” wrote luminious musical and dramatic criticisms, and spoke French like a Parisian.
The wife of Mr. Delpratt, who lately went to his rest at Tambourine homestead, was a daughter of >r. Haggard.
The Merkara opened up what was to be a great immigration system to Queensland. McIlwraith once, when criticised about his big ideas of immigration, said with one of his bursts of optimism: “I hope to see the day when we shall have coming to Queensland as many as 10,000 immigrants a year.” That was regarded as a boast, but McIlwraith lived to see 25,000 immigrants come to us in a year, and taken all round they were a splendid lot of people.
Henry Jordan, and before him, Dr. Lang, had been great agents for Queensland overseas, and both sent out hundreds of people who played prominent parts in building up the industrial life of the young country.
But the best and most successful of all our immigration agents was George Randall. He was heart and soul in the work. His Yorkshire and Norfolk farmers, especially in Central Queensland, helped to give the sugar industry a backbone. Even now Mr. Randall is full of activity, and where could Queensland find a better and keener manager for an immigration system? His record is eloquent of success. The Immigration Agent in Brisbane in my time was Sir Ralph Gore, Bart, then W. E. Parry-Okeden, and then John O’Neil Brenan. The system at each end was as near perfection as could be got.
I made a special study of it in 1887-88 and, coming back to Australia – towards the end of 1888 – as special correspondent for the London “Daily Chronicle” – I travelled on the B.I.S.N. Company’s steamer Dorunda, of which my friend, Captain Hansard was skipper.. Captain Hansard had been Marine Superintendent of the company in Brisbane, and married a daughter of Mr. Daniel Foley Roberts and a sister of the late Mr. Pring Roberts.
The single men were carried forrard, the married couples amidships, and the single girls aft. The single girls were under a matron and assistants, and the medical officer was the autocrat on board. He was an officer of the Queensland Government.
Concerts were held about twice weekly, there were lectures and games, and, on two afternoons a week, visiting.
The single girls were very nice and respectable, and the matron saw to it that there was no indiscretion. She was really an official chaperone.
Every week prizes were given for the best kept tables and tableware, and I was nearly always the judge.
When Queensland resumes immigration on business lines, I recommend to the Government – whatever Government we may have – that the old methods of transport be revived. Nowadays conditions are very mixed.
After the publication of the notes on immigration< i had a characteristic letter from my old political enemy and very esteemed fellow Queenslander, Mr. John Mann, formerly a member of the Legislative Assembly. Mr. Mann had rather a rough spin on his arrival. The officials, obviously impressed with the idea that young John Mann was a likely and somewhat experienced farm hand, tried to get him down to Mackay, where the Griffith attitude towards sugar was having an effect, and where a lot of his friends were earning 12 / 6d a week each!
He however landed at Cairns – a “backblocker” whose former wanderings in Scotland had only been as far as the Elgin Cattle Show – and then had a pretty rough time on the railway construction.
It may be that the hard days John Mann experienced in Queensland, and on the way out as well, helped to make him the strong, determined character which we all recognise. He is sugar growing up at Edmonton, in the Cairns hinterland.
He was a very keen Labour man – and probably still is – but a man of his nature could not stand for the destructive policy of the extremists. He was the type of Labour man who believed that the salvation of the proletariat could not be accomplished by “go slow” methods and by sabotage, but by sturdy work and true unity in getting the best of all things – the fair deal.
The Brisbane Lawyers – Splendid Men of the Old School
When I came to Brisbane Mr. Peter MacPherson was a very prominent solicitor, and in 1881, he went to the Upper House.
Mr. Macpherson drafted a good deal of the legislation of the day, and was quite in the confidence of Ministers.
Like many other men in the profession, he was chiefly concerned in keeping people from going to the law, and he generally had his way.
He was tall of the Australian type, and well bearded, as was the fashion in those days. The men of Queensland were virile, bearded, enterprising. It was said, with special reference to the Poles and their lances, that a nation which lengthens its weapons shortens its boundaries. Also it has been said that a nation begins to decay when its men cut off their beards. Did not the clean faced Roman lose his grip on power, and see arise the bearded men of Northern Europe and Britain? Certainly the British Army, until recent years, men on active service were encouraged to wear beards, as a bearded host in a charge looked more formidable than a beardless enemy. Of course, dear reader, you will tell us how the smooth faced Japanese smashed the hirsute Russians in Manchuria. Well, let it go at that, but one of our scientists has claimed that in the days when men wore beards the families were bigger.
However, Peter MacPherson wore a beard, but there was no measure of ferocity in his nature. He was a good speaker, a keen critic, and a capable and trusted lawyer.
Once he said to a client, who wished to go to law,, and seemed to have the chances on his side: “You can’t do it. You probably would win, but it would be an injustice. No, you will have to settle with So-and-So. Pay him like a man.”
The client was obdurate, went to another lawyer – and lost the case.
Peter Macpherson lived out on the river bank with an entrance to his place from Montague Road, where there were big gates and clumps of bamboo. The home was wide, verandahed, cool, and well shaded. On the adjoining lot upstream was a Chinaman’s garden, and in later years we practised our ponies at polo on the spot.
Mrs. Macpherson was a sister of Sir Pope Cooper; tall, dark, handsome, and distinguished. The Macpherson family, or part of it, abides in Brisbane, and a son, with partners, carried on the profession of his very worthy father.
It was about February, in 1881, that Mr. Robert Little was Crown Solicitor. His home and office in earlier days had been at the cottage at the corner of George and Adelaide Streets, where the Hotel Daniel now stands.
In 1881 the cottage was part of Lennon’s Hotel, a newer two storied brick building. The Lennon’s moved down George Street into the new building , and the corner place was entirely rebuilt.
Robert Little was a very fine type of the English lawyer, but also rather suggestive of the country gentleman. physically he was tall, straight, and distinguished looking, and he had a very keen eye for a good horse.
He later entered into partnership with Eyles Irwin Caulfield Browne under the style of Little and Browne, and later Mr. H. L. E. Ruthning joined the firm, which became Little, Browne and Ruthning.
Mr. Little built a beautiful home on the Albion Heights and called it Whytecliffe. The house stands today as good as the day it was built; a tribute to the bricks, mortar, and workmanship of those times. With a considerable family of youngfolk Whytecliffe was a bright and happy place.
In later years, when Mr. Robert Little had passed to his rest and the family was scattered, Whytecliffe was too big for the ordinary family residence. Gardeners and house domestics were more difficult, private entertaining, even by those who could afford it, became even less the vogue, and the beautiful place was converted into a great private hotel. It still looks spic and span, and of afternoons, the tennis courts are well filled, and the dwellers there have the wonderful view of the river, city, forest, and mountains.
Mr. Little’s sons I knew well. Frank was a banker, a good citizen, who gave a son, a fine young fellow, to the Empire in the great struggle, 1914-18, when so many Australian boys laid down their lives for a cause.
Vincent followed the law, and was in my time Associate to Mr. Justice Pring, and later one of the firm of Bunton and Little, solicitors. Vincent Little rode a beautiful little bay horse, about 15 hands high, and just an ideal type of light hack.
Willie Little entered the Government service on the Works side, and, as is Frank, is still with us.. Willie was a splendid horseman, a prominent member of the Ben Hunt Club when Gawn Echlin and then Adolph Feez hunted the pack, and I saw him on an occasion win a steeplechase at Eagle Farm (Ascot) on his staunch little grey Blue Peter.
Mrs. J. P. de Winton was a daughter of Robert Little, and also Mrs. Gilson Foxton, of Indooroopilly.
Mr. Robert Little did not seem to have any political aspirations. I fancy that he was not quite built for the rough and tumble of that sphere. Parliamentary amenities, even in those days of better educated and more cultured men, had their peculiarities.
A very conspicuous figure in the Parliamentary, social, and legal, life of the early 1880s was Mr. Daniel Foley Roberts. He was a member of the Legislative Council and Chairman of Committees. I knew him very well indeed.
In New South Wales as a young man he was an accomplished amateur rider, and shortly after we met, and on learning whence I originated, he said: “I sometimes rode for your father at Homebush.”
Mr. Roberts was a very keen lawyer, and held in vast respect both in and out of the profession. The late Chief Justice of Queensland, Sir Pope Cooper, was, I think, a nephew of Mr. Roberts – at any rate, he was a relative.
As Chairman of Committees Mr. Roberts was very successful. He had the Standing Orders at his finger tips, and was a very acceptable presiding genius in a House which had in it a great deal of ability and quiet dignity.
Mr. Roberts left a large family, one of whom I knew intimately, the late Daniel Foley Pring Roberts, who was very prominent in football and cricket, and also a very clever boxer.
A daughter is Mrs. Graham Hart, of Indooroopilly, whose bright and charming qualities and many good works are still cherished by a very wide circle.
Daniel Foley Roberts, in addition to being a clever horseman, had been a good cricketer, and played in many a match in Brisbane in the days when the wickets were pretty rough, but the spirit of the game was in close adherence to the injunction of Horace: “Play the game and be a King!”
Mr. Roberts made a beautiful home on Bowen Terrace – Ravenswood – which, like Whytecliffe, has been converted into a house for many people. I hate the well-known term, “boarding-house.”
It is difficult to say very much of Mr. Eyles Irwin Caulfield Browne, for he was very reserved, and though a member of the Legislative Council for some years he was not an active politician. He was of very pronounced views, but not a keen party man. He was a great reader and thinker, and would have made a fine journalist had he not devoted himself to the law. His health was in later years by no means robust. On days when the Legislative Council was sitting, Mr. Browne was to be found in his place there; otherwise his time was spent mainly at his office, or at his home, a delightful place called “Kingsholme,” just below New Farm. He watched public events very closely, and he had a very high opinion of the political views of Sir Thomas McIlwraith.
Mr. Browne was generally regarded as a close Conservative, but his views were markedly progressive. Yet I used to somewhat shock him with “Observer” headlines though, looking back into the old files, they see m now to be extraordinarily mild, tending to placidity rather than to sensationalism.
Mrs. E. I. C. Browne was a sister of Mrs. (Justice ) Harding, and both were sunny-natured women of the finest type. The initials “E. I. C.” suggests a family association with the old East India Company., and in the beautiful little church at Frampton, in Dorset, there are the burial places of or memorials to a good many Brownes who were admirals or judges or soldiers of the honourable Company. However, E. I. C. Browne was a very retiring man in his life, and reference to him may be left at the point that he was a capable and trusted lawyer of the good old school.
The members of a very well remembered firm of solicitors were Graham Lloyd Hart and John Henry Flower. In 1881 their office was over the A.M.P. Chambers. The firm did not take ordinary cases. With Messrs. Hart and Flower it was not a case of business first. The class of business was the main thing. That is to say, no dubious case would be taken, no matter how great the monetary incentive.
Mr. Graham Hart was one of the school of high-minded men, who regarded his profession as a sacred trust. He was intensely practical, had the confidence of everyone associated with him, and was a very wise and generous counselor and friend.
How pleasant it is to write of the leading solicitors in those days. They were nearly all temperamentally opposed to lawsuits, and would tolerate no quibbling. Usually it was put to the clients as stated in the case of Mr. Peter Macpherson, that perhaps a settlement might be reached. It is fair to reckon that at least 50 per cent of cases going to the men of whom I write were settled equitable and honourably.
Mr. Graham Hart is survived in the practice by his son, William Hamilton Hart – and it “like father like son”- while another son is Mr. Percy Hart, a well-known barrister and a good “Digger.”
Mrs. Graham Hart has been referred to in the notes on Mr. Daniel Foley Roberts. John Henry Flower, like his partner, was a clever lawyer, a man who knew his job, and did it as a faithful officer of the Supreme Court. He was warm hearted, generous, and well beloved by all who were associated with him. He, too, had great strength of character, and once having entered upon a case he disclosed the attributes reminiscent of Shakespeare’s advice to the man concerned in a quarrel. Mr. Graham Hart made his home out at Indooroopilly on a high ridge which runs east and west, parallel to the river, and called it “Greylands,” and Mr. Flower pitched his tabernacle at “Kirkston,” on the heights just south-west of Lutwyche.
Mr. A. W. Chambers, who practised in 1881 or 1882 up in Queen Street, nearly opposite the Town Hall, was better known to me as a musician than as a lawyer. He was a prominent member of the Brisbane Musical Union for many years, and sang with the basses. He came to Queensland when 10 years old, and was thus almost a son of the soil. His father was an architect and engineer, well known in Brisbane; and Arthur Williams Chambers began his working life as a junior master at the Brisbane Grammar School, and he was a brilliant Latinist, and a great disciple of Henry Linacre. He sometimes regretted that he had not stuck to scholastic work, of which he was very fond, but he went into the office of Messrs. Garrick and Lyons with his articles (considerably before my time), and emerged a full blown lawyer. He joined Mr. Lyons as a partner, then practised with Mr. Baxter Bruce as a partner, and ultimately there was evolved the firm of Chambers, Bruce and McNab, on the inclusion of young Alec. McNab, whom I remember as a sturdy and athletic stripling.
My friendship with Walter Horatio Wilson was a thing that I very much prized, and the memory of it is full of fragrance. He was a good man, kind, temperate, just, and with a wonderful sympathy for those who needed help. Like the Rev. Thomas Jones, better known as Canon Jones –of whom more anon – W. H. Wilson never considered whether a man was the cause of his own trouble. It was enough for him that there was a chance to help. That always seems to me a beautiful evidence that Christian charity, even if rare, is not unknown “under the sun.” My acquaintance with him began over a legal matter, and it ripened during his service in the Griffith Government, when he was Postmaster-General and Leader of the Legislative Council. Mr. Wilson was very acceptable to the Upper House, being extremely courteous, firm when necessary, and always ready to give even his critics credit for the best intentions. Very often it was his ("the Act") and consideration which secured for him his way in a House where his party was not always in the majority. As a lawyer he was of that good old school, which did not promote law suits. He was very prominent in the musical life of Brisbane, and was extremely helpful to the Musical Union in the days when a few enthusiasts were building up a love for good work.
In his house he had a pipe organ, very largely of his own building, and there he would spend hours with the great masters of the wordless messages.
Mr. Wilson was twice married, the children of his first marriage being Mr. F. W. Wilson, who had a distinguished career at Oxford and practised at the Bar in Brisbane, but who died just in his prime, and Mrs. H. F. S. Moran, of Brisbane, who was, like her father, a brilliant musician.
Secondly, Mr. W. H. Wilson married a daughter of Mr. Justice Harding, and is survived by a son, another brave “Digger” having made the supreme sacrifice in the Great War. In his practice, Mr. Wilson was joined by Mr. Newman Wilson, a member of a well-known Ipswich family, and later the firm became Wilson, Newman Wilson, and Hemming, the last named being the surviving partner.
Later Mr. C. S. Mein became Mr. Justice Mein, of the Supreme Court, the first case of a solicitor being raised to that position in Queensland. Mr. Mein had, however, been a member of the Legislative Council, and held Cabinet rank on several occasions from 1876 on. I am not quite sure, but think that the offices included that of Solicitor-General. Prior to being raised to the Bench he had joined the firm of Hart and Flower. He was not a robust man, but he did very fine service in the old volunteer days of the Defence Force, and held rank as Lieutenant-Colonel, commanding the old Moreton Regiment. As a judge he proved an excellent selection, and on one occasion during a controversy on appointments to the Bench he was given as an instance of the wisdom of drawing judges from the lower branch of the profession. It was contended that the solicitor in a big general practice was likely to be much better able to weigh evidence than a man who had always had a brief to take into court. “Charley” Mein had been a good cricketer, was fond of a good horse, and was credited with having a quiet interest in one or two which were fairly successful at Eagle Farm as we knew the Ascot of today.
The members of the firm of Daly and Hellicar were very well known men. “Tom” Daly I used to meet up in Cooktown, when he was a Crown Prosecutor with Judge Hely in the District Court. He was either a native of Brisbane or came here very young, and his home was up near Parliament house, by Alice Street and Margaret Street – a little old cottage vine covered and shaded by generous trees. He was a man of quiet nature, but very sound as a lawyer. Personally, I did not know him very well.
His partner, George Valentine Hellicar, was a personality – tall, strong, active, and energetic. He was a major in the Moreton Regiment, and, like Thynne, Mein, Cardew, and other lawyers, did much to train up Queenslanders to their duty in the matter of defence.
Hellicar married a Miss Halloran, one of the strikingly handsome daughters of the Sheriff of Queensland, and his son, Val. Hellicar, of the Bank of Australia, lately left Brisbane for Sydney.
Another of the old school of lawyers was “Tom” Bunton, whose firm later was Bunton and Little. Bunton was a close friend of Sir S. W. Griffith, in whom he had an intense faith.
Yet another was John Keane, a jaunty figure in the early 1880s with Dundreary whiskers, a white top hat, and almost invariably with a very gay necktie and a not less gay “buttonhole” of flowers. Keane was a Sydney native, and was a great authority on all sorts of sport. He was in my time Secretary to the Crwon Law Office, and held that position in 1883, when Mr. Justice Chubb (or should it be now plain Mr. Chubb?) was Attorney General in the McIlwraith Ministry. Then there was the younger generation – H. L. E. Ruthning, J. F. G. Foxton, George Markwell, C. E. and H. E. Smith, L. F. Bernays, Pollet Cardew, and perhaps some others of note.
Of course there was also J. G. Appel, a very handsome and warm hearted young Queenslander of French extraction on the paternal side, his father’s folk having been driven out of their country into Germany in the Huguenot days. Like Foxton, he took up the political career, and served the State as a Cabinet Minister. I like best to remember him as a musician. He had a beautiful and wonderfully well trained baritone voice, and one song of his rings in my ears today, with the refrain (given from memory):
Still thy form, so fair, so dear
Like guardian angel hovers near.
Those dwellers of the Logan electorate, when next their member seeks their suffrages, should promise to continue their support only on condition that he sings to them at each meeting “The Wanderer.” Alas, our paths now are so wide apart that we do not even meet even once in three years; but George Appel, with the soul of an artist, the heart of a child, and the strength of a Greek wrestler, is vividly in my mind.
And we were friends in those old days of eighteen hundred and ever so many.
J. G. Foxton, Colonel Foxton, C.M.G., V.D., deserves more than a line, for he was as conspicuous in the government of Queensland as in defence. He was an untiring worker; practically he worked himself to death, and as a citizen soldier he gave service which should make his name well remembered in our Commonwealth.
Almost I had forgotten Thomas Macdonald-Paterson, who, as a member of the Legislative Council and Postmaster-General in several Ministries, did great service to the State. He was one of the pair that defeated Thomas Joseph Byrnes and his political partner in the famous run for North Brisbane, after which one of the most brilliant of Queensland sons (Mr. Byrnes) had to find a refuge at Warwick, whose people very gladly accepted him and sent him back to his place in the Government.
Macdonald-Paterson’s mate on that occasion was “Bob” Fraser, a Mayor of Brisbane, a Captain in the Queensland Scottish Volunteers, and, quite as a secondary consideration – if even that- a soft-goods merchant and importer.
In the old days at Rockhampton, Mac-Pat., as he was often called, was in business, and bad times somewhat crippled him; but he studied then for the law, and was admitted as a solicitor, and soon established a big and profitable practice. One day a number of business men, bankers, and others received invitations from the now rising lawyer to dinner. Each guest’s place was marked by an envelope, and in each envelope was a cheque representing the balance of debt, with interest, standing over in the old Macdonald-Paterson estate. And when it came to toasting “Our Host,” it is doubtful if ever the assertion that “He’s a jolly good fellow” was given with greater sincerity,
Another point of interest in the man, was his friendship with James Tyson. The millionaire pastoralist thought there was not such another in Queensland, or anywhere else for that matter. When any person or corporation put up a proposal to Tyson, the old man would say: “Well, I’ll see Paterson.”
And sure enough he would discuss the matter, with his lawyer and confidant. Now Macdonald-Paterson, with all his cheery way and goodness of heart, had a wonderfully fine vision. He was a remarkably keen business man, and it is said that Tyson took no step of importance in the matter of investments unless upon Macdonald-Paterson’s advice. Even when Tyson was plagued nigh to death by Morehead to make a speech in the Legislative Council, he only weakened to the extent of saying: “I’ll talk to Pat-.” But Morehead got in a rasping: “D… Macdonald-Paterson.”