Andrew Inglis ClarkPrimary architect of Australia's constitution


About 400  letters to Clark and some by Clark are held in the Andrew Inglis Clark Collection.   These letters offer a rare glimpse  of the complex hurly-burly, implied 'understandings', and practical give-and-take of the underside of Tasmanian politics. 

You can explore a selection of the digitised original letters in the University Open Access Repository, or search the papers in the Special and Rare Collections, SPARC online catalogue.   

31 March 1891
My dear Ted,
I duly received your letter to me of the 25th not having previously received the telegram from you and Evans. I have also received a letter from Evans and am pleased to hear that election matters are proceeding as satisfactorily as stated by him and you. I cannot understand why the Trades and Labour Council should have any difficulty in selecting Miles and myself as their candidates although we ran separately. It might happen at any time that four our [sic] five candidates of exactly the same political principles would be running for two seats and any organisation such as the Trades and Labour Council could select any two of them and make a ticket of them although the whole four or five were running quite separately from one another. I would like you to make a special point of seeing Bob Taylor and disabusing his mind of any impression that I ever wished to run with Dobson in preference to Miles. Bob is an old friend of mine and he worked vigorously for me at the last general election and I feel grieved to think that he could believe that I ever wavered in my adherence to the democratic party or desired to ally myself with a plutocrat who believes in the division of society into the "upper", "middle" and "lower" classes on the basis of property and money. My only object in running separately is to avoid unnecessarily alienating electors who are prepared to vote for Dobson and myself or Giblin [sic] and myself and also to avoid creating any impression that I or the Ministry have made any compact with Miles to help him and Reynolds in the matter of their contract for the construction of the Mount Zeehan Railway. I was also placed in a delicate position by Dobson coming voluntarily to me and telling me that he intended to go into parliament to sit behind me and to support my colleagues and myself. In the face of a voluntary announcement of that character from him I felt that I was bound so far as my public, the same day that I sent my last telegram to you I wrote to Evans and told him that I was astonished to learn that he confirmed Miles’ statement about my consent to hold joint meetings and I reminded him that I distinctly told Miles and Cuthbert at my house that as a Minister I would be compelled to open the campaign at the Town Hall without association with any other candidate and defend the conduct of the ministry during the last four years and give an indication of our intentions in the future. I am not at all sure that Miles would defend all our legislation and all our ministerial acts, and it would be ridiculous to have a candidate on the platform with me condemning some of the actions of myself and my colleagues. I will leave you to do whatever you think best for me, but I would like to run alone so far as public announcements are concerned.
I am
Yours Faithfully
A. Inglis Clark

3 November 1899
My dear Chief Justice,
It is now nearly two months since I received an American newspaper containing an announcement of your appointment to the office of Chief Justice of Massachusetts. Since then I have been twice on circuit and have been compelled to postpone all my private correspondence until I found myself settled at home again for a few weeks, otherwise I should have sent my congratulations to you by an earlier mail.
I have not anything new in my own life to tell you. I often wish that you were much nearer to me than you are so that I might discuss a point of law with you. A short time ago I differed from my colleagues on a question relating to the distribution of the assets of a deceased insolvent who left personal property in several colonies in which there was a conflict of laws. I found several American decisions in support of my opinion but we could not discover any English authority directly on the point.
If at any time you deliver a judgement on a point of common law in which you think I would be interested I shall be pleased to receive a copy of it if it is reported in a form convenient for transmission by post.
My wife wishes me to convey to you her congratulations and we both desire you to convey out kind remembrances to Mrs Holmes.
I am
Your Sincerely
A. Inglis Clark

26 October 1901
My dear Chief Justice,
I have postponed the writing of this reply to your last letter to me until I had a copy of my book to send to you. The publication of it was delayed by various causes for a period of three months beyond the date at which I expected it to appear. But I am pleased to be able to say that the wearisome [sic] work of correcting proof sheets and compiling index etc has come to an end, and I am sending a copy of the book to you with this letter.
The Federal Judiciary Bill has not yet been introduced into the Federal Parliament. On that I have nothing to report to you about the Federal Bench. There are abundant indications of work for the High Court as soon as the Judges are appointed.
The people of Australia were all greatly horrified [sic] to hear of the assassination of President McKinley and they hope that the American people will take effective steps to put down the propaganda of anarchism.
I suppose that you had a good time in England. I often wish that Australia was as near to California as Massachusetts is to England. I should then see Boston every three or four years, and would probably be preparing now for a journey there early next year. But I must bow to the geographical configuration of the earth and all its consequences and must wait in patience until my time to cross the Pacific Ocean again arrives. My wife sends her kindest remembrances to Mrs Holmes and yourself.
I am
Ever Sincerely Yours
A. Inglis Clark

Oliver Wendell Holmes to Clark
Commonwealth of Massachusetts,
Supreme Judicial Court,
Court House Boston
March 1901
Dear Judge,
I hope I shall find your book awaiting me on my return from England to which pleasing centre of Evil doing I purpose to turn my weary steps on the 22nd for a short vacation. I have been pretty hard at work since September 1, the beginning of our Judicial year and shall be glad to forget law and all the frets of daily life in the wash of the ocean and the whirl of London.
I have done little outside of the law. A little – very little – touch of the Latin classics now then – a tribute to advancing time – as I shouldn’t have wished to die without having read Lucretius or quite as ignorant of Horace as I was. I actually recurred a day or two ago to the Aeneid, after 50 years, and read some of it this morning before coming here to my shop. I even found myself enjoying it – I have always suspected people of Cant who said they did and this is my punishment.
I don’t remember whether I sent you a little introduction that I wrote to an Edition of Montesquieu’s Esprit des Lois – it was written a year ago and I had a very few extra copies with too pretentious a title page for which I am not responsible. I send one by this mail.
I don’t think of any event in which I have taken part that would interest you except perhaps the universal difficulties of Marshall on Feb 4 . From one point of view right enough – but in the personal estimate rather indiscriminate – I hope when you write Constitutional decisions you will not emulate some of our judges who having only half a page to say take 50 pages to say it in – I was remarking yesterday to one of my brethren that we appreciate the boa constrictor but not the asp here. For my part I prefer an unpretentious little thing virulent with originality and insight to these swelling discourses padded with quotations form every accessible source. However I must go to work. We always recall the visit of you and Mrs Clark with great pleasure and hope that some day it may be repeated. 
Sincerely yours
O.W. Holmes
Clark's letters to Holmes are held in the Holmes papers in the Harvard Law School Library, Box 39, Folder 19. They are also on microfilm.

Agnes McLaren's letter to her brother Andrew Inglis Clark, 1897

5 Peterboro Street,
March 17th 1897

My dear Andrew,

As Duncan told me at lunch time that a mail left tonight to catch the "Monowai" I thought I would just drop a line to wish you all "bon voyage". I always feel pleased when travelling to get a word at any of the stopping places and concluded that you might feel somewhat similar. I was sorry to hear that your health had not been satisfactory of late. Nothing is so much to be desired as health i.e. so far as this world goes, and I sincerely hope that your rest and change will completely set you up for years if it is our Lord's will to tarry, but my firm conviction is that his coming is much nearer than the vast majority expect or imagine, and my sincere prayers for yourself and all near and dear to you is that you may be found ready "when He comes." I do hope that you got into Auckland in day-light for I am sure that Grace and all of you would enjoy the scenery. It was truly grand in my opinion, in fact I admired it really more than the entrance to Sydney with all its boasted beauty. From the papers I learnt that your visit is principally to America, will you go to Florida and see cousin John Inglis or will that be too far away. I used to correspond with him regularly but have had so many household duties etc of late years that I got quite careless about letter-writing excepting to our own folks at the old house at home. Oh Andrew what changes have taken place there since I left. I often picture it without dear mother and I cannot think it can be home at all now, and then poor old Grandpa and now Harry Minnis gone it must be truly desolate especially to his poor mother. I often think of her and wish she would go for a thorough change tho' of course I know time or place would not matter to her, the sorrow would go with her anywhere and everywhere. Mr. and Mrs. Stead and family are going by the same steamer as yourselves. They expect to be away eight or nine months. He too has not been well for some time and is seeking rest and change. No doubt it is very desirable when folks are worn in either mind or body but I am so nervous about all these wars and rumours of wars that I should anticipate all sorts of dangers and mishaps, of course it is foolish in a sense for the Lord can and will guard and protect his own at all times and under all circumstances. Duncan often says to me "I wonder if it will ever be our turn Aggie to have a real rest or change", but I say not at all likely, I believe it will be our lot to work 'til the end of the chapter. My great hope is that our health may be spared to work on as long as we are in the body, but neither D[uncan] nor myself have been at all well lately. We are of course breaking up and cannot expect any other at our age. I feel sorry often when he seems depressed about getting into years and nothing to fall back upon after as he says we have both been such white slaves for so many years, but I have such faith in the Lord's coming at an early date that I don't seem to think about old age and want. I just crave for strength to work on until the time comes to be taken away. I only meant to write a few words and here I am running on like I do to Annie when once I start. Give my love to Grace and the boys and tell them that I hope they will thoroughly enjoy themselves and see everything worth seeing at the various places of call. Duncan sends kind regards to all and every wish for your thorough enjoyment of the trip. He has been greatly depressed since Clara's death, it gave us both a shock which you can easily imagine. This letter must do for both you and Grace and now again hoping you will both derive great benefit from the rest etc. I am
with much love

Your affectionate sister
               Agnes McLaren
Agnes Clark, Andrew Inglis Clark's sister