LYNCH, Arthur Alfred (1861-1934)


LYNCH, Arthur Alfred (1861-1934)
philosophical and miscellaneous writer
was born at Smythesdale near Ballarat, Victoria, in 1861. He never used his second name. His father, a civil engineer who had fought at the Eureka Stockade, was Irish, his mother was Scotch. He was educated at Grenville College, Ballarat, and the university of Melbourne, where he took the degrees of B.A. in 1885 and M.A. in 1887. He also qualified as a civil engineer and practised this profession for a short period in Melbourne. About 1890 he went to Berlin, studied scientific subjects and psychology, and going on to London took up journalism. In 1892 he contested Galway as a Parnellite candidate but was defeated. In 1899 he was Paris correspondent for a London daily paper and, his sympathy being with the Boers in the war, he decided to go to South Africa to see events close at hand. He went as a war correspondent, and making his way to Pretoria met General Botha, decided to throw in his lot with the Boers, and organized a troop of Irishmen, Cape colonists and others, whose sympathies were opposed to the British. He was given the rank of colonel and saw much active service. From South Africa Lynch went to the United States, and returning to Paris, stood for Galway in November 1901 as a nationalist candidate and was elected in his absence. On going to London he was arrested, held in gaol for eight months, tried for treason before three judges, and on 23 January 1903 was found guilty and sentenced to be hanged. This sentence was immediately commuted to penal servitude for life, and a year later Lynch was released on licence by the Balfour government. In July 1907 he was given a free pardon, and in 1909 was elected a member of the house of commons for West Clare, Ireland. He held this seat until 1918, and during the war did good service for the British government. In his autobiography he claims that he was one of the earliest to fight for unity of command. He was given the rank of colonel and endeavoured to enlist men in Ireland for the allied cause without success. After losing his seat in 1918 Lynch, who had qualified as a physician many years before, practised in London at Haverstock Hill. He died in London on 25 March 1934. He married in 1895 Annie daughter of the Rev. John D. Powell, a marriage that "never lost its happiness" (My Life Story, p. 85). He had no children.
Lynch wrote and published a large number of books ranging from poetry to an attempt to refute Einstein's theory of Relativity. His verse was clever and satirically Byronic, and his essays and studies show much reading and acuteness of mind. E. Morris Miller, himself a professor of philosophy, mentions Lynch's "high reputation as a critical and philosophical writer especially for his contributions to psychology and ethics" (Australian Literature, p. 273). His book on Relativity can be read only by people with the necessary mathematical equipment, but Lynch rated it as one of his best pieces of work. His publications include Modern Authors (1891), Approaches the Poor Scholar's Quest of a Mecca (1892), A Koran of Love (1894), Our Poets (1894), Religio Athletae (1895), Human Documents (1896), Prince Azreel (1911), Psychology; A New System, 2 vols. (1912), Purpose and Evolution (1913), Sonnets of the Banner and the Star (1914), Ireland: Vital Hour (1915), Poppy Meadows, Roman Philosophique (1915), La Nouvelle Ethique (1917), L'Evolution dons ses Rapports avec l'ethique (1917), Moments of Genius (1919), The Immortal Caravel (1920), Moods of Life (1921), O'Rourke the Great (1921), Ethics, an Exposition of Principles (1922), Principles of Psychology (1923), Seraph Wings (1923), My Life Story (1924), Science, Leading and Misleading (1927), The Rosy Fingers (1929), The Case Against Einstein (1932). Some of these volumes are difficult to procure, and it was not possible to consult all of them.
Lynch was an able writer with an acute, honest and unusual mind, but he was a little like the Irish immigrant who asked whether there was a government in this country "because if so I am against it". There was also a touch of Don Quixote in him; but if in tilting against windmills he was sometimes unhorsed, he bore no malice against anyone. He more than once in his writings refers to his love for his native country, but there is little or no trace of his early environment in his work. He would probably have had a higher standing had he specialized in one direction.
My Life Story; The Times, 26 March 1934; The Bulletin, 4 February 1904; Calendar of the University of Melbourne, 1888.

Dictionary of Australian Biography by PERCIVAL SERLE. . 1949.

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