Obituaries: Two remembrances of Clark.
The two obituaries appeared in the Launceston Daily Telegraph following Clark's death on 14 November 1907. Both are anonymous.
The "Personal Reminiscences' of 15 November 1907, appeared the day after Clark’s death. It may possibly have been written by E D Dobbie, who at the time was Solicitor-General of Tasmania, and was a close friend of Clark’s from the 1870s. On the same date, one might mention in passing, the Telegraph also printed a detailed obituary of Clark, which from its close description of Clark’s fierce style in Hobart Debating clubs in the 1870, and its close analysis of Clark’s political career and involvement in the federation movement, may also come from Dobbie’s hand.
The late Mr Justice Clark was a man of literary tastes and habits, and his library at ‘Rosebank’ is probably the most extensive collection of books of the higher forms of literature in Tasmania, and there are but few comprehensive private collections in Australia. It was in the rooms in which the books that he loved so well were carefully classified and shelved, and over the fireplace of which hung a portrait of Mazzini, that ‘A1’ as he was known to them, used to meet a very large circle of book friends. He and his library formed the centre of a strong literary coterie. In addition to his legal and public work he found time for and much pleasure in contributing to the proceedings of several literary societies. When in Hobart he was always ‘at home’ to his friends on Saturday evening. Those evenings were known to many Australians on the mainland, and as a matter of course they ‘passed on’ to ‘the Padre’, another familiar name bestowed by those who knew him intimately, any distinguished visitors coming this way. [The names of Alfred Deakin, Chief Justices Griffiths and Way, and Bernhard Wise are mentioned]
The letter of 16 November 1907 appeared in the weekly column, Our Hobart Letter
The style of this. and other weekly ‘letters’, is unmistakably that the Editor of the (Hobart) Tasmanian News, Alexander Hume. The special interest of both is their evocation of relaxed intimacy. They attest a side of Clark most evident otherwise in his poetry, and in intimate 1870s-80s letters to Clark from close friends in the Minerva coterie, especially from Joseph Witton, Walter Gill and George Edwards. (R. Ely)
Mr Justice Clark has joined the vast majority. When one first knew him he was plain Andrew Clark, a student, a worker, and a real, right-down good fellow. When two men can claim an acquaintance of nearly forty years, as was the case with Mr Justice Clark and the writer, they know something about one another. In the seventies a little coterie of young men – Mr Clark and the writer among the number – formed a kind of democratic society, the main object of which seemed to be to eat a rattling good dinner on the 4th of July, and listen to speeches which told the democracy to roll on and make the world its own. There were a few Hobart pressmen in that society. Ronald Smith and George Edwards were two. If there were any more one has forgotten them. Mr Clark, even at that time of day, was allowed to be the best speaker and the soundest reasoner of the bunch. Debating societies were strong in those days. The Scotch [that is, Presbyterian] Church of St John’s, Macquarie-street, had one attached to it, and to the best of one’s belief the present Solicitor-General [E D Dobbie, later a puisne judge of the Tasmanian Supreme Court] made his debut into the debating arena in this centre. By nature impetuous and impulsive, Andrew Clark made his presence felt on the debating floor. He was so thorough in working up his subject that it was extremely difficult for a superficial speaker, no matter how brilliant he might be as regards oratory, to get under his defence.
One could perceive in those days of long ago that Andrew Clark intended to launch on the political ocean when the time came along for him to do so. His close friends – those who knew him best – felt convinced that he would make his mark in the political world. One’s own impression is that he made a mistake ever to touch politics. His nature was too impressionable and his temperament too finely strung to stand political ricks. One has seen him in his finest moments in the House work himself up to a pitch of excitement that would try the nerves of a much stronger man to stand the racket. His strenuous work in reading for the law – he was touching thirty when he passed – must have told upon him. How he got into politics, what he did when he got there, and how he ascended the bench is now a matter of history and has been told in the newspapers time without number. A short time ago one met him in the street, when he remarked that his health was anything but good. ‘Why don’t you stop flogging hard?’, remarked one. ‘You have been doing it ever since I knew you. The string must crack someday.’ ‘I wish I could,’ was the reply. ‘Sometimes I try to go slow, because I think it is good for me, but there is always something coming along to upset me. It’s no use, my temperament is different to yours. You are philosophic, and philosophic men as a rule do not worry.’
As a man and a firm friend, Andrew Clark was all that could be wished. He never deserted an old friend, no matter how far apart they were divided by social surroundings. Many a man in this community has reason to bless the time that he secured him for a friend. He was not a rich man – judges very seldom are – still he gave freely where it was deserved. Regarding his social qualities these were large. He was a conversationalist of the first order of merit, and when one chatted with him round his own fireside one found out the richness of his strata of literary knowledge. He leaves a large circle of friends who will not easily forget him. Slowly, but surely, the little knot of good fellows that lived in the days when one was young are slipping away into the unknown.