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13 corrections, most recently by anonymous - Show corrections

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.

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