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What is health?

A Bruegel image of the Great Plague

During these difficult times it is apposite that we give close and sustained attention to what it really means to be human on this planet. When we take a longer view, that is perhaps two or three millennia, we begin to take notice of our vulnerabilities. With this in mind I offer readers a perspective on human health which was written in 1683. It is today a refreshing look at who we are and how we behave.

Think carefully about your health

‘Who is he that values health at the rate it is worth? Not he that hath it; he reckons it among the common ordinary enjoyment’s and takes as little notice of it than his long worn clothes; perhaps more careful of his garments , remembering their price; but thinks health cost him nothing and coming to him at so easy a rate values it accordingly, and hath little regard to keep it, is never truly sensible of what he enjoyed until he finds the want of it by sickness; then health, above all things, is earnestly desired and wished for.’

You that have health and know how to prize it, I’ll tell you what it is that you may love it better, put a higher value upon it , and endeavour to preserve it with a more serious  stricter observance and tuition.

‘Health is that which makes your bed easy and your sleep refreshing; that revives your strength with the rising sun, and makes you cheerful at the light of another day; tis that which fills up the hollow and uneven places of your carcase, and males your body plump and comely, ‘tis that which dresses You up in Nature’s richest attire, and adorns your face with the choicest colours.’

‘Tis that which makes fertile and increases the natural endowments of your mind, and preserves them long from decay; makes your wit acute and your memory retentive.’

‘Tis that which makes the soul delight in her mansion, sporting herself at the casements of your eyes.’

Tis that which makes pleasure to be pleasure, and delights delightful, without which you can solace yourself in nothing of terrene felicities or enjoyment’s.’

Did‘But now take a view of yourself when health has turned its back upon you, and deserts your company; see, then, how the scene is changed; how you are robbed and spoiled of all your comforts and enjoyment’s.’

‘Sleep  that was stretched out from evening to to the fair bright day is now broken into pieces and subdivided, not worth the accounting; the night that before seemed short is now too long, and the downy bed presseth hard against the bones.’

‘Exercise is now toyling and walking abroad the carrying of a burden.’

‘The eye that flashed as lightning is now like the poaceous body of a thick cloud, that rolled from east to west swifter than a celestial orb, is now tired and weary standing still; that which penetrated the centre of another microcosm, hath lost its planetary influence, and is becoming obtuse and dull.’

We may as likely keep or acquire riches by prodigality as preserve health and obtain long life by intemperance, inordinate passions, a noxious air, and such like injurious customs, ways, and manner of living.’


Charles John Kemeys Tynte


La Grande Semaine

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As we come to the close of the month of July I was reminded yesterday that one or two people named on the Adelaide Streets at first European settlement have some history when it comes to advanced ideas of democracy, and the eventual liberation of the French people. Yesterday was July 30th and  by happenstance it was the 188th birthday of the ‘July Uprising of 1830, a Three Day War’ where blood was further spilt on the streets of Paris some forty years after the French Revolution. Strangely, there is a remote connection between this event and the lives of some of the men and women first named on the streets of Adelaide in May 1837.

This short conflict arose right at the time that the National Colonization Society, from which South Australia sprang had just formed in London under the aegis of Edward Gibbon Wakefield through his cypher Robert Gouger, Colonel Robert Torrens, Wilmot Horton MP and a number of young intellectuals in in London. Some of the younger men who had joined the Colonization Society were of Huguenot extraction and felt it necessary to drop everything in London, including the ‘colonization project’ to scramble across the Channel where they took up arms and helped man the barricades in the name of Liberty. They were stoutly led by John Sterling and some of the other young intellectuals of the Cambridge school. These were intellectuals in contact with people like Wordsworth, Coleridge, Southey and the American writer, Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Coincidently a young man named Charles John Kemys Tynte was in Paris at the time acting as an observer. His family name is perpetuated in Tynte Street, North Adelaide. On his return to England and confining himself to the things he witnessed during the upheaval, he published a small book entitled A Sketch of the Late Revolution in France or La Grande Semaine which I commend to readers. Tynte was elected to the Reform Parliament of 1833 and is here pictured sitting in the House of Commons. It is very likely that he voted in support of the South Australian Act of 1834.

Charles John Kemys Tynte MP the son, was born at Halswell House, near Goathurst, Somerset in the year 1800. This puts him in the same age bracket as most of the younger and more influential members of the street naming committee. He was the only son and heir to Charles Kemeys Kemys Tynte and followed him into parliament in the seat of Somerset West which he held through the halcyon days of the Philosophical Radicals between 1832 and 1837. Described as a liberal rather than a Whig, this definition places him firmly among those in this book who are centre stage and who are described as liberal radicals. Born to a life of privilege he was educated like his father at Eton and heir to three estates Halswell House in Bridgewater, Somerset, Cefn Mably in Glamorganshire and Burleigh Hall Loughborough in Leicestershire.
In the Preface he wrote

‘The following sketch of [La Grande Semaine ] as it is universally designated in Paris, is compiled almost entirely from my own observations and notes upon the spot. I was residing in the immediate environs of Paris on the road to St Cloud, at the period of the Revolution, and was in the city during the days of the struggle, and witnessed many of the subsequent skirmishes and various other proceedings at St Cloud and Sevres. ……I have not proceeded with the account beyond the termination of [the week;] as the very stirring and animated scenes of battle that occupied that week are rather too exciting, to preface in a hasty brochure……. May his reign [Loius Philippe, Duc d’Orleans]prove a prosperous and glorious one to himself and the brave people who have called him to so high a Destiny.’

Richmond , September 24th 1830[i]

So close to the action was Charles during this time that his description of events is both riveting and horrifying. Toward the end of July 1830 he wrote

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                             The July Revolution 1830 by Eugene_Dèlacroix

 ‘From this period may be dated an organized resistance, and the commencement of the general battle. In this attack of the people on the police, two gens-d’armes were dismounted, and instantly trampled to death. Many of the old national guard now appeared in uniform, completely armed, ranging themselves with, and assuming command over the people. The students from the Polytechnic School, from the Colleges of Law and Medicine, numerous half pay officers, and hundreds of well dressed men well equipped were now mingling gradually, but rapidly with the populace. General Dubourg making his appearance, was entreated to take command, which he accepted, and, from his experience and conduct, a distinct order of battle was organized and assumed. Those armourers’ shops that hitherto escaped, were now completely cleared, and, in many instances, considerable sums of money left in the hands of the astonished proprietors. The Guards now fired frequently; and repeated charges of the Gens-d’armes and some Cuirassiers, drove the people into the narrow streets adjoining the Rue St. Honoré, who, retreating within the houses, showered tables, bedsteads, logs of firewood, and furniture of every description upon the military, and destroyed many……..The guard house was instantly set on fire, and the sparks and flames rising high, the night still being calm, were seen at a distance, and caused many reports that Paris was on fire……It was known that fresh troops were pouring into Paris, and General Dubourg now ordered the citizens to form working parties, to construct barricades; and many trees, the [pride of all Parisians]were immediately felled along the whole extent of the Boulevards. …Stones were also torn up from the pavement, and formed a kind of rampart wall as well as a ditch….The charges of cavalry by these precautions were rendered impracticable….. As an instance of the intense devotion which prevailed during the construction of the first barricade on the Boulevard Italien, a young student of medicine, who was mortally wounded by a musket ball whilst lifting a large shutter to place on the pile, fell, but dragging himself towards the barricade, entreated one of his comrades to throw his body on the rampart, that it might be useful to his country, after death.’ [ii]

Whether Robert Gouger personally knew Tynte junior at this point is not known but he was certainly fully committed and engaged on the streets of Paris. On the 30th of September 1830 an excited Gouger wrote from Lyons in France to his brother Alfred ‘I may now be considered a military man and you would think so if you saw my equipage. I have a good horse, and am clad in a cocked hat, with a tricoloured plume of feathers, laced surtout and jack boots.’[iii] As Bloomfield explains this was not so surprising given that Robert Gouger was ‘a Radical of French extraction (whose Huguenot family name had been Gougère) and with whom Wakefield had begun corresponding from Newgate’[iv] only a year or so earlier.

[i] Tynte, Charles John Kemys             A Sketch of the French Revolution

     London, William Marsh, 145 Oxford street, 1830, pp6,7

[ii] Tynte, Charles John Kemys            A Sketch of the French Revolution –

       London, William Marsh, 145 Oxford street, 1830, pp32-37

[iii] Hodder,Edwin., (Ed)                      The Founding of South Australia: As recorded in the            journals of Mr. Robert Gouger, First Colonial Secretary.

Sampson Low, Marston, & Co. London. 1898. p23

[iv] Bloomfield, Paul            Edward Gibbon Wakefield:Builder of the British Commonwealth

       Longmans, Green & Company, London 1961 p 98

Sir Richard Davies Hanson

A forgotten hero in Adelaide- South Australia

The Institute Building on Adelaide’s Cultural Boulevard

‘When he arrived in the colony Richard Davies Hanson had much to prove. His strident and some would say idiosyncratic views about religion were given immediate voice in the South Australian League for the Maintenance of Religious Freedom but he had other pastures to forage. He was a strong supporter of the South Australian Institute on North Terrace and Mechanics Institutes in general. Secular education, Lending Libraries and later the Philosophical Society all captured his attention. In his early years in Adelaide he was relentless in his pursuit of the separation of powers between Church and State and with his incisive legal mind took to Bishop Short’s proposal for the Anglican Cathedral to be built in Victoria Square with the tenacity of a bulldog. With a deep and comprehensive understanding of the original principles of the South Australian Commission, when the Bishop tried to take the City Corporation to Court over the matter, he successfully argued that the Anglican Church was not the State Church per say and there was no right in law for any religious body to build and own property on any part of the people’s parklands.’

If you wish to know more then please go to where you can purchase this beautifully illustrated three volume set of books containing nearly sixty biographies of the men and women named on Adelaide’s main streets and boulevards.


The Australian Election of 2016

Where has the eloquence of electioneering gone.

In a remarkable speech delivered on the hustings for the seat of Southwark in 1845 Sir William Molesworth reveals the magnitude of his vast intellect. The people of Adelaide should know that this man who is named in the streets of north Adelaide was an outstanding scholar who led the charge in the abolition of convict transportation.

(Mr Miall)……. ‘you have insinuated that some of Hobbes opinions lead to infidelity. I ask, is there a single work renowned in science, literature, or in art, against which a similar charge has not been brought by some narrow minded bigot? It is a well known historical fact that every great discovery in astronomy, in natural history, in chymestry, or in any of the physical sciences- that everything that has made us better acquainted with the heavens, with the earth, and with human nature- that every acquisition of knowledge which has tended to elevate humanity- every attempt at free inquiry, every effort to shake off the trammels of authority, has been successfully attacked by the ignorant and narrow-minded, as leading to infidelity. Under this malignant and accursed plea some of the greatest spirits of the human race have been persecuted and slain. Socrates was put to death as an infidel. He who first said there were antipodes was burnt. The followers of Copernicus were persecuted as disbelievers; and the great Galileo, on bended knees, was compelled to assert that the earth was immoveable. Bacon and Descartes were taxed with irreligion; the doctrines of Locke were said to lead to materialism; Newton was accused of dethroning the Deity for the discovery of the law of gravitation; a similar charge was made against Franklin for explaining the nature of the Thunderbolt; Priestley’s library was burnt and person endangered on account if his religious opinions; and in our own days, Buckland, Sedgwick, and the other geologists, are accused of overturning revelation by their discoveries with regard to the past existence of the earth. In short, in all ages, and among all nations, infidelity has ever been the war-cry which the base, the ignorant, the intolerant , and the canting tribe have raised against the great, the noble, and the generous spirits of the human race.

Sir William Molesworth Baronet

Nomination Speech at the Poll for Southwark Sep 10 1845.

To Mr. Miall- his nonconformist, but liberal opponent who accused him of being an infidel (non believer). 1

Cockburn, Sir John Alexander. (1850-1929)


Cockburn, Sir John Alexander. (1850-1929)

Premier of South Australia, was born at Corsbie, Berwickshire, Scotland, on the 23rd August 1850.  He was educated at Chomeley School Highgate, and became a medical student at Kings College, London(MD in 1874; and Fellow). In 1875 he migrated to South Australia, and whilst practicing medicine at Jamestown began to take an interest in municipal affairs; in 1877 he was elected mayor of the town.

In 1884 he entered  politics as member for Burra in the House of Assembly, and in the following year became Minister for Education in the first Downer Ministry, which resigned in June 1887. In April 1887 he had been elected for Mt Barker, a seat he held until he retired from politics.  He became Premier and Chief Secretary in June 1889, and during his 14 months in office passed some advanced measures, including Acts providing for succession duties and a progressive tax on unimproved land values. In June 1892, after two years in opposition, he became Chief Secretary in the Holder Ministry, which was defeated four months later.  He Joined the Kingston Ministry in June 1893 as Minister for Education and minister for Agriculture, and held those portfolios until April 1898, when he resigned to become Agent General for South Australia in London.

Cockburn took an important part in the federation movement, representing his colony at the Coventions in 1890, 1891 and 1897-8. Australian Federation , a collection of his articles and speeches on federation, was published in London in 1901.  As Minister of Education he instituted Arbor Day in South Australia, and had much to do with the founding of the South Australian School of Mines and Industries.  He worked for the payment of Members of Parliament, for women’s suffrage, and for the principle of ‘one man one vote’.  In addition to legislation for which he was personally responsible he was often the inspiration for advanced legislation that was finalised by others .

Although he resigned as Agent General in 1901 and did not return to Australia, Cockburn continued to show his interest in the country by representing the Commonwealth or South Australia at various international congresses, by presiding over the Australian Chamber of Commerce in London and writing on Australian subjects.  He was also on the London boards of directors of several Australian companies.   He died in London on 26th November 1929, and was survived by his wife Sarah Holdway, whom he had married in 1875, and one son and one daughter. He was created K.C.M.G in 1900.

Dr Jeff Nicholas

This site is about both History & Biography

The Victorian Commons

Researching the House of Commons, 1832-1868