Page 13 - Exhibitions and Characters

Twelve miles more before reaching it is the Steppes, where resides Mr John Wilson, chief district constable, who placed in the lake the first brown trout ova sent to the lake by the salmon commissioners a quarter of a century ago, and which is now swarm, and run up to 25 lb. weight. Accommodation can be obtained here, and Mr. Wilson's tales of the bushranging days are worth hearing. At Swan Bay, at the southern end of the lake, accommodation can be had at Constable T. Early's, or at a shepherd's house not far distant. The road from Interlaken is rough in places, and the drive occupies nearly six hours. Parties of anglers from Hobart usually take the Bothwell route, leaving Hobart by train at 10.30 a.m., coach from Apsley, reaching Bothwell at 3 p. m. There is nice trout fishing in the Clyde, flowing through the township. Leave by W. H. Sealy's well appointed vehicles at 6 a.m. next day, and reach Swan Bay at 2.30 p.m. stopping an hour for lunch en route. Lake Echo is only about 10 miles from Swan Bay, and a meal or bed can he obtained at a shepherd's house on its shore. It is no good visiting the Great Lake for fishing till after the New Year. The best time is February to April. Some recorded catches are: -- April, 1893. J. Carr and party, 53 fish total 470 lb., average 9½ lb., largest 17½ lb. : February, 1894, Viscount Gormanston and party, 153 lb. weight, largest 14 lb.; April, 1894, Mr. M. Seal and party, 35 fish, 297 lb., ranging from 4½ lb. to 15 lb. In concluding these notes on the lake district, I have to thank Mr. Beattie, the photographer, and Mr. W. Horne, for information kindly supplied.

In dealing with picturesque Tasmania one naturally takes an optimistic view of things. I have avoided visiting gaols and hospitals because they are not generally speaking, picturesque. Some of the charities, here, however, might be made so by the suggestions they evolve of beautiful charity, greatest of all the virtues. Hobart has as many good men and women, especially women, devoted to the cause of charity as most cities. The only institution I visit is that known as the Newtown Charitable Institution. This was formerly an orphan asylum. The buildings are clustered round St. John's Church, which bears the date of its erection 1834. That is one year before Batman camped on the banks of the Yarra. I have an idea that here I may get some useful souvenirs from some old inhabitants. But I find that the reminiscences to be obtained would not be of a kind adapted to these presents. The average number of inmates at this institution is about 550. The ages are very great. The majority, it seems, have passed man's allotted span. Out of 122 deaths recorded last year, 64 were between 70 and 80, 34 between 80 and 90 and 3 over 90. Old ago is the principal cause of death here. Mr. George Richardson, the superintendent, is very courteous in allowing us over the institution. The Catholic hospital ward is filled with old men, mostly bed ridden and very bald headed. They have arrived at the last stage of man as depicted by Shakspeare. The walls are adorned with pictures of the Blessed Virgin and the Marquis of Hartington. There is one old soldier here who commenced fighting in the Crimea and ended in Afghanistan. The Protestant hospital ward has just the same class of old men, who are only kept alive by kindness.

Outside in the courtyard the children of the officials are playing football or talking to old women, who are crawling about in the sun. The contrast between happy childhood and senile old age is very touching. I decline to see the women's quarters. I have studied enough of poverty and sickness in my day. If there is one heart breaking thing in the world it is a poor old woman. But here women as well as men have their downward path to the grave lightened by kind treatment. This Institution is supported entirely by the Government, the net cost of maintenance per head being £11 7s. 5d. On holidays treats are given to the inmates of tobacco and fruit, and on Christmas days the Cascade Brewery Company furnishes a hogshead of ale with which to make Christmas cheer, This is an example which the Victorian breweries might follow in connection with our benevolent asylums. Holiday visitors to Hobart who have a desire to study social questions might profitably visit the Newtown Charitable Institution, where all sorts and conditions of men and women in decayed circumstances are succored. Here, for example, is the grandson of one of Tasmania's Governors, This is his only refuge. The librarian in his day was a well known public entertainer, Of course these are exceptions. The majority of the old people born in Great Britain being of the uneducated class, only 46 per cent, are able to read and write. There are some Chinese here whose treatment aroused the admiration of James Ah Catt and Nie Tom, who recorded in the visitors book "We visited this institution this day and saw Ching Hing and the Goon and asked them how they liked the place and they said very much, all men very kind, plenty to eat and drink and they are comfortable. We saw all over the place, and it was clean and comfortable, and we are very much pleased with the treatment of our countrymen." I hope there are no old white people in Hobart without food and shelter whilst these Chinese are so well treated.

Since the famous exhibition of 1861, I have seen many of the Principal expositions of which it was the precursor. I am getting exhibition hardened, and prone to judge each by contrast with the last. Yet for all that, when a rumor of another great show arises, I cannot resist turning eyes and ears and, if possible, when the rumor becomes a certainty, willing steps in its direction. The philosophy of exhibition growth is a curious study. The mania to rear a cloud reaching edifice, gather therein specimens of every object under the sun, the sea and the soil, and then issue a general invitation to the peoples of the earth to come and see what has bean done, seems to be governed by certain laws at stated periods. No nation need fear that it will escape the the infection. Perhaps the country's trade is languishing, or mayhap it is vigorous, and its people waxing fat long to show off and “ go sideways” like Mr- Pickwick's horse. In either case an exhibition will cure or solace. The hour that the exhibition microbes arrive at maturity, a mysterious attraction permeates the members of the community. All these persons, side by side, distinct from each other, of different minds, intelligences, beliefs and prejudices become suddenly a special being endowed with one mind on the exhibition question. No one can tell from whom the idea first emanates. It is rarely the man who writes to the paper suggesting the wisdom of the venture. But the molecules join and form one body. A mighty space is secured, and soon " blithely on brass and timber the craftsmen's strokes are ringing," committees are formed, Agents-General are communicated with, foreign consuls are delicately flattered. The mother country evinces a deep interest if the exhibition to be is on her dependency soil, and loans out rare objects from the maternal treasure house to help the show. As Tennyson sang of the opening of the Indian and Colonial Exhibition:—

Never more,
Careless of our growing kin,
Shall we sin our father's sin,
Men that in a narrower day—
Unprophetic rulers they—
Drove from out the mother's nest
That young eagle of the West
To forage for herself alone.

There are wranglings amongst the committees to he sure, there are cross fire arguments in the press about the advisability of this or that detail, but all are agreed as to the ultimate object. Mean time the exhibition buildings hum like hives. East, west, north and south the courts arise, and round the roofs are run gallerys that give distant views and aerial pinnacles that hold telescopes. Statues are fitted into niches, the long, sounding corridors, the great and small rooms fill with exhibits from day to day. From every land come -

Produce of the field and flood,
Mount and mine, and primal wood,
Works of subtle brain and hand,
And splendors of the morning land,
Gifts from every British zone.

Then comes the opening ceremony, when a thousand young people clad in white sing an anthem, and the Governor speaks that which gratifies civic vanity, and when banquets and speeches, and descriptive articles follow each other in rapid succession.

An exhibition is a great object lesson of what man has done, an earnest of what man may do. Every succeeding show produces something newer than what has been before. My great regret is that I hall not live to see the exhibition to which, as predicted, the inhabitants of Mars, shall signal their congratulations on the opening day. I am not optimist enough to hope that they will send a representative and exhibits. The rare pictures, the curious machinery, the weird work from India, China and Japan, the anything and everything that come under the heading of exhibits become as wearisome as a twice told tale in comparison with the human units that throng to see these things. It it only enthusiasts or folks with a strong sense of duty and a desire for their money's, worth who tramp those corridors with the object of looking at all the exhibits. The people form the exhibition. Our kind will always be the attraction. We turn from the dead exhibits to watch the human stream they have been the means of diverting hither. People who have been wavering in their intention of visiting a certain country make a decision as soon as it is known that an exhibition will be held there. They meet others on the steamer or rail journey bound on the same errand as themselves, and friendships are formed which visits to the exhibition cement. The place becomes their fore-gathering ground, where they sit or walk in isolated groups, delighting in the freedom of a strange place, and thinking Mrs. Grundy is dead, because they are not surrounded with familiar faces and associations. Others there are, of course, who have the pursuit of knowledge in view. The giant aisles have no terror for them. They are not ethnologists, and -

Secrets of the sullen mine,
Steel and gold and corn and wine,
Fabric rough or fairy fine,
Sunny token, of the line-
All of beauty, all of use,
That one fair planet can produce ;
And mixt as life is mixt with pain,
The works of peace with works of war.

These to a few are better worth studying than the living pictures that throng the Fine Arts galleries or gather round the afternoon tea tables in the refreshment rooms.

The event of the year 1894, as far as Hobart is concerned, will be the Tasmanian International Exhibition, which is to be opened in the Queen's Domain on the 15th November next. The exhibition is under the immediate patronage of the Government of Tasmania, although it is conducted by an association with a capital of £20,000. This organisation numbers nearly 1000 subscribers, principally residents of Hobart and vicinity, so that it may be properly called a People's Exhibition. The site of the exhibition is one of the most suitable that could have been selected, immediately at the rear of the battery in the Domain, overlooking the city, and embracing the magnificent scenery of the River Derwent. The exhibition buildings enclose 13 acres. The main building, designed by Mr. T. Searell, of Melbourne, has a length sweep over all of 298 feet, and is surmounted by an octagonal cafe, capable of accommodating 300 persons. There are open air balconies at the angles, from which views of the enchanting scenery, mountain and river, will be obtainable. The main concert hall, 96 feet by 70 feet, with its gallery, is capable of seating 3000 persons. It contains a grand organ which has been constructed by Messrs. Fincham and Hobday, of Melbourne, at a cost of £1000. This hall has splendid acoustic properties, as I realise when I hear Madame Belle Cole sing here. Orchestral concerts will be given daily in the Exhibition, Mr. Otto Linden, of Melbourne, being the impresario.

Flanking the concert hall there are two spacious art galleries, each 160 feet x 40 feet. There is a main hall, vestibule and porch, also offices for the post office, customs, and police officials and for the exhibition staff. Provision has been made for the erection of 3220 running feet of annexes of uniform design. A 20 feet avenue runs down the centre of each annex, and on either side of this avenue are the bays for exhibits, each 15 feet by 15 feet. The floors are all level, so that the uniformity of the whole structure will place exhibitors much on an equal footing as regards locality. The charge for space has been fixed at 2s. per square foot, but for choice locations in the central avenues a higher charge will be made. The exhibition buildings have been proclaimed a bond, and exhibits will be received by the officers of customs stationed there without prior examination. Duties will only be charged upon such articles as are not re-shipped. Visitors from Great Britain, foreign countries and the colonies will find every facility afforded them which it is in the power of Messrs. Thomas Cook and Sons to supply, that firm having organised tourists' services in connection with the exhibition. The Tasmanian Government is also organising special railroad trips to enable visitors to become acquainted with the colony. The British Government has appointed a Royal Commission in London with a grant of £2000 to secure the representation of British manufacturers. The Government of India is likely to be well represented, and France and Russia are arranging for extensive courts, and special transports will convey their exhibits. The colonies have also taken the matter up warmly. Victoria has appointed a Royal Commission with a public grant, South Australia has an energetic committee at work, and West Australia is organising in a similar way.

The president of the Tasmanian (Hobart) International Exhibition Association, and chairman of the Board of Directors, is the Hon. William Moore, M.L.C. Mr. Moore hails from the north-west, and is a citizen of great repute there, and in Tasmania generally. He is a land holder at Terranova, Table Cape, and represents the Russell district in the Council. Mr. Moore has been in Parliament 23 years, having been first elected to the House of Assembly in September, 1871. He was elected to the Upper House six years later. From the commencement of his public career Mr. Moore has been a trusted representative of the people amongst whom he lives. He has been Minister of Lands and Works and Colonial Secretary in four previous Ministries and is now Colonial Secretary in Sir Edward Braddon's Ministry. Mr. Moore has also been President of the Council. Mr. Moore was one of the representatives of Tasmania at the Intercolonial Convention ' held in Sydney 1880-81, and a delegate to the Federal Convention in 1891. He is a member of the Council of the University of Tasmania. In appearance and manner Mr. Moore is a thorough Briton. As the exhibition president, he is the right man in the right place.

Mr. Jules Joubert is general manager of the exhibition. In spite of a life of increasing work, this famous exhibition Wallah wears his 70 years hale and green. And this is as it should be if heredity accounts for aught. Mr. Joubert comes of a race of men of war, naval and military. His father belonged to the former profession, his uncle to the latter. When the tricolor crossed the Alps into Italy in 1789, the Frenchmen were led by two young generals — one was Bonaparte, the other Joubert. The latter fell shot through the heart on the fields of Novi. When his body was carried to his tent a sealed packet arrived. It contained an order from the " Directoire " to assume supreme command of the French army. That bullet had indeed a billet that changed the destinies of Europe. "Crooked fortune" has often thwarted Mr. Jules Joubert since he came to Australia, more than half a century ago, as a passager civil on board the gunboat Heroine ; but she has never crushed him. There are some men stronger even than the inconstant goddess. In a little book published recently Mr. Joubert relates, under the unique and modest title of Shavings and Scrapes, the story of his life from the Spartan discipline of his first schooling to the last Exhibition at which he represented his adopted country. There are " moving accidents by flood and field " such as would melt the heart of a Desdemona had they been told in person. There are " little affairs " with bushrangers, politicians and Exhibition trustees in Australia, related in the intervals of elephant hunting and water picnicking in the Garden of Eden (otherwise Ceylon), and re-visits to his native country, told in such a manner that the reader wishes the " shavings " thicker and the " scrapes " fuller. In '51 we find Mr. Joubert superintending Government works over 200 miles of country in the gold area of Mount Alexander. In '53 he is on board the Catinat, helping the French admiral, Fevrier to take possession of New Caledonia. A little later he breaks the neck of the monopoly of river steamer traffic on the Parramatta, and works extensive contracts in and around Sydney on the cooperative system. But " a good man's fortune may grow out at heels, " as someone in Shakspeare says. By the failure of the Agra Bank Mr. Joubert lost £54,000 — everything, in fact, which he possessed. But it is only souls that grovel which are overwhelmed by such trifles as bank failures. Mr. Joubert, whether initiating agricultural societies, representing Australia in France, collecting mammoth subscriptions for sufferers by floods, inaugurating exhibitions (the word " exhibition " has on Mr. Joubert the same effect as martial music on a war horse), or describing the Taj-Mahal, this Wallah has proved a success. He is devoted to his adopted country, although it has not always treated him fairly. But he does not " croak," despite the fine portrait of a frog which stares from the cover of his book. I am very pleased indeed to again meet my old friend the Chevalier Joubert in Hobart. He is happy in his merry heart and his family.

Mr. Thomas C. Just is secretary to the board of directors. This gentleman is also well known in connection with colonial exhibitions. He is a very old resident of Tasmania, and is a journalist and litterateur of great repute here. Mr. Just is the author of the Official Handbook of Tasmania and of many other similar pamphlets. He is an authority on Federation, and rivals Mr. Morton and Mr. Taylor in his grasp of various subjects. Mr. Just some time since published a series of very interesting letters in The Age on the North-West Coast of Tasmania under his nom de plume of " Moosafir. " He is a man of modest scientific attainments like Mr. Perrin, late Conservator of Forests here. Messrs. Joubert and Just are well supported in their work by energetic sub-committees. They follow the example of Mr. FitzGibbon in theoretically dividing the work and the responsibility, but the latter generally comes back to the manager and secretary.

This coming summer, when the hot winds and dust storms are sweeping over Australia, Hobart and Tasmania generally will be thronged with happy visitors. They will crowd the exhibition. They will view the glories of sea and land from Mount Wellington and the other hills about Hobart. They will breathe the cool health-giving breezes which blow straight from Antarctic regions. They will sit in happy indolence 'neath the white wings of yachts sailing the Derwent and the beautiful bays and channels I have described. They will rest in the still shadows of the gum tree forest. " When the heat is sorest " in Australia, and life is wilting with many, Tasmania will be comparatively cool and revivifying. The visitors will make journeys to the lakes, and will shoot and fish there. They will thrash the trout streams of Bothwell. On the banks of the Clyde they will endeavor to pervert the moral nature of the salmon by luring him with meretricious semblances of gaudy flies. They will visit the mining wonderland around Zeehan, and recall souvenirs of the past on Tasman's Peninsula. And from land and sea, from flood, forest and firmament Nature will sing to them ever a song of light and life in the present, and of the Kingdom of our Race in the years yet to come.