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1888, Cooma Courthouse - Unfit For Publication
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Cooma Courthouse, 1888 


The Cooma Express, Sat 21 Jul 1888 1



ON Friday last His Honor performed the opening ceremony of the New Court in a very neat and appropriate speech. He congratulated the public, the magistrates and the legal fraternity on the completion of the new building.

Cooma courthouse, designed by Colonial Architect, James Barnet, officially opened 20 Jul 1888. Photo: Peter de Waal
Cooma courthouse, designed by Colonial Architect, James Barnet, 
officially opened 20 Jul 1888. Photo: Peter de Waal

    The court was well filled in all parts, about 200 people being present, including a few ladies.

    The Police Magistrate, Mr Love, before opening the Court took occasion to congratulate His Honor and the public on the handsome structure they were in. Upon the completion of the building he convened a meeting of Magistrates, and knowing the deep and untiring interest that has been evinced by His Honor in advocating the erection of this building, the Magistrates were unanimous in thinking that the opening ceremony should be delayed until His Honor came. He hoped His Honor would be spared many years to give the Magistrates the benefits of his advice and experience in the administration of justice from his high and honorable office. He (Mr Love) again welcomed His Honor to the better convenience and comfort of this handsome building, and on behalf of the Magistrates—who he felt sure were unanimous on the point—he trusted that His Honor would be spared long to remain with us in his high and honorable position.

    His Honor received the congratulations of the Magistrates with the greatest pleasure. He congratulated the officers of the Court and the public in particular on the opening of the new Court House. He was pleased that at last justice would be dispensed in comfort and with propriety and decency in this most important and extensive district of New South Wales. For many years the necessity of more commodious premises had been severely felt. He referred to the uncomfortable, not to say distressing, conditions under which justice had to be meted out in the old premises. And although apart from the inconvenience to Magistrates and the Crown Prosecutor, jurors and witnesses did not receive either that accommodation or that respect they were entitled to, having regard to the miserable quarters hitherto assigned them. It was simply disgraceful that a small room 12 by 8 was supplied for jurors when deliberating and deciding on the liberty of their fellow men. He thanked God for the first time in this important district he had the pleasure of looking on this spacious and beautiful Court House, where in future justice is to be administered. He understood that on a future occasion an opportunity would be afforded to refer to the building.

    Mr Butterworth, Crown Prosecutor, on behalf of the members of the bar expressed his congratulations to the district upon having so beautiful a building. He agreed with the remarks of His Honor and was pleased to know that the district had a splendid Court House in which justice was to be administered.

    Mr H Dawson, the oldest solicitor present, also congratulated the public on the erection of the commodious building. He remembered the first Court House, and when the one just vacated was opened it was an era in the district, and now we have advanced another stage. He has no hesitation in giving His Honor the greatest credit for having powerfully advocated the erection of the building, and it was, he might say, due to His Honor’s exertions that we had the building erected. Of course the Magistrates and others did good service in pushing the matter forward. With the Police Magistrate he sincerely trusted that His Honor would be spared long to occupy the high office he now holds.

    Mr A Montague said he thought as the senior magistrate of the district (with the exception of Mr Harnett) he should say a word. He perhaps might not express himself eloquently, but he could speak as one who had suffered by the inconvenience of the old Court House and the lack of accommodation there. He would say that it was mainly due to His Honor—and he did not care to bespatter that gentleman with adulation—and himself that the building was erected. Perhaps he was the only man present who knew that His Honor was severely censured by a former Minister and a member of the present Ministry for his importunity in urging the erection of this Court House. Sir John Robertson [NSW Premier] censured His Honor for his continual representations. Every time court was held the matter was brought before the Government. He was now 40 years on Monaro; he saw Cooma as a sheep station, saw it develop into a village, from that to a town and he hoped if he lived a few years longer to see it a city. He firmly believed a bishop would be stationed here. He hoped to live to have it to say that he had seen Cooma grow from a station to a village, from a village to a town, and finally from a town to a city.

    His Honor asked if any gentleman was present eligible to be sworn in as a Magistrate.

    Mr H Dawson here took occasion to mention the fact that he had been placed on the Commission of the Peace. He acknowledged the high compliment, but he did not feel justified in accepting the position, as he never looked for or asked for the distinction. He felt the honor deeply but declined it. He could not understand why he had been selected for the distinction.

    His Honor advised Mr Dawson to reconsider his decision; it was a great distinction and an honor to be a Magistrate and any gentleman capable of fulfilling the office should accept it. He again asked Mr Dawson to reconsider the matter.

    Mr Dawson would not now be sworn in. He would consider the matter.

    Mr Dawson said that Mr Miller had drawn his attention to the fact that the reporters were boxed in a small place and that the gaoler was placed as sentry over them. The accommodation for the Press was insufficient.

    His Honor promised he would give the matter his attention.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

The Sydney Morning Herald, Sat 21 Jul 1888 2


    The Minister for Justice has been invited by the residents of Cooma to open on Monday next a new court-house, which has been erected there. Mr Clarke telegraphed yesterday to the effect that in consequence of the heavy demand made upon the time of Ministers in view of the early prorogation of Parliament he regretted he was unable to visit the district at present.

(By Telegraph.)

Cooma, Friday.

    The new courthouse at Cooma was formally opened this morning by his Honor Judge McFarland. Mr Love, PM, on behalf of the magistrates, requested his Honor to open the court, which he did in a few appropriate remarks. Mr Butterworth, on behalf of the Bar; Mr Dawson, MLA, on behalf of the solicitors; and Mr Montague, JP, on behalf of the magistrates, also spoke, congratulating his Honor on the handsome building which had been erected. Mr James McManus was sworn in as a magistrate of the colony. Mr Dawson declined a similar honour. The business of the Court was then proceeded with.

    A banquet will be held at the Royal Hotel on the evening of the 23rd instant in honor of the opening of the new courthouse, when the Minister for Justice and other leading gentlemen will be present. The Mayor will preside.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

The Cooma Express, Wed 25 Jul 1888 3


    A LADY was the first witness sworn in the new Court House.

*        *

    THE New Court banquet on Monday night was anything but a success. Only a half dozen JPs put in an appearance.

*        *

    THE jury in the case of Watling retired at one o’clock and very wisely decided not to consider their verdict on empty stomachs.

*        *

    THE Judge was in good humor on Friday last, as he declined to fine one or two absent jurors, on the excuse that the list of cases was particularly small.

*        *

    THE two prisoners arraigned at the Sessions were accused of housebreaking and stealing and were youths under 20 years of age, and natives of the district. Neither could read or write.

*        *

    NOT satisfied with the accommodation set apart for the reporters in the new Court House, one pressman “jumped” the claim of the gaoler, and looked like a sentry over his brother chip on Friday last.

*        *

    THE new Court House is very draughty and shockingly arranged for sound. The reporters can with difficulty hear the evidence of witnesses owning not voices like town bells or “shaggy maned” editors.

*        *

    IN keeping with other anomalies in the new Court House, the police have a portion set apart for themselves just behind the ladies seat. Some of the fair sex need watching closely, as do reporters, seems the notion of the Court authorities.

*        *

    THE NEW COURTHOUSE BANQUET.—On Monday evening the banquet given for celebrating the opening of the new Court House took place at the Royal Hotel. The Mayor occupied the Chair; only 25 persons were present including guests. Report of speeches held over.

*        *

    THE accommodation for the Press in the new Court House is simply disgraceful, reflecting anything but credit on those responsible for the interior arrangements of the Court. So bad is it that representations were made to His Honor to have the arrangements altered.

*        *

    THE New Court House.—On Monday last the draughts and cold were so unbearable in the Court that His Honor openly requested the Police Magistrate to write to the Minister for Works, complaining of the disgraceful state of affairs. Mr Love promised to do so at once.

*        *

    ODD.—The reporters’ bunk in the new Court House is planked immediately in front on a lower site than the box of the gaoler. The Press representatives look well guarded by the gaoler, and as the public generally are somewhat puzzled about the position of the dock, the impression got abroad with one or two strangers that the newspaper scribes were prisoners under the gaoler’s charge.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Queanbeyan Age, Wed 25 Jul 1888 4


    The new courthouse at Cooma was formerly opened on Friday morning by his Honor Judge McFarland.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

The Cooma Express, Sat 28 Jul 1888 5


ON Monday evening the banquet given to celebrate the opening of the new Court House at Cooma was held in the Royal Hotel Assembly Room, when some 25 gentlemen sat down to the repast provided by Mrs Gracie.

    The Chair was occupied by His Worship the Mayor, and on his right sat His Honor Judge McFarland, next to whom sat Mr Love, Police Magistrate of Cooma. On the left hand of the Chairman sat Mr Henry Dawson, MLA. Messrs Butterworth and Elles, barristers, were also present as gusts.

  The Vice-chair was occupied by Mr JG Beazley. Among those present we noticed the Very Rev Dean Slattery and several of the Aldermen of the borough.

  The catering was quite up to the former efforts of the hostess of the Royal and everything was tip-top, nothing being left undone to secure the comfort of those present. A half hour or so having been occupied in attending to the wants of the inner man.

  The Chairman read apologies from the following gentlemen whose absence was unavoidable:—The Honorable the Minister for Justice, who excused himself on account of the Assembly having sat from Thursday till Friday evening last. Mr TC O’Mara, for similar reasons, and wishing to be in his place in the Assembly when the railway proposals came on for discussion. Mr Ryrie on account of being in Sydney; Mr Ryrie expressed regret at his unavoidable absence, as mentioned it was through his representation when a member for Monaro, that the vote for thee rection [sic] of a new Court House was passed. From Messrs McKeahnie, Blaxland, A Montague, JP, F Montague and Jas McManus, JP. The apologies were read.


    The Chairman proposed the toast of “The Queen;” the vice-Chair “The Prince of Wales and Royal Family;” the Chairman “The Governor.” No member of the Royal or of Lord Carrington’s family being present the toasts were not responded to.

Cooma courthouse main entrance. Photo: Peter de Waal
Cooma courthouse main entrance. Photo: Peter de Waal

    Mr JH Montague, JP, then proposed “The Parliament of New South Wales,” and in doing so said that no one would or could gainsay the fact that we lived under one of the freest, most liberal and glorious constitutions in the world. If our Parliament was not good it was our own faults. It has been said that the Parliament is the reflex of the people. The present Assembly of New South Wales was not without blame, but the majority of its members were true, patriotic and sterling men, with good and honest reputations, who did all in their power to meet the wishes of the people, when legislating for our rights and privileges. (Cheers). He would mention Mr Dawson’s name in connection with the toast as he had known him from his boyhood upwards; he had been a friend of his youth and that friendship had grown with their manhood. He had great pleasure in proposing the toast.

    Mr Dawson, MLA, replied in a neat speech and said he had hoped to have had little to say that evening. He fully expected to see the Minister for Justice perhaps another member of the Ministry and one or two other Members of Parliament present that evening, but the protracted sitting on Thursday no doubt prevented those gentlemen from being present. Had this galaxy of talent been here he would have had little to say in response to the toast, as it was he would do his best. He believed with Mr Montague that we were living under the freest and most glorious constitution in the world, and notwithstanding the fact that there were some members of our legislature with whom grave fault could be found, the members on the whole were honest, liberal and straight. They did their best for the country at large, and a true spirit of patriotism pervaded the Assembly on the whole. Among the 104 members there were a few that had been better left out. During the last session not a great deal of legislation was got through but it was not the fault of members, but of those at the head of affairs; measure after measure of vital importance to the country was withdrawn by the Ministry, among which was the Land Bill  and other measures. The Local Government Bill had been on the table of the house for over eight months, and now it had to wait till the next session if it could be got through then. But notwithstanding these drawbacks some little useful legislation had been accomplished. The amending Land Act in respect of the tyrannical fencing clause of the present act, was one which would prove beneficial to the graziers and selectors. The Public Works Bill which freed railway management from political influence was another good piece of legislation, and he was pleased to think that the new Commission and its chief, Mr Eddy, would give satisfaction. Mr Eddy brought with him a splendid reputation from the old country he having managed one of the best railway companies in the world. Mr Dawson referred to the unkind remarks of the Sydney press when criticising members of Parliament generally, but he knew that if those present that night were to mix up with and come to know members of Parliament as he did, they would find that a majority of our legislators were made of better stuff than one would think after reading newspapers. He had no down on the press nor would he go so far as did Mr Copeland when criticising the press recently, but he would say that the members of the Opposition had never been treated fairly by that section of the Sydney press known as the Foreign Traders. He repeated that the Opposition had not been treated with fairness or justice (Mr Miller, Hear, hear). Their speeches were often reported wrongly and they were represented as obstructionists and everything that was bad. He thanked the company for the toast, and expressed a hope that when the railway was opened, members of the Legislature would be present who would be able to give better views than he was capable of doing. He said he was an independent voter belonging to no clique or faction, he did his duty according to the dictates of his conscience and would do so whilst he had the honor of representing this constituency. (Hear, hear).

    Captain Faulkner, on rising to propose the next toast, said:—May it please your Honor, Mr Vice-Chairman, Very Rev Sir, and gentlemen. It is my privilege as Mayor of this Municipality to propose the toast of the evening. I have great pleasure introducing it to you for the reason that the subject will, I am convinced, draw from you that warm and enthusiastic reception the worthy gentleman who if the subject of it so eminently merits. In taking a retrospective glance at the many years of useful and arduous labours performed by His Honor Judge McFarland in this district, we cannot help admiring the untiring zeal and great ability which has at all times characterized his undertakings. It will be, I feel, unnecessary for me to recapitulate to you the many acts of usefulness performed by him here. He has at all times, as often as circumstances would admit, taken a leading part in promoting the interest of the districts which have had the good fortune of being entrusted to his charge. I had the honor of knowing our distinguished guest in the Braidwood district and of being a witness to many of his endeavours to advance that town, and I feel it is only superfluous for me to say that he is deservedly held there in the most respectful regard by the humble as well as the affluent. He is not, I need hardly say, of any party or class; he is a perfect gentleman to all, broad in his views, masterly in his eloquence and indomitable in his perseverance. As a judge, most painstaking, humane and exact. As a an [sic] author, most profound and interesting, and as a citizen of New South Wales most patriotic. I dare say there is not one here who has not, at one time or another, listened with both pleasure and profit to his interesting lectures, and I think I am correct in saying that he never lost an opportunity of patronizing our local amateurs when they put an entertainment on the carpets for our amusement. It is worthy of mention that to his influence and persistent representations is due, in a great measure, the obtaining of the noble edifice, the opening of which we are here this evening to celebrate. That grand building marks a distinct epoch in our history and nobly testifies to the prosperity, the advancement and importance of this district. It would, by the accommodation it afforded, relieve a great want. There is not a juryman who ever attended here who will not remember as long as he lives the hardships and miseries he had to endure, pent up in a miserable crib but half ventilated and breathing for hours in a putrid and fœtid atmosphere, with, perhaps, a prospect of many dreary hours ahead of him. Whether empannelled [sic] or waiting to be called the accommodation, both for jurymen and witnesses, was of the most meagre kind. This state of things is now ended, and His Honor, to whom so much is due in accomplishing this, is here to-night to witness our gratitude and thankfulness. Without wishing to detain you any longer, I now ask you to drink to the long life and happiness of His Honor Judge McFarland.

    His Honor Judge McFarland said: Mr Chairman and Mr Vice-Chairman, Mr Rev Dean and friends all: I thank you for the courtesy with which you have received the mention of my name, as submitted in the warm-hearted but too flattering observations that have just been addressed to you. I thank you, too, for the more than generous acknowledgement of any services I may have rendered in procuring or endeavouring to procure, after years of harassing delay, the spacious and convenient Court House whose completion we are now about to celebrate. But to Mr David Ryrie, more than to me, such acknowledgement is due, for to him we are indebted for the placing of that amount on the Estimates of public expenditure that secured the erection of the building in question. Be the credit due, however, to whom it may, it is gratifying to know that justice is at last decently and fittingly lodged in the great province of Monaro. There are those who think that any accommodation is good enough for jurors and witnesses, the magistrates, bar and bench concerned in the administration of that great trust; but I have always considered that those concerned in the protection of property, liberty and life are entitled to some regard, and should not be huddled together in small and ill ventilated apartments, as we have long been in this district, and therefore it is that I hail with grateful satisfaction the completion of the handsome and commodious structure in which our several duties shall henceforward be discharged. Nor is this the only respect in which Monaro in general, and Cooma in particular, have made signal strides during the last 20 years. When I first approached your township, I beheld before me bleak, repellant hills, redeemed only by the fair proportions of the Anglican Church. Now, a large and tasteful structure rises next it, the abode of genial hospitality, generous thought, kindly admonition and peaceful counsel. And by it, is a still more stately edifice, whence the blessings of a liberal education and cultured refinement pervade the province. In the same early days, there were not 5 miles of fencing throughout the length and breadth of Monaro; while now, my friend Mr Litchfield, can point to 100 miles of it, enclosing and subdividing his splendid estate; and the district at large cannot have less than 10,000 miles of like improvements binding its varied parts into one harmonious whole. At the same time you are the largest flock owners in the colony, having at least a million of sheep among you; and God has granted you a climate second to non in the world. But there is much that is incumbent upon us; for where men have been so blessed, every one is found to do his utmost not only for his own interests, and the good of the province, but for the colony. Above all, you young men should take to the land, deserting the townships, billiard rooms and the like, and by honest industry, patience and self denial, as well as by intelligent interest in our public affairs, assist in raising up a people both able and anxious to promote the general welfare of you country, and be trained to arms with which to defend your homes and altars against every foe. And Monaro should furnish a regiment of cavalry that even our gallant Chairman should be proud to lead.

Cooma courthouse centenary plaque, 1988. Photo: Peter de Waal
Cooma courthouse centenary plaque, 1988. Photo: Peter de Waal

    Ald Wigg said he was rather taken unawares in having to propose the toast now put into his hands. It was intended that his friend and Minister, Mr Hay, should have proposed it, but he not being present, it had fallen to himself. The toast was “The Bar, and Officers of the Courthouse.” Well, as for the first he, (the speaker) had the profoundest admiration for the Bar as an institution. He looked upon it as one of the bulwarks of liberty. In his younger days he had had the privilege of hearing many of the leading members of the English Bar, and since in New South Wales, he had heard a few of the shining lights of the Colonial Bar, and, so far as he could judge the barristers here would bear no unfavourable comparison with their learned brethren at home. With regard to the Bar in the past, what little of history he (the speaker) had read, had taught him, that no institution had shed more lustre upon civilised society than it. In literature we had such shining lights as Fielding, Brougham and many others, who, after being bright ornaments of their own profession, had won laurels in the field of literature. On the Press, to-day and in the past, its most successful followers were barristers who, in addition to being honored members of the law, had achieved the highest success on the press. Indeed it would be difficult here or at home, to mention the many who had risen to eminence in law, that had not also been honored as members of the Press, or as contributors to literature, as witness Lord Coleridge, our own Daley, and our guest Judge McFarland. Even in science members of the Bar had distinguished themselves. One just gone to his long rest had, after being a bright ornament to the Bar, and then of the Bench, he alluded to Justice Groves who had won lasting fame in science. But it was in the Senate that the Bar had achieved the highest fame. There its members had not been afraid as champions of the people to to [sic] rebuke kings and defy government. They had passed from the Bar as advocates, to parliament as representatives, and had had [sic] there stood between the people and their oppressors. He need not mention the names of such men as O’Connor, Gambetta, and Lincoln to prove this. All these had, before passing into parliament been ornaments of the Bar. On [sic] thing that used to puzzle him (the speaker) when young was the apparent want of conscience in a barrister who, perhaps, knowing the guilt of a prisoner, yet defended him from justice. Well, he was older now, and could understand that a barrister being entrusted with the defence of a man, and standing between him and loss of liberty, or even life, he simply discharges a duty, and discharging that duty faithfully should be the highest form of conscientiousness. With regard to the latter part of his toast, “The officers of the Court,” he would say that he had always found them courteous and obliging. When ever brought into contact with them he (the speaker) had found them ready to put up with his want of knowledge and little stupidities, and perhaps infirmities of temper. It was with great pleasure then that he asked them to drink to their health, as well as that of the bar.

    Mr Butterworth in responding to the toast said he felt deeply honored at the manner in which the toast of the Bar was received, and by the warmth and eloquence of the proposer, Mr Wigg. He felt some difficulty in responding in a worthy manner to the toast. He did not know why he was called on to reply unless it was from the fact of holding the position of Crown Prosecutor and from the fact of his seniority in age. He was extremely grateful to Mr Wigg for the kind manner in which he referred to barristers and the profession. He could not understand, however, why lack of conscience was attributed to barristers, their difficulty was not so great after all. The position of a barrister defending a prisoner was not one to judge but, as in the case of a doctor, to do the best he could for his client. (A voice: To bleed him). Well as someone interjected the bleeding process was also necessary at times. (Laughter). It was always a great pleasure to him and to his friend Mr Elles to visit Cooma, but now the pleasure had an additional charm in the new and handsome Court House opened a few days ago. The new Court house would prove of advantage to the district at large and the expressed a hope that His Honor would long live to preside over it in the just and impartial manner which had characterised his actions in the past (Cheers). Lord Hale said that all undefended persons looked upon the judge as their Counsel, and what he had seen of Judge McFarland, he thought that gentleman had always acted the friend of the undefended and the guardian of his liberties. Mr Butterworth referred in kind terms to Mr Love, the Police Magistrate, and complimented the town upon having a thoroughly and well educated and a strictly conscientious gentleman as chief Magistrate. He jocularly referred to Parliament and its members, stating that a member of Parliament to be accomplished and musical were almost synonymous terms now. Parliament had not always been regarded as an institution of harmony, but now it was considered an accomplishment for a Minister to be able to sing a good song, and the time would come when every member of Parliament must be able to sing a good song. (Laughter). He again thanked the Company for the manner in which the toast of the Bar and officers of the court was given and received. (Cheers).

    Mr Elles really did not know what to say or why he was called upon to speak. He supposed it was in deference to his antipathy to public speaking and to his remarkable but not well known, modesty. He reviewed the experience of his early visits to Monaro when coach had to be taken at Tarago at an unearthly hour of the night, and said that things generally looked better now than at that time. He supposed the train would be running into Cooma before the next sessions. He referred to the kennel of a place in which court had been held hitherto in Cooma, but now the Cooma folk had a temple of justice where were it not for professional etiquette, if any of his friends there that night were within those elegant and spiked rails which ornamented the centre of the Court House, from whence such a splendid view was to be had—he said, were it not for professional etiquette, he would feel inclined to defend the prisoner without fee, he trusted with success. (Laughter).

    Mr Love felt very thankful for the exceedingly kind manner in which the toast had been received. As Police Magistrate he very much regretted the absence of Mr A Montague, who had a more extensive knowledge of the magistracy of the district than he had. He regretted that Mr Montague was not there to give them another such entertaining anecdote as he delivered at the opening ceremony of the new Court House. He (Mr Love) had been amongst them but a few months and felt it an honor to have been invited there that evening as a guest. He was always very pleased to meet his fellow townsmen socially or officially, and he trusted in time by the conscientious performance of those duties appertaining to his office, to gain the confidence of every one in the district. Although he did not bring with him a venerable appearance he brought a determination to do his duty honorably, conscientiously and fearlessly to the best of his ability and according to his lights. He thought it a great boon and satisfaction to have so grand an edifice in which justice was to be dispensed in this district. On behalf the magistrates and himself he thanked His Honor Judge McFarland and those who had assisted in getting the new Court House erected, and once more tendered his thanks for the kind reception the toast had received. (Hear, Hear).

    Ald O’Rourke JP, also responded but thought it unnecessary to say a great deal further than return thanks. He thought no one should fill the position of magistrate but those qualified by education and broadness of principle. He referred in kind terms to the late Police Magistrate and in flattering terms of the present one. He (Ald O’Rourke) had the honor to be deputy sheriff since Mr Dawson’s resignation. In his capacity of magistrate he had found Mr Love a painstaking efficient and highly conscientious administrator of justice. He thanked them from [sic] the manner in which the toast was drank [sic].

    The vice-Chairman (Mr Beazley) in a a [sic] few appropriate words proposed “The Pastoral, Commercial, Agricultural and Mining Interests.”

    On behalf of the Commercial interests Mr Solomon responded, and stated that 50 years ago he remembered this district when there were more blacks here than white men. They had to go to Queanbeyan for their mails, but now through the push of commerce the railway was almost at our doors. Commerce was the great lever of the world and wherever it commenced prosperity and advancement followed.

    Mr Litchfield replied in a lengthened speech on behalf of the postoral [sic] interests. He referred to the new Court House and gave Mr Ryrie the credit for getting the vote passed by Parliament for its erection. He spoke of wool being the staple produce of the colonies and dwelt upon land matters at a considerable length, condemning the Act of 1861, and the improvement clauses of the various bills since that time in no unmeasured terms. He censured Mr Garrett’s act in raising the rents on holdings and stated that if these imposts were to be continued many pastoralists would have to give up their holdings. He referred to the keen competition these colonies had to meet with in America, and said it was a matter for the very serious consideration of the Government. The improvement clauses he contended were an accursed imposition and the speaker referred to a deputation on the improvement clause sent to Monaro some years ago, when it was snubbed by Mr Copeland, who told them that it was monstrous that land owners did not make provisions for dry seasons. Mr Litchfield contended that it was impossible to do so for up to late the sowing of lucern was not considered an improvement. He thanked them for having received the toast so warmly.

    Mr Feilen briefly responded on behalf of the agricultural industry.

    Mr Jackson responded for the mining industry and said he had a subject upon which he could talk for at least two hours. But on looking round he saw little encouragement, so he would not detain them for that period. (Laughter.) He predicted a great future far [sic] this district in mining matters, and spoke of the Prospecting Association, which had been attempted to start, regretting that it was not receiving the support it merited. He hoped that speculators in Sydney would take the matter up more energetically. He thought that now the railway was at our doors mining on Monaro would look up, and that a large mining population would soon be scattered throughout the district.

Cooma gaol main entrance, opened Jan 1873. Photo: Peter de Waal
Cooma gaol main entrance, opened Jan 1873.
Photo: Peter de Waal

  Ald O’Rourke also responded for the mining interests. He made a very humorous speech, at times “bringing down the house” with his drollery and humor. He referred to mining matters and said that when Kiandra broke out he was the first man to introduce a bullock to the miners for eating. He had been there butchering, and as there were plenty of fat cattle running on his run, he thought he might as well let the miners have a chance of a square meal as that other people should take the cattle for their use. (Laughter.) Ten years ago he took an active interest in mining matters and said that the Bredbo mine was the keynote to the industry on Monaro. He had perniciously followed up mining of late, and predicted a great future for this district. (Hear, hear.) Now that the railway was here we would find speculators visiting us who would wonder why we had kept our wealth locked up so long.

    The Very Rev Dean Slattery proposed “The Land we live in, and the Volunteers.” He said that the hour being late and so many eloquent speeches had been delivered that evening that in his case brevity must be the soul of wit. He had a subject for speaking upon to do justice to two hours would not be sufficient. We had that night honored various toasts. The toast to our honored guest was ably proposed and beautifully and eloquently responded to. The Bar was ably and learnedly proposed by Ald Wigg and suitably responded to. But no toast proposed that evening appealed more forcibly or eloquently to the hearts of all present than the one he was about to propose. He was proud of this glorious country of ours, New South Wales. It was to him his second home. He had come to it when a mere boy; he had grown into manhood here and he had learned to love it more and more every day. Its climate was of the brightest and sunniest, and its mountains of gold and silver made it a prosperous home for all of us. There was indeed no land on earth that could compare with it. Its population was one million souls and there was not on this earth a million people so happy, so prosperous or so good as the people of this sunny clime. He thought he could with singular appropriateness repeat the lines of Thomas Davis. 

Cooma gaol, n.d. Photo ID: SRNSW 4346_a020_a020000327.jpg
Cooma gaol, n.d. Photo ID: SRNSW 4346_a020_a020000327.jpg

Oh, she’s a rich and rare land,
Oh, she’s a fresh and fair land,
Oh, she’s a dear and rare land,
This adopted land of mine.
No men than her’s are braver,
Her women’s hearts ne’er waver,
I’d freely die to save her,
And think my lot divine.

    In connection with the toast to “The Land we live in,” was that of the Volunteers, and though the subjects might at first sight be considered far fetched, he thought that a moment’s reflection would show that they had a very intimate connection. His Honor in his eloquent address said that our young men should form themselves into cavalry corps for the defence of the colony, and he too thought that if our young men enrolled themselves and acquired military knowledge it would be better for all of them. But why a man of peace should be asked to propose this portion of the toast was beyond his comprehension unless it was one of those tricks of the Chairman, for which that gentleman is so famous. If all the volunteers of the colony have such a general as has our Cooma Corps, they will be military looking from the tips of their toes to the point of their beards. (Laughter). They have acquired from their worthy Captain a most commanding and military air (Laughter) and actually rivalled Mars himself. (Laughter). If all the volunteers were like ours, men of peace would not be required for the colony could rest secure under the protection of her warriors. The Rev Gentleman spoke of the beautiful and exhilarating climate of Monaro, but he said it blew sometimes here and our Magistrates blow also at times, and no wonder, for we had one of the loveliest and most picturesque districts in the whole colony, the future sons of Monaro he felt sure would make the best and noblest defenders of “the Land we live in,” when danger threatened our shores. (Cheers).

    The Chairman in responding for the Volunteers said: He had to thank them sincerely for the hearty way in which they received the toast to the Volunteers. He felt sorry he had not a brother officer present to respond to the toast so very ably and eloquently put by the Dean. He felt certain that when that gentleman undertook the toast, “The land we live in and coupled with it the Volunteers,” that he intended to have some merriment at his expense. He could not help saying that he felt no disappointment on that score. Be believed a good and efficient Volunteer service would be a successful means of providing for the security of this country. He felt satisfied that our Volunteers would be able to give a good account of themselves if required, and that any enemy attacking our liberties would have reason to repent of his hardihood. He had great pleasure in thanking them for the hearty way in which they received the toast of the Volunteers. 

    Mr Dawson, MLA, then proposed the Cooma Corporation in a short speech, and stated that he looked upon Municipal Councils as the stepping stones to Parliament. His experience however was not good, for he found himself at the bottom of the poll when seeking the suffrages of the Cooma ratepayers some years ago. He referred to Mr Day’s new Bill, which gave additional assistance to corporations, and those difficulties met with before Councils could erect sale yards, or levy water rates, were done away with. He thought Cooma should have had sale yards long ago. (Hear Hear). He said he did not wish to take any credit for having assisted in any way to get the New Court House erected, but with reference to the railway station site he had, he flattered himself, done something towards so caring for the people of the district their just rights in this respect. (Hear hear). He had much pleasure in proposing the toast.

Cooma gaol side wall. Photo: Peter de Waal
Cooma gaol side wall. Photo: Peter de Waal

    The Mayor briefly returned thanks, and assured those present that whilst he remained a member of the Council he would do all in his power to promote and advance the welfare of the town. He condemned the Municipal Act which governed Municipalities and thought it ought to be dispatched to the waste paper basket at once, as it was next to impossible to work for the benefit of the town under it to any appreciable extent.

    Ald O’Rourke also returned thanks on behalf of the Council, and said that no more useful body could be found than the councillors of a corporation. In Cooma a little had been done in the past, a lot was undone, and a great deal was yet to be done.

    Mr Jackson proposed “The Ladies,” and although only a small man he would give way to no man in defence of the sex; they were beside us in everything; in art, in literature and science, and he hoped the toast would be drunk with enthusiasm.

    Dr Clifford had great pleasure in responding. (A Voice: For the hundredth time.) Yes, and he hoped he would have to do so another hundred times. (Laughter.) It was a special honor to respond for the sex, and he was not ashamed to do it. He asked (innocently) where we would be without them? (A Voice: Had the gentlemen nothing to do with it, Doctor?) He did not know anything about the gentlemen. (Laughter). He thanked them for the ladies and took occasion to express a wish to see the guest of the evening, Judge McFarland, a Supreme Court Judge, and our new Court House turned into a Circuit Court.

    Mr E Hewison proposed the “Press” and in doing so said:—Mr Chairman, vice-Chairman and gentlemen, I rise with extreme diffidence to propose the toast of what I conceive to be the most important institution in this land. I am extremely sorry that it has not fallen into abler hands for I feel that I am utterly incompetent to do justice to a subject of such vast and paramount importance as a factor in the civilizing and humanitizing of mankind. When I look back through the vista of nearly 200 years, to the time when the Commons of England so nobly and steadfastly refused to re-establish that act, which for a long period and with but short interruption had provided for the censorship of the Press—I feel proud of my forefathers, proud of the race from which I spring whose instincts and sympathies have ever been towards liberty and progress and the advancement of mankind. I feel proud of the race which has shown by its subsequent conduct that it both appreciated and deserved the confidence which was then reposed in it. I do now propose to advert to the history and progress of the press in general, although I am aware that we have amongst us, gentlemen of remarkable literary attainments, who have already made their mark in the literary world, but I will on this occasion content myself by taking a brief retrospect of newspaper history and progress during the present and the two preceding centuries. In order to do this it will be necessary to go back to the 3rd May, 1695, a day ever to be remembered in the annals of liberty. It was the day of the death-knell of the censorship of the Press. At that time and long prior to it there was in England but one newspaper, the London Gazette and of this publication, which was small in size only about 8000 copies were published. It was edited by a clerk in the office of the Secretary of State and it contained only such information as the Secretary of State, for the time being, thought fit that it should contain. It is true that in those times there were other means of diffusing information, but in general they were clandestine and illegal. Information then was chiefly propagated by means of “newsletters” which were very often unreliable, and they are said to have been not infrequently compiled by men of coarse and uncultivated minds and whose diction was often neither chaste nor elegant. Newspapers as we know them, with their leading articles and criticisms, on political, economical and social question, written by men of acknowledged ability were then in England totally unknown. Hence I think that it will be readily conceded that that [sic] the newspaper of to-day may be taken as a standard or gage [sic] by which we may measure the immense progress which has been made, in the means of disseminating knowledge in the present as compared with the preceding centuries. I will not trespass further on your patience, but will ask you to charge your glasses and to drink a bumper to that most beneficial institution the public Press.

    Mr Madgwick responded, and in doing so criticised Mr Dawson’s remarks re the Sydney press. He did not think the toast of the press should have been placed so low on the list.

    Mr Miller’s name was called, but that gentleman had left the room indignant at the action of the committee in treating the Press, as an institution, with what he thought was marked discourtesy by placing the toast at the foot of the list.

    The hostess was proposed and the meeting broke up.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Queanbeyan Age, Sat 28 Jul 1888 6


    The new courthouse at Cooma was opened on Friday by Judge McFarland, and a public banquet was held on Monday evening to commemorate the opening.


1  The Cooma Express, Sat 21 Jul 1888, pp. 2, 3.

2  The Sydney Morning Herald, Sat 21 Jul 1888, pp. 13, 15.

3  The Cooma Express, Wed 25 Jul 1888, p. 2.

4  Queanbeyan Age, Wed 25 Jul 1888, p. 3.

5  The Cooma Express, Sat 28 Jul 1888, pp. 2, 3.

6  Queanbeyan Age, Sat 28 Jul 1888, p. 3.