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3 corrections, most recently by doug.butler - Show corrections

SOUTH AUSTRALIA.

(FROM OUR OWN CORRESPONDENT.)

ADELAIDE, MAY. 22.  

One of the noblest men in South Aus- tralia has passed away. I refer to John Howard Clark, editor, and one of the pro- prietors of the leading newspaper establish ment of the colony. He died on Monday last, in his quiet seaside home at Port Wil- lunga, within sound of the swell of the ocean, whose treasures he loved so well. He had been suffering for some years from con- sumption, and at times he was laid aside by severe attacks of illness, which, for longer or shorter periods, incapacitated him from work. In the intervals, however be undertook the active editorial manage- ment of the firm's three newspapers-the Register, Observer, and Journal-besides carrying out to a conscientious degree the obligations cast upon him by troops of people who had learnt to regard him as their "guide, philosopher, and friend." Next to the death of the late Chief Justice Hanson, no man has died within the range of the last decade whose influence baa been moro widely felt, who was so universally esteemed, and whose early death will be more sincerely mourned. Mr. Clark was born in stirring times at Birmingham-at that period the great centre of English polit cal thought and influence-and his earliest recollections were of the monster agitations which attended and followed the advent of of the Reform Bill. The impression pro- duced by these, and the subsequent demonstrations which accompanied the efforts to repeal the Corn Laws, was no doubt very profound, for his was a

nature that instinctively shrank from any- thing like injustice or oppression. He was educated at the Birmingham and Edgbaston Proprietary School, and soon gave evidence that he had a superior mind. It was at once imaginative and philosophic, and after leav- ing school he contributed to the local press a variety of sketches both in prose and verse. While in England he attended a series of lectures delivered by Chas. Cowden Clarke, the famous Shaksperian critic and com- mentator, and this laid the foundation of a course of study of the works of the great dramatist, which he eagerly pursued, and the results of which were afterwards elucidated in a number of admirable lectures on Shak- speare. In 1849 he had a serious illness, and his father was advised, for his and his mother's sake, to emigrate to a warmer climate. Accord- ingly, South Australia was chosen, and thither the family set sail, arriving there in June of the year 1850. On his arrival here he opened business as an assayer, but as there was little scope for him at that time, he joined his father, who was carrying on business as a merchant and importer. The firm then established-Francis Clark and Sons-is still in existence, though the original partners are now numbered with the silent dead. In the year 1805 Mr. Clark retired from the activities of commercial life, and purchased the Hon, Joseph Fisher's interest in the Register and Observer newspapers, to which he afterwards added the Evening Journal Here there was afforded scope for the fuller exercise of that practical sagacity and those intellectual gifts which he possessed. He had previously, by contri- butions to the Register and to the Telegraph, which latter was edited by his personal friend, the late Mr. Frederick Sinnett, who was well known in Melbourne, given ample proof of his powers as a writer ; but now he had a deeper and more direct connexion with the Fourth Estate. For five years he managed the commercial departments of the papers referred to ; but during this time his literary pen was not idle, and in poem, sketch, and ar- ticle he gave expression to his thoughts and his feelings in a way that was delightfully charm- ing, philosophically profound, or pitilessly pungent, just as the occasion required. In 1870 he undertook the editorship of the journals named, and here his well-balanced intellect, his judicially impartial mind, and bia great knowledge of men and things, stood bim in good stead. That his administration was both wise and able no one who has watched the career of the Register during the last seven or eight years will for a moment   question. Under his régime the paper has become a greater power in the state than it was in days of yore, not merely for its inde- pendence of thought, but for its fearlessness in tho expression of its opinions, and its aim to be at all times fair and just. Mr. Clark was one of the few men who are nicely con- scientious. He would never conscientiously do anything that had even the suspicion of   unfairness about it. Many an orthodox Christian would do without hesitation what he would scorn to do. In the course of his editorial career he had ample opportunity of discussing various social and political prob- lems, and many of his articles upon education and financial questions were very powerful. In politics he was, I boiieve, an ardent disciple of Stuart Mill, and the abolition of not a few of the restrictions upon trade in the colony is in a measure due to his advocacy. Concerning education he was a staunch sup- porter of a system which would bring the advantages of learning within reach of the poorest in the land, and the advances which have been made in legislation in this direc-

tion should largely be credited to the papers under his direction. But he was not merely a brilliant leader writer and a sagacious news- paper manager. He was an elegant lecturer, something of a scientist, and a humourist of no mean order. His lectures on Shakspeare, on poetry, and subjects appertaining to the English language, upon which he was quite an authority, were wonderful specimens of pure English, analytical criticism, and generous sympathy with all that is high and noble in literature and in art. He was virtually the founder of the Adelaide Philosophical Society, and he took a great interest in the development of the Society of Arts. As a humourist his talents found vent in sketchy articles, amusing ballads, and light comediettas, composed chiefly for private representation. It is un- derstood that he originated the humourous column which for years appeared weekly in the Register under the title of "Echoes from   the Bush," by Geoffry Crabthorn. Whether he did or not I am not in a position to say but that he contributed to it some of the best produc- tions of his mind I know full well. The "Echoes" have been read and appreciated in the other colonies-in fact, at this moment I have a letter from one of the ablest writers in Sydney, who says, what we here are pre- pared to endorse, that "Geoffry Crabthorn   -at his best has no peer in Australia." In theology Mr. Clark was a Unitarian Chris- tian, sympathising, I believe, with the advanced views of Channing. His was a peculiarly religious' mind, and despite

the fact that he was outside the pale of ordinary orthodoxy, he had far more religion in his heart and in his life than thousands of professing evangelicals. Of him may it be said, without much qualifica- tion, " he was a perfect man and upright, one that feared God and eschewed evil." He has gone in the prime of his life, so far as years are concerned, but he has left his mark behind him. The atmosphere he breathed was pure and wbolesome, and no one could come within   the range of his influence without feoling the better for it. I felt it a privilege to know him, and as Hepworth Dixon said of Douglas Jerrold, so may it bo said of Howard Clark, that if every person who has been indebted to him were to place a flower upon his grave, his tomb would become a mountain of

roses.

_ In goneral news there has been little stir- ring. Dr. Gosse's lecture on " Why do Babies Die?" has attracted more attention than any other subject during the lost fort- night. The papers have teemed with letters cn various points referred to in tho lecture, and tho doctor, who is a popular bachelor, has been smartly twitted for his protest against early marriages. EïCeption, too, has been taken hy some happily married peoplo to Ins description of marriage as a " dreadful 'Chasm." But maugre these minor matterSi

i

the subject of the excessive infant mortality in South Australia is claiming serious atten- tion, and last night at the Philosophical Society it was suggested that the Government should appoint a commission to make dili- gent inquiries into the 'causes ' which pro- duce more deaths hero than in the other colonies. The establishment of a health society was also recommended, though what its sphere of operations would bo it is difflu cult to understand, seeing that we have already got a board of health, with a nurao rous.offspring of provincial boards. l

Despito the general antipathy to the race, our 'philanthropists havo initiated a fund for the relief of the starving millions in China. An influential committeo lias been appointed; two Bingle donations of £100 and £50 have been made ; and there is fair promis« of a respectable sum being collected, though it will fall far short of what was raised for the relief of the famishing people o£

India.

Tho township of Morgan, at the-North- west Bend on tho River Murray, has been sold, and rcalised.extraordinary prices. There was, of course, a great demand for the allot- ments near the river frontage, and Messrsi M'Culloch and Co. paid as much as-£385 for a single quarter of an acre, or at the rate of £1,540 per aero, which is about the value of some of our city property. The area Bold was 20 acres, and it realised an average of over £390 per acre, or a total sum of £10,270. Great things aro expected of the new township. The railway will be com- pleted in about four months-quite in time> it is thought, for the next season's wool. We shall then Bee what effect the North-west Bend line produces upon the river trade, so far as this colony is concerned.

Weare still troubled about our defence lessness. We had word a week ago about a proposed purchase of an ironclad from the Argentine Republic, but since thon nothing further has been heard of the matter. Mean- while Colonel Downes is doing his best to convert hiB raw recruits into well-disciplined soldiers, and on Friday we shall see "what they can do, as there is to he ft full-blown

review.

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