[Editor: This obituary of Alfred Deakin, written by John Joseph Simons (1882-1948), was published in The Call & WA Sportsman (Perth, WA), 10 October 1919.]
Yesterday the body of Alfred Deakin was given back to earth — the earth of the land to which his ardent soul was wedded. When the spirit of the great statesman passed men lost one who was the personification of kindness and the embodiment of culture.
The voice which death has stilled for ever was that of the greatest orator whom God has ever chosen to inspire the people of Australia.
There was a matchless grandeur which was part of his eloquence, born it seemed of the prescience of a great mind which was permitted to envision the future of Australia as clearly as Moses saw the promised land. With his inspiration came the power to fire the imagination of his fellows with the beauty of his vision. Unlike the patriarch, Deakin reached in his lifetime the attainment of the dream of his imagination. He saw the struggling opposing units of the colonial period drawn together in one indissoluble bond of nationhood.
It is singular that in a year four men who left an imperishable impress on the affairs of their respective countries should have been called — Laurier from Canada, Roosevelt from America, Botha from Africa, and now our own great one. His mental gifts, statesmanship, idealism, inspirations, and attainments all qualified him to be grouped with the other three immortals whom the Great Reaper has taken within so short a period.
In his ardor for Australia the statesman-patriot became so absorbed in her weal that he forgot the existence of Alfred Deakin. The surpassing talents which were his, and which less altruistic men would have devoted to personal gain, he consecrated to his country.
In mundane things he died poor, yet with his name are associated records rich in acts of national achievement and inspirations, greater than any given by any Australian who has gone before him.
A century hence, when the nurseling days of Australian nationhood are reviewed by students capable of making a right assessment of public service, the patriotic youth of the country will never pass the name of Deakin without a feeling of grateful reverence for the part he played in founding the new nation.
J J Simons
The Call & WA Sportsman (Perth, WA), 10 October 1919, p. 2
Botha = Louis Botha (1862-1919), the first Prime Minister (1910-1919) of the Union of South Africa
Great Reaper = a personification of Death (also known as the Grim Reaper)
Laurier = Sir Wilfrid Laurier (1841-1919), Prime Minister of Canada from 1896 to 1911
nurseling days = (archaic spelling of “nursling days”) early days (a reference to the nursing of a baby or infant, who typically takes nourishment from its mothers breast)
prescience = to have knowledge of an occurrence in the future, to know a future outcome in advance, foreknowledge; anticipation or estimation of the course of events, foresight; the ability to foresee, estimate, or suggest future events and outcomes
Roosevelt = Theodore Roosevelt Jr. (1858-1919), also known as Teddy Roosevelt, President of the United States of America from 1901 to 1909
singular = exceptionally great, extremely good, of high standard, superior; notable, outstanding, remarkable; odd, peculiar, strange, unusual
weal = well-being, prosperity, or happiness (as used in: the public weal, the general weal, the common weal)