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Montague David (Monty) Miller (1839–1920)

from Sunday Mirror

A Great Veteran in the People's Cause—Passes Away at Advanced Age— Impressive Scene at Graveside—Funeral Oration Delivered by Thos. Walker, M.L.A.

The death took place in Perth last Wednesday of Montague Miller, the Grand Old Man of more than one advanced movement in Australia, the reverenced father-in-spirit of many thousands of young Australians whose lives are ruled by the glorious aspiration

"That man must follow freedom,
Tho' she lead thro' blood and fire."

Mr. Miller—Comrade Miller, as he would have us call him—was 89 years of age. He was born in N.S.W., but as a mere boy ran away from his apprenticeship and set out on the track for Port Phillip—alone. The incidents of his truly remarkable journey, and of his subsequent adventures in the, then, new settlements, of the part he played in the Eureka Stockade, of his gradual absorption in progressive political movements, we prefer to allow the reader to learn from the deceased's own pen—for his autobiography was the work that engaged the last months of his life, months that he spent, the complete possession of all his wonderful mental capabilities, and in the full knowledge that the end was close at hand. Almost to the last he met his friends with all the cheer that his nature possessed in his days of health and strength, and but a few days before he breathed his last he desired a lifelong friend to make it known that he died "in atheistic fortitude, and in the strength derived from the glory of a materialistic philosophy."

The funeral arrangements were both simple and impressive. A single-horsed lorry, devoid of any conventional trappings, conveyed the casket to the Karrakatta Cemetery. The coffin was painted red, and a silver plaque announced the name and age of its occupant. A large number of wreaths—white wreaths from private friends, wreaths of blood-red blooms from his socialist comrades, and a chaplet of gum leaves, plucked from a tree which was transplanted from the site of Eureka—from the Y.A.L. The coffin was lifted on to a handtruck, and wheeled to the undenominational section of the cemetery, where a large gathering of friends and admirers, most of who wore red flowers or ribbons as insignia of their Socialist faith, listened to a most impressive graveside oration by Thomas Walker, M.L.A., one of the lifelong friends of the departed democrat.

"Comrades," said Mr. Walker, "I call you comrades because that is the term that Monty would have used himself—when the departed asked me, a few days ago to speak at the last sad offices by the graveside, he desired me to read some verses that he handed to me—a dirge suitable for the graveside." 

Lay him low, his work is done,
He was wearied, lay him low,
Where the bright flowers woo the sun,
Where the balmy breezes blow.

Where the butterfly takes wing,
Where the drooping branches grow,
Where the song birds sweetest sing,
He was wearied, lay him low.

He has striven, hard and long,
In this world's unequal fight,
Always to resist the wrong,
Always to maintain the right.

Always with a brave, stout heart.
Giving, taking blow for blow,
Comrades, he has played his part,
He was wearied, lay him low.

Shield and buckler, hang them up,
Drape his red flag on the wall,
He has drained life's mortal cup,
To its finish, dregs and all.

Now that all his work is done,
It is best that he should go,
Where the bright flowers woo the sun,
For his long rest lay him low.

"For forty years," Mr. Walker continued, "have I known Montague Miller—brave, strong, faithful through the battle of life. Time merely ripened his youthful ideals into a strong, firm philosophy. His life is a lesson and an inspiration to us all to know, to love, to tell the Truth.

How easy it would have been for Miller to compromise! But he was a hero, to face the truth, to reverence and obey it. During his life he shrank from no sacrifice; nay, rather did he court martyrdom itself. When I think of all he has suffered, I envy him because he did not fear death? It may be the door to pleasures and joys of which our minds, cumbered with fleshy limitations, can have no conception: or, if it is a slumber, as Monty thought, how serene, how undisturbed that rest!

Here at the graveside of our comrade, let us formulate the hope that we may learn to emulate the example of his life, and swear comradeship to each other that we may find renewed strength to engage in the task of helping our brethren in suffering around us."

While the casket was being lowered into the grave red blooms and badges, books of "Socialist Songs'' and other tokens of Socialist faith were showered upon it by many of the mourners, and the words of the "Red Flag" were chanted softly before the gathering dispersed.

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Citation details

'Miller, Montague David (Monty) (1839–1920)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 14 April 2024.

© Copyright Obituaries Australia, 2010-2024

Life Summary [details]


7 July, 1839
Clarendon, Tasmania, Australia


17 November, 1920 (aged 81)
Perth, Western Australia, Australia

Religious Influence

Includes the religion in which subjects were raised, have chosen themselves, attendance at religious schools and/or religious funeral rites; Atheism and Agnosticism have been included.

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