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THE OTAGO DAILY TIMES TUESDAY, MAY 7, 1901.

It is one of the melancholy commonplaces of life that many men die .'unwept, imlionoural, and unknown," v.-ilhottt witnessing the splendour of their own fair fame. Shakespeare and {spenser among our poets and Columbus among adventurers slept soundly in their groves before tho world had recognised tho excellence of ' their achievements. Amidst the resoundiin,' jubilations that arc hailing the birth of the new Australian Commonwealth it will be drange indeed if the awakened echoes of past years do not pronounce with singular veneration the name of Sir Henry Parkes, Among (he many and diflinguished names that clamour for recognition at such an eventful epoch Uiere arc none that will be more readily accorded a niche of honour than will his; and men of all the uniting colonies, and of all shades of political colour, will combine to pay eloquent and well-merited tribute to his memory. It is surely not too much to pay that the historian of the new nation—that southern Hume of whom Gibbon was so fond of writing—will be compelled to recognise Sir Henry Parkes as tho Prophet and Apostle of the new Commonwealth. Federation was tho fad of his early political experience. At a time when few men admitted the (heme within what Mr Cl lads-tone would have called '"' the realm of pradic.il polities," Henry Parlies, W. C, Wentworth, C. G. Dully, and a very few others made in their fondest liopo for tho coming Australia. To that fad Henry Parkes consecrated tho whole of his mental, oratorical, and literary powers; and pressed on with it until ho brought it into that fiercer light of popular consideration which would allow of its being regarded as a fad no longer. It then became- tho guiding star of his inaturer statesmanship; aud, directly . or indirectly, everything else that he

advocated or introduced pointed steadily towards that final goal. And it was the darling dream of his latest day. With a persistence and a, perseverance which even Mr Henniker Heaton has not put to shame in his courageous advocacy of penny postage, Sir Henry fought his way onward towards the haven of. his desire. As long ago as 18G7, five years prior to his first Premiership, we find him lamenting the provincial spirit of the Australian colonies, and the selfcentred conservatism to which it led. In ;\ pecnlin.rlv interesting correspondence between himself and the illustrious sage of Click;;! the sub' ject enme in for frank discussion, and Carlyle wrote, in strikingly characteristic language tc (he future Premier of New South Wales. ''I have," he says, " been greatly shocked and surprised to hear that there is next to no immigration to your huge colonial continent of late; and that your majority by count of heads don't want any! Nowhere in all my historical inquiries have I met such an instance of human meanness, short' sighted, barefaced cupidity, and total want of oven the pretension to patriotism, on Hie par!, of any governing piilily. plebeian or princely! King Boniita, (lie Grand Duke, Great Mogul, and even the King of Dahomey, may hide their diminished heads!"

AHliougli Sir Henry Parkes must he reckoned as among those men whose deaths anticipated itheir triumphs, yet very few men in such circumstances saw so clearly as did he the magnificence of the victory that was coining. The events of to-day, marking the foundation of the Australian Commonwealth, aro found refleeted with almost historical accuracy and precision in the papers that Sir Henry contributed to contemporary literature many years ago. In a happily-conceived article written for the "Contemporary Review" in 1891, for example, he prophetically says: '' The twentieth century will see Australia in possession of a plenitude of authority and happiness of which the pop , ,, has never dreamed. As sure as night ushers in the morning, there will arise among the nations of the earth Ilio fair Australian Commonwealth." Never had prophet greater confidence in the fulfilment of his own prediction';. "The forum, the library, the fireside," he says, "will send forth men to render the service of exposition and defence. The friends of union will get surer footing day by day on the solid rock; the advocates of disunion will day by day feel the sand shifting from under their feet."

"1, for oiio," he wril.es again, '" have fi'oni tho first looked forward to difli-' cully, delay, and perhaps temporary defeat. Bui the eaiife itself will derivo new s(ren»(li from every obstacle in its way, and will recover with a more elastic liouiul from every repulse. Its complete triumph will come, and the new order of things will be firnilv rooted long before the close of the CDiiturv."

Tho loyally with which Sir Henry strove towards a colonial federation on a strongly Imperial basis was prophetic; of the unprecedented wave of Tnipjrialism (hat has swept over tho colonics simultaneously with the culmination of (lie federal movement'. Any thought of alienation from the mother country was abhorrent to Sir Henry. "It is difficult," he said, "for any thought to discover what

higher place could lie found for the now Commonwealth than tho impregnable rock on which the parent nation has so lon;,' stood amid the convulsions around her. Australia will be true to her builders. Her national pride will bo (o emulate tlio example of llio august mother of many nation?, and (o rival tliem all." Nor can we refrain from quoting another of the lamented statesman's resonant, sententes, which derives a peculiar significance from the recent transactions both in Australia and in South Africa. After writing concerning the Canadian Dominion, ho proceeded: "I do see very clearly that there may come a time, and that lime not very remote, when the Australian colonies may bo brought more into (he position of one great and united people. I do see ' a time when the South African colonies may be brought together into one great. Anglo-African people. And I see that if a grand and powerful congeries of free communities, such as I have grouped, in three parts of tho world, become steadily formed, that they may enter into an allegiance with the parent Stale on something like a broad "round of equality." Such predictions, which could only be regarded at the time as the airy imaginings of n visionary and an idealist, have, one. by one, been fulfilled with, remarkable exactness. This fact may be permitted to encourage the pleasing hope that such of Sir Henry's prophetic inspirations as history has not, as yet, fully justified only await, the gradual and natural evolution of events. " Some day," he wrote, " mighty awakenings 'and pregnant commotion. , ; will change the face of many parU of Australia and alter the relative importance of some of the colonies. Multitudes of men will ■swarm where now alt is Australian desert, and new Liverpools and Olnsgows will appear to receive and speed on the commerce of the- Pacific Ocean."

Willi such prophecies in mind, and such labours on record, it is inevitable Hint the memory of Sir Henry Parkes, the Prophet and Apostle of Australian federation, should be accorded no ordinary veneration at such a time as the present. His daring predictions are fast being converted into history, and Micy are bsin? fulfilled very largely by reason of the enthusiasm and determination with which he struggled to make his own dreams come true. And the statue of the old statesman that, will doubtless adorn ere lou-j the Senate Chamber of the new Commonwealth will constitute a fitting memorial to one who contributed, more perhaps than any living man, to (ho present glorious and historic consummation.

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THE OTAGO DAILY TIMES TUESDAY, MAY 7, 1901. Otago Daily Times, Issue 12036, 7 May 1901

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