Sir Henry Parkes

(1815 - 1896 / Australia)

Sir Henry Parkes
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Henry Parkes was born to a family of yeoman stock in Warwickshire, England in 1815. Unfortunately, falling wheat prices forced the family to leave the land and seek employment in Birmingham. In 1836 Parkes married Clarinda Varney and they applied for assisted passage to Australia, the death of two of their infant children and a failed business venture influencing their decision.

Arriving in Australia, he found work as a farm labourer, but low wages did not appeal! Renewing his old interest in politics, he went to work for the Customs Department in Sydney. Over the next few years he went into business for himself and at one stage owned the Empire newspaper. Through this period be ... more »

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  • With our splendid harbour, our beautifully situated city, our vast territories, all our varied and inexhaustible natural wealth, if we don't convert our colony into a great and prosperous nation, it w...
    Henry Parkes (1815-1896), British-born Australian statesman. Speech, March 16, 1867, Melbourne, Australia. On the colony of New South Wales.
  • ''Our business being to colonize the country, there was only one way to do it—by spreading over it all the associations and connections of family life.''
    Henry Parkes (1815-1896), British-born Australian statesman. speech, Aug. 14, 1866, to New South Wales Legislative Assembly.
  • I have been disappointed in all my expectations of Australia, except as to its wickedness; for it is far more wicked than I have conceived it possible for any place to be, or than it is possible for m...
    Henry Parkes (1815-1896), British-born Australian statesman. Letter, May 1, 1840. An Emigrant's Home Letters (1896). Written a year after Parkes a...
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Best Poem of Sir Henry Parkes


Where the mocking lyre-bird calls
To its mate among the falls
Of the mountain streams that play,
Each adown its tortuous way;
When the dewy-fingered even
Veils the narrowed glimpse of heaven,
Where the morning re-illumes
Gullies full of ferny plumes,
And the roof of radiance weaves
Through high-hanging vault of leaves;
There ’mid giant turpentines,
Groups of climbing, clustering vines,
Rocks that stand like sentinels
Guarding native citadels,
Lowly flowering shrubs that grace
With their beauty all the place,
There I love to wander lonely
With ...

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