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THE LATE MR JUSTICE
SITTING OF THE FDLL CODKT
It was an impressive scene that was enacted in the Supreme Court yester- day, when the judicial bench and the legal profession met to pay their last solemn duty to tho memory of Mr. Jus- tice Harding. The Kuli Court sat as It were in a chamber of mourning. Their Honours the Judges, lu lieu of the state robes which they usually wear on robe days, were attired in their black robes, and wore the white bands assumed on such occasions. The court room waa Ulled In every part by it very large and representative gathering of the profes- sion and of the public. There were also many ladies present, among whom were Lady Lilley, Miss Byrnes, Masses Elsie and Matilda Byrnes, Mrs. and Miss Murray-Prior, Miss Bell of Jimbour, Mr& Virgil Power, Mrs. G. W. Gray, and Mrs. Huberts, Finchley, Toowoomba.
SPEECH BY. THE CHIEF JUSTICE.
Immediately on their Honours taking
The Chief Justice said,-Before tho court proceeds to business I desire to refer it moment to the great loss that the community, especially lu the ad- ministration of justice, has sustained in the death of Mr. Justice Harding. For more than sixteen years he occupied a seat upon this Bench. Probably no one lu the community had better occasions of judging of him than I had. I was on terms of Intimate friendship with him for hnlf of his life, and for considerably more than half of my own. First ns ii law student, shortly before I was colled to the Bar ; for some years ns junior to him, often with him, oftener against him ; then for some years as leader, and then for nearly fourteen years practising before him lu court, und lastly ns his colleague on tills Bench, for too short a time. I have known him from every point of view, besides that of personal friendship, but 'if I may I now desire to refer more to his charac- ter as a Judge. Yet It occurs first to me to say that the thing that remains most strongly lu my mind after these years was his essential kindliness of heart. Probably few while at the Bar have not had little brushes with their brethren, but If ever we had any brush In court, however sharp It might seem at the time, there was no rankling after- wards. The essential kindliness of his heart showed that he could not bear ill will to any one. nnd I do net think any one could everbearanvtowardshim. But speaking of him as a .Tudce. as the capa- city In which he was best'known to the people of Queensland, his knowledge of law was great, very great, especially In Hint department of Iltw in which he was especially trained, the branch which we used -to call Kquity. Ho was the first equity lawyer In Queensland, both In the sense of priority of time and in the sense of eminence In the profession, and the knowledge of thnt branch of the law which he bronght to Queensland, I think I may venture to say, has been of Im- mense service In the administration of justice. Nowadays Judges are supposed to know something of every branch of the law, and I cannot help fearing that where the circle of knowledge Is sup- posed to be so extensive possibly there may not be thoroughness in every branch of IL Another matter In which onr into brother took an especial In- terest was the great subject of proce- dure In courts of justice. I cnll that a great snbleet. because only those who know most nbout It know how much the fuibllc gnin by the making nnd observ-
ance of sensible rules of procedure. | Some persons seem to be of opinion , that these rules arc merely traps for the , nnwnry. They are In reality the cm- | tioilvment of many years of long ex- I perlence. and they aro devices, not to I entrap the unwary, hut to put the weak pn fntmlitr with the strong ns far ns possible. The work thnt our Inte brother dfd In thnt respect In this court Is more than I» known by the publie and more thnn is known even to most members of the profession. I mvself shared in the liking he had for the study of thnt branch of work : nnd nil the pro- fession know, because thev dnflv use the books which he complied and wrote for their aid. the loss-th« very crent loss wo should feel In getting thrniitrh our ' work dav after dnv without the assist- i ance of the books which he hns left for us. I nm sorry In that respect we Rhnll not have his assistance for the work thnt ret remains to be done In that Im- portant brnnch. I cannot refrain from referring to the work thnt he hns done In the cause of legnl education In Queensland by the mntmlfieont library that hns, been fornipd In this Supreme Conrt under his nnsnlcps. It hcenn ?yvlth n sompwhnt insignificant collection of books-It Is now one of the finest libraries certainly In the Anstrallnn colo- nies. Of him ns a Judge In genernl I shnnld like to snv this. Ho was n hist ann an nprltrht .Tndge. who discharged the dntics of his high office In accordance with the terms of his oath. " without fear, favour, or affection." He wns ac- tuated by the Binde desire to administer the law ns he found IL and believed It to be. His Industry wns indefatigable and his sense of duty strong and abso-
lutely regardless of hirnspjf, of which ' no better'proof can lie given than tho painful scene In his chambers last Thursday morning, when sufferingnnder
great pain he concluded his summing ' up to a jury, which, if be bad left ' omitted, would have entailed consider- ] able expense and trouble upon tho
parties. I was present at his re- ] qnest on that occasion, and I could not ' but ndmire his courage and sense of dnty . that led to the discharge of that painful
task under the circumstances. Of course , our learned brother being naman had ] some peculiarities-tbey might be called , eccentricities, some people would call ^ them defects-but every man of a strong ( Independent mind bas some peculiarities j which distinguish him from others, i Other people who do not possess the ] same or similar peculiarities are apt to I regard tbera perhaps ns defects, bnt it i Is not bv any means certain on which < side the fault lies, rt is jost as likely to i be In the critic as not Sometimes we 1 expect too muck No man Is perfect,, <
j but after all we shall be able to form
a better opinion of our brother Harding after a little longer time. I venture to say that all the things that may have been thought peculiarities, eccentricities, or defects will fade from our minds, and we shall retain onlï the memory of a just, strong man. The memory of other things If tiley remain at nil will merely serve to bring into greater prominence the great qualities which he possessed, and by means of which he impressed his personality upon this court Of his kindness to the profession I need hardly say anything. I need say nothing for the purpose of giving informatiou. There is not a member of the profession I dare say who does not feel that he has lost personally a friend, from the most senior to the most Junior member of the profession. The Judges have lost a valued colleague, valued as much off the Bench as on it, because there is much ? work that has to be done not here In
the light of coui-t. We knew we could always turn to him for advice, not only on mattera of law, but on many other things which have to be considered. The last niomeut that I saw him, except on that morning, was when I had occasion a few days before he was taken ill to I consult him ou a matter of great Impor-
tance relating to the administration of justice upon which there was no one II knew could give such valuable advice.
I say the Judges have lost a valued col- league and the public have lost a good I and faithful servant, and after all what
better can bo said of any man, however : distinguished his ability, thnt he fnlth ¡ fully and puselflsuly used that ability i for the benefit of his fellow-man 1 That j may lu truth be said of our lamented ! brother. I have received from my bro-
ther, Mr. Justice Cooper, who . Is in Townsville, a telegram, in which \ ho wishes ine to add to any-
thing I have to say these words from him :-" In liiin the Bench have lost a conscientious, courteous, and singularly painstaking colleague, the Bar a trustworthy and ever ready friend and counsellor, and. the com- munity a fearless, able, and upright Judge. Please add for me these words, and express ray sincere regret that I can not personally testify to the sterling worth of our old friend, now silent in
MU. JUSTICE CHUBB'S REMARKS. Mr. Justice Chubb : I desire to add a
few words to vyhat has fallen from the Chief Justice. For the last six years I have not been so intimately associated witlf my learned brother, having been stationed lu North Queensland, and only paying periodical visits to Brisbane. But before that I had the pleasure of his acquaintance and his friendship. He-was my first antagonist at the Bar. The first brief I held in this colony was against Mr. Justice Harding, and I was defeated, no doubt Justly so. I also lind, some years later, the pleasure lind duty of convoying to, him his appointment as Acting Chief Justice of this colony dur- ing the period that our then Chief Jus- tice was absent on leave. Later on, when I came to take my seat on tills Bench, his hand was thero to welcoüiü me. I feel that in tho loss of him I have not only lost a faithful colleague and a true friend, but I can truly say that the colony has lost a faithful servant. His works live after him in the books that he lins published and in the library that he has established, and it may be,
think, Justly said of him " Esegl ino nlmculuni aero perennlus."
SPEECH OF MR. JUSTICE REAL.
Mr. Justice Real : I feel I owe n debt of personal gratitude to the Chief Jus- tice for the manner In which he lias ex- pressed our esteem and respect for our old colleague, and our sorrow at his loss. When agreeing with the Chief Justice I usually prefer to keep silence after he has spoken. Perhaps in this instance i a close adherence to that rule would I bo a wise course, but I feel it I Is impossible for me to do so. 1 During the whole of my professional
career for twenty-one years I had the advantage of associating in professional matters. Five years I was his junior at the Bar, upwnrds of ten years I nrac tlsed before him, and for the last Ave years I had especially the advantage of being associated with him as a col- league. ,Of professional jealousy he bad uone. At the Bar he thoroughly appre- ciated and ever acknowledged th,» merits of those who stood before hlui.
i To his juniors he was at all times kind
and courteous. He regarded his profes 1 sion as a noble one. To be a barrister was a passport to his confidence and es- teem. He was ever ready whpn at the Bar-ready and anxious-to assist those who had less knowledge or experience than himself. His junior in a case he always treated as a younger brother never exposing any defect arising from any inexperience, but always
couraglng and acknowledging in the most unselfish manner any merit. To his mind the judicial office was a great ona His faults, if he had any in his capacity of a Judge-and who can say that there is any but might be more perfect ?-were the outcome of his in- tense love of fair play and determination to do his duty, and n firm belief that anything which tended to degrade or lessen the respect for the judicial office rendered it less worthy by men of thj highest self-respect and was sure in time to diminish public confidence in it, and corrupt the fountain of Justice. These sentiments, worthy in themselves, and evincing a noble mind, will, on examination, be found to be the true source and the 'mainspring of any act or word of his which during his judicial career has not met with universal ap- proval. Duty was ever1 his watchword. Te perform it properly was the one am tion of his life ; but he not only fear- lessly did his duty ; be gave to others with him the credit of being actuated by a like desire. Hence he could differ with them without ceasing to esteem and respect them. His personal opinion might be inclined one way, but the mo- ment a thing was decided by the au- thority whose duty it was finally to de- cido the matter, that decision was to his mind right Ho did not merely bow to it he accepted it ; it became his absolutely. It became his opinion in lieu of that which he had held pre- viously. These, peculiarities you may call them, virtues I call them, perhaps, in their exaggeration they seemed with him sometimes to be faults, will ac- count to the mind of every thinking
man, certainly to the mind of every I lawyer, for any little mannerisms which I some people have pronounced defects <n
his character. Yes, I miss my brother |
Harding. We shall long miss him. His ' loss Is a'public calamity. This Bench without him seems strange to rue, and
wanting, as it were, in some essen-1 tial. So unexpected, so sudden, has boen the parting, thut for myself I feel
deeply thankful that we have no serious ' legal business to engage our attention ! during these sittings. Gentlemen of the Bar, I do not feel capable to say nny thlng more In respect to Mr, Justice Harding. I know that he was not only esteemed, but he was loved by nil of us. He was the most forgiving man I ever met. No one could quarrel with him. He gave to every man the credit of be- ing actuated by the same motives as ho
THE HON. T. J. BYRNES.
The Attorney-General said it was his most melancholy privilege to express their deep sense of grief ¡it the loss of Mr. Justice Harding. The passing away of one whom they all looked upou as a leader, as a personal friend, as a brother In their profession, would in any event have been a matter for the sluccrost sorrow, but n keener edge was set on their sense of deprivation when they had for ever prosent in their minds, as it were, the overpowering and peculiarly sorowful circum- stances attending what he might call the public calamity of his loss. They knew he was stricken down in nil the power and strength of body aud intellect he possessed, and that lie pnssod away lu the halls whore lie had so long been a faithful servant iu the cause of justice. And they knew, as the Chief Justice had pointed out, that before his death he had summoned to lils bedside the jurors, his lay coad- jutors In tlic administration of justice, and gave them his last exhortation, as was his wont, to decide according to
their consciences between the parties ' before their God. But ere lie could enter judgment in the case he himself had been summoned to his owu. These circumstances were the most tragic and most pathetic recorded in the ordinarily tranquil annals of the Aus- tralasian Bench. Their Honours the Judges had reviewed his career, and had given ii just and generous estimate of his worth as a member of the profession, as a member of the Bench and as u citi- zen. For himself (the Attorncy-Geueral) he had onls- known lil m In the capac'ty of Judge, and ho thought most of the members of the Bar, being chiefly young men, had known him in no other capa- city ; but their opinion of ulm, If they put It together, would bo absolutely the same ; and he thought he could express it for himself and for all members of the Bar, that they had found bim ever just, upright and true to the noblest tra- ditions of the noble profession and the noble causo lu which his life was embarked. It was somewhat out of place, perhaps, to obtrude a personal matter, but it was not only the expe- rience of himself, but of other members of the profession. When he cunio lo the Bar there was no one who extended moro cordially to him the right hand of friendship than Mr. Justice Harding. That was a time when one wanted the hand of friendship ; when all the diffi- culties of the profession came thick upon them, and when the future waB some- what unseen ; it was theu they re- quired the help of the strong mau. That ho had heard from lils brothers in the profession liad been the experience of them all. When one became firmly es- tablished he transferred lils friendship to others as they carne on, because, as had been truly said by Mr. Justice Real, he loved his profession. Mr. Justice Harding had over and over again ex- pressed himself to him that his profes- sion was a noble one. It was a profes- sion which brought about the healthy brush bf one strong intellect with an- other. It might not be out of place to say something about the Incidents cou nected with the late Judge's career. There wore many things admirable In his character. Ho was thorough lu lils work ; he took nothing for grantfd. When n man appeared before lum he did not know that the Judge would call upon him to review his knowledge, not only as bearing on that cause, but on all possible cases in that branch. This course of examination through which he so often put the profession, and which might have appeared to outsiders
to approach to a kind of men- tal toitnre, wns of very great ad- vantage to those who appeared before him. He waa cautious and was not rash to make experiments with the law. They also remembered this : That having made up bis mind his caution was laid aside, and he then expressed himself fearlessly, disbeut whoever might In one of the most important cases which had ever come before the court-one in which millions were nt stake-he delivered judgment after ar- gument had concluded without tak- ing time for consideration, and tilla showed ¿hal to his caution ho also added judicial valour. He had left to theni as monuments of lils labour not only his decisions bot his literary work In his books on legal subjects, which he had compiled with t,o much core, and which he had handed over to the Slate without remuneration or reward. The library was largely his work, and he put a fine tone in the profession, the maintenance of which was one of the safeguards of the public. He carried on to that Bench the best traditions of the English Judges. In our community the Supreme Court Bench, the occupancy of that Bench, and the character of the occu- pants was one of the highest Import- ance. In this country it wns perhaps almost the only Institution that seemed to be permanently one in which the tenure of office would he a life-long tenure. In other branches of life of course figures flitted to and fro ; the proudest ventures were sometimes wrecked by -passing blasts ; but in the Supreme Court Bench they had the con- tinuity of one branch of the constitution for ever maintained- They had tile Judges there In life-long possession of their office. Mr. Justice Harding hnd, as be had said, carried to the Bench the best traditions of the English Judges. They feared not censure when they were right. As was said by nn Athenian statesman of women they could truly say here " the less they are In men's minds for good or evil the better, beennse the performance of their duty sbonld be'the only reward they seek." Mr. Justice Harding was a living example of thnt He sought no man's adulation ; he feared not the censure or blame that might sometimes bo heaped upon him. His character ns a Judge had been so well put from the Bench that It was hardly necessary for him to say nineh more ; but he did say that far more than merely the profession were Interested In the work and character or men like his Honour. After all, the people were chiefly Interested. The Bench was not constituted In the Interest of the pro- fession, but to serve the great Interest of the State which lay outside the profes- sion. Some one had said that the na- tion's chlefest possession wns Its mpn. and surely the first of these possessions
I should be the leaders of men, and In
I n country like this he thought the -nation ] should be most careful in choosing its I Judges, and proudest in upholding their ' reputation and honour. Mr. Justice Harding had all these qualities, which , went to make up a true public servant. ' He had courage, patience, he had In-
dustry. He combined In himself nil those line qualities that went to build np ' the Anglo-Celtic race, nnd which lind ! made that race In truth the masters of mankind. Still might his example shine to guldetfeem In their voynges. He be- lieved himself that though sad wns his passage If ho had hart to choose his way of taking, he would have chosen no other. If ever a soldier died nt his post he did. Having done his duty, ho laid himself
down to die. No Judge conld, he | thought, nsk any worthier minc dirait
tis than that. Might his soul rest ln|
After the applications for admissions | lind been heard, the Chief Justice inti-
mated that certain motions could bo I made during the first four days of the
sitting. In tlie meantime the court |
would adjourn till Friday.
The court rose at II a.m. till 10.30 on |