Captain Goldsmith’s humorous remark at Wm Bunster’s dinner 1841

Title: Currie’s Family Hotel
Publisher: [Hobart, Tas. : s.n., between 1876 and 1890]
Description: 1 photographic print mounted on cardboard : sepia toned ; 11 x 19 cm ; on mount 26 x 31 cm
Format: Photograph
ADRI: AUTAS001126251487
Source: Allport Library and Museum of Fine Arts
Notes: Exact measurements 106 x 182 mm
“Hobart Currie’s Hotel, Murray Street [at the site of] Carr Field House built by George Carr Clark on this site in 1824. The Union Club Hotel took over this building (the one at the back of the picture) and it later became Currie’s Commercial Hotel in 1873 and later still in 1890 the Metropolitan Hotel. Eventually the site for Johnston & Miller Ltd and later Myer”

Captain William Bunster (1793-1854) – a successful merchant and one of the earliest colonists of Van Diemen’s Land – was given a convivial farewell dinner at the Union Club in Hobart, Tasmania, which The Mercury reported in some detail on March 2nd, 1841. The occasion was to mark his final farewell to the colony; he was not to know at that dinner that he would be returning within two years.

Among the 35 or so members at the dinner was Elizabeth Rachel Nevin’s uncle, Captain Edward Goldsmith, master and commander of the barque, the Wave on which the Bunster family (his wife Anna and four sons) would voyage to England, departing on 14th March and arriving on 22 July 1841.

Departed on the Wave, Cpt Goldsmith, 14 March 1841
SHIPPING INTELLIGENCE. (1841, March 16). The Courier (Hobart, Tas. : 1840 – 1859), p. 2. Retrieved April 21, 2014, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article2956816

The Club Dinner
William Bunster was not the only funster to be feted with cheering and laughter during the toasts and speeches. Captain Goldsmith said he would be happy to take them all home back to England, which was greeted with great mirth, and the newly appointed Solicitor-General Horne took the opportunity to bask in the company’s praise while refuting his detractors. Beneath the  sentiments of these speeches, however, lie  the undertones of political tensions in the colony affecting each dinner attendee associated with the increasing unpopularity of the Union Club’s patron and governor of VDL, Sir John Franklin. His dismissal of senior officials from key government posts, including the colonial secretary Montagu, the previous solicitor-general Jones, and the convict discipline manager Forster, was the subject of vituperative attacks in the press amidst other charges of petticoat domination by his wife Jane Franklin from her alleged improper influence in government business. Little wonder that Captain Goldsmith would not only suggest but offer these powerful men a convenient exit, and not entirely in jest. By 1843, Sir John Franklin would be censured and recalled, and Captain Goldsmith would live to recount his affections for the Franklins in his retirement (1856) to his most attentive neighbour Charles Dickens  at Gadshill, Kent, scraps and morsels of which would appear in fellow literati Wilkie Collin’s drama of John Franklin’s disappearance in the Canadian Arctic, The Frozen Deep (1856).  Their performances in the play bookend the 2013 film The Invisible Woman  (dir. Ralph Fiennes).

Captain Goldsmith’s humorous remark about repatriation at the Union Club
The Courier, 2 March 1841

The Vice-president gave “Captain Goldsmith, and success to the Wave” – (cheers.)
Captain Goldsmith returned thanks, and in conclusion humourously remarked, that he should be glad to take home to England with him all parties present – (great cheering and laughter.)

TRANSCRIPT

UNION CLUB.
ON Friday last a number of gentlemen, members of the Union Club and private friends of W. Bunster, Esq., entertained that gentleman to dinner, previously to his departure for England, in order to mark no less their personal regard for him, than the high esteem in which they hold his character as one of the oldest colonists of Van Diemen’s Land. Although the day was very unfavourable, there were about thirty-five members present, who sat down to dinner at about half-past six; W. Walkinshaw, Esq., acted as Chairman, and T. Hewitt, Esq., as Vice. On the cloth being removed, the following is the order of the toasts,which were drank with all honors:

“The Queen and Prince Albert.”
“His Excellency Sir John Franklin, Patron of the Union Club.”
“Lady Franklin and the Ladies of Van Diemen’sLand.”

The chairman then rose and said – It now became his duty to propose a toast which was intimately connected with the occasion of their meeting that day, and which he was sure would be very gratefully received by all who then heard him, not however unmingled with some feeling of regret, that they were about to lose from amongst them the object of that toast – one whom they had known so long, and esteemed so much for his private worth and for the independence and honesty which had ever marked his character – he meant the health of William Bunster – (great cheering.) He trusted, however, that they would again have the opportunity of seeing him in Van Diemen’s Land – not that they did not wish him and his amiable family all health and happiness wherever they went (cheers) – but because thay could but ill spare so good a fellow-colonist from their ranks – (great cheering.) He could but renew that expression of his own, and the wishes of all present, for his welfare and that of all his family, no matter in what clime, and begged at once to propose the health of their brother member and fellow colonist, William Bunster, – (renewed cheering, which lasted for several minutes.)

W. Bunster, Esq., rose, apparently much moved, and said – Mr. Chairman and gentlemen, I did intend to have said something in return for the honor you have done me, but I feel overpowered at your kindness and the thought of losing so many friends. (The worthy gentleman sat down amidst the hearty salutations of all present, upon whom the plain language of the heart told with greater effect than could the most moving eloquence.)

The vice-president subsequently proposed the health of Mrs. Bunster, which was very cordially received.

Mr. Bunster said, that having rallied a little, as it was only becoming he should in the cause of the ladies, he begged to return them his most hearty thanks for the manner in which they had drank Mrs. Bunster’s health. “Believe me,” said he, “I shall always feel great pleasure in remembering Van Diemen’s Land when I am far from you; my only regret is, that I am leaving it at all; but that is neither here nor there; calls of duty must be obeyed, no matter at what sacrifice of personal feeling. I have lived in this colony for twenty-five years; therefore I may be supposed to know something about it, (some one here cried out, ‘You will be a friend to its reputation in England’); yes, that I will,” continued Mr. Bunster, “I could not be otherwise. I am a plain man, and can at all events speak with the feelings of a father – I have a pride, and an honest pride, in Van Diemen’s Land. I have lived long enough to see a young race springing up in the colony, and a finer race does not exist in the world – (cheers.) I think I stated in this club on some former occasion, that a finer race of children is to be found in no other part of the globe, and the daughters of Tasmania may compare in beauty with those of their parent country – (cheers.) We shall not allow our sons or our daughters to be abused or traduced by a parcel of jobbers. I have tried to steer an independent course. I owe nothing to Government, or any man. When I see, therefore, so many friends around me, I am bound to believe they approve that line of conduct, and if I who deserve so little get so much of your approbation, after all it must be said that honesty is respected in Van Diemen’s Land – (cheers.) I have known my friend in the chair for upwards of twenty years, and under various circumstances, but whether in prosperity or the reverse, he has been the same; for however the times might change, his principles were ever fixed, firmly fixed, upon the foundation of honor, (great applause), and I rejoice exceedingly to see him here this day, as well as all of you present. Reciprocating your kind wishes expressed towards myself and family, I beg to drink all your good healths – (great applause.)

The Chairman begged to propose a toast. He was happy to perceive amongst them Mr. Horne, the Solicitor General, whose health he was about to give – (great cheering.) All of them had long known and respected him as a fellow-colonist, and an able member of the bar. Without further comment he would now propose his health as Solicitor-General of Van Diemen’s Land. (Loud cheers followed upon this announcement, which were continued for some time, and it seemed that all parties were the most anxious to evince their feelings towards Mr. Horne, in consequence of the infamous attacks lately levelled against him from a contemptible quarter.)

The Solicitor-General returned thanks. He said that so unexpected was the honour that had just been conferred upon him, that although he of all men could not avail himself of the plea of being unaccustomed to public speaking, yet he was really at a loss for words to express his sentiments on this occasion. It was, however, a matter of infinite gratification to him to find that, surrounded as he was by so much of the wealth, intelligence, and public virtue of this Island, his name had been received in so flattering a manner. He should, indeed, never cease to remember the occasion with feelings of gratitude. (Mr. Horne sat down amidst loud cheers.)

The Vice-president gave “Captain Goldsmith, and success to the Wave” – (cheers.)
Captain Goldsmith returned thanks, and in conclusion humourously remarked, that he should be glad to take home to England with him all parties present – (great cheering and laughter.)

Mr. T. MacDowell gave “Mr. Rand and the Agricultural  Interest of Van Diemen’s Land.”
In the absence of Mr. Rand, Mr. Francis Bryant returned thanks.

The Sollcitor-General, in an able speech, gave “The Mercantile Interest of Van Diemen’s Land”
Mr. Bilton returned thanks.
The healths of the President and Vice-President were subsequently proposed, and received with all honours; after which the festivities of the evening were prolonged to a late hour.

Source:UNION CLUB. (1841, March 2). The Courier (Hobart, Tas. : 1840 – 1859), p. 2. Retrieved April 21, 2014, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article2956930

Dinner service (bowl with lid) used by the Union Club, embellished with the motto “Ships, Colonies, Commerce”. Manufactured by Minton & Boyle (mark underneath).
This item is held at the Allport Museum, State Library of Tasmania
Photo copyright © KLW NFC 2015

The Bunster Family
For a comprehensive account of William Bunster and his family, the fate of his house called Hollydene at 33 Campbell St. Hobart and his estate holdings, visit the website Heaven and Hell Together.

Hollydene, 33 Campbell St, Hobart Tasmania
Postcard ca. 1900
TAHO Ref: AUTAS001612539547
http://stors.tas.gov.au/AUTAS001612539547

The carte-de-visite below of postage stamp sized portraits of the Bunster and Young families (unattributed) was most likely the work of William Bock.

An unattributed novelty carte-de-visite with postage stamp sized portraits, probably the work of William Bock , 1863, while apprenticed to his brother Alfed Bock at the City Photographic Establishment. As Alfred Bock’s financial circumstances worsened and the dispute with Frith over the sennotype claims deepened, he advertised a greater variety of formats and novelties. His brother William Bock, who would devote the rest of his life to the production of stamps, may have devised the novelty of autograms, or postage stamps portraits, advertised on 19th October 1863.

Title: Photograph – various portrait of men (unidentified)
Description: 1 photographic print
Format: Photograph
ADRI: NS3210-1-27
Source: Archives Office of Tasmania
Series: Photographs of the Bunster and Young Families, 1850 – 1919 (NS3210)