Bendigo Advertiser (Vic. : 1855 - 1918) Wed 7 Jul 1886 Page 2
SANDHURST, WEDNESDAY JULY 7 1886
THE FUNERAL OF ANGUS MACKAY
The remains of the late Hon. Angus Mackay will be interred this afternoon in the Sandhurst Cemetery. Many will follow them who have for years been sincerely attached friends, many, doubtless, who have been divided from the deceased gentleman by political differences, and some; perhaps, who, whilst admiring him as a public man, have not been fully impressed with his intrinsic worth. People who have not had opportunities of becoming fully acquainted with him have been impressed with the idea that ho was proud and distant, deeming his manner to be brusque even to the verge of moroseness. Never was a greater mistake made. His mind whatever occupied with the consideration of some important matters, and if there was one thing he hated more than another it was a waste of time. Hence the curtness of demeanour, which was at times mistaken for a studied formality. He was quite unconscious of the mannerism which occasionally was thought to be offensive; and no one in the world would have been more pained than himself if it had ever come to his knowledge that ho had hurt the feelings of a fellow citizen unwittingly or without cause, for, hard hitter as he was when brought face to face with adversaries, he entertained a feeling of respect for all worthy persons of whatever class, being as ready to extend the hand of friendship to a working man as to any more influential member of the community. In fact, he had always the interests of the operative classes deeply at heart, as his efforts as a statesman clearly prove.
He certainly never sought to achieve personal popularity, preferring to be judged by his public acts, and feeling probably that he deserved the approbation of the masses, to the promotion of whose welfare his energies were constantly devoted. In the pursuit of this object trouble and inconvenience were no consideration with him, and it is undeniable that he was often led to disregard evil consequences to his own health. Too often, indeed, for this very carelessness of self has sent him to the grave in which he will be laid today. The loss of his voice at an early age was to a man of his gift of speech a most serious drawback. The consciousness that he could not always make himself distinctly heard was so annoying to him, especially in debate, as to lead his auditors to believe that he was unnecessarily irritable, and it was a cause of deep vexation to him that he was thus misunderstood. During the last Parliament, when he was far from being in the enjoyment of good health, and any extra exertion of lung power was hurtful, those who did not coincide with him in his views were not a little intolerant of his utterances, and the Government certainly did not regard his criticisms in the friendly light in which they were intended. It is, however, becoming every day more and more apparent, that it would have been to the credit of that Government and to the advantage of the country if good heed had been given to his warnings. We do not make these remarks by way of reproach to those who insisted on treating him as a political opponent, but in order to fulfil, as far as possible, a duty which we, especially, owe to the dead in the vindication of his character from any imputation of captious or vexatious motives.
Far less was he actuated by any self seeking aspirations. His conduct in Parliament was guided by thoroughly conscientious convictions and sincerely patriotic feelings. Nor was he animated by any dislike of the Ministry, for some of its leading members were old colleagues and esteemed personal friends. It was, therefore, a great pity that in the hurry to get through with a mass of legislation of an important nature a hearing was refused to his well meant advice. We grieve also to reflect that it was resented and indignantly denounced as if it had been the irrelevant and impertinent interference of some boy legislator, instead of being accepted as the wise premonition of a veteran statesman. The regret is great, because the country suffers, but it is greater with us at the present moment, because it helped to deprive the country of the services of one of the most able, fearless, and public spirited men that any constituency in this colony ever sent into the Legislature to advocate their interests. And very painful too is the reflection that it caused him much mental worry, at a critical period of his life, when a more considerate dealing would have tended to give an increase of vitality of which his physical system stood greatly in need.
We say boldly, contradict it who may, that in Parliament and in the metropolitan press, he was dealt with in a manner discreditable to them both. A man of his mark might have claimed a degree of deference, we would almost say, reverence, which was absolutely withheld from him, and in its stead a carping, cynical tone was adopted, which after events have proved to have been wholly unwarrantable. We claim for Mr Mackay that he was one of the foremost in the whole list of able statesmen the country has known. Because he was unwell and weak and his voice even less audible than of old, he was charged by those who could not or would not understand him with the frailties of senility. Such an opinion, 30 far as his mental faculties were concerned, could not he sustained. But even supposing that he had really failed in his power of mind, was it right that he should be set down as an officious legislative interloper ? Where was the superior judgement of those who did so, to his, when we find amendments in the Service-Berry measures continuously called for in the very directions in which he desired that they should be amended ? A mail of his proved talent, prescience, and experience should lave commanded respect. But the fact was, the legislative train was being driven at high speed - so much mileage must be accomplished in a certain time, and any cry of danger was unheeded and silenced by every possible means. The conductors were strong, and within and without the House - principally in Melbourne, that is to say - their will was law.
Can one help reverting to these facts when the man whom we are now called upon to follow to the grave was seriously wounded in his attempt to oppose hasty, and therefore unwise, legislation? If he had been hurt in fair fight, there would be nothing to be said. But he was struck without cause - unjustly, unjustifiably, and unfairly struck - just the same as an old and able warrior might bo struck by the rank and file he was fitted to command. We have to lay him now to his rest, and it is due to him that here, on the brink of the grave, so to speak, such justice should be done as it is in the power of those to whom his principles and motives were well known to award him. The community of old Bendigo at least will pay him the tribute to which, by his great public services, he is so well and justly entitled.
Bendigo Advertiser (Vic. : 1855 - 1918) Tue 6 Jul 1886 Page 3
The following is a long article from the paper. Some sections are not shown here.
DEATH OF THE HON ANGUS MACKAY.
It is our melancholy duty to have to record the death of the Hon. Angus Mackay. The sad event was not unexpected, for the lamented gentleman has been suffering for many months from severe illness, and indeed never entirely recovered from an attack of typhoid fever by which he was prostrated about two years ago. During the intervening period an old pulmonary complaint increased in intensity, becoming gradually more and more painful and dangerous. Just previous to the last general election, he returned from a visit to Sydney in apparently much improved health, and there can be no doubt, if he had resisted the importunities of his political friends to allow himself to be nominated, he would not have fallen into the condition which has most unfortunately led to his demise.
He was quite aware that in acceding to the request he would be placing himself in a position of great peril as regarded his health and life. Indeed he was warned by his medical attendant, Dr Hinchcliff, who was supported by the opinion of other professional gentlemen, that it was as much as his life was worth to go through an electioneering contest. But a prospect of even so dread a nature could not shake Mr Mackay's loyalty to those who had accorded him their support afore time. They knew that he was weak and ill, and their desire was that he should merely address one public meeting in the City. But to this he replied that, having committed himself to the conflict, he would do his best to win. Consequently he addressed the electors at the usual number of places in the district. He had not proceeded far before it became painfully apparent that the exertion was telling upon him in a very injurious manner, and the result was that at the close of the election he was physically exhausted. On the polling day he was compelled through weakness to return home early, suffering severely from the disorder of his lungs.
It is quite incorrect to suppose, as some persons appear to have done, that his health was affected by the result of the election, for he had now be come convinced that had he been returned, it would be perfectly impossible for him to attend to his Parliamentary duties. Pity it is, indeed, that the conviction came so late. Having been so fearfully reduced by the night work, and the excitement of the election, he regarded his defeat with indifference, feeling doubtless that he had received his death blow, or at any rate so severe a shaking of his constitution that his recovery could only be the work of a very long period of time.
When it is stated that on his return from his meetings he was seized with most distressing and prolonged fits of coughing, with spitting of blood, some idea may be formed of his condition. As a matter of indisputable fact, that election cost him his life. But it was the physical exertion, and not mortification at his defeat, that killed him. Shortly afterwards he went to Sydney in the hope of recruiting his health; but the trip had a contrary effect, and he returned home much worse than when he left. Since then he has been almost entirely confined to his home, and has been failing in a manner which has been fearfully shocking to his relatives and friends. But he underwent his sufferings with a marvellous degree of courage and patience.
It is impossible to convey any idea of the extent of those sufferings, and quite as impossible to give an adequate impression of the heroism with which they were borne. He wasted away in a lingering manner in great bodily distress and pain and in silent sorrow, knowing that the hand of death was upon him, and yet preserving all his strength and activity of intellect to the last. We all know that "the hills of life cast longer shadows in the westering hours," and that with the coming of the eventide the brightness of the day will fade, but his was a career which it could be wished had ended in a lighter gloom.
The news of his death, which took place at 12.15 o'clock yesterday at his residence in M'Laren street, will be received by his numerous friends in this colony and New South Wales with feelings of deep regret. He leaves a widow, by whom he had one child, who died. He leaves three sons and two daughters by his former marriage. He also leaves a sister and a brother, Mr G Sackville Mackay, who is well known on Bendigo. Among other relations is his uncle Mr Angus Mackay, of Bowra, New South Wales. This gentleman, after whom the deceased was called, served, as did Mr Mackay's father also, for many years in the British army, and he is at present in his 92nd year.
Angus Mackay was born at Aberdeen, Scotland, on the 26th January, 1824. His father Murdoch Mackay, was in the 78th Highlanders, and fought against the French at Java in the year 1809. When Angus Mackay was about three years of age, his father emigrated as a member of the veteran corps, to Sydney, New South Wales, being accompanied by the family. At the age of 11, Angus Mackay lost his mother, whose maiden name was Elizabeth MacLeod, and the lad greatly missed the guidance which had already developed a studious application, which was evidently inherited from the mother's side.
Three years later he was sent to the Australian College, which had been founded by the late Dr Lang. Under very able masters he received a sound English mathematical and classical education. His love of reading led to his becoming possessed of a library purchased by money which he had earned in a variety of ways. Eventually he became the leading boy in the Australian College, and it was intended to prepare him for the Presbyterian ministry. With this object he entered the scholastic profession, becoming English master at the Australian College, and subsequently head master of one of the Presbyterian public schools. At this time he had been contributing to the "Australian Magazine," and subsequently to the "Atlas," a political journal established by Mr Robert Lowe (now Lord Sherbrooke).
In consequence of his articles for that journal bringing it into prominent notice, he was offered the position of editor, but owing to his youth and personal friendship for the actual editor, he could not be prevailed upon to take the position. In 1847 however, he accepted the position, and his preference for the journalistic profession, led to the abandonment of his studies for the Ministry. By attempting more than they were in a position to accomplish, the proprietors of the "Atlas" became involved in financial difficulties, and in 1850 we find Mr Mackay in Geelong managing a business for Mr (now Sir Henry) Parkes. At the termination of this engagement, Mr Mackay returned to Sydney and became connected with the "People's Advocate."
Upon the discovery of gold in New South Wales, he went, in May, 1851, in company with others to the Ophir and Turon rush, and became acquainted with the whole of that auriferous country, extending north, south and west. He acted as special correspondent for Mr Parkes' paper, the "Sydney Empire," and his articles on the goldfields were more complete and authentic than the reports compiled by the Government officers; which led to their subsequent production in book form. In 1852 he accepted an engagement as Parliamentary reporter for the "Empire," but in March, 1853, he came to the Ovens district, in Victoria, and was working there, when the agitation against the obnoxious license fee broke out. He delivered several speeches at meetings held in that district, and took an active part in the movement to effect the abolition of the fee. From his experience on the goldfields, he was chosen as a delegate to go to Melbourne and represent the grievances of the diggers, before the select committee appointed to inquire into them.
In August, 1853, he was appointed special correspondent of the "Argus" on Bendigo, and his reports upon the rushes at Tarrangower, Simpson's Ranges, Daisy Hill, Black Lead (Creswick), Inglewood, Dunolly and Tarnagulla, and upon the Bendigo goldfield were a very accurate record of those troublous times, and the development of the resources of the various districts referred to. While in the position of correspondent of the "Argus," he renewed his interest in the grievances of the diggers, lent material assistance in the effort to obtain for the diggers a voice in the Government of the country, and also in the movement for the establishment of a municipality. It was he who invited Mr James Macpherson Grant, a friend of his youth, and the popular counsel for the Eureka Stockade rioters, to offer himself as a candidate for the goldfield in the old Legislative Council, the election resulting in the return of Messrs Grant and Benson.
In 1854 he had, in conjunction with Mr J J Casey and the late Mr James Henderson, purchased the plant and goodwill of the "Bendigo Advertiser," which had been established by Mr Robert Ross Haverfield, at present editor. Mr Mackay entered into the active management of this journal, the success which was immediate and rapid. By the bold and vigorous policy he adopted in its leading columns the paper became to be regarded the most powerful organ of public opinion in the provinces. Not only with his pen but with his voice, Mr Mackay became identified with every public movement of importance on the goldfield.
He was frequently asked to contest one of the seats for the Sandhurst boroughs, but always declined until 1868. During these years the "Advertiser" maintained its foremost position, and many attempts to start an opposition resulted in failure. In 1857 the firm established the "M'Ivor Times," which they afterwards sold satisfactorily. In 1859 Mr Henderson left the partnership, and in 1863 the firm established the "Riverina Herald" in Echuca, in which Mr Mackay has continued to retain his interest. Some time afterwards Mr Casey retired from the partnership, and the late Mr David Stuart succeeded him in 1867.
In disputes and questions of a complex character Mr Mackay was frequently called upon to arbitrate, and many old residents will remember the masterly way in which he wound up the affairs of the Eaglehawk Puddling Company, personally fighting on its behalf in the County Court, when it threatened numbers of his fellow citizens with financial ruin. He was a working member of the first fire brigade established on Bendigo in 1854. When the movement for eight hours for miners was initiated by the late Mr Robert Clark, Mr Collmann and other kindred spirits, Mr Mackay was the first man to whom these gentlemen appealed for advice and assistance, and long years afterwards Mr Clark gratefully acknowledged the service he did their cause.
In 1859, Mr Mackay's father died in Sydney, at the age of 70, and in 1863 his younger brother, Augustus, who was well known in the early days on Bendigo, died in Sydney, at the age of 81.
MR MACKAY AND THE EDUCATION ACT
Mr Mackay's early expressed views on the Education question, and his appointment on the board of Education in 1869, have already been mentioned. When a member of the M'Culloch Government in 1870, he undertook, with the assistance of Mr Wrixon, the Solicitor-General, to frame an Education Bill. This measure proposed the amendment of the existing system of education in those respects in which it was defective. The four new principles which it proposed to introduce were the substitution of a responsible Minister for an irresponsible board - the vesting of all schools paid by the State in the State - the appropriation of State aid exclusively to secular education - and making the education of children compulsory upon parents and guardians. Mr Mackay considered a measure, based upon such principles as these, must command the support of all thoughtful Liberal politicians.
This bill was read a first time in the Assembly on the motion of Sir James M'Culloch, but owing to the late period of the session it was not proceeded with further, and in the next session the Ministry did not remain long enough in office to carry it out. After his acceptance of office in the Francis Government, Mr Mackay speaking at Long Gully on the 21st of June, 1872, made a lengthy reference to the great public question of the day. After referring to his interest in the subject since he was himself a schoolmaster in Sydney, and describing the neglect of parents to have their children properly educated as a crime against society, he spoke to the following effect:
"The children who were allowed to grow up in ignorance were deprived of the benefit of the labors of their ancestors - were shut out from participating in the great institutions of instructions which had bean established with the advance of civilisation. If children had no education they were no better than the savages - they were worse - because they had greater faculties and facilities for mischief, and the means of doing harm which savages did not possess. Unfortunately the dark records of our police and criminal courts teamed with proofs of the neglect of parents to educate their children. In many instances a large number of criminals have never been taught to read or write, have never had the means of availing themselves of the great sources and store of information with which the world abounds. Having these truths in his mind he always felt himself called upon to take an active part, both as a newspaper writer and as a public man, in trying to introduce a better system of education. (Cheers). They were aware that three years ago he accepted the onerous position of a member of the Board of Education, but he was sorry that his other avocations had prevented his devoting that attention to the office which he would like to have given it.
If he had his own will he would devote his time to one work, namely in assisting in the establishment of a good system of education; but every man had his own business to do, and whilst there were a thousand and one things to be attended to, only a few could receive attention. But if he could be instrumental in passing such an Education Bill as the country demanded - something approaching in the direction required - although it would be impossible to attain perfection, he would have his own approbation, and he thought also the approbation of the people amongst whom he had been for so many years. (Cheers.)
When called upon to join the present Government it was very much against his own personal inclination, having many private as well as public objections; wishing to remain from the public life as a Minister, because, he need scarcely inform them, of all the thankless and worrying occupations a man could follow, that of a Minister of the Grown was most undesirable. When he was called upon by Mr Francis repeatedly by arguments so strong that he could not resist them to join the formation of a new Government, the chief consideration was this:
Are you prepared to give the country such an Education Bill as the members of the late M'Culloch Government wished to pass? He found from Mr Francis and all his colleagues that they were quite willing to support such a measure, and he was satisfied with the response to the appeal on his part. He found gentlemen in the present Government from whom he scarcely expected such advanced opinions concerning the Education question, and whom he had not thought would co- operate with him in his desire to get passed such a bill as the country demanded. There were many insuperable difficulties to be encountered in pass- ing a perfect measure of educational reform, and he was satisfied if they could only gain a modicum of improvements in the present institutions which would pave the way to something better. (Cheers.)
The Government then, he need scarcely add, intended to bring in a bill making education compulsory. (Renewed applause and cheers.) In the next place it was intended to remove the difference with regard to children of poor parents receiving a primary education free while others were paid for. (Applause.) In public schools the elements of instruction would be free to all persons; but when more advanced subjects were taught parents who could afford to pay would be expected to do so. . . . All new schools would have to be totally disconnected from any religious denomination. (Applause)
Now they would admit that these principles which they intended to carry out with the assistance of parliament would be a step forward in the right direction on the part of the Government (hear, hear) and if they embodied these principles in the bill they introduced, and had it passed, they would do some- thing to take away the stigma which attached itself to Victoria for having so many young people growing up in gross ignorance. Another importtant feature in the bill would be this, that instead of the system of education being administered by a board, the whole administration would be placed in the hands of a responsible Minister of the Crown. (Hear, hear and applause). . . . . .
This was a sufficient guarantee that they would have the system properly administered. This was the system of education which they (the Government) proposed to introduce and support. When it came into operation time would reveal its defeat and let those who came after them improve and amend it. If they did this he considered they would have earned public gratitudes. (Hear, hear, and applause.)" It will be seen from the foregoing that Mr Mackay did not accept office in the Francis Government until he had obtained an assurance from Mr Francis that the various members of the Government would cordially co-operate in passing an Education Act on the same lines as that brought in by the M'Culloch Government in 1870.
Notwithstanding this Mr Mackay and Mr Casey and Mr Francis experienced considerable difficulty with several members of the Ministry in regard to important principles in the bill. Mr Stephen, the Attorney-General, was not very sure about the principle of "free" education, but on being eventually convinced on this point, became quite as great an advocate of the measure as the initiators of it themselves. On the 12th September, 1872, Mr Stephen, as Attorney-General, introduced a bill in a masterly speech. It was read a first time, and after debate on the second reading, extending over eight nights, the second reading was agreed to by 42 votes to 21, the pairs bringing the figures to 47 to 26.
Some slight amendments were made, and the measure passed the Assembly on the 24th October, 1872. On the 14th November the bill was read a third time in the Council by 18 votes to 8, and received the Royal assent on the 17th December, 1872. The Act came into operation on the 1st January, 1873, and during the 13 years which have since elapsed its working has been regarded with satisfaction by the large majority of the people in the colony. The satisfaction of those who were concerned in its introduction is admirably expressed in the closing remarks in Mr Mackay's speech on the second reading debate.
Mr Mackay said:
"I can claim for my colleagues and myself that, in addressing ourselves to this subject, we are actuated by a simple desire to cause such a change in the educational system of Victoria as will make it a model to other countries, not only on this side of the line, but on the other aide. We think that there is a high and noble ambition in linking our names with such a change - that there is something more to be obtained from it than mere party gain, or the fulfilment of pledges. There is the satisfaction to our own consciences, and to our own sense of what is due to the community of being able to establish in this country a system of education, which, if not perfect, is at all events a stop towards perfection."
Of the members of the Francis Ministry, which passed this beneficial act - viz., Messrs Francis, Langton, Casey, Stephen, Mackay, Fraser, Gillies, Kerferd, Cohen, and Kamsay, Messrs Langton, Casey, Gillies, and Kerferd are teo only survivors.
Mr Mackay's able administration of the act when Minister of Public Instruction called forth encomiums from all sections of the Press. He sank his individuality as member for Sandhurst and recognised his position as Minister for the entire colony. It was in consequence of his refusal to erect a new school at Long Gully because there were many places in Victoria which required school accommodation more urgently, that the support of a large number of his Long Gully friends was alienated. Eventually, however, he assisted in the establishment of a school at Long Gully, while the schools in the Reserve and at Gravel Hill, and in various portions of the electorate, and indeed in most of the electorates throughout the colony, are monuments of his career as Minister.
In after years he never ceased to display an interest in the working of the act, upon which he was recognised as the foremost authority in Parliament, and, even when his illness prevented him from taking his part in the discussions upon the Education Vote, his recommendations, upon the teachers' grievances, so far as the male teachers are concerned contained in a letter to the Minister were carried out almost in their entirety.
THE COLIBAN SCHEME.
The completion of this gigantic work which cost upwards of £1,000,000, and which has proved an inestimable boon to the Bendigo goldfield in particular, was in a very great measure owing to the attention bestowed upon it by Mr Mackay, when Minister of Mines. The Coliban scheme was first mooted over 20 years ago, and engaged the attention of Parliament in 1862, when Mr W. D C Donovan was a member. On Bendigo a committee was formed, and Mr Mackay took an active part in its deliberation. Mr J F Sullivan as Minister of Mines, gave material assistance to the movement, but it was not until 1870, when Mr Mackay became Minister of Mines, in the M'Culloch Government, that the question was taken up with thorough earnestness. Mr Mackay, who was re-elected without opposition, so great was the desire to see the water scheme completed, had considerable difficulty at the outset, and the discovery of defects in the work prevented satisfactory progress being made.
At this time Mr Mackay was personally occupied at Malmsbury, where the reservoir was in considerable danger, and the scamped work resulted in the summary dismissal of the three engineers who were responsible. Subsequently when Mr Mackay was Minister of Mines in the Francis-Kerferd Governments, great progress was made with the works, but it was not until 1877 that the Coliban water coursed through the mains of Sandhurst. Mr Mackay was not in office at the time, but, as the one who could claim most credit for the completion of the scheme, he performed the pleasant duty of turning on the water.
This he did in November, 1877, turning with one hand the water into Castlemaine, and with the other the water into Sandhurst. Mr Mackay fought hard for the Coliban in Parliament, where there was a strong disposition to regard the scheme as wild and impracticable, and the realisation of his hopes, after a long series of years, was naturally regarded by himself and those who had all along favoured the movement, as a fitting return for the time and energy he had spent on the undertaking.
REGULATION OF MINES ACT.
When Mr Mackay was Minister of Mines in 1870, he introduced a Regulation of Mines Act, but was so dissatisfied with it that he did not proceed further than the first reading. When he returned to office in 1872 he determined to introduce another similar measure, and did so in the following year. After the bill was passed, accidents became diminished by one half, and the usefulness of the Act was every day demonstrated. Mr Mackay was not entirely satisfied with the measure, in which the Upper House had made some amendments, but he considered that as the Act had become part of the law of the country amendments could be easily made in the future. With the object of rendering the Act more to his liking, and still more satisfactory to the miners, he invited Mr Robert Clark (of Sandhurst), Mr Taylor (of Clunes), and other practical gentlemen to offer suggestions. They did so, but before Mr Mackay could make use of these suggestions the Kerferd Government retired from office. The suggestions prepared by himself and the gentlemen whose co-operation he had obtained remained in the department, and when the amending measure was introduced in 1877 by Major Smith, nine tenths of the alterations then effected were those left by Mr Mackay for his successor.
Major Smith, in introducing the Amending Act, referred in very complimentary terms to the Act passed by Mr Mackay, and directed attention to the great amount of life which it had undoubtedly been the means of saving. During the discussion on this bill, Mr Mackay lent valuable assistance, and when Mr Levien introduced a further amended bill in 1883, Mr Mackay was once more one of the foremost in the discussion upon its provisions. The mining managers who in 1873 were strongly opposed to the measure, have since become as strong in its support. It was only during one of Mr Mackay's recent election campaigns, that a man came up to him, and grasping him warmly by the hand, thanked him as the preserver of the lives of five other men and himself.
It appeared that the party had been saved three weeks after the Act came into operation, by the regulations having rendered landing stages necessary in the ladder way. An old ladder down which they were coming, gave way, and but for the newly erected platform, they would have been precipitated hundreds of feet. The man who is instrumental in saving one life proves himself a benefactor, and how much greater must be that benefactor whose labours have been instrumental in saving life, not only during his sojourn on earth, but also during the indefinite future throughout which the fruit of his labours remain in existence.
MINING ON PRIVATE PROPERTY ACT.
The necessity for an Act to provide for mining on private property had been long recognised, and upon his assumption of office as Minister of Mine; in 1870, Mr Mackay introduced a bill to effect the desired object. It was passed by the Assembly but rejected by the Council. The same fate happened to it on four subsequent occasions, when Mr Mackay passed it almost without opposition through the Assembly. And this obstinacy of the Upper Chamber was shown in the face of the repeated decision favour of the bill.
When the bill was eventually passed by Mr Levien, the Attorney-General, Mr Kerferd, acknowledged that the measure was based upon the lines of the oft-rejected measure introduced into the Assembly by Mr Mackay. The measure passed into law was by no means identical, however, with Mr Mackay's bill, and Mr Mackay himself has pointed out wherein amendments are necessary. Though he was not successful in making this the law of the country, Mr Mackay's repeated efforts, in the face of an unpopular Upper Chamber, to carry a Mining on Private Property Act are entitled to prominent recognition in a history of the measure.
MR MACKAY AND THE EIGHT HOURS AND MINERS' WAGES QUESTIONS, ETC.
We hava already mentioned the support given by Mr Mackay to Messra Robert Clark, Morris Collmann, W G Blackham, Blair, Sheppard, Hobson, Johnson, Leeds, Dalzeel, and other apostles of the movement, to secure eight hours for the miners. The eight hours movement has always had his entire sympathy. When the attempts were made in 1871 and 1879 to reduce the wages of the miners, he was one of the foremast in offering resistance to the proposals. On the 23rd of August, 1879 at a mass meeting of miners at St James Hall, when there were 1,500 persons present, he was received with great enthusiasm when proposing the first resolutions.
In the course **unreadable line** of an exhaustive speech, which was a complete review of the whole question, he gave utterance to the following sentiments:
"It is certainly not fair that any steps should be taken to reduce the wages of the miners. There should be no concerted action taken for the purpose of effecting the reduction, for all such concerted actions are nothing less than tyranny. The object of such action is to force the employees to submit to terms which otherwise would not be accepted, and such a course as this is quite opposed to the principles laid down by political economists. It is greatly to be regretted that there has been anything of the sort done.
If any mine becomes so unprofitable that it can no longer pay the miners wages then it should be shut up. (Loud cheers). Then perhaps some of the miners themselves, without operating to the prejudice of their whole class, might come forward, seeing how matters stood, and offer to work for a time with the hope of developing the resources of the mine at a reduced scale of wages. Or they might come to some other arrangement - possibly they might take tho claim on tribute, if reasonable terms are offered them. (Applause). But concerted action, such as that we have now met to protest against, is always condemnable, because it is unfair to bring pressure to bear on a large number of persons who cannot afford to hold out for what probably mighty be, as in the present case, their just demands. Contests between capital and labor are from the very nature of the circumstances bound always to be unequal.
The capitalists, having the money at their back, have always the advantage, for they can shut up their works and wait until starvation forces the workmen to submit. The miners, whose earnings are already so low that they have but small opportunity of laying any portion of them aside, live generally a hand - to - mouth existence. The conflict, as I have said, is a most unfair one, and I would say to the gentlemen who have initiated it, who, I might state, have been good members of society and have done much towards raising Bendigo to its present position, that, although they may have considered they are justified in the action they have taken, they have really pursued a very wrong course. (Cheers.) ...
I think I may fairly as an employer of labor, though not a large capitalist, address to those employers who have identified themselves with the present movement, a few words of remonstrance. I would like earnestly to impress on them that this is not the way to success. Let them be satisfied for a time to go without dividends until further developments bring a renewal of prosperity. I ask them to remember that these men, whose wages they desire to reduce from a rate which is already quite low enough, are men who have families to support, honest and respectable characters to maintain, and many of them house rent to pay. They have had heretofore quite as much as they could do to support themselves, and therefore on the score of generosity and humanity, I ask them to pause before they take a step which will plunges a number of families into distress, will drive the best miners out of the district, and will sully the good name of Bendigo. (Loud cheers.)" The meeting was also addressed by Messrs Clark, Sterry, M'lntyre, Burrowes, Blackham, Williams, and Collmann.
MR MACKAY AND THE MECHANICS INSTITUTE.
As an instance of the great interest manifested by Mr Mackay in our local institutions it may be mentioned that about twenty years ago the Mechanics Institute got to a very low ebb through the incompetent and turbulent spirits which then ruled the destinies of that institution. The committee sank the institution into debt, and lost the confidence of the public, raising a great outcry amongst the subscribers and community at large for a radical change in the governing power.
Mr Mackay, who was noted for his force of character, sound judgement, and literary capacity, combined with administrative ability, was requested to accept the presidency of the institution. To this, he accaded, and at the annual meeting of subscribers on the 12th February, 1867, at which there was a very large attendance, he was unanimously elected president with the late Mr Dougal Macdougall as vice president. Mr Mackay in returning thanks for his Selection, said, "that a sense of duty, and not a desire for the honour, had impelled him to come forward and assist in putting the institute in a prosperous state." Balance abridged.
MR MACKAY AS A JOURNALIST, WRITER AND SPEAKER.
In addition to his contributions to the "Australian Magazine," "Atlas" and "Empire," of Sydney, the "Argus" of Melbourne, his editorship of the Advertiser and "Sydney Daily Telegraph", and his publication on the goldfields of New South Wales in 1851, Mr Mackay published a book on the diamond fields of New South Wales in 1870; and among various other literary works was an article on the career of the Rev Dr Lang, which was published in the "Melbourne Review" in 1878, in which he passed a high tribute to the character and eminent services of that great clergyman and statesman.
Although Mr Mackay did not establish the Advertiser, he bought into it at an early stage in its history. He assisted in the establishment of the "Riverine Herald" and "M'lvor Times," and established the "Daily Telegraph" in Sydney. Mr Mackay had been an attentive student of poetry, and a retentive memory enabled him to preserve his knowledge of the poets. He had a very extensive acquaintance with English literature as wall as the classics, and was thoroughly well grounded in ancient and modern history. Like most literary men he has assayed poetry, and in 1851 he was surprised to find in lady's album in Geelong some verses which he had composed a few years previously.
They had appeared originally in the "Australian Magazine," and had been copied into an English journal, through which they had come into the lady's possession. As a speaker in public and in the senate, Mr Mackay always said something worth hearing, although he never took as much trouble to prepare his speeches as perhaps he should have done. His preparation for any election speech, or speech in an important debate, consisted of the arrangement of a few headings and a mental review of the subjects to be dealt with. The defect in his voice was always an insurmountable barrier to complete success, but the matter of his speeches was usually so good that his audience seldom displayed impatience, which might otherwise have been manifested.
Abridged sections on sport
Mr Mackay filled the positions of trustee to the Mechanics Institute. School of Mines, Savings Bank, and Bendigo United Cricket Club, and was a life member of the Mechanics' and a life governor of the Benevolent Asylum.