SYDNEY, Dec. 18 1900
THE NEW COMMONWEALTH.
FROM OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT.
SYDNEY, Dec. 18 1900; Jan. 23 1901.
The Governor-General has arrived. In perfect weather he had an almost perfect welcome—not in the city, the streets of which are like most other streets of modern cities during business hours. “Sydney—it is the harbour”, and our demonstration was made in a theatre which no capital in the world can surpass, and with a display that few ports could hope to parallel. Lord Hopetoun arrived in the flagship Royal Arthur, entering from the sea between two lines of men-of-war and merchant steamers, amid the flame, smoke, and thunder of saluting guns. As the vessel passed between the precipitous heads into the calmer waters of Port Jackson the Metropolis came into view in the distance. Between its mass of buildings and the ship the dark blue waters beneath a cloudless sky lay in unsullied sunshine, their sinuous windings broken by hills and coves and promontories that were fledged with fresh green foliage. The harbour was alive with every kind of craft, from which, as from all the promontories, islands, and encircling cliffs about it, flew brightly-coloured flags that fluttered loyal greetings.
THE LANDING OF THE GOVERNOR.
From men-of-war, British and foreign, great ocean-going steamers and inter-colonial traders, tall masted wool ships, tramps, excursion runners, pleasure boats, yachts, and dinghies came the cheers of the immense crowd they carried, and the tooting, hooting, whistling, grunting, shrieking, and blaring of scores of engine pipes yelling at the top of their register and capacity. Not entirely dignified in clamour but altogether hearty and sincere was this reception of Lord Hopetoun as he stepped on to the landing-stage; and, though evidently still weak from illness, he replied in a few courteous sentences to the addresses presented by the Premier and Mayor of the city. Nothing more was attempted and nothing more was needed. The procession to Government House was in no way noteworthy. Nothing could have been impressive after the picture on which he had just gazed. It was wise to rely on the sea pageant entirely, than which nothing could have been more triumphant or appropriate to our race or to the place.
MANAGEMENT OF THE FESTIVITIES.
There were features of the ceremony which, unfortunately, it is impossible to ignore, most eloquently demonstrating the Anti-Federal spirit in which the celebrations are being conducted. The Governor-General has set foot for the first time on the continent over which he is to exercise viceregal control, and has taken up his abode—temporarily, it may be—in what most of us consider ought to be his permanent home. He received a welcome as hearty as it was deserved from all classes of those present, but these were strictly limited to New South Welshmen. Those who pay their taxes into the Treasury of that particular province in which he happened to be were thus secured the full value of their outlay. Not a single public man or representative of any other Colony was present or had received an invitation to be present. The event was in itself in no sense local: it was altogether Australian. Out of the six States composing the Union five were conspicuous by their absence.
Splendid, therefore, as the display was, all things considered, it was branded unmistakably from beginning to end as a merely local demonstration. Four panels near the landing-stage were adorned with the names of the four statesmen whom it was desired to honour for their services to the national cause. Our Sir Henry Parkes, as President of the Parliamentary Convention of 1891, by every right of priority and service occupied the first; but Mr. Kingston, of South Australia, the President of the elective and more important convention of 1897, was ignored. Our Mr. Barton, as leader of the last convention and politically commander-in-chief of the Federal forces of New South Wales, was properly included, if any living statesmen were to be honoured; but why, then, was Sir Samuel Griffith, of Queensland, the leader of the first convention, omitted? Our Mr. Reid had his name inscribed, though he opposed the movement at its inception and deserted it in its hour of trial three years ago. This may be apologised for, perhaps, because of his action in bringing about the second convention and his aid in securing the final victory. But there are several men whose claims are at least as great, such as Sir Edward Braddon, of Tasmania, Sir John Downer, of South Australia, Mr. Deakin and Dr. Quick, of Victoria, who never wavered in their allegiance, or who, like Sir John Forrest, of Western Australia, or Mr. Dickson, of Queensland, were even more instrumental in bringing their Colonies into the fold at the last appeal. Not one of these was recognised, though they are of very different shades of political opinion, because not one of them was a New South Welshman.
THE ONE ELEMENT LACKING.
All that was visible at the landing was effective and impressive, but the absence of any Federal or national characteristic made it painful to every thoughtful citizen. For this Sydney is in no respect to blame. The responsibility rests on Sir William Lyne and those associated with him, or those who failed to challenge his action on behalf of the bulk of our residents. If even the five Premiers, or five of their colleagues, had been seen side by side with him the occasion would have been saved.
The far more imposing and prolonged demonstrations of January 1 will be attended by many official and unofficial representatives from all parts of Australia and from New Zealand. All the accommodation which the city can afford is already secured, and in spite of every effort there are pouring in applications from visitors who are still unprovided for. The Federal character of this gathering will be beyond question, and the creation of the Federal Government, involving as it will the presence of all its members in order to be sworn in, will of itself supply an impressive illustration of the reality and extent of the Union. Even here, however, we are now threatened with a most unfortunately marked series of abstentions, depriving the pageant of a great deal of the official splendour on which we had calculated. Not a single Governor nor even a Lieutenant-Governor from beyond our borders has so far agreed to be present, though they should have constituted a brilliant array of distinguished men and a significant part of the pageant. It is probable that those who are supreme in their own territories scarcely relished the prospect of forming part of the Governor-General’s train, and a telegram received from Mr. Chamberlain some time back indicated that they had duties to discharge at home in connection with the change of functions brought about by the placing over them the rank and dignity, though not in direct control, of the Queen’s representative in the Commonwealth.
SIR WILLIAM LYNE.
Sir William Lyne, whatever his merits as a working politician, is hardly the most suitable man for the position of Premier at such a time as this. From the first he exhibited a pardonable anxiety to secure for Sydney the distinction of being the chief and permanent residence of the Governor-General, though this would doubtless have been accorded to us as of right and without any exertion on his part. Our late Governor, Lord Beauchamp, expressed his willingness to fall in with any arrangements necessary to the accomplishment of this purpose, and looked forward with evident pleasure to the entertainment of the Earl of Hopetoun as his guest with his accustomed hospitality. He was informed in effect, however, that it was his room and not his company that was desired. Able, active, generous, and well-intentioned as he was, this young nobleman had never succeeded in making himself popular. His want of worldly experience betrayed him into minor indiscretions of manner and procedure which maintained a certain friction between the public and himself that told to his disadvantage, in spite of his many amiable qualities and the invaluable social assistance rendered to him by his sister. Probably Sir William Lyne counted on this to cover, if not to excuse, the inconsiderate manner with which, in order to retain the incoming, he treated the parting guest.
One of the last acts of our late Governor had a most unfortunate association, for which he was in no way responsible but of which he bore the odium. He was present, ex officio, at the opening of St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Cathedral when Dr. Redwood, of New Zealand, delivered a sermon in glorification of his own Church, from which he had the politeness to omit at the time a fiercely and an offensively polemical passage in which he declared that the leaders of the Reformation were notorious for their vices, while Protestantism itself “desecrated the home, polluted the nuptial bed, lowered the dignity of woman, and stopped the progress of science.” When his sermon came to be printed it included these fine flowers of oratory, with the result that a storm of angry denial and recrimination burst from the more militant Dissenters and Evangelicals. Our Colony has always offered too free a field for sectarian feuds, and this revived the bitterness of the continuous rivalries of the Orange and the Green. The Orange has always been dominant in a faction fight, and its organisation has been exploited by most of our political leaders from Parkes downwards. When Cardinal Moran stood as a candidate for the Federal Convention of 1897 he was confronted by an Orange ticket which returned nine Protestants out of the ten delegates, and left his Eminence to the more familiar occupations of his high ecclesiastical position.