THE LATE HON. CHARLES MANN, Q C.
The Honourable Charles Mann, Crown Solicitor of South Australia, whose death, after a protracted illness, we announce to day, was a most successful lawyer, and one of
the most prominent and able of native-born Australians who in conspicuous positions have associated themselves with the public life of the colonies. His father (the late Mr. Charles Mann), also a lawyer of note, was among the first band of South Australian pioneer colonists, and filled the important positions of Advocate-General, Crown Solicitor, and Commissioner of Insolvency, twice acting as Judge of the Supreme Court, and occupying the position of Commissioner of Insolvency at the timeof his death, on May 24, I860, aged sixty years. The son whose death is now recorded was born in Adelaide on April 8, 1838, and has lived in the colony almost without intermission ever since. He was educated at St. Peter's College, and was of a pretematurally active mind, so much so that it was currently said of him at school that 'it takes Charley Mann half the trouble and less than half the time to learn anything that it takes anybody else, and when he once learns it he has a grip of it which he never seems to relax.' The father being a lawyer, and the traditions of the family being connected with law, the son was early placed in legal train- ing— as subeeqnently he placed his own son, the surviving Mr. Charles Mann, solicitor— being articled to the well-known firm of Messrs. Bagot & Labatt. Young Mr. Mann made such progress that at the age of twenty-two he was admitted to the South Australian Bar, and at the same time went into partnership with Mr. Parker, a solicitor, since deceased, who enjoyed a good practice. It was not long before he joined other legal firms, being most notably associated with Mr. Belt, the present Mr. Justice Bundey, Mr. Foster, and Messrs. Thornton & Hay. Recently the firm was known aa Mann & Co. Alter having been engaged in a highly lucre- tive and extensive practice for ten years Mr. Mann undertook legislative work. In 1870 he waa elected a member for the Burra in the House of Assembly, his colleague being the late Hon. John Hart, C.M.G., one of the most prominent and shrewdest politicians of the day. The field of candidates at the election offered an unusually wide choioe to the eleotors, for Mr. Mann and his colleague defeated amongst others such able and astute competitors as the present Mr. Justice Boucaut, the late Mr. J. B. Neales, and the late Mr. J. M. Solomon, whose oandidature was assisted by the traditions of their early associations with the colony. Once in Par- liament Mr. Mann was not content to take a merely passive part In the work of tbe House, for notwithstanding his comparative youth —only thirty-two yean of age— at a time when the younger politicians were more of a rarity than now, he immediately rose to a foremost place. Lawyers of course have special chances in politics, but his prefer- ment was the evidence rather of special ability than of merely adventitious circum- stances. The year after entering the Assembly he became Attorney-General in the Ministry formed by his colleague, Mr. Hart, on July 21, 1871, succeeding in that position the Hon. R. C. Baker, who retired after fifteen months' service. That Ministry remaired in power under the leader ship of Mr. Hart until November 10, when it was reconstructed by the present Sir Arthur (then the Hon. A.) Blyth, Mr. Mann still holding the Attorney-Generalship, and having for his colleagues, besides the Hon. A. Blyth, Sir William Milne, the late Mr. W. Townaend, and the Hon. J, Carr. In this form the Ministry lasted until January 22, 1872, when it was displaced by tbe Ayers Ministry, and the office of Attorney-General was taken by Mr. (now His Honor Mr. Justice) Boncaut. Mr. Mann did not again hold Ministerial office until the accession of another BIyth Administration to power. That Administration was formed cd July 22, 1873, and Mr. Mann returned to his old position of Attorney-General, having as his other colleagues in this Ministry the Hon. Lavington Glyde (Accountant in Insol- vency), the Hons. G. C. Hawker and H. E. Bright snd Mr. W. Everard, and (after July 2, 1874) His Honor Mr. Justice Bundey, who was the first to hold the then newly created portfolio of Minister of Justice and Eduoation. Later on Mr. Bundey retired, and was suc- ceeded by the Hon. J. C Bray, the present Speaker, who then took Ministerial office for the first time. The BIyth Administration broke np on June 3, 1875, being followed by the second Boncaut Ministry, which, how- ever, had a short existence. On March 25, 1876, Mr. Mann was in his old place as Attorney-General in the third and recon- structed Boucaut Ministry, and in this way was introduced to a new colleague in the person of tbe immediate ex-Premisr, the Hon. T. Piayford. whom Dr. Cockburn has just succeeded. - Mr. Mann's term in this new Association lasted only three months, for in June of the same year the Hon. J. Colton's first Ministry took the portfolios of their predecessors. Sixteen months subse- quently, however, Mr. Mann was again Attorney-General in the last Boucaut Ministry, tbe late Sir William Morgan being Chief Secretary. A year after its formation this Ministry waa dissolved by the acceptance of a Judgesbip by its Premier. In its. new form, known as jibe Morgan Ministry, Mr. Mann transferred the port- folio of Attorney-General to the present Mr. Justice Bundey, himself taking the Treasurer ship. The life of this Administration— adjudged at the time to be one of the strongest ever known in the colony- was ex- tended from September 27, 1878, to March 10, 1881; and it has recently been referred to as the Cabinet which took in at its formation Mr. Rowland Rees as Minister of Education, only to be displaced ten days afterwards by the late Mr. Thomas King— an incident which has been the subject of much comment in discussion upon our political history, and which only the other day was referred to in the Assembly by Mr. Rees himself. The close of the session of 1880, prior to tbe general election of 1881, marked the ending of Mr. Mann's connection with political life. Of the ten years which he spent in tbe Assembly six years, save a fortnight, were spent in Ministerial office. Even after his retirement be was one of tbe most intelligent, well-informed, and shrewdly judging of the outside observers of politics, actions, and many a man with reach greater poli- tical experience than Mr. Mann possessed esteemed it a special privi- lege to consult him upon any act of special importance which he might have been contemplating. His judgment had been uni- versally deferred to in the House, and the reputation followed him outside, even amongst the succeeding generation, the reason for this being his wonderful insight into subjects and the preservation of an imper- turbable coolness in everything. It was as well to attempt the impossible as to try to make Charles Mann ' lose his head.' The deceased gentleman 'took silk' in 1875, upon the special recommendation of the late Sir R. D. Hanson, and naturally as Q.C. his practice increased with his growing repu- tation. In 1879 he was gazetted ' Honour able.' Early in 1881 the late Hon. B. T. Andrews, who bad been officiating as Crown Solicitor, was appointed to a Judgeship, and
to the general regret of the Assembly, and especially to the regret of the district of Stanley, with whioh he had been associated in company with tbe late Sir George Kingston since 1875 (representing the Burra in only the sixth and seventh Parliaments), Mr. Mann became Crown Solicitor, and Parlia- ment was thus deprived of one of the most brilliant members it ever had. In addition to his ordinary Parliamentary and Ministerial duties Mr. Mann attended in Melbourne in 1880, with Mr. G. S. Fowler, as representative of South Australia at the tenth Intercolonial Conference, which was held daring the months of November and December to consider the question of Border duty arrangements between the colonies. The coolness— the level-headedness— which was such an invaluable characteristic of the late Mr. Mann, would have been a great
endowment to one not naturally so able, but accompanied as it was with a mar- vellous quickness of perception and a trans- parent clearness of expression, it placed him in the foremost rank in Parliament. One of bis keenest critics has asserted that " had it not been for a certain real or affect- ted indolence of manner Mr. Mann would have probably been absolutely the most con- spicuous and successful politician of the period.' He was an extraordinarily clear speaker— free from the verbosity into which lawyers often fall-and his perfect command of himself prevented him from having his mind disturbed by any attack, no matter how direot or personally bitter it might have been. It was a rare plea- sure to bear him deliver a apeech, especially in criticism of some opponent He possessed the faculty of saying the most pungent things and delivering the most uncompromising condemnation with an air of the utmost indifference to the recoil of the attack, lie was particularly noted for the aptness of his sarcastic retorts. Himself under the severest castigation or administer- ing tbe severest castigation, to another member, his face remained as passlve as a statue. It was a saying of the time that no other speaker in South Australia could con- dense so mnch matter into so small a space as he could ; he made his point so palpable that even the proverbial wayfarer oonld appreciate it. He was .a humourist of no little refinement, and his geniality was so great that although he was relentless as a critic he had the art of being able to wound a
man without making him an enemy. He never shot at his foes with poisoned arrows. He was very caustic but he was never bitter or vulgar. The same faculties which made Mr. Mann successful as a politician naturally contributed to place him in the highest rank amongst the legal profession* As a cross examiner he was probably unrivalled in the whole of Austra- lia, and there were many less entertaining mental recreations than thai of watching the unexpected evolution of a case in the Courts secured by the skilful cross-question- ing, which Mr. Mann conducted with infinite drollery. With most of the principal cases that have come before the public during the last twenty years Mr. Mann has been associated, and for some time previous to his death he had been chief adviser to the liquidators of the Commercial Bank of South Australia, being associated with Messrs. Grundy and Gell in the action for £320,000, now pending against tbe Directors of that Bank. As Crown Solicitor he wss carefully attentive to the duties devolving upon him, and by his clear insight into the merits of a case and his wise economy of words managed to to con- cisely lay before the Court the position of the Crown in relation to the prisoner at the bar that the Jury became acquainted with tbe leading facts without the necessity of a very close analysis of the evidence. Beyond this he was especially noticed for his absolute and perfect fairness. He never appeared as persecutor, and the judicial cast of his mind never permitted him to be carried away by personal feelings, whether the case appeared to be gross or merely trivial. Apart from law and politics Mr. Mann was chiefly known as a prominent member of the Adelaide Club and,an ardent lover of sport, in the latter capacity associating himself with the Racing Clubs at an officer. On August 10, 1865, .he married tbe eldest daughter of the late Mr. W. H. Rowland, of Berwick-on-Tweed. This lady died nearly two years ago, during the .absence of her husband in New Zealand, whither he had gone to recruit his health. A temporary good effect in his health was caused by the change of climate, but Mr. Mann never re- gained hit former vitality, and though he was actively engaged in the duties of his Court np to the week before last, he then took finally to his bed. The deceased was attended in his illness by Dr. Gardner. Amongst the family whom he leaves is Mr. Charles Mann, the solicitor, and a brother (Mr. J. Mann) Secretary to the Commissioner of Public Works. Mr. Mann's family consists of two sons and five daughters. The funeral will take place on Tuesday afternoon at the North-road Cemetery. '