Daniel Henry Deniehy: Something about him and his speeches, &c [23 November 1895]

[Editor: An article about Daniel Henry Deniehy, author and politician. Published in the Windsor and Richmond Gazette, 23 November 1895.]

Daniel Henry Deniehy.

Something about him and his speeches, &c

Daniel Henry Deniehy was the first native-born member of his profession (the law) on the rolls in N.S.W.

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The books in Deniehy’s magnificent library, which for numbers, taste, choice, and elegance no other reader in the Australias has ever approached, at one period weighed over four tons, and comprised some of the best and most costly specimens of English and Continental literature. In all the languages of modern Europe he was as much at home as in his native tongue.

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The proof sheet of Deniehy’s first manuscript — a novelette entitled, “Love at First Sight,” which appeared in the pages of the “Colonial Literary Journal,” were carried to the author at his father’s house at Chippendale by the late Thomas Garrett, M.P., some time Minister for Lands, then a mere boy, engaged at the Government Printing-office.

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Deniehy was the first man in N.S.W. to propose and advocate the establishment of a free public library. He prepared the first catalogue for the Sydney Mechanics School of Arts.

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“The brilliant little Dan Deniehy” was the title bestowed upon him by Windsor’s poet, Charles Harpur.

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Extract from a letter written a few hours prior to his dreadful death by Deniehy to his sorrow-stricken and broken-hearted wife:— “Brave things have been written of the love and truth and goodness and heroism and courage and suffering and faith of women, but one year’s history of your life would be sufficient for all that has entitled them to the honor and veneration and gratitude of mankind.”

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“His end was sad, terribly sad. Always delicate in health, his unwearied industry, his severe and unremitting brain-work, reduced him to such a state of physical exhaustion that he found relief only in artificial stimulants. And, therefore, he sought them again, and yet again he sought their fatal embrace ; and the end of all it to be found in the lonely grave at Bathurst, where a stranger’s hand has laid him.” Thus lived, thus died (in 1865) the once bright and hopeful, the gay, debonnair and brilliant young Australian, the polished orator, the happy and genial member for Argyle, and with his tragic end closed the most luminous epoch in colonial history.

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George Robert Nicholls was once referred to by Deniehy as “this conqueror in the lists of jaw, this victor in the realms of gab.”

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“Let them not find a new-fangled Brummagem aristocracy darkening these fair, free shores. . . . There is an aristocracy worthy of our respect and admiration. Wherever human skill and brain are eminent, wherever glorious manhood asserts itself, there is an aristocracy that confers eternal honor on the land that possesses it. That is God’s aristocracy; that is an aristocracy that will bloom and expand under free institutions, and for ever bless the clime where it takes root. . . . He was a native of the soil, and he was proud of his birth-place. It was true its past was not hallowed in history by the achievements of men whose names reflected a light upon the times in which they lived. They had no long line of poets, or statesmen, or warriors; in this country Art had done nothing, but Nature everything. It was theirs, then, alone to inaugurate the future. In no country had the attempt ever been made to successfully manufacture an aristocracy pre re nata. It could not be done, for they might as well expect honor to be paid to the dusky nobles of King Kamehamaka or to the ebony earls of the Emperor Souloque of Hayte. — From Deniehy’s speech in opposition to Wentworth’s proposal to found a Colonial House of Nobles.

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Speaking on the Chinese Immigration Bill in 1858, Deniehy said:— “He saw no more injustice in peventing the landing of this degraded race, who would not only lower and demoralise, but also endanger the safety of the country, than he saw in stopping the “running” of a cargo of contraband opium or brandy. He must say that opposition to the Bill came with a very bad grace from hon. members ; but they always had to dread a latent and illicit hankering after the introduction of inferior races — for the purpose of obtaining cheap labour.”

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It was worse than useless, it had been sure destruction to the country’s progress, this demand (by the State) for 20/- an acre for what was frequently not worth twenty pence. — Speech at Argyle, January 18, 1858.

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“Carlyle says, ‘The true university of these days is a library.’ — true anyhow, true ten thousand times over, in a youthful democratic country like ours, whose young men who will govern the land and make the laws ten years hence are, perhaps, serving behind the counter to-day. — Deniehy, 1859.

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“A political entity, without discretion and responsibility, and, like Cupid in the pleadings of the older poets — “too young to know what conscience is” — the honorable Member for Windsor, Mr William Bede Dalley.” — Deniehy in an article on Mr (afterwards Sir) James Martin, 1860.

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So thoroughly are we (“Southern Cross” leader by Deniehy, 1860) convinced that trickery and deception are the grinding principles, the very ethics, of Mr (afterwards Sir Charles) Cowper’s nature, that we should not be at all surprised to find him very shortly bowing himself back where he has so recently said farewell. The coffin must be well nailed, the pit sufficiently deep, and the superimposed tombstone — we care not what lies are engraved upon it — pretty heavy that will ensure the satisfactory political sepulture of Charles Cowper.



Source:
Windsor and Richmond Gazette (Windsor, NSW), 23 November 1895, p. 7

Editor’s notes:
debonnair = an older spelling of “debonair” (also, “debonnair” is an older spelling of “debonaire”)

Kamehamaka = (also spelt Kamehameha) the Kamehameha kings were monarchs of the Hawaiian islands from 1791 to 1872; as Deniehy’s speech against the proposed creation of a NSW peerage (which Deniehy scathingly called a “bunyip aristocracy”) was made in 1853, the reference would be to Kamehameha III (King of Hawaii 1825-1854)

pre re nata = (Latin) “in the circumstances” or “as the circumstance arises”

Souloque = (also spelt Soulouque) Faustin Soulouque was made Emperor of Haiti, as Faustin I, in 1849; he was a dictatorial and brutal ruler

[Editor: Corrected “once once bright” to “once bright”.]

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