Page 7 - Politics, Plants and Paintings

A different man to the Premier is my friend, the Attorney-General, Mr. Andrew Inglis Clarke. He is a native of Tasmania, of Scotch forbears, who, by his indomitable energy, has early in life forced himself to the front rank in Ins profession. The restless vitality of Mr. Clark is thoroughly Highland. He resembles Mr. John McIntyre in this respect. Mr. Clark is an advanced Liberal Democrat, who looks forward to a glorions future for United Australia. He is seen at his best not in the House, but at his home at Battery Point. Those privileged to occupy a chair in Mr. Clark's study — surrounded by the printed wisdom of all the ages, on the walls portraits of Mazzini and other heroes of liberty, in the centre of the stained glass window, the counterfeit presentment of the great English republican, Sir Algernon Sidney — will have a good time indeed. High thinking is the cult here. Occasionally, however, a young gentleman will break into the conversation with inquiries as to the personnel of the crack players of Essendon. I am afraid I rather lose caste with him when I have to admit that I never go to football matches. There maybe houses like Mr. Inglis Clark's in Australia, but I have never entered them. Of his conversation it might be said —

For all the past of Time reveals
A bridal dawn of thunder peals
Wherever thought has wedded fact.

Mr. Clark, mentally, is like the statue of Mennon. He faces the Rising Sun of the Future He is —

A spirit of the years to come
Yearning to mix himself with life.

But In spite of these attributes Mr. Inglis Clltk ia an able lawyer and an able Minister. But he will never "deny the faith before the infidel."

Sir Edward Braddon is a type of the Anglo-Indian settler in Tasmania, and Mr. Inglis Clark is a representative of the native born in public life. The Grand Old Man of Tasmania was until very recently a member of the Upper House. Dr. James Wilson Agnew is in his 80th year, but is as straight as a dart and as active as a cricket. Born at Ballyclare, in the County Antrim, in the year when Napoleon was banished to St. Helena, Dr. Agnew in due time studied medicine and surgery in London, Glasgow and Paris, but relinquished the idea of practice to emigrate to New South Wales, with the object of starting in squatting pursuits. He arrived in Sydney, with a small capital, in 1841. After. A brief stay he left that city for Melbourne in order to proceed to a station at Mount Sturgeon, then owned by his friend, the late Dr. Martin. As a "sign of the times " if may be mentioned that this voyage from Sydney to Melbourne, owing to calms and baffling winds, occupied just three weeks. After a residence of about a year at Mount Sturgeon, Dr. Agnew received from Sir John Franklin, then Governor of Tasmania, the offer of his private secretaryship. As pastoral prospects in Victoria, were then of the gloomiest character, Dr. Agnew left the colony and proceeded, as quickly as circumstances would allow, to Hobart. On arrival, however, he found that so much time had been lost in the transmission of letters (no post then existing) and in travelling the position of secretary had of necessity been filled up. But this was no disappointment, as both Sir John and Lady Franklin showed an extreme degree of kindness to the late possible secretary, and the former soon provided him with an appointment as surgeon to a probation station on Tasman's Peninsula, while on his part he was not sorry to enter thus on the practice of his profession. Subsequently he was promoted to the general hospital, Hobart. Leaving this after a time, owing to changes in the department, he entered on private practice in the capital and soon obtained a large and lucrative share of public support. In after years Dr. Agnew was elected as one of the representatives of Hobart in the Legislative Council, where first he sat as a member of the Ministry without office in 1877. In 1881 he resigned for the purpose of making a long tour in Europe. On his return he was elected to the Legislative Council as member for the Jordan district, and afterwards in 1886 became Premier and Chief Secretary. He resigned these offices in 1887, and, having retired some years previously from private practice, has (with the exception of a visit to England) passed the subsequent years of his life in Melbourne and Hobart, the latter being now his permanent residence. Dr. Agnew has always taken great interest in scientific matters. For his action in importing salmon ova from Ireland in 1888 he received the thanks of both Houses of Parliament. Dr. Agnew is still a prominent feature in the public life of Tasmania. Everyone hopes he will enjoy his present virile old age, acting up to his motto, "Consilio, non impetu." I shall long remember my visit to Dr. Agnew's house in Macquarie-street and the magnificent statue of Medusa which I saw there.

Franklin-square is not a square in the ordinary acceptation of the word, but a public garden adjoining the Government offices. The Attorney-General can look out of his window on trees and shrubs and flowers; but then so, too, can our Victorian Ministers from their official lairs in the Treasury-building. The bronze statue of Sir John Franklin in this centre of this garden should be viewed by everyone. I raise my hat to it as I used to do to the statue of Clive in the market place at Shrewsbury. It is pleasant to listen to the first whisperings of spring in Franklin-square gardens and muse on the fate of the great sailor and explorer who died 'midst Arctic snows and ice. If it is wet or cold the visitor can take refuge in either the public library or museum. The former institution has as secretary and librarian Mr. A. J. Taylor, an accomplished scholar, who is courteous to me in his offers of services and pamphlets. Mr. A. J. Taylor is well known in Melbourne. The museum, which includes an art gallery, is more in my line of admiration than the library. The curator, Mr. Alexander Morton, is a native of the State of Louisiana, United States, America. Mr. Morton's father was a Southern planter, and, like many more, lost all in the Civil War. Mr. Morton, sen., removed his family to England, and some years after proceeded to Queensland as general manager to the Manchester Queensland Cotton Company. Mr. Morton went to sea for about two years, his first trip
being in a labor vessel to the South Seas. After this Mr. Morton visited England, and was in Spain during the Carlist war. Returning to the colonies he studied natural history and obtained an appointment in Sydney Museum. Shortly after the trustees sent Mr. Morton to New Guinea. He left Sydney in the early part of 1877. Few explorers had penetrated into the interior of New Guinea at this time, and on landing at Port Moresby only one white, man was found living there, my friend the Rev. G. W. Lawes. During Mr. Morton's residence in New Guinea extending over several months, he was able to get together a splendid natural history collection and discovered a new river, which he named the Goldie River, in honor of the leader of the expedition. Mr. Morton can fairly claim to he the first white man who had reached the farthest point inland from Port Moresby up to 1877. On his return to Sydney in 1878, Mr. Morton was again despatched by the Sydney Museum authorities to the Northern Territory, and on his return to the South Sea Islands. In 1884 the council of the Royal Society advertised for a curator and librarian to the Royal Society's Museum at Hobart, and Mr. Morton was appointed to the position. Shortly after his arrival Mr. Morton, who was always fond of horticultural pursuits, was appointed a member of the committee of the Hobart Horticultural Society, and then hon. secretary, a position he still holds. He was also one of the executive commissioners for Tasmania at the Melbourne International Exhibition of 1887-88, and hon. secretary for Tasmania for the Paris Exhibition, also one of the first members of the Technical Board of Hobart, and has been for 1893-94 the chairman of that board. Mr. Morton was also the general secretary to the Australasian Association for the Advancement of Science that met at Hobart in January, 1892.

It will be seen that my fellow countryman has been a regular Pooh Bah in the matter of appointments. But they have always been accompanied by hard work. To Mr. Morton, next to Mr. William Horne, I am more indebted for information judiciously supplied than to anyone else in Tasmania. The Royal Society of Tasmania is a much more live body than any kindred institution in Australia. Sir John Franklin, to whom the island owes so much, in 1838 started the Tasmanian society formed, with a view of stimulating scientific study and of assisting research. In 1843, after Sir John Franklin had left the colony, another society came to the front, the Society of Van Diemen's Land, formed for the advancement of horticulture, botany and science. In 1844 her Majesty was pleased to become the patron of the institution, and to direct that it should he called "The Royal Society of Van Diemen's Land." In 1849 a museum, intended chiefly for objects in natural history, was commenced. From 1849 to 1885 the museum was known as the Royal Society's Museum. In 1885 the museum underwent a change of government, and became a national institution, with an annual endowment. Th management of its affairs was vested in a board of trustees. In 1886 a sum of £3000 was voted by Parliament for tho extension of the building. This gave two other additional rooms to the four already built, and the upper room was set apart as an art gallery. This now contains some very choice and valuable paintings from the brushes of such well known artists as E. J. Poynter, Williamson, Wimperis, Robt. Scott, Lauder, Teniers, Van Aken, D. James, Morley and many other well known artists. Some very beautiful paintings by Mr. W. C. Piguenit also belong to the gallery. This gentleman, who is a native of Tasmania, ranks as the leading landscape' painter of Australia ; his collection of black and whites, representing the western highlands of Tasmania, are splendid specimens of artistic work. The collection of natural history specimens contained in tho museum is an unusually attractive one. In the inaugural address delivered at the Science Congress held at Hobart in January, 1892, the president, Sir R. G. C. Hamilton, referring to the museum, said : —

"I would direct your special attention to the arrangement and classification of its specimens, It is doubtess known to many of you that Professor Flower, F.R.S., who was president of the British Association in 1888, devoted a large portion of his inaugural address to describing the principles which should govern the classification and description of specimens in museums ; and it is no small credit to Tasmania that, in this respect, she should have been, long before the delivery of the learned professor's address, proceeding closely upon the lines laid down by him."

In the Tasmanian room are to seen some magnificent examples of Salmonidie, taken in the Tasmanian lakes and streams, ranging in weight from 4 lb. to 29 lb. During last season a party of three paid a visit to the great lake, and from the 1st to the 12th. April the follow ing fish were taken 53 fish, weight 470 lb., average 9 lb., the lightest 1-1/2 lb., the heaviest 17-1/2 lb. A collection of 11 fish from the same lake obtained by the curator for the Tasmanian court at the Imperial Institute averaged 18 lb. In the Tasmanian room are to be seen some magnificent specimens of Crustacea, some of the crabs weighing 21 lb. There is also in this room a grand collection of Tasmanian minerals from the silver mines and the famous Mount Bischoff Tin Mine and the great Mount Lyell mine. In the anthropological collection in this room is to be seen the skull of the last of the Tasmanian race, Truganini, or Lalla Rookh, who died in 1876. The last male died in 1869. The Royal Society of Tasmania possesses a very valuable library, and some very able papers are read at its meetings. On the walls of the library are to be seen portraits of Sir John and Lady Franklin, Captain Ross, of the H.M.S. Erebus and Terror, which called at Hobart in 1841 on the way to the South Pole ; and on the mantelpiece, still in good going order, is a clock, formerly the property of Sir John Franklin. I find in the Hobart library more interesting food for contemplation than in any similar institution outside Melbourne.

Miller's Corner, in Murray-street, is occupied by one of the handsomest blocks in the city. Mr. Miller's windows are adorned with large jars of the " Tasma " perfume. It is very pleasant for an authoress to have her memory kept sweet in this way, amongst the people with whom she dwelt so long. It is better than having horses named after one such as " Tasma, "Lynette" and " The Vagabond." The latter, however, ran a good third for the Melbourne Cup of 1877. Next to Miller's establishment is the office of the Van Diemen's Land Bank Lottery. This bank is now but a tradition, but they tell me it had a glorious past. In the twenties money was scarce as now in Tasmania and the currency mixed. The financial institutions, of which the Bank of Van Diemen's Land, with a capital of £50,000, was the largest, reaped a golden harvest by the discounting of bills. Ferreday, a money lender whose ordinary rate of interest was 35 per cent., returned to England in 1834, having realised in a few years a large fortune, a portion of which he devoted to founding a scholarship at Oxford. Probably the earliest instance in these colonies of a bank official defrauding his employers was that of the cashier of the Van Diemen's Land Bank. He embarked in the business of a private discounter of bills, drawing on the customers' accounts for his capital. An examination of his cash disclosed a deficiency of £2000, but this amount being refunded, no prosecution followed. And now the bank itself has "gone up," and its shareholders and depositors are only saved from the fate of those in Melbourne by a lottery of the bank's landed assets being legalised by the State.

Next to Miller's chambers is a very historic building now known as Forbes' Metropolitan Hotel. This was known in the early days of Tasmania as the Union Club, being the first club formed in Australia. Here the first racing club in Tasmania was established. It became the headquarters for Page's celebrated mail coaches, which ran to and from Launceston before the days of the iron horse. This house was the favorite resort of the old time members of Parliament. Messrs. Gregson, Allison, Balfe, Sir James Wilson, John, and James Lord, and a host of others, held high court at the old Metropolitan. As a coaching house it is well known to and frequented by the leading people of island. It may he mentioned that until 1832 the post of Tasmania was managed as a private speculation, there, being nine, post stations. In that year an expeditious mode of conveyance between Hobart and Launceston was inaugurated by Mr. J. E. Cox, who drove a tandem at the rate of 40 miles a day. Only one passenger was accommodated at a fare of £5. The name of Cox still flourishes in, the land, though the coaches have departed. There is nothing more English in Hobart than Forbes' Hotel. The dining room, with its panelled walls and heavy work, reminds me of the coffee room in that once celebrated country hostelry, the Dun Cow at Dunchurch. English comfort is the rule at Forbes'.