Early Experiences of Life in South Australia, by John Wrathall Bull

Chapter 14.

Sir Anthony Musgrave — Bishop Bugnion — Sir W. W. Cairns — Sir W. F. D. Jervois — Sir William’s farewell speech — Concluding remarks

From the departure of Sir James Fergusson, on the 7th December, 1872, the Chief Justice, Sir R. D. Hanson, held the post of Acting Governor until the 8th June, 1873. Sir Richard D. Hanson died on the 4th March, 1876. On the 9th June Sir A. Musgrave, K.C.M.G., arrived and entered on his duties as Governor. His actions and bearing were those of a highly-educated gentleman, and he fulfilled his high duties in an efficient manner. The opinions of those who were brought into contact with him officially were expressed greatly in his favour. One important incident occurring during Sir Anthony’s administration was the proposition of Bishop Bugnion to introduce a considerable number of Memmonites (a Protestant sect in Russia who were at that time suffering persecution) into the Northern Territory, on terms which, however, were not accepted by the Government. Sir A. Musgrave resigned his office early in 1877, on receiving the appointment of Governor of Jamaica.

During the time of the three Governors who last filled the office, the salary attached to it had been £5000 a year; the private secretary receiving £506; aide-de-camp, £150. The next representative of royalty was Sir William Wellington Cairns, K.C.M.G., who, after filling several offices in the Civil Service of Ceylon, including that of Postmaster–General, was, in the year 1867, made Lieutenant–Governor of Malacca, Straits Settlement, and in 1868 of several of the West Indian Islands, until 1870, when he was transferred to British Honduras. In 1874 he was appointed Governor of Trinidad, with the rank of Companion of the Order of St. Michael and St. George, but from ill-health was compelled early in 1878 to resign this Government. He was next appointed Governor of Queensland, and received the honour of Knighthood in 1877, and retired from that Government on March the 24th in the same year, being transferred to South Australia, but only held this Government until May 17th, as through continued ill-health he was compelled to resign his appointment and return to England. The various offices he filled in unhealthy climates had so impaired his health that he reluctantly found it necessary to relinquish official life. During the short time he remained in South Australia he won golden opinions by his urbane and dignified manners, his departure being much regretted by all classes who had approached him.

On the 2nd October, 1877, Sir William Francis Drummond Jervois, G.C.M.G., C.B., R.E., was appointed to the vacant office. Sir William commenced his military career in the Royal Engineers in the year 1839. In 1841 he was ordered to the Cape of Good Hope, where he continued in active service until 1848. In 1842 he acted as Brigade Major in an expedition against the Boers. In 1845 ne was appointed acting Adjutant, and in 1846 Major of Brigade, and subsequently accompanied Sir J. Berkeley, Commander-in-Chief against the Kaffirs. From 1848 to 1852 he commanded a company of Sappers at Woolwich and Chatham, and in 1852 he was ordered to the Island of Alderney to design and carry out plans of fortifications. In 1854 he received the rank of Major. In 1855 he was in command of the Royal Engineers in the London district. In 1856 he was appointed Assistant Inspector–General of Fortifications. In 1861 he attained the rank of Lieut.—Colonel, and in 1862 was appointed Deputy Director of Fortifications. During 1863 he was engaged in Canada, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick, inspecting their defences. On his return, in 1864, from a special visit to Canada, his report on the defences of Quebec was laid before the Imperial Government, and his plans were approved. The Indian Government commissioned him to inspect and report on the defences of Aden, Bombay, &c. His great services to the Empire were acknowledged and rewarded by Her Majesty by appointment as Knight Commander of St. Michael and St. George, and Governor of the Straits Settlements. He was next appointed by the Home Government to examine and report on the best means of defending the Australian Colonies, and before he had quite accomplished this extensive and important duty, he entered on his office as Governor of South Australia. The necessity of completing the work of inspection and laying down the necessary fortifications, required him to leave his government several times, and on each occasion the office was filled by His Honour the Chief Justice, S. J. Way. In 1878 Sir William proceeded on a visit to England, when he was created a Grand Cross of the Order of St. Michael and St. George.

This history of the progress of a young colony cannot have a happier conclusion than the following interesting extracts from the speech of Sir W. F. D. Jervois, delivered at the farewell banquet given in his honour on the 5th of January, 1883, in the City Banqueting Hall.

After a graceful opening Sir William continued:—

“Gentlemen, I should be guilty, I think, of overweening vanity did I not remember that the honour you have done me must be in large measure due to the fact that I am the representative of Her Majesty the Queen, who rules over an empire such as the world has never seen before, and who lives in the affections of her subjects, not only in Great Britain, but in all her possessions throughout the habitable globe

Gentlemen, as the mayor has hinted, I feel myself, as I am just about to leave you, so placed that I may rather throw off for the moment the position — if I may so call it, the constitutional position — of Governor, and speak on some matters in my individual capacity. . . . Let me turn for a moment to matters relating to the progress of the colony during the five years that 1 have had the pleasure to dwell among you. First, then, as regards the progress of the colony. The population has gone on steadily increasing. It has increased during the last five years upwards of 62,000 souls Driving about the suburbs, as I have been in the habit of doing, I have been astounded to see the number of houses and townships that have been created whilst I have been here . . . Then, again, if you turn to the country, you see the number of additional towns that have been established. See how Port Augusta has been almost created and extended. See, again, what great improvements have taken place in your means of communication, both local and imperial. . . . Well do I remember in the year 1877, laying the first rail of a tramway in Adelaide. . . . I must also refer to the extension of railways. Whilst there were 321 miles of line open when I came here, there are now 946 miles open, and that irrespective of 276 miles which have been authorised, but which have not yet been constructed. When you come to consider the progress of the country in matters relating to trade you find, comparing the banking statistics of five years ago with those of the present day, that whilst the liabilites of the banks in 1877 were £4,000,000 and their assets £6,300,000, the liabilities now are £5,500,000 and the assets nearly £8,500,000. This is a considerable increase, and now the banks have a balance of £3,000,000 assets over liabilities. I observed it stated the other day in one of the papers that the assets amounted to £5,000,000 over the liabilities, but that must refer to a later period than that with which I am dealing, as I am taking the returns of 1881. . . . Then, again, if you look at the imports and the exports of the colony, you will find a considerable increase. But, on the other hand, you will observe that the imports for the year 1881 — and, I suppose, for the present year as well — considerably exceeds the exports . . . I must next direct your attention to the fact that the revenue has gone on increasing. It has increased £749,680 during the five years I have been amongst you, whilst the expenditure has been added to the extent of £600,597. On the other hand, the public debt of the colony has also increased from £5,217,100 to £11,369,600, amounting to an increase of £6,152,200. . . . I pass on, to say a few words with reference to what has been done in connection with educational matters. Since I first came to the colony, the number of private schools has increased to a large, and I have no doubt a salutary extent. In 1877, there were 352 public schools, and this year there are 422, i.e., forty have been established during the five years I speak of. The number of pupils on the roll has gone up from 27,305 to over 37,500, and the average attendance has increased from over 14,400 to over 22,000, the increase in the percentage being 63.6. I may add that the whole of the model schools except the model schools of Adelaide have been built during the period of my government among you. I can remember — and I look back upon the time with great satisfaction — that the very first public act I performed after I was sworn in here as your Governor was the opening of a primary school at Willunga, when I first had the honour of addressing a South Australian audience. Then, if we pass from school to other institutions, we find that the institutes, and especially the Adelaide Institute, have taken a tremendous stride. . . . The present institution is . . . one of national importance. There is as you know a fine new building erected at a cost of something like £40,000. There is also an art gallery on which £3,000 have been spent, and donations worth £1,000 have been received besides. . . . I feel bound to refer to the action of Sir Thomas Elder in voluntarily giving £3,000 towards establishing a South Australian scholarship in connection with the Royal College of Music, under the auspices of the Prince of Wales, and it must be a matter of great satisfaction to Sir Thomas Elder that not long ago he received a telegram signed by His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales, and His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh, thanking him heartily for his splendid munificence in this respect. The University is, I believe, at present in a satisfactory condition. There is a gradual increase in the number of students, and the law school which is to be established will, I believe, still further add to this. There are various classes for those who do not intend to graduate; and by the various examinations, junior and matriculation, which are provided for, the University affords many advantages to students, especially those who work up to the examinations in the public schools. . . . Considering, gentlemen, the position in which I came here, or at any rate to Australia, it is almost a matter of necessity that on the present occasion I should offer a few observations as regards the question of defence. I must say that I think — and this is an opinion which I have previously expressed — that the Volunteer Military Force, and generally the volunteers of South Australia, are certainly second to none, if indeed they are not superior to any of the forces of the other colonies on this continent . . .

Whilst speaking of the Military Forces. I cannot but refer to the splendid offer that was made by 300 volunteers of South Australia to go to the Transvaal, when going there, meant hard work, great danger, and many difficulties; and it is a great satisfaction to know that that voluntary act was recognised personally by Her Majesty the Queen, who sent a telegram to me through Lord Kimberley, begging me to express her gratification at this loyal movement. I am glad to see that the Parliament has passed a resolution authorising the purchase of a war vessel, because, as I have often stated, naval defence is after all and must be from the condition of the coast, a very considerable and indeed the main element in the defence of South Australia. . . . I observe that there is a very pretty fight going on about which route the intercolonial railway is to take. Well, of course, I cannot on the present occasion go into the merits of the question, I will only say that it appears to me that on the whole, taking the fact of the existence of the Mu nay Bridge, that it would be much better to leave the matter alone and let the railway go over the Murray Bridge. The Bill has been passed sanctioning that route, and although no doubt you may inquire as much as you like, I think you will ultimately come to the conclusion that the route via the Murray Bridge is the proper route. As regards railways yet to be carried out, I am sure you cannot overrate the importance of making a railway to the north-eastward, to the south-west of Queensland, and to the north-west of New South Wales. I know that not only will such a railway be a good thing for the people of South Australia, but it will be a good thing for the people in the south-west of Queensland and the north-west of New South Wales; and I have reason to believe that the people in the south-west of Queensland are exceedingly anxious that you should carry out such a work. Then there is the much-talked-of railway to Port Darwin. I hold a rather different opinion from that which is expressed in public with regard to the construction of that line — that is to say, the mode of its construction. I believe that if you allow a company to do it it will be done. I believe, on the other hand, that whatever may be the arguments adduced on the other side, if it is left to be done by the country itself it will be postponed indefinitely

I must before leaving the question of works refer to the Victor Harbour Breakwater. I believe in it thoroughly. I have heard people say, ‘Oh, Victor Harbour! — you can’t lie alongside the jetty.’ No; and who supposed they could! because the breakwater had only been made for 1000 feet, whereas the project was to make it for a length of 2000 or 3000 feet; and, in order to afford protection to vessels, it will have to be carried out to that extent. Then you will have what Sir John Coode said you would have, and what I believe you will have — an excellent harbour. But in connection with this work it is necessary to cut a canal from Goolwa to Port Victor, a work which the best engineers of the old country would regard as a mere flea-bite. With these facilities you would have ocean steamers at Port Victor, and you would, moreover, have the trade of the Murray in your hands. . . . I shall be glad also to see an outer harbour carried out here, because I confess that there is a great want in regard to the embarkation and disembarkation of stores and passengers, when the P. &: O. steamers come in. . . . In the past the money used for this purpose (public works) has been — and I suppose it will continue so — borrowed money. Well, now, what is the present position of affairs as regards our indebtedness? The loans authorised up to June, 1882, were £12,481,800. Last session of Parliament additional loans were authorised to the extent of £1,433,535, and this brings up the total to £13,920,335. The interest on this sum at four per cent, is £556,812 per annum. Now, this must be paid. . . . You have the ability to pay if you only take the proper measures. But to meet or greatly reduce the pressure of such a possible crisis as that to which I have referred, the pastoral, agricultural, and mineral resources of the colony should be developed to the utmost. Exports thus would be greatly increased, and the revenue would be greatly increased as well. Immigration should also be carried on to the utmost extent, consistently with the interests of all classes of the community. . . . Then, so far as gold is concerned, I believe that very much more gold might be found in large quantities in our hills, if proper steps for its discovery were only taken. I am told by some people who have had considerable experience of gold mining in Victoria, that they are confident that such is the case, and that it only requires a proper expenditure of capital to tap these reefs and find a large supply of gold. . . . The operations of Mr. Malcolm on his ostrich farm near Gawler, are such as to indicate that something of importance will yet be done in that direction. I merely mention these facts with a view of hinting what may be done in the agricultural interest towards developing the resources of the country, and so help the payment of the interest on your loans, and of the expenses of the government of the colony. . . . I may state that Mr. Malcolm, who commenced operations with nine birds, has now seventy-five, and an ostrich may, under favourable circumstances, produce £30 worth of feathers a year. But, gentlemen, you must after all recollect that a very small portion of South Australia is fit for agriculture. South Australia is, and must be, mainly a pastoral country. . . . You should remember that in this country it is important that the growth of wool should be encouraged. Whilst wheat can be grown in almost any part of the globe, merino wool can only be produced in a very narrow part of latitude, and you are in that part. The people of the world must come to you for merino wool, and there will be an increasing demand for it, and I shall count the development of the pastoral interest as almost at the root of the progress of the country. . . . And now it only remains for me to thank you again for your hearty reception, and for the great kindness and consideration I have experienced at your hands during the five years I have been amongst you — those five years, I say it with all sincerity, being as happy a time as I ever spent in my life. I now wish you a hearty, a sincere, a cordial, and an affectionate farewell.”

Concluding Remarks.

The Author on concluding this volume cannot omit to express his grateful thanks to the following gentlemen for their kind help in enabling him to complete and publish this his last work, viz., to Sir Thomas Elder, the Hon. A. B. Murray, M.L.C., John Chambers, and H. T. Morris, J.P., Esqrs., for substantial aid; to Mr. G. S. Wright, J. P., Secretary to the Commissioner of Crown Land, and Mr. T. Gill, Treasury Clerk, for important information; to Captain Sweet, for photographic views and for other assistance; and generally to the gentlemen who have so readily subscribed for the work.

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