Lyttelton Times, Volume V, Issue 269, 30 May 1855, Page 5
To the Editor of the LyHelton Times. Sib, —I have been in the habit of perusing your paper now for rather niore than two years, iiuring which period you have survived a variety of events and vicissitudes with a consistency candour and honesty no less creditable to yourself than gratifying'to the public. I would fain hope that such opinions as you have lately expressed are the presages of that happy epoch when the Press of Canterbury will no longer yield to her exclusive votaries upon the supposition that the public are incogitative, but on the contrary that she will stand forward as a monument of honesty and independence in imitation of those of her contemporaries in other countries which now form the corner-stones of a noble comprehensive and enlightened rule of Government and civilization. And this brings me to the point upon which I would like to dwell rather largely, and that isiipim the responsibility of Governments. The ends for which men unite in society, and submit to Government, are to enjoy secuiily to their property, and freedom to their persons from all injustice and violence. The move completely these ends
are obtained, with the least diminution of personal liberty, the nearer such Government approaches to perfection. I say approaches to it, for a perfect Government is a mere chimera. Before we can expect it to take place we must wait until we see any One thing whatsoever arrive at perfection on earth. The two extremes to be guarded against are despotism where all are slaves, and anarchy, where all would rule and none obey.
The British Government may appear at different periods to have inclined sometimes to the one and sometimes to the other of those extremes. In its present state it may be justly accounted to be removed to an equal distance from either of these evils, and therefore to have approached nearer to the perfection of social order than any other Government, ancient or modern. To this point it has arrived in the progress of ages, partly in consequence of theories formed by speculative men, such as some of our modern reformers, and partly in consequence of experiments made, and trials undergone. The British Constitution stands among the nations of the earth like an ancient oak in the wood, which after having overcome many a blast, overtops the other trees of the forest, and commands respect and veneration. All foreigners look to it with wonder, and with envy. Justly may they challenge those who attempt to criticise it to produce any example of such a multitude of men as the British subjects held together in the bonds of civil society under so few restraints, and with, such full enjoyment as they possess, blessed too with a sovereign at the heiid of the empire, to whom faction itself cannot impute throughout her reign any acts of tyranny, cruelty, or oppression, whose personal virtues and whose domestic conduct hold forth to the nation such a high example of piety, decency, and good order as, if generally followed, would render all her subjects happy.
Having taken a cursory glance at the British constitution, and the happy effects resulting from it, allow me likewise to take a cursory glance at the Constitution of New Zealand, so far as it relates to this Province, and in doing so I will endeavour to express myself as dispassionately as possible, with the assurance that the opinions I shall enunciate will be biassed by neither favour on the one hand nor fear on the other, consequently the fair corollary is that however peculiar they may be they will not be singular.
I will not trouble you with the conception of our Constitution, neither will I weary you with its unnatural birth, suffice it to say that after an illimitable consumption of anxiety and a total exhaustion of patience it arrived here about 18 months ago. No sooner had the returning officer received it than he requested guardians to take care of it. The people at once elected men whom they thought would take care of it, and endeavour to be exemplary and of service to it, but at the same time, having a due regard to the beneficial arrangements, and economical disposal of its property. They also elected a Supeintendent of the guardians. No sooner were these officers elected than they voted so much to the Superintendent to overlook them but not to be responsible for what they did, or if responsible not to take the consequences of such responsibility. In fact to be a nonentity. They also hinted that they should like something for their trouble and expenses, but when they sought the office at the hands of the people it was only the honor they cared for, and the in • terest they had in the public welfare. But they did not stop here, but finding the child had a good income, they voted so much fora Speaker, so much for a Clerk, so much for a Treasurer, so much for a Secretary, so much for a Solicitor, so much for a Surveyor, so much for this and so much for that, and last, but not least, so much for Roads. And here I must observe you cannot pet from Lyttelton to Chrisichurch, without swimming your horse ov getting bogged.
Would it not have been better to have made a road between those places instead of making a road from Lyttthon to iMiimiev ? I ynojio.^e considering this question further shortly. Also to discover the number of officials, their duties, and the salary received by each, and if possible to shew the aggregate expense of the so much wished for constitution, and I think I shall be able to shew we are upon the highway to taxation. Finally I would draw your attention to a variety of legal matters, vitally affecting the most important acts of the Council. In the meantime, I am, Sir, Your obedient servant, D. A. B. :
To the Editor of the LytteltonTimcs. g lH) —Although not much addicted to letterwriting, I think it may be profitable to direct attention to the course of conduct pursued by the editor of the Canterbury Standard in reference to the Land Regulations. These were published in December last, and immediately underwent active public discussion. Every point, every feature which he now denounces as so objectionable, so ruinous to the public interests, was laid open to the people to be thoroughly enquired into, canvassed, ventilated and thought about before the elections, in order that when the proper time came, the electors might have the opinions of the candidates upon them. Accordingly these matters were discussed and sifted at Colonist Societies, at meetings of electors, during the canvass of the candidates, on the hustings, everywhere but in the Canterbury Standard After all this had been done, the people proceeded to elect those whom they considered the fittest persons to settle the matter. During the three months which were thus occupied did the Standard's editor ever once draw the attention of the electors to what he now calls " repudiation," " class legislation," and so on ? Did he ever once, as he ought to have done if he believes ivhat he writes, urge upon the electors to probe the candidates on these objectionable points ? One searches the columns of the Standard in vain /or anything of the sort. When, however, the elections were past and gone, and the editor thinks he can put on a show of public spirit without troublesome consequences, he com. mences a furious attack upon the regulations, and upon the gentlemen who were responsible for them Is it not clear to every impartial observer that something very different from regard for the public interest influences the pretended patriot? that he is endeavouring by clap-trap to set class against class, for the purpose of keeping himself in office? Conscious that under a real system of Ministerial Responsibility he could not retain his seat for a week, his influence in the Council being next to nothing, he endeavours to vilify the larue majority of the Council, who refuse to support him as a minister. He suggests petitions, expressions of the people's opinion, &c, to which, of course, no one can object. Does he forget, however, that after the matters which he makes a slalk ing horse of had been discussed by every one but the editor of the /Standard, the opinion of the people was expressed in the, usual and legitimate manner by the election of 13 members of the Provincial Council ? One cannot but regret to see a Journal which at one time seemed likely to be-conducted in an honest and reputable manner, so utterly throw away its character and its influence with the thinking portion of the community. If any one wants a further insight into the truthfulness and the candour which now pervades its columns, let him attend as I have done one or two of the sittings of the Council, and then read what is called a report of the proceedings at these sittings. He will discover as choice a specimen of one sided reporting as is to be found in any paper in the English language. It is sometimes profitable to hear both sides of an argument. I have not said all I wished to say, but must must break off for the present. I remain, Sir, Your obedient servant, A Lookek-On. Anti-humbug Castle, May 26, 1855.
To the Editor of the Lyttelton Times. Sir, —Certain members of the Provincial Council have done me the honour to notice the statement with which T furnished you a short time since, as to the profits of sheep-fanners who hold runs within the block. I allude more particularly to the results at which Mr. Sewell has arrived in his criticism of my statement. He says that according to my own showing runliolders within the block are making enormous profits, for it appears from that statement that they are making 18 per cent, interest on their capital for the first five years, and that then they are in the receipt of an income at the rate of 50 per cent, and moreover that at the end of the first five years the value of the original investment has increased threefold. Now admitting for the sake of argument that this is the true state of the case, I would ask whether these profits are exorbitant, or whetlieV they are not below those made in any other business ? Take for instance, the agriculturist— Does he not
hope to realise more than this, and would he, at the end of five years, be satisfied to take three times the amount of his original capital for Ms property ? Take any business, and I defy Mr. Sewell, or anybody else, to show that, with common care and hard work, more favourable results would not be arrived at. Take our officials, do they mean to say that they have not an easier and more remunerative life of it than a stockowuer? Look at our good friend the Resident Magistrate, he looks happy enough, and yet, by all accounts, he does not trouble himself much about hard vjork, and as for cares and anxieties he leaves them for the unfortunate suitorr. who are unlucky enough to apply to him for justice, and naturally enough he also joins in the cry that the stockowners have too little to do, and are too highly remunerated.
If all that Mr. Sewell has said were true, I should still say that the stockowners within the block have a case to go before the public with, and have a right to ask why they should be taxed three limes more highly than those outside the block, labouring, as they do, under disadvantages of a peculiar character, among which, perhaps, the limitation of their runs to 20,000 acres is most sensibly felt.
But the fact is lhat Mr. Sewell has not stated the whole tvulh. He has not said, as I particularly pointed out, that the case I gave was the most favourable case imaginable for a rnnholder within the block. In fact it was an exceptional case. The runs within the block <io not, as a general rule, contain any thing like 20,000 acres. The commissioner of Crown Lands stated in evidence that the average size of runs within the block is. 9000 and odd, say 10,000, that is, about half the number taken as the basis of my calculations. Mr. Sewell ought to have mentioned this, and lam sure that if he takes this as the basis, of his calculations he will find that the runholder within the block, as a general rule, cannot expect to make much more than about half what he asserts, because the expences of a small run are as great as those of a large one. Mr. Sewell has stated that at the end of five years the value of the stock will be increased threefold, whereas it is evident that from the amount of stock which will then be in tlie Province the increase of a flock will barely compensate for the depreciation in price which must ensue. There is one other point upon which T would insist, and that is the precarious nature of the property. Not to mention the various casualties to which the stockowner is liable, such as scab, catarrh, wild dogs, and other little matters of this kind, it must be remembered that under no circumstances can an investment in a run be a permanent investment, because, sooner or later, the land must fall into the hands of a freehold purchaser. This disadvantage is of a kind to which no other species of property is subject, and for tliis reason the stockowner ought by rights to expect to make higher profits than those realized in other cal lings, because he ought to be able to recover both capital and interest by the time his run was wanted for agriculture. Your obedient servant, A Shebpownek.
To the Editor of the Lytteltan Times. Sir, —Yon will perhaps correct the report in your pnper this day, wherein you state that the motion brought forward by me with reference to the pre-emptive rights held under the Canterbury Association, was withdrawn. This is a mistake, the motion so far as it related to the confirmation of those rights was agreed to, and the. clause handed in to be annexed to the regulations, the other portion of the proposed regulations, only was withdrawn. Yours obediently, Chris. Edward Dampier. Waicliffe, 26tfi May, 1855.