Following a comment made by one Denise Rafter, a follower of this blog, I have been looking up references to Richard Dines (1812-1872) particularly the references to his attitude to aboriginals at the time. There are various cuttings from Australian newspapers gleaned from www.trove.nla.au.gov/ and the subject will take a lot more research. I did learn however that Richard was a prolific letter writer, particularly to the Press, and one such letter casts an interesting light on Richard. He obviously called a spade a spade and not a digging implement but his lobbying skills knew how to get publicity
Let’s look first at The Maitland Mercury & Hunter River General Advertiser (NSW : 1843 – 1893), Thursday 23 January 1868, page 2
Headed: THE MURDER BY A BLACKFELLOW the letter is preceded by an editorial note. Is it just me who hears the deep sigh accompanying the opening sentence?
“We are favoured by Messrs. Wolfe and Gorrick with the perusal of another letter received by them from Mr Richard Dines, dated Tulloona, Warialda, January 13th. Mr Dines remarks on the police arrangements, etc, etc, which are rather severe; but if such remarks are currently made in any district, it is better that the parties concerned – the public, the Government, and the members of Parliament – should be made aware of them, and we therefore print the letter in full.”
The letter follows and it is obvious that Richard, like the journalists of the time, did not use one word if half a dozen would do.
“In my last [letter] I wrote about a man being murdered by a blackfellow on Christmas morning, and that we expected to find the body in the lagoon. The lagoon was searched for eight days and nothing found, when, on the eleventh day from the murder, one of my shepherds found the body of the poor old man, in a large box stump, about two miles from where he had been murdered. The shepherd’s dog barked at this stump, which drew the shepherd’s attention, and thinking the dog had found a native dog, he ran up, and when he looked into the hollow stump and saw the body, he says his hat fell off from fear. At all events he did not look in the stump again but gave the information at the station as soon as possible. This was on Saturday, the 4th instant. The enquiry was held on the 6th instant, and the prisoner committed for trial at Armidale.
“The Queensland police stopped here the other night, with the prisoner, on their way to Armidale. The sergeant of police at Warialda was at the enquiry, and after all was over, the Queensland police wanted the NS Wales policeman to take the prisoner, but he would not. The sergeant said he could not take charge of the prisoner, as he was on duty that he dare not leave. And what do think this other duty was that he dare not leave even though a murderer should [sic] escape? – it was merely taking the electoral roll and the statistics of the district
“The sergeant I believe to be a most efficient officer, if he was not under this red-taplam [sic]. But we have a Police Magistrate (and the Clerk of Petty Sessions is also a magistrate), and both of them were aware that the sergeant had this most important police duty to perform, that he dare not leave undone; and they also knew that there was no one about here to take any active part in this matter – but those gentlemen put themselves to no trouble.
“Is it to be expected that such men as I have described will take Thunderbolt? And still those gentlemen are not only receiving Government pay, but are acting under a solemn oath.
“Some inquiry ought to take place. If we have a police magistrate, and police, the public ought to know whether their duty is to attend and direct in all such cases as the present, although it may be seventy miles from their grapes and figs. Now just imagine this murder took place within seven miles (instead of seventy) what a parade would be made of dragging the rivers, searching the bush, sending to headquarters for more police, not a moment to be lost for such a dreadful thing was never of heard of. Then the cry would be, what an active police magistrate, what a clever clerk of the court.
“Could you inform me the best way in getting this case before the Government –or, as the Prince will shortly be here, would it be advisable to lay the whole case before the Government – or, would it be advisable to lay whole case before him? I have not got any great faith in the Government doing justice in this matter. All we want to know is, are we to look for protection to our present police and said magistrate or not? And further, are they, the police magistrate, etc, to say where they will come to, and where they will not? How many miles from their cabbage gardens will they come?
“It is nearly useless also to apply to our representatives in Parliament, The MLA’s position is at a very low ebb when the people cannot apply to them with confidence that their grievances, when made clear, will be redressed. Will we ever get the like of Westworth Windpyer[?], and Nichola again – men that went into that house with but one single thought – to do their native country good. Look at some of them now, they would disgrace a bear-garden. Yet the worst of them call themselves representatives of the people of this country – God forbid.”
The political rant out of the way Richard then goes to discuss the most important thing to a grazier – the weather. He also manages to remind people that he has sheep to sell.
“I am very glad to say the country about here never looked better. The weather has been very hot until within the last few days, when we have been getting a few light showers. At Gundiwindi they have had very heavy showers, but they wanted it more than we did. Our country stands the dry weather better than the McIntyre does. Indeed, we are seldom short of grass, unless we neglect burning the grass in large patches when just the top of it is getting dry. We have now got abundance of fine grass, also large patches burnt; and when it is burnt before the bottom gets dry it does not burn the crown of the plant, and it begins to shoot before rain does come, so that when we do get a good fall of rain we can burn the other part.
“My sheep are looking very well indeed.”
The visit of the Prince
Whether Richard did indeed meet the Duke of Edinburgh is not clear but the Reminiscences Column printed by the Singleton Argus in January 1905 reported that the Duke of Edinburgh visited Sydney in January, 1868, gives a list of men who met him at a levee held after he arrived. However the next paragraph discusses the race meeting held at Randwick in honour of the Duke’s visit at which two local owners and horses won the principal events. Richard’s horse The Italian won the Tattersall’s Stakes.
I will be returning to Richard’s press cuttings, shortly