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Death of Mr. Justice Harding.
It is with deep regret we have to record the death of his Honour Mr. Justice Harding. The suddenness and the severity of the illness from which
he suffered came as a shock to the com munity. It was only on Wednesday that his Honour experienced his first attack. Some weeks before he had be,en seriously unwell, but it was thought that he had completely recovered. Early In the week he seemed scarcely \n his usual health, but he persevered with the business of the Civil Sittings of the Supreme Court. He was stricken In the midst of his work, and he fell lite rally with his harness on his back. Too dangerously ill to be removed to his pri ivate house, he was made as comfortable, as. possible in his Chambers.. He was under the constant and unremitting care 6? Drs. Taylor, Hill, Little, and Jackson." Up to Thursday night his condition was hopeful, though critical. It was antici pated that he would be able to rest, but unfortunately he waa unable to do so. He passed the night in groat suffering, and when a consultation of the doctor* .was held at 10 o'clock in the morning it was decided to administer opiates to him. As the morning wore on his condi tion varied a good deal, and at lunch time he was reported to be easier. At about 2.15, however, he had a very severe attack, and it was thought that the end had arrived. Speedy medical aid was, however, at hand, and under the treat ment of the doctors his Honour rallied again. Very little hope, however, was held out of his ultimate recovery, and it wan definitely stated that he was sink ing rapidly. His Honour lingered on, at times rallying a little, but throughout Buffering greatly, and unconscious to all except pain, until 3 a.m. on Saturday, when he passed away in the presence of the members of his family. His Honour suffered from gout in complication with other internal disorders. His untimely death has deprived the
Queensland Bench of a lawyer who was universally respected ; and the com munity of an eminent citizen. • Some of the incidents 6f his career at the Eng lish Bar have been given in articles lately published in the "Courier," and headed " Reminiscences of a Judge." His life and work In Queensland are matters of more common knowledge, and many survive who witnessed his elevation to the Bench. The late Judge was essen tially a lawyer. He was devoted to his profession, and public life in the ordinary sense of the word had no charm for him. He was keenly sensitive, and was not at all inclined toward the rough and tumble events of political life. His appointment to the Bench was purely non-political, and it was referred to in; these terms in a contemporaneous print : " It is not a political appointment in any sense, and that is one fact which entitles tt to public approval. Mr. Harding's legal qualifications rank high, and socially his standing Is unimpeachable. That his duties as Judge will be faith fully and thoroughly performed we have the best guarantee in the Industry, pains taking, and thoroughness which he has exhibited in doing the work of his clients." Mr. Justice Harding's life work has been a living verification- of the wisdom of his appointment. He was offered a puisne Judgeshlp early in July, 1879, when by the sterling qualities which stood him in such stead on the Bench he had acquired and had been in the enjoyment of for several years a very large and profitable practice. He was sworn in and took his seat on the Sup reme Court Bench on the 15th July, 1879, on the same day that the ex-Chief Justice. Sir Charles Lilley. succeeded to the Chief Justiceship vacated by the late Sir James Cockle. The then Attorney-General, Hon. R. Prlng, subsequently one of his Honour's colleagues, in congratulating Mr. Justice. Harding on his elevation to the Bench, said : " He thought he might safely say that the ability his Honour had displayed diirmg h\b thirteen years here showed his fitness for hla present high position. . He had earned that position by bis own merits, and there was- no • one- «t. the Bar—certainly not himself—who grudged him his ap pointment." It was Mr. Justice Harding's lot to offer his con gratulations to Mr. Pring when in bis turn he succeeded to the Bench, and to survive him and his immediate successor, the late Mr. Justice Mem. The late Judge was only 41 years of age when he ascended the Bench. He was born near Taunton, Somersetshire. Eng land, in December, 1838, and was there fore only 57 years of age when he died. He was educated at Magdalen College, Cambridge, and In June, 1858. entered as a student at Lincoln's Inn, and was called to the Bar in the Easter term of 1861. He studied with some of the most emi nent equity lawyers of his time, and before he was called to the Bar made a reputation for himself by a book on Ecclesiastical Law, which quickly ran through two editions, and his Honour was preparing a third when he left Eng land. As his Honour naively pot it In
his reminiscences. " the pleasure of Ink slinging," early Indulged in, increased by constant indulgence. In the midst of a judicial career, In which the student and the Judge were never allowed to sepa rate, Mr. Justice Harding found time to enrich law literature with several most valuable works. His Honour has re lated the story of his early struggles at the Bar in the articles referred to. In one of those now in print, the deceased Judge explains how it was that he aban doned the fair prospects he had at the English Bar to start afresh in a new country. He says he had long desired to join a new community, and ultimately the passion to emigrate became irre sistible, and l?e sailed for Queensland. He landed here in October, 1868, and was immediately admitted to the Queensland Bar. His Intimate acquaintance with equity law and procedure coon secured for him a large and exclusive practice. It is said that when he accepted a Judicial appointment his Income from his practice was twice that of the salary attached to the office which he accepted. In April, 1878, he was appointed a commis sioner under the Civil Procedure Reform Act of 1872, In which office he did in valuable work. During the absence of Sir Charles Lllley on leave In 1889, he acted as Chief Justice, and In the follow ing year himself was granted leave of absence. This was the first and almost allowed himself more relaxation of a Dhyeical nature, but he preferred the qStet and repose of his home to the ex citement of travel and change. In the discharge of his judicial duties he was known to be extremely punctilious, and ho was sometimes thought to carry the decent ordering of things to an .«cew. Yet he was always acknowledged to be, a t-mind lawyer ; and In equity and ecclesiastical law the depth and breadth of his knowledge was universally recog nised. He was a downright hard worker, and his contributions trt our law literature are respected as of standard value. Possessed of a strong personal character, it was natural that he should at times be found to have a few rough edges, but these were reserved for those who encountered him in his judicial capacity. In his home he was a model of kindly hospitality, and his beautiful residence, St. John's Wood, on the Waterworks-road, was always a popular place with the younger folk in the ordi nary rounds of social entertainment. Above nil in the late Judge's career was hi« sterling honesty, his intense con scientiousness. It is doubtful whether a Judge has ever occu pied a seat on the Australian Bench who has been more completely trusted. As far as enlightened Judgment, fearless integrity, and genuine kindliness of heart are concerned, it may be said that in the ranks of-the upright, just Judges he who has just passed away always held and always deserved a place with the most esteemed.
The closing: days of Mr. Justice Hard-" ing were full of evidence of his strength of character and of his indomitable pluck. When taken ill on Wednesday last he was summing up In what is known as the Roma timber case. He had been speaking for about twenty-five minutes after luncheon, but was com pelled to give way and retire to seek medical aid. Four medical men at tended him, and he was unable to leave his Chambers, but on the following morn ing, rather than delay the course of justice, and keep the parties, the counsel, and the Jury waiting in the case, he. concluded his summing up in Chambers, though under intense suffering. . During the trying period of his illness, he had the consolation of betng attended by all who were dearest to him. and publio sympathy was manifested by numerous and anxious inquiries. The late Judge was - married first to Miss Morris, Bister of Mrs.; I<3. 1^ G. - Browne, and secondly to' Miss Graham, a Bister of Mrs. E. R. Drury. He leaves a large family, four of his daughters being married, on« to the Hon. W. H. Wilson, M.L.C., ano ther to a son of Mr. J. P. M'Dougall, of Rosalie, formerly M.L.C., a third to Mr. W. F. Wilson, barrister, and a fourth to Mir Frank Riley, formerly of the Bris bane office of the Australian Joint Stock Bank.