A new biography of Governor Bourke.
It is interesting to see that Richard Bourke dealt with the troublesome situation in Cape Province, South Africa as Acting Governor from 1825 to 1828. Here he had to deal with the large Dutch population and the discontented immigrant British settlers problems mainly with the legal organisation stemming from the Dutch legal system. Then there was in addition the question of slavery to cope with.
His appointment as Governor of New South Wales followed and he had conflicts with the establishment here--conflicts over his ideas and concern for education. His liberal attitude in government is covered in detail and the growing opposition to the continuation of transportation had to be attended to. Most Australians know something of the history of his Governorship but he is often forgotten by present day citizens. It is written in a straightforward graceful style. There is no literary jargon and no post colonial attack on British imperialism. It tells the story of a man who, as Judge Roger Therry said at the unveiling of his stature, 'he came to New South Wales to light the lamp of knowledge in the cottage of every peasant and on the stall of every mechanic, and proclaim to every emigrant who touched these shores, that [here is] freedom to worship God according to conscience.'
It was the freedom of religion, which of course meant that the Roman Catholics would be accepted as equal, that aroused so much opposition by the Church of England establishment. This together with Bourke's passion for the education of everyone from the poor and lowly to the wealthy and great that is his great legacy to Australia. His statue was erected by public subscription from many of the simple workers, descendant of the convicts, as well as the successful tradesman and mechanics and a few of the 'noble' families. The statue still stands outside the Mitchell Library near Macquarie Street in Sydney. A photograph of the statue adorns the cover of this biography.
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|Publication:||M A R G I N: life & letters in early Australia|
|Date:||Apr 1, 2006|
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