MR R. H. HORNE AND THE GOVERNMENT.
TO THE EDITOR OF THE STAR.
Athenæum Club, Melbourne, 5th June, 1869.
Sir,—The enclosed papers will speak for themselves. They were laid before the Government at different periods, from 1865 to the close of 1868, with modifica- tions in accordance with circumstances and the in- creased lapse of time.
To the Honorable the Ministers of the Crown of the
Colony of Victoria.
On the 18th of April, 1857, I was appointed Com- missioner of the Yan Yean Waterworks, &c. Only two commissioners were thus appointed, the third being the mayor of Melbourne, who sat at the board ex-
The duties of the president and commissioners were of very great responsibility, inasmuch as they in- volved the management and continuation of works which had cost, at that time, nearly a million of money. The entire waterworks were completed suc- cessfully, and have remained a great success.
In December, 1859, the Yan Yean Commission, which was in fact a "corporation," and therefore could not be abrogated by any independent act of the Vic- torian Government at that period, was virtually done away with (in accordance with certain departmental changes) by being "transferred," with all its duties, powers, salaries, works, properties, and interests, to the Board of Public Works, and merged in that depart- ment. The Yan Yean Commissioners were thus left standing on dry ground—not displaced, but their places
removed from them.
My co-commissioner, the late Sir F. A. Powlett, being also a Commissioner of Crown Lands, at £800 per annum, had that office to fall back upon; but I, having no other office, was assured that an equal posi- tion would be offered me whenever a suitable oppor- tunity occurred. The late Chief Secretaries, Messrs Nicholson and Heales, repeated these assurances on
more than one occasion.
After a delay of three years and a half my private resources became exhausted, and I accepted the office of mining registrar at the Blue Mountain Gold-field. As it was anticipated that the fees of this office in such a locality, would not prove self-supporting, the then Treasurer (the Hon. W. C. Haines) gave me in addition, the appointment of collector of imposts, and warden's clerk, at a salary of £200 per annum. But I was clearly led to expect that these poor appoint-
ments were only temporary, and the hon. the Minister of Mines (at that time Dr G. S. Evans) distinctly assured me, in the presence of the Secretary for Mines (Mr R. Brough Smyth) that "I had only to be patient." These appointments were given me in
It will thus be seen that my patience has been tried up to the present date—August, 1868. The only changes in my finance, that have transpired in that interval, are these:—My salary as collector of imposts, &c., has been raised from £200 to £250; but the fees of mining registrar, which were at the rate of nearly £100 per annum, during the first year, fell off from that time, and during the last two years they have not amounted to as many shillings. It hence appears that after more than five years residence at the Blue Mountain, my emoluments are verily £50 less than on my first arrival at that isolated and comparatively deserted locality—the Siberia of the gold-fields.
On first commencing my duties at the Blue Moun- tain (otherwise known as the Seven-mile Forest) I was 60 years of age. I am now upwards of 65, and no longer seek any promotion, even if accompanied with change of official residence, but to retire from the ser- vice, and return to pass the residue of my life among my old literary associates of London and elsewhere. Under the circumstances previously stated (and referring also to my services during 1853 and 1854 as a gold commissioner in charge of the Warranga, Rushworth, and Whroo out-stations), I submit that some compensation or retiring allowance may be granted to me, not without ample grounds of justice
and consideration, by the present Government.
I have the honor to subscribe myself,
Your most obedient servant,
R. H. Horne.
Mining Registrar, Warden's Clerk, and Collector of
Blue Mountain, 13th August, 1868.
The above memorial was accompanied by the fol- lowing:—
NOTES ON THE PUBLIC SERVICES OF R. H. HORNE.
Mr Horne sailed for Victoria in company with Mr William Howitt, and arrived at the close of the year
Mr R. H. Horne's first colonial service was as com- mander of the gold escort (known as "Dight's Light Horse"). On his first return with his troop, he brought down from Bendigo and Mount Alexander 2 tons (two tons) of gold, being the largest quantity, with one ex- ception, ever brought down at a single trip.
Mr Latrobe hearing of this, and being written to by Mr Gairdner, of Downing street, concerning Mr Home, he was appointed a gold commissioner—as wardens were then designated. In the course of a few months Mr Horne was appointed commissioner in charge at Rushworth, Whroo, and Warranga. Mr Horne held the position of gold commissioner during something more than a year.
After this he acted for a time as counsel's clerk to
his friend, Mr Michie, and was subsequently appointed by the Hon. C. Gavan Duffy as Commissioner for the Yan Yean Water Supply, &c. In this position Mr Horne remained two years and eight months, and then lost the appointment in consequence of departmental changes.
An equal position was promised by successive Go- vernments, but it never was given, and Mr Horne comparatively wasted three years and upwards in fruitless expectation. Having invested all his money in land on a new township on the Goulburn River (as will subsequently be explained), Mr Horne fell into difficulties, and was compelled to make known his circumstances to the Royal Literary Fund Society of London. His claim, as the author of substantive works, was at once recognised, and a handsome assist- ance transmitted to him by the return mail.
After this Mr Horne accepted the combined offices of mining registrar, warden's clerk, and collector of imposts, at the Blue Mountain, fully anticipating to be made warden, with what result has been explained in his memorial to the present Government. He has now done duties at the above locality above five years
and seven months.
Mr R. H. Horne's work, entitled "Australian Facts and Prospects," was very highly eulogised by the British press, and was largely circulated both in the United Kingdom and America. He strongly advo- cated the liberal land policies which have since been adopted, and in this part of the book he was mate- rially assisted by Mr Wilson Gray. In the Melbourne and other colonial newspapers his writings have been numerous, on the following subjects:—On Literature and Art; on the Yan Yean Waterworks; on Colonial Defences; on the Extinction of Fires by a Chemical Gas, as well as Water (being a resume of Mr Horne's articles in Mr Dickens' "Household Words," entitled "The Fire Brigade" and the "Fire Annihilator"); on Utilising the Flesh of the Kangaroo for home consumption and export, instead of destroying wholesale and leaving to rot the indigenous food of the people (a new trade); on the Cultivation of the Mulberry for silkworms, and the Cactus for the cochineal insect (a new trade), trans- lated from the Spanish, and first published in the Sydney Morning Herald; on Colonial Wines, &c. Mr R. H. Horne claims to rank as one of the fathers of the Victorian wine trade, having been mainly instrumental in start- ing the first large wine-growing Company (the Noo- rillion, afterwards the Tabilk) on the Goulburn River banks. As honorary secretary he advertised for 1,000,000 (one million) of vine-cuttings from all the Australian colonies, which were obtained; the best of them planted, by a highly competent vigneron, and 700,000 (seven hundred thousand) took root and pro- duced grapes the first year.
OLD COUNTRY ANTECEDENTS.
The Memorialist's name will be found in all the larger Biographical Dictionaries of "men of the time" (with the usual number of errors and omissions), published during the last eighteen years and upwards, in England and America. He was the intimate friend, associate, and correspondent of Sir Thomas Talford, Thomas Carlyle, Professor Richard Owen, Dr Southwood Smith, Dickens, Tennyson, Auguste Wilhelm von Schligel, Edgar Allan Poe, Bulwer Lytton, Thackeray, Gerrald, Milnes (now Lord Houghton), the Brownings, G. H. Lewes, &c., &c. The writings of Mr Horne are volumin- ous, and of great variety. They comprise many original works in prose and in poetry, and also very numerous anonymous contributions to the "British and Foreign Quarterly," the "Westminster Review," "Frazer," the "Cornhill," and other monthlies, and also to many weekly periodicals. Among the latter, he
has written as much in the "Household Words" as would make three entire volumes if extracted for re- publication. One or two articles were also written by him in conjunction with Mr Dickens.
Mr Horne has held Government appointments in the old country. He was for some time in the secre- tarial of the Sewers and Water Commission (in Soho Square, London), and subsequently was one of the working commissioners in the Royal Commission of Enquiry into the employment of children and young persons in mines and manufactories, and was the first who received the thanks of the Central Board (for his "Reports and Evidence," which documents are in Melbourne) and of Earl Shaftesbury—then Lord Ashley—in person.
If the Memorialist is allowed to return to England without any small pension or other retiring allowance in recognition of his services in this colony (apart from all consideration of other antecedents), he submits that the sense of honor and justice which characterises the private dealings of our best public men has been dor- mant, if not economically petrified in his special case.
R. H. H.
Sir,—The above papers, more or less extended or abbreviated, have been forwarded by me to the pre- sent Government several times during the last two or three years, as previously intimated. The final result has been, after repeated applications, that I have at last been able to obtain the months-for-years salary as compensation simply for my five years and a half ser- vices at the Blue Mountain. All my previous years of service as gold commissioner, and commissioner of the Yan Yean works, have been ignored. The grounds of this are that I once received half a year's salary, de signated as "compensation" for my loss of office as Yan Yean Commissioner. By this system all a man's previous years of service may be utterly ignored if he receives a ten-pound note, or any other sum called "compensation." If you will turn to the Civil Ser- vice Act (clause 40, or thereabouts, I think) you will discover several cunning devices to enable a Govern- ment completely to evade the supposed claim for a pension or half pay after ten year's service, or for any retiring allowance. My object in calling attention to this, is in the hope that the public-spirited lovers of fair dealing in the Legislative Assembly, will see the justice of causing these shuffling clauses to be altered, so that others may not be treated like the reduced soldier without half-pay, or gratuity, who now bids farewell to your sunny but too seductive shores.—I am, sir, your most obedient servant, R. H. Horne.