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'I never met "Bob Lowe " since,' added Judge Wallis, 'but he has made and unmade half the men who were then on circuit.'
Some corroboration of Lord Sherbrooke's brief activity at the English Bar is afforded by the following letter, which he received about this time from a relative of the Australian patriot,' William Charles Wentworth.
G. Wentworth to Robert Lowe.
Sydney: Jan. 31, 1851.
My dear Mr. Lowe,-I have written you by this mail officially— I now address you privately. Fisher has received a letter from his brother, a barrister, and also, I believe, a reporter, in which most flattering homage is rendered to you by a stranger; who says that you have electrified the Bench, Bar, and audience by your eloquence in a prosecution on the Northern Circuit; and that you will become a distinguished leader in the criminal line. This you know I predicted to yourself, and I hear since the creation of the County Courts that the criminal is the best paying branch, at least upon circuit. I most heartily rejoice and congratulate you.
In concluding, I will tell you a singular story.-George Kenyon Holden, whom you may remember to have been a very quiet and rather spooney fellow than otherwise, proposed at our last meeting to open a communication with the President and two Houses of Congress of the United States! Dr. Lang opposed it: the very discussion shows how the wind blows. The colonisation of Western America the opening the Isthmus of Panama-will have an immense effect in developing these colonies. Meantime, California has nosed our grievance! America will aid us in abating it.
What Mr. Wentworth meant by writing 'officially,' is not at all clear. Lord Sherbrooke preserved no correspondence of that kind, either with Mr. Wentworth or any other person in Sydney. But it is more than likely, as in the case of many another home-returning colonist, that before quitting the shores of Port Jackson, Robert Lowe assured some of his political and personal friends that he would consider himself as holding a waiting brief' on their behalf with
regard to impending constitutional changes in the colony. Earl Grey was at this time actively engaged in framing a new Constitution for the whole of Australia; and the squatter party in New South Wales, in complete alliance, as we have seen, with the old Crown officials, were doing their utmost to make this new Constitution the servant of their own ends. It was the supremacy of this newly formed colonial oligarchy which, politically at least, was the determining cause of Robert Lowe's removal to London.
In quitting Australia he by no means dropped his active interest in colonial affairs. It was, indeed, his opinion that he could better withstand the impolitic measures of the Colonial Minister, and the misleading advice that was being tendered to him by the dominant party in Sydney, by taking up his residence in London, than by remaining a member of the Legislative Council at Sydney. We accordingly find that his first public appearance in London was at a meeting of the Society for the Reform of Colonial Government on June 1, 1850. On this occasion he delivered a remarkable address on Earl Grey's Australian Colonies Bill.' This address was afterwards republished as a pamphlet, bearing on the title-page the words, 'By Robert Lowe, Esq., Late Member of the Legislative Council of New South Wales.'
In republishing Lowe's speech, the Society for the Reform of Colonial Government-of which Sir William Molesworth was the moving spirit-gave the following explanation of its course of action: The Government declared that they had been overruled by the opinion of New South Wales in the construction of their Bill; and Mr. Lowe's speech is the latest, most explicit and authentic statement of that opinion.'
It would thus seem that it was Robert Lowe's opportune reappearance in London which caused this particular general meeting of the Society to be called. The members were invited to be present, at the rooms, Charing Cross, for the purpose of hearing an address from Mr. Lowe, a member of the Legisla
tive Council of New South Wales, in relation to the Australian Colonies Bill now before the House of Lords.'
This meeting was what the reporters invariably describe as a crowded and brilliant assemblage. There were present: Sir William Molesworth, M.P. (in the chair); Dr. Wilberforce, Bishop of Oxford; Earl Talbot; Lord Monteagle; Lord Wodehouse; Lord Lyttelton; Lord Naas, M.P. (afterwards Earl of Mayo); Mr. Stafford, M.P.; Mr. Adderley, M.P.; Mr. Ker Seymour, M.P.; Mr. Campbell, M.P.; Mr. Simeon, M.P.; Mr. E. Denison, M.P.; Mr. Vernon Smith, M.P.; Mr. E. Dundas, M.P.; Mr. Adair, M.P.; General Briggs, The Hon. W. Wrottesley, Mr. Clifford, Mr. De Salis, Mr. F. A. McGeachy, Mr. C. Logan, Mr. W. Barnard, Mr. Bigge, Sir Claude Wade, Mr. J. Hutt, Mr. H. Denison, Mr. Parker (11th Regt.), and many others' interested,' as the phrase goes, 'in colonial questions.'
It is noticeable that throughout the whole of this address Lowe spoke not merely from a colonial point of view, but as an actual colonist. He began his carefully thought out and very lucidly expressed discourse in these words:
Before I proceed to make a statement, which I understand it is the wish of this meeting I should make, with regard to the opinions of the Australian colonies themselves upon the measure now pending before the House of Lords, I cannot as an inhabitant of, and deeply interested in, those colonies refrain from returning in their name my humble but very sincere thanks to the gentlemen I see around me, for the enlightened and noble stand they have made in this country on behalf of the great principles of colonial freedom. We are so unused in those colonies to have sympathy expressed for us-we are so little accustomed to have our opinions regarded-that such demonstrations of feeling towards us as I have found are not merely surprising-they are really overpowering to minds, like ours, long disciplined in the trammels of Colonial Office subjection.
It is very difficult for anyone who has lived only in the mothercountry to understand the point from which the colonies view this question. In the mother-country any question as to changing political organisation is the question of changing the governing body. In the colonies, the governing body in its high and paramount sense
is the Colonial Office,' and the question of local organisation is only a question of subordinate powers. So that in the colonies public feeling is not directed so much to questions of internal polity, as it would be in a country like this, but rather to foreign control, if I may so call it that is, to relations with the mother-country. In other words, the greatest amount of political feeling and public sympathy is enlisted in the colonies against the centralising power of the Colonial Office. The question of questions in the colonies is not the form of their internal polity, but the management of their own local affairs by their own local authorities.
They feel, at present, so hampered and restricted by the system prevailing in the Colonial Office, that I do not overstate the general feeling when I say it would be more acceptable to the Australian colonies if the Governor of each colony was armed with absolute executive and legislative power, that such a government, if attended with the delegation of full authority to settle at once upon the spot all local questions, would be more acceptable than the freest system of government which the ingenuity of man could devise, clogged with the restrictions and hampered with the interventions to which the present mode of colonial administration is subject.
After this somewhat elaborate prelude, Mr. Lowe proceeded to give expression to what he termed 'the opinion of the more enlightened and impartial colonists' on the question of a bicameral legislature. It seems very singular that Earl Grey, in laying the foundations of the Australian Constitution, should have set his mind so firmly against a second or upper House: he not only did so in 1850, but, as may be seen from his correspondence with Sir Henry Parkes in 1874, he retained his objections. to a bi-cameral legislature long after it had been established in all the colonies. Earl Grey's ideal legislature for a selfgoverning colony was a single legislative Chamber consisting partly of elected members and partly of Crown nominees, or of a limited number of life members chosen by the House itself. Robert Lowe, as we have seen, had been both a Crown nominee and an elected or 'popular' member of the Legislative Council at Sydney; and he therefore spoke to Sir William
1 It should be remembered that these words were uttered before the establishment of responsible government in Australia.
Molesworth and his fellow reformers of colonial government as one having authority on this crucial question.
In the first place, I am enabled to state without the slightest fear of contradiction that, notwithstanding all that has been alleged to the contrary in the House of Commons, there is no feeling whatever in the Australian colonies against the existence of two Chambers as such.
Mr. Lowe then proceeded to criticise in his more incisive manner the system of having in a single Chamber two distinct orders of members, the nominee and the popular representative. It was this which Earl Grey thought such an admirable device for checking hasty and unwise measures; far better, he argued, than the second or upper Chamber, because the check' might be much more usefully applied within than without.' Those who do not care at this late day to peruse Earl Grey's laboured apology for his colonial policy will find the whole kernel of the matter put in a couple of letters which he wrote to Sir Henry Parkes in 1874. They are the views of one of the ablest of political theorists ;. of one who, without possessing any practical experience or personal knowledge, is prepared to solve the problem from his inner consciousness.'
It is refreshing to turn from Earl Grey's writings and speeches to the clear common-sense criticism of Mr. Lowe, with his years of actual colonial experience :
If there be any one institution which tends to bring the Home Government into collision with the colony, to disturb the action of the constitutional system, to throw discredit upon public men, to introduce discord into the public Councils, and to create every disturbance which it is desirable to exclude from the deliberations of a Legislative Assembly, it is the institution of Crown nominees. I speak with some degree of certainty on this subject, because I have had the honour of filling that office myself, and of resigning it because I found it impossible, whatever I did, to fill it to the satisfaction of my own conscience and at the same time to the satisfaction of others. For instance, if I voted with the Government I was in danger of being reproached, as I have been on one or two occasions,
'See Fifty Years in the Making of Australian History, vol. i. pp. 315-25.