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following pages have been written in the belief that a biography of Sir Henry Parkes is called for, and that it will prove interesting and instructive to all who appreciate important public services and admire great careers.
For nearly half a century Sir Henry Parkes was a conspicuous figure in Australian public life, and, for much of that period, by far the most prominent.
Thus it was that on July 27th, 1839, the day after the barque Strathfieldsaye entered Port Jackson with 203 immigrants on board, including Henry Parkes and his wife, and one child born off Cape Howe, this paragraph appeared in the Sydney Herald:- "IMMIGRATION.
The following is an abstract of the immigrants by the ship Strathfieldsaye, which arrived on Thursday, and is now lying off Walker's Wharf: 29 married and 54 single farm labourers and shepherds; one married and 4 single carpenters; one single printer; 3 single gardeners; and one lawyer, one shoemaker, ONE TURNER, one painter, one whitesmith, one saddler, and one mason—all married; 21 dairymaids and female farm servants; 9 house servants and 2 needlewomen—singlewomen.
But while in the modest structure near Hamilton Lane, and long before a journalistic career was decided upon, it was a common thing to see the young turner hard at work at his lathe, with, more frequently than not, by his side or on the bench in front of him, the newspaper, which as his work would allow, he intently perused.These people having arrived by a bounty ship are not allowed by the Governor to enter the building erected for the use of immigrants, and therefore we earnestly recommend those persons who are in want of servants to engage them as early as possible in order to prevent them from falling into that distress which is inevitable if they remain long disengaged." The young immigrant—he was but 24 years of age—suffered many hardships during the first few years after his arrival in Sydney.It was not easy for him to obtain permanent and suitable employment, and he followed two or three occupations before he was, in colonial parlance, able to settle down.He sometimes told a public assembly of how useful to him was the finding of a sixpence in one of the streets of Sydney soon after he set foot for the first time on Australian soil.Previous to his coming to New South Wales he followed the occupation of a Birmingham mechanic,—a worker in ivory; and a glimpse of his life in the great English manufacturing town may be caught in the picture presented by some lines entitled, "Home of a Birmingham Artisan, twenty years ago", which appear in a small volume of poems he published in 1857:- "One of a brick-built row in street retired, A lowly dwelling, so for comfort plann'd, No foot of room was lost; in nothing grand; Yet wanting nought which humble heart desired.