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DEATH OF MR SAMUEL STEPHENS
It is our painful duty to record this week the death, by a fall from his horse, of our esteemed brother colonist Mr SAMUEL STEPHENS. In another part of our paper will be found an account
of the melancholy particulars as given in evidence on the inquest which was held on Monday last. When the fatal accident took place Mr Stephens was on his return from the Murray, whither he had accompanied Mr Morphett and a party of gentlemen for the purpose of examining the special surveys taken there by Mr Morphett. A few hundred yards before reaching the brow of the last hill he had to descend, Mr Stephens pro- ceeded in advance of the party, and was observed to halt his horse on the summit where it is usual to dismount before commencing the descent. This was the last time he was seen before the fatal accident. On reaching the foot of the hill the friends who had accompanied him found him thrown from his horse, lying insensible, and in- jured too seriously to admit a hope of his recovery. He was taken to the house of Mr E Gleeson, and died in about half an hour after his removal. When viewed in connexion with the rise and progress of the colony we consider this melancholy event deserving of something beyond a passing notice. Mr Stephens was one of those who took an active part in the England in the measures in which (r... . ... .........ment of our infant settle- ment. He was connected with the early body of colonists soon after the commission was opened and was greatly instrumental in carrying on those negotiations with the Commissioners which led in the first instance to the preliminary sales of land, and [?] to the formation of the South Australian Company. In laying down their plans for commencing operations in the colony. Mr Stephens afforded the Company im- portant assistance; and the introduction into the Commissioners' regulations for the sale of land of a clause authorising special surveys is also, we believe, to be attributed to him. It is foreign to our present purpose to discuss the policy or im- policy of this privilege, or to weigh the objections
that have been urged against it on the supposition that it militates in theory and in practice against the fundamental principles of the colony; but the advantages which it gave a body commanding a capital so great as that of the South Australian Company, are too obvious to require pointing out. So far as they have availed themselves of these advantages, so far have the Company been indebted to the talent and foresight of their able officer. The exertions of Mr Stephens in England in behalf of the Company were appreciated by them, and he was appointed to the arduous post of Colonial Manager of their affairs. In this capacity he sailed from England in February, 1836, and in July landed in Kangaroo Island, the first colonist who trod the shores of South Australia. It is yet too early a day in our history as a co- lony, to hope to discuss the events that took place, even in commencement of our course, without bias or partiality; and we do not pre- tend to offer an opinion upon the grounds which induced the South Australian Company to super- sede Mr Stephens within twelve months after his arrival. But we should be doing his memory and our own feelings an injustice, if we did not impress our belief, that to the possession of abi- lities that peculiarly fitted him for his important position, he added an earnest desire to exercise his talents to the utmost, for the benefit of the great interests committed to his charge; and that his exertions were never wanting, and his per- sonal interests never spared, whenever for the advancement of the Company he was called upon to disregard them. It required but little con- sideration to see, that where vast discretionary powers are necessarily confided, great caution should be used in judging of the way they may be exercised by an individual to whom they are properly entrusted. It his known abilities make him worthy of confidence when his plans are only in theory, he is worthy of support when he proceeds to action. He has a right to claim the same con- fidence in the propriety of his alterations as he had in the correctness of his original design. We believe that some of Mr Stephens's proceedings as colonial manager, have been since viewed in a very different light to that in which they were first considered and condemned. We know that his purchase for the company, of sixty acres at the sale of town land, was contrary to his instruc- tions, and was the subject of severe animadver- sion. We presume there can now be no doubt that his deviation was worthy of praise rather than of blame. We give this instance because it is a prominent, but an isolated one, there are others in which the correctness of his views, time has only lately, though fully, substantiated. Since his retirement from the Company's service, Mr Stephens has devoted a great portion of his time in exploring and examining different parts of the province. Perhaps few men could be found more fitted for such a pursuit. To a considerable knowledge of agriculture theoreti- cally and practically, and an excellent judgment of the nature and value of land, he added great quickness in observing all the minute circum- stances that could cause local variations in any particular port of a district, and displayed equal power in taking a comprehensive and generalizing view of the whole. He possessed undaunted courage, great physical energy, a capability of enduring privation and fatigue, almost uninter- rupted health, and abundant and ceaseless flow of high and cheerful spirits. To all these he added a caution and prudence that were rarely at fault, and an attention to minutiæ that suffered nothing to escape it. He was consequently sought and prized as a companion in most explo- ratory expeditions, and we believe he has seen more of the colony generally, and had more care- fully examined every portion that has been sur- veyed for sale than any other individual. In his social relations he was exemplary, and to the circle of his immediate friends he was endeared by the benevolence of his disposition and kindness of his heart, as he was admired for his clear perception and sound judgment. No case of real distress or difficulty ever appealed to him in vain, and his sympathy was always ren- dered doubly valuable by the sincerity with which it was exercised. He delighted in benefiting all he could; and if ever he thought of heaping fire on the head of an opponent, it was sure to be by rendering him a kindness. We can hardly give a stronger proof of the predominance of this feeling, so honorable and so characteristic, than by men- tioning that after his official connection with the Company had ceased, and that under circum- stances which might be supposed to engender some little feeling of bitterness on his part, he communicated to his successor, prior to the selection of the country preliminary lands, a copy of his notes of the relative value of the sections open for selection. This showed his willingness to afford every assistance to the operations of the Company, notwithstanding his own belief in his precipitate if not unjust removal. Mr Stephens was almost thirty-one years of age. He was the son of the Rev. John Stephens, many years a highly respected minister in the Wesleyan Connexion, and was the brother to Mr E. Stephens, the Cashier of the South Australian Company's Bank. The loss to his bereaved re- latives here and in England in doubtless a severe one, but we can assure them that they have the sympathy of hundreds who respected and es- teemed their departed friend in proportion to their knowledge of him. To those who are curious in noticing the co- incidences that may be sometimes detected in particular dates, we may remark that Wednesday last, the 22nd January, the day on which we followed the deceased gentleman to his grave, was the anniversary of the calamitous fire that destroyed last year the houses and the property of Mr Fisher and Colonel Light, and also the anniversary of the formation of the South Australia Company in 1836, in which Mr Stephens took so able a part and so deep an in- terest.