DEATH OF SIR CHARLES BOWEN.
passing of a noted COLONIST. Full of years and hunc.nr. tiie Hon. Sj r Charles Christopher Howen, K.C.M-f' • M.L.C.. K.R.G.S.. passed aivav visterday morning at his residence. ".Middlotr.n." Ilk-carton, in bis eighty-eighth year. His connexion with this province dated bark to the very foundation of tho Canterburr settlement, to which he came as a young man. and in that long period, in itself almost the allotted span of life, as colonist, itiaui-trate, member of Parliament. Minister of the Crown, and Speaker of the Legislative Council, ho bore his part with distinction and success, winning the esteem of his fellov.--coloni.«ts and the affection of all who enjoyed hij- acquaintance. The lato Sir Charles Bowon was born at Milford. County Mayo, Ireland, on August 2t)th, 1830, and was the third soil of Mr Charles Bowen, one of tho founders of Canterbury and Speaker of tho Provincial Council from 18Go to 180-1, who subsequently returned to England, and died at Hastings in 1871. He came of an old county family, of ancient Welsh descent. In the reign of Queen Elizabeth, Robert, the older eon of John Ap Owoin, or Bowen, settled in Ireland, was granted a castle and lands of Ballyadams in 1578, and was appointed Provost-Marshal of the province of Loinstor and the counties of East and West Meath. A distinguished member of tho family in re- : cent years was Baron Bowen, of Coliwood, P.C., a Judge of the High Court | of Justieo (Queen's Bench), 1879-82, '.Lord Justieo of Appeal 1882-93, and a Lord of Appeal in Ordinary 1893, who died in 1894. The late Lord Bowen was a second cousin of the late Sir Charles Bowen. Sir Charles was educated at Rugby ,aa<] Cambridge, and was studying for the Bar when he became interested in tho Canterbury colonisation scheme projected by John Robert Godley, who, with James Edward FitzGerald ,and Lord Lyttelton, was chiefly (responsible for Sir Charles deciding fto come to New Zealand. The ;result was that his connexion with New (Zealand dated from the early days- ot ithe settlement of Canterbury, as ho [came out with his father and mother jin tho Charlotte Jane, one of the first four ships, in 1850. His tutor at Cambridge heard with great horror and dismay his determination to go to "tho colonies," and remonstrated with him, 'pointing out that he was throwing up iall his chances in life, and, in short, iyrns most foolish. On arrival in New Zealand Sir Charles became private secretary to Mr Godley, his duties including a ride |every second day with his chief over' Ithe hills from Lyttelton to the embryo . Christchurch. There were few signs of I settlement on the site of the present j city in those days, and tho objective of Mr Godley and his secretary was the Xauds Office, a wooden building which stood on the site now occupied by the City Council Chambers. The Canterbury Plains wore just being taken up, and matters concerted with tho disposal of land naturally took up much of Mr Godley's time and attention. Sir Charles acted as Mr Godley's secretary for two years, until tho latter returned' to England, after having established (settlement and witnessed the beginning of the Provincial Government under the Constitution Act. Inuring the two years he sat at the feet of that great leader, Sir Charles learned well tho lessons which his distinguished chief strove so earnestly to impart to tho young community, and during his after life he did more than any other man to preserve tho Godley ideas and traditions for tho benefit of the succeeding generations and for posterity. S6<m after -Mr Godley's departure Sir Charles had his first practical experience of journalism. With Mr Crosbio Ward he purchased tho "Lyttelton Times," Mr Ward managing the business and Sir Charles writing tho articles. In 1859, on tho occasion of his "visit to England, he sold his interest in tho paper to the late Hon. W. Reeves. Some time -after this period Sir Charles rode practically from one k South Island to the other, his northward journey to Nelson wing undertaken to visit Alfred Domett. In those days there wore no rpaajj but Sir Charles and a friend found their way by aid of a map, campevery night. EARLY PUBLIC LIFE. air Charles was but a young man »heji he made his first entry into offilife. tho departure from Lwterhury of Mr 'Godley, ho became inspector of Polico, and in that capa--1 7 it fell to him to assist in proseouting tho notorious shcep-stealer whoso nwno is perpotuated in the Macken--110 Country. In 1855, when ho had «ached the mature ago of 24, Sir Cnw-les received a moro important appointment, that of Provincial Treasurer, his father in the same year being appointed Speaker of the Provincial ' uncil. Sir Charles had been elect-' ea a member of tho' Council for the Christchurch Country" seat in 1853, ana was again elocted in 1857, tho «tter timo for Avon. In the foUow--6 year ho became a member of tho provincial Exocutivo Council. In l )art term in that was associated with Bn»v, • i a? Sefton Aloorhouse, then ' n h' s effort to cstabthe Christchurch-Lyttclton rail-P-l' • 0 ® ra t line in Now Zealand, •"osipiing in 1859, ho returned to , and spent two years in gravelling in North and South Amcand in Europe. In tho States ho mot, amongst other prominent men, Longfellow, 7° w ell Oliver Wendall Holmes, and ■ngassiz. He met many of the United tates Senators in "Washington, and he *opaid an extended visit to Canada. _# "?il® ln the Old Country Sir Charles hard for tho, Lyttelton tunnel. » e Home people interested in Canter®ory looked ou tho proposal as outrageous. There was then no tunnel or such dimensions in England, and the nne.g tho Alps was not oven ®Poken of, and consequontly Englishmen looked on the Lyttelton project as *ash in thp extreme. Sir Charles had i 7° ® x Plam that the tunnel was a matJ®r of lifo and death to the infant set- | wement, communication with the port - : seuiß,?f5 eui ß,?f paramount importance. BeJwe his Teturn to New Zealand Sir Wiarles married in 1861 Georgina vr i daughter of tho Rev. D. 'Markham, Canon of Windsor, i'-v Coming back to the colony in 1862,
Sir Charles almost immediately re-en-tered public life. The discovers of gold on the West Coast was just then a noteworthy happening, and Sir Charles was despatched to the Coast- as a Commissioner to settle ' some trouble-; that had arisen in Hokitika, which had resulted in some amount of i ioting. Jn JBG4 ho wns appointed Resident Magistrate iu Christchurch. a position which kept his time fully O'j'upiej tor the next ten years. IN PARLIAMENT. Tn IBGB, when Mr iloorhou.se was about to retire from the position of fcupenntendent of the Province, Sv Charles was invited by the loaders of both political parties to allow himself to be nominated as his successor, but after consideration, lie declined to do so. In 1874 he accepted office in Sir Julius Vogel's Coalition Government as Minister tor Justice, and was called to the Legislative Council, but resigned almost immediately to contest the Kaiapoi scat in the House of Representatives, which he siicccedod in winning, on January 23th, 1873. lie continued to hold the portfolio of Justice during the remainder of Sir Juli us Vogel's Administration, which ended in July, 1873, in that of Dr. Pollen, July <3th, 1875. to February 15th, 187-(5, in the second Vogel Ministry, February 7th to September, 187G, and in the Atkinson Ministry, September, 187G, to October 13th, 1877. He was recognised as being in the front, rank of the Ministers of the day. He took an active part in the debates of 1875-6 on the abolition of the provinces, and he always expressed himself a.s decidedly opposed to party government in New Zealand. THE EDUCATION ACT. It was when a member of the reconstituted Atkinson Ministry in 1877 that Sir Charles Bowen achieved his greatest success. It fell to his lot toddra t, introduce, and get passed the Education Act binder which 'Now Zealand has since enjoyed "free, secular, and compulsory" ' education. It was no easy task. Provincial feeling ran high, and tho "rough passage" experienced by the Bill, which aimed at and socured a uniform system for the whole of New Zealand, may be gathered from the fact that Sir Charles was at the Committee table for six weeks while tho proposed measure was being fought clauso by clause. No wonder he referred to it as the "toughest job" lie ever had. Some of tho provinces had education systems, differing in details, whilst others had none, and, naturally, those' provinces with systems did not want them interfered with, and just as naturally, in tho interests of the colony as a whole, their, desires could not be gratified. Nevertheless, when tho fight was over, everybody seemed pleased with tho final result, and the work of the Act of 1877 show that tho education systom of New Zealand was based on a sound foundation. Sir Charles held the opinion that tho undenominational character of tho system adopted was the only possible basis and the only fair one. Provision was made for religious instruction being given, the hour at which ordinary school work was to commence being altered from 9 o'clock till 9.30, to that those desirous of giving religious instruction could avail themselves of half an hour each day for that purpose. That that opportunity was not taken full advantago of could not be urged against the Bill or its j author. In this difficult duty Sir Charles showed great capabilities characteristic of statesmanship, which even his strongest political opponents could not fail to recognise. "A better man for tho performance of that onerous task," wrote Mr William Gisborne, could scarcely have been selected. Ho combined with a thorough mastery of his subject persuasive powers of a high order, conciliatory attitude, firmness tvhero he deemed it necessary, perseverance, and- patient forbearance from angry retort. He had a winning ana' gentle manner. His speeches were good and logical, but more notable for mild persuasiveness than for polemic force." LATER, YEARS. On the defeat of the Wliitaker-At-kinson Government in 1877 Sir Charles retired from office, and after representing Kaiapoi in three successive Parliaments did not contest tho election or 1001, but retired to tako up tho managership of the New Zealand Trust and Loan Company, which he held for a number of years. In 1886 he became a director of tho New Zealand Shipping Company, m succcssion to tho late Mr Robert Wilkin, a nd remained a member ot the Board until his death. Ten years later, in 1891, Sir Charles was called to the Legislative Council, and m 1905 ho bccamo Speaker of the Cnamber in succession to Sir A J £ ad / nan -. In 1910 tho King conferred ? :i ir h ° nou T of knighthood ana nil v s Honours List of IJI4 liis name was again included, this timo as a K.0.M.G.. I n July of the i *? si g ncd the Speakership of the Council, and had been livln« P'actically in retirement ever since. Besides the positions Sir Charles hag already been stated to have held he was a member of tho Royal Commission. .VP 'II 1901, on tiie question of whether New Zealand should join the Commonwealth of Australia. In tho period betweon his work in provincial politics and his entry' into 1 arliament, Sir Charles devoted much time td educational matters, in which V«7o a f a te s , warm 'y interested. From /V . ? „ , w . as chairman of tho Canterbury Jiiducation Board, president or tho Collegiate Union, tho precursor of Canterbury College, and as such affiliated to • tho New Zealand University, and a momber of the first Board of Governors of the College, being subsequently elected in 1878, and holding offico until 1885. Just as liis previous official experience stood him in good stead when he became Minister of Justice, leading him to secure improvements in prison management, and to introduce tho "marks" system into our gaols, so his deep interest in education bore good fruit when a year or two later it became his duty to introduco into tho House of Representatives the education measure with which his name will ever be associated. Later on in 1888 he became a momber of the University Senate, and in 1903 was elected to tho position of Vice-Chancellor, which he resigned in 1915. A man of culture and education, Sir Charles was an excellent speaker, as those who have heard, in_ recent .years, his too-infrequent public utterances would recognise. He was also possessed of distinct literary attainments, as shown not only in his newspaper, articles, but in a most interesting account of his visit in 1860 to Peru, which was published in Galton's "Vacation Tourists," and in his book of collected poems, published at Christchurch in 1861, and dedicated to his fellow-colon-ists, the first settlers of Canterbury. In these he gave evidence of a graceful pen, while "The Battle of tho Free" is a stirring invocation to the colonies. In a prophetic foreword" to the poem tho author said that it was written "unaer tho full conviction that in England's colonies, if properly governed—or rather properly let alone—she will oventuallv find her real strength. The time is fast approaching when our Mother Country will reap the fruits of the farseeing energy which has peopled tho waste places of the earth. Tho Russian war waß but an episode of the last death-struggle between the prmciples of barbarous despotism ft* l ** ■ free civilisation which all history has foreshadowed. This generation or the next will fight the battle and witness its re'"it'was probably due partly to the fact that the celebrated explorer, Sir Clements Markham. who was for many vears secretary, and at one time president, of the Royal Geographical Society, was a brother of Lady Bowen that Sir Charles was led to take a deep and practical interest in Antarctic ex- , nloration, thouch J>i= tast « s assist- [
cd in the same direction. He did much to assist Captain Scott during the latter's different visits to Christchurch, and it is said that it "was owing to Sir Charles Bowen's representations that Lyttelton was made the port of departure of tiie Discovery, the Nimrod, and the Terra Nova. The late Sir Charles Bowen, as previously stated, married in 1861 the daughter of the Rev. D. Markham, Canon of Windsor. He is survived by his widow, four sens, and two daughters. His eldest son is Mr Charles David Bowen, who i 3 at present resident in the Malay Peninsula, holding tho position of District Officer; the Rev. George H. Croasdaile Bowcn is vicar of Thrybergh, Rothcrham, Yorkshire : Captain Lambert Bowen, R.E., is at present i n France with the British Army; and Mr Gerald Markham Bowen resides at Bnrwood. Of the late Sir Charles Bowen's daughters, one is the wife of Mr John Studholme, and the other, Miss L. L. Bowen, is residing at home. The eldest daughter, who was married to Professor 11. J. Scott, of Canterbury College, died some years ago.
REFERENCE AT SUPREME COURT. MR JUSTICE DENNISTON'S TRIBUTE. At the. Supreme Court yesterday morning, his Honour Mr Justice Denniston, beforo taking his seat, made reforenco to the death of Sir Charles Bowen. His Honour said that he had just heard of Sir Charles Bowen's death, and desired to express his very deep regret, in which he thought members of the Bar would join. Sir Charles Bowon had been identified with the early settlement history of Canterbury, and had been identified with its activities till his death. He had held leading positions in politics and public life, and was a man of brilliant capacity and high education. His Honour added that his reason for referring in Court to Sir Charles's death was that Sir Charles had held the position of magistrate in Canterbury. The West Christchurch District High School Committee, at its meeting last night, passed the following resolution: "That this committee oxpress their sorrow at the death of Sir Charles C. Bowen, and wish to place on record their sense of his sterling character and the great services he has rendered to the Dominion as pioneer, educationist, and statesman." A correspondent writes: The passing of Sir C. C. Bowen brings very vividly to ray mind Tennyson's magnificent poem, "Crossing the Bar." Sir Charles seemed to me to represent an ideal type of manhood, and "bore without abuse the grand old name of gentleman." His serene old age and Unique and splendid life of public servico instinctively called forth the affectionate regard and respect of the whole community. I append the words of Tennyson's masterpiece if you think fit to publish them: Sunset and evening star, And one clear call for me 1 And may there be no moaning at the bar, When I p,ut out to sea. But such a. tide as moving seems asleep, Too full for sound and foam, When that which drew from out the boundless deep Turns again home. Twilight and evening bell, And after that the dark I And may there be no sadness of farewell, When I embark. For tho' from out our bourne of Time and Place The flood may bear me far, I hope to see my Pilot face to face When I have crost the bar.
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DEATH OF SIR CHARLES BOWEN., Press, Volume LIII, Issue 16083, 13 December 1917
DEATH OF SIR CHARLES BOWEN. Press, Volume LIII, Issue 16083, 13 December 1917
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