DEATH OF A WELL-KNOWN
MR. JULIAN THOMAS, "THE
By the death of Mr. Julian Thomas, better known as "The Vagabond," which happened suddenly yesterday morning, Australian journalism loses one of its most notable personalities. Although his literary career was confined almost exclusively to the daily press, he had earned a place in public memory that was more than ephemeral. Possibly much of this reputa-
tion was due to to instantaneous success of "The Vagabond" papers, the success of which, when published in "The Argus," was so great as to occasion their reproduc- tion in book-form; but most was doubtless due to the personal qualities of the man himself. Gifted with a clear literary style, a faculty for unearthing romance from the most dry-as-dust material, and an extraor-
dinary fund of personal experience, his first contributions to "The Argus," so far back as 1876, at once stamped him as a new force in journalism. It must not be supposed that his whole journalistic career began and ended in Victoria. Born in Virginia, in the United States, in the thirties, he had passed the meridian of life amid the tur-
moil of the wilder and newer states of the Union. Of his experiences in these half- settled, half-savage regions he told many remarkable stories. In the quieter atmo- sphere of Victoria his first articles in "The Argus" bore the same unmistakable stamp of adventure. He began by a paper on "The Life of the Yarra Bank," which at once arrested attention. This was followed by an equally successful sketch of a night in the Immigrants' Home, and after this his place in public estimation was regarded as assured. What followed all who have read "The Vagabond" papers know. As a voluntary prisoner, as a hospital porter, as a warder in a lunatic asylum, as a correspondent in New Caledonia, in Queensland, in Fiji, in charge of "The Argus" expedition to New Guinea, in all situations where adventure was to be en- countered, and where his fertile pen could find material, he travelled and wrote, and wrote and travelled, enriching the baldest details from a store of personal experience which never failed. For if there was one thing more than another which marked his work, it was that he stamped it indelibly with his own personality. An exceptional experience, a phenomenal memory, an ex- traordinary capacity for appreciating the unusual side of life—these were qualities which served "The Vagabond" well. In 1891-2 Mr. Thomas accepted the position of secretary to the Royal Commission on Charities, and his experience was of the utmost value to the members in the com- pilation of the report. But for some time past it was evident that his health was fail- ing. The once familiar figure was seldom seen: yet, though it was known that he suffered from cardiac asthma, the news of his sudden death came as a shock to his many friends. On Thursday evening he went to his rooms in Princes-street, Fitz- roy, apparently in his usual health. Yes- terday morning he was found dead in his
The remains of Mr. Thomas will be in- terred in the Melbourne Cemetery to-day, the cortege starting from his chambers, Princes-street, Fitzroy, at 3 p.m.