WILLIAM 0HARLE8 WENIWOBTH.
(From the S. M. HeraU, May 6J
AMONGST the items of recent news received from Kngland by tho Suez mail, and transmitted to us by the agency of the electric telegraph from Adelaide on Saturday, is a notice of the decease of William Charles Wentworth who died at Mcrleigh House, Win bourne, in Dorsetshire, on the 20th of March, at the advanced age of eighty years. This distinguished orator and
statesman is considered to have been a native of this colony, having been born, about the year 1792, at Norfolk Island, when it was (as it is at present) a free settlement, and one of the dependencies of New South Wales. His father, Darcy Wentworth, an Irishman by birth, was for many years at the head of the medical staff of the colony, and
towards the close of bis life held the
office of Principal Superintendent of Police. Some obscurity seems to hang over the youthful career of young Wentworth, jbut it would seem that he resided with his father in this colony until he was upwards of twenty years of age,-receiving such an education as could then bo procured for him, and manifesting under every disadvantage, a very remarkable degree of intellectual
He is understood to have visited England about the year 1812, and to have matriculated at Cambridge; but whether he ever graduated at that University is not so certain, It appears to have been there, however, that "William Charles Wentworth wrote his
veil-known and most admirable prize poem on "Australia,' in which, it will te remembered, be speaks of the land of
his birth as destined to be "a New Britannia" in the southern world,
Bemaining in England for several years being disgusted with, and indignant at the ignorance of every body about his native land, Mr. Went- worth wrote a " Statistical Description of the colony of New South Wales, and its Independent Settlements in Yan Diemen's Land." This hook, although somewhat carelessly written, contained a considerable amount of valuable infor- mation, and dispelled much of the dark- ness which at that time rested upon
many minda as regarded Australia. It was published by G. and W. B. "Whittaker, Ave Maria-lane, London, in the year 1819, end is preceded by a preface,'written by the author, yet more interesting than the book itself. Re- maining in England for some few years longer (doubtless engaged in rectifying the disadvantages of a somewhat im-
perfect education), Mr. Wentworth pro- j ceeded to the Uar, and returned in the flower of his age to Sydney, about the year 182i. In September in that year, ne and Dr. Wardell, both being barristers, were admitted by the Supreme Court to the practice of cheir profession in the colony, and the first action taken by Mr. Wentworth and his friend was
to ni ove that the gentlemen then practising os solicitors should be com- pelled to confine themselves to their own
province in the profession. At that ' time Mr. Wentworth made, in support of the view he took, a speech before the Court of two boars' duration ; but although the forensic ability herein dis- played at ' once firmly established his position as a barrister, the Chief Justice ruled against bim in tue point contended for, under the then existing Charter of Justice. The discussion, so initialed by Mr. Wentworth, WBB the moBt Bevere and interesting contests of the kind «hieb had up to that time occurred in the colony.
Oh the accession of "William IV., in 1830, Mr. Wentworth at the head of the patriotic party in Australia, adroitly availed himself of the occasion, to bring tile wants and wishes of his fellow colouists before the Home Government.
An address full of the stereotyped con gratulations, praises, and prayers, then common to all such documents, was moved by Mr. Sydney Stephen, and seconded by Sir Edward Parry. Went- worth, present at the meeting which was held, boldly avowed bis belief that that was the fitting time forcibly to press the urgent wants of the colonists upon the King's attention. He con- cluded by. moving that the address be amended by the insertion of a new paragraph expressive of a hope that his
Mojeety would " extend to" tho only
colony of Britain bereft of | the right« of Britons a full participation in tho benefits and privileges of the British Constitution," The amendment was seconded by Mr. Lethbridge (another eminent colonist), and the meeting, with a prompt compliance that significantly proved the great personal influence of the mover, adopted the suggestion of Mr. Wentworth. The address thus changed, at "that iron timo," into an unassuming but most effective ' memorial to the Crown, was transmitted to London, where it attracted;public attention and made a deep and salutary impression on the minds of those who then were charged with the conduct of colonial affairs.
The next act that history records of I
Mr. Wentworth is thc gallant stand j made by him, in July, 1863, against the appropriation of any portion of the colonial revenue to ' tho payment of salaries and pensions fur ecrvicos not . performed in the colony. At a public
meeting, iu Sydney, Mr. Wentworth successfully disputed the assumed right of Mr. Sheriff M'Quoid to preside, and insisted that his friend. Sir John Jami- son, (ilinuld fake tho chair, as elected. Wentworth on that memorable occasion sharply denounced tho profligate expen- diture of tho (lovcrnment of that period ; and bo did so in a speech which recals tho days of .Tohu Hampbcn and other great patriots in tho seventeenth cen- tury. He sternly demanded that the population of New South Wales, being almost exclusively Britons, should possess and freely exercise all those rights for which their fathers had fought and died. He did not confine himself to mere abstract statement, but gave clear nnd specific reasons for maintaining that thc colonial eupenditure vas exorbitant and
utterly indefensible.- The reBult was that a petition to Governor Bourke «ns adopted, on the motion of Mr. AVcut wortb, which gave great offence, but which was not without its present use.
Still pursuing his distinguished career ns a public man and a barrister in active practice, Mr. Wentworth indirectly be- came an advocate in the defence of eight unhappy men who were charged ia 1839 with murdering a number of aboriginals near Myall Creek, at a station belonging to Mr. Henry Dangar, beyond what were then the most distant limits of this colony. The prosecution of the accused in this case (better known in history as " the Gwydir Massacres " was conducted by the Attorney-General (Mr. John Hubert Fluokett) and Mr. Boger Therry ; the defence, in Court, being in the hands of Messrs. B. Windeyer, Foster, and A'Beckett. The men prin- cipally concerned in this lamentable affair-in which foul and cruel deeds were most cruelly avenged - were eventually hanged in March 1840 ; but the Crown was thought by Mr. Went- worth, and by many more, to have strained the law against those who slew the savages. The execution of theBe men was, at the time, bitterly and even fiercely resented by Mr. Wentworth, and was, perhaps, never forgiven or forgotten. Many long years afterwards, on a casual ! allusion to this matter in the Legislature -when the action of the Crown was
referred to with an unqualified approval -Mr. Wentworth, in a speech lasting for some hours, electrified the House by a grand burst of indignant eloquence, in which law, facts, and invectives were successively hurled nt Mr. Plunkett for the course he bad taken and upheld. Mr. Wentworth sat in our Colonial Legislature for many years, and always warmly identified himself with liberal principles, although he was not perhaps disposed to go to such extreme lengths
as some of our legislators, He was long ' the leader of the Liberal party, but bis Eolitical ideas were latterly thought to
e somewhat modified by his sense of the great local importance of pastoral pursuits.
The next time that Mr. Wentworth
prominently reappears in our history is in 18*0, in the matter of his claim for land purchased from tho native chiefs in Nen Zealand-ten millions of acres in the Northern Island. This land had been bought by Mr. Wentworth (and others acting with him) for about £400, with the promise of some comparatively small annuity to the chiefs who ceded the land. In supporting this cession, Mr. Wentworth WBB naturally brought into collision with Sir George Gipps, who conscientiously and resisted the claim. Mr. Wentworth, at the bar of the House of Legislature, asserted the individual rights of the claimants herein as laid down by Blackstone and other constitutional autharities. But although these rights were thuB forcibly urged they were disallowed, aa likely to form an inconvenient and dangerous pre
cèdent. In July, 1848,. a new Con- stitutional Act having been duly pro- claimed, tbe first general election of Members to serve in (be Legislative Council took place. There was a sharp contest in the election of Members for
Sydney, the candidates being Mr. Went- worth, Dr. Bland, Captain O'Connell, Mr. Hustler, and Mr. B. Cooper. Mr.
Wentworth and Dr. Bland were re- turned ; but at the next election an attempt was made by some of the Liberal party to unseat Wentworth and
his veteran friend Bland. Mr. Went-
worth's speech on that occasion (as reported by the late E. K, Silvester)
concluded with these noble words:
"But whatever your verdict may be with regard to myself, if it be the last public service I am to render you-I charge you never to forget your tried, devoted, indefatigable friend William Bland. (Cheers.) Nb man bas ever served a country in a purer spirit of
patriotism-no man ever more deeply deserved tte gratitude of a generous people than be has. (Cheers.) You may cause it to be written on the tombs of my friend and myself, ' Here lie the rejected of Sydney.' But I will venture to prophecy that in justposition with these words posterity will add, « Who gave to those who deserted them the liberty of the Press, trial by jury, and the constitutional right of electing their own representatives.' (Tremen- dous chorra.) You may put it out of my power to serve you again-you cannot erase from memory the services of the past. (Cheers.) 1 can truly say tho love of my.country has been the master passion of my life. Mo man's
heart lins ever beat with a more ardent
love of his country than mine, and it is on my native soil I here stand. From boyhood up to manhood I have watched over its infant growth BB a mother over her cradled child. Its welfare through life has been the object of my devoted love and affection, and now when my days are in the autumn of their cycle, that welfare is the object of my highest hopes, and most hallowed aspirations. I thank you for your patient nearing, and will only add the repetition of my charge -deal with me as you think fit, but respect my friend."
Mr. Wentworth wag refused at the
head of the poll, but Dr. Bland was one of the *' rejected," and the angry states-
man and offended friend did not hesitate j to give expression to a very strong j
opinion on the occasion-one tbat was, perhaps, more frank and straightforward than strictly politic.
In the same year (1848) Mr. Went- worth introduced his celebrated resolu- tions on the subject of convictism. These resolutions lcd to an important and protracted debate, but were ultimetcly passed; a copy of the "resolutions" (to be found in Flanagan, vol. 2, page 178) being ordered to be forwarded to bis Excellency for presentation to her MajeBly, for the information of her Oorernmcut. Ou the Cth September, 1842, Mr. Wentworth obtained a committee of tho " Legislative Council " to report on the best means of instituti- ng a University in Sydney, " for the promotion of literature and science," to bo established and maintained at the
public expense. He took this step
bscauBe " he foresaw " (to uso the words of Silvester) " that (he reign of [ ignorance in New South Wales would
be, as it had been in all countries, and in all ages, an intolerable despotism." The committee (of which Mr. Went- worth was the chairman) reported favourably on the proposed measure on the 22nd ; and on the 28th of September Mr. Wentworth obtained leave to bring in the bill. In advocating the second reading of the bill, on the 4th of October, Mr. Wentworth made an eloquent speech, which bas become part of the history of this country. The bill waa read a second time, but did not become law for some time afterwards.
The Act of Incorporation of the Sydney University was finally passed on the 21th September, 1850, and assented to by Sir Charles Fitzroy on the 1st of October in that year. The members of the University of Sydney, not without good reason, look upon William Charles Wentworth as the founder of that institution.
In August, 1852, Mr. Wentworth moved his famous proposition for stop- ping the supplies, or rather for post- poning their consideration. That pro- position was lost by a majority of 28 to 17. The Opposition on that occasion, and subsequently (in September in that year) resulted, however, tn the important fact that the gold revenue was unreser- vedly placed at the disposal of the colonial Legislature. He was also active in framing the present Constitution Act, the second reading of which he moved on the ICth of August, 1853, delivering o spoech which confirmed bis reputation as one of the first orators of his age. The second reading of this measure (under which this colony is still governed) was carried by a majority of 31 to 8. The bill was " committed " on
the 6th of December, and subBrquently became law. Ms. Wentworth's "De- claratory Resolutions" regarding this
bill form a most important aud interest-1 ing page in our colonial history. The
ConBtitttion Bill was pasBed by the ' coionial Legislature early in 1831. As the author of this gaeat measure, Went- worth was specially appointed (with the Hon. E. Deas Thomson) to proceed to
England with a view of conciliating for the bill the favour of the Imperial Parliament. A large sum of money was, moreover, subscribed for the erec- tion of a statue in honor of Mr. Went-
worth, and that statue (sculptured by an eminent artist at Home) now adorns the Great Hall of the Sydney Uni versity. At the same time there was a life-size portrait painted of this great statesman. It bas been very appropri- ately placed in that Legislative hall
which once resounded with his Parlia- mentary eloquence.
Mr. Wentworth went to England, and there, as desired by bis countrymen, he performed his mission - the Act ultimately received the approval of the Imperial Parliament. The now aged statesman remained in Europe for some years, and returned to thiB colony only for a short time, during which fae sat as President of the Legislative Council. His reception on his return to his native land was more like a public triumph than the arrival of a private citizen. Resigning the Presidential office, which be bad filled with honour and with
dignity in the Upper House, Mr. Went- worth finally returned to England, and of late years he resided in Dorsetshire. He was offered a baronetcy by her Majesty, but respectfully declined the honour, choosing rather to continue to the end plain WILLIAM WENTWORTH. His remains are to be interred nt Vau-
cluse-where he always said he should wish to be buried-one of the fairest spots in the land he loved so well.