New Zealand Tablet, Rōrahi XII, Putanga 48, 20 Poutūterangi 1885, Page 17
(From our own Correspondent.)
March 17, 1885. Thk banquet given to Sir Julius Vogel on the 12th by 300 of the Canterbury people and the Mayor of Christchurch was, as banquets go, more than ordinarily successful. It was enthusiastic as well as talkative. The bulk of the talking was done by the guest of the evening, of course, and the bulk of the cheering (there was a good deal of cheering) was done by the givers and consumers of the feast. The Mayor introduced Sir Julius, as it were, by a eulogistic little sketch of his career in New Zealand from the old Otago Daily Times' days to the present time, which was rightly appreciated. Tben Sir Julius made a speech which, in its way, was p. masterpiece. He contrived to respects the unwritten law of banquet which forbids the introduction of political matter, and at the same time to make a great deal of capital for the Ministry in which he is so distinguished a member, — its virtual head many people cail him. He began with Defence, which is just now a most telling subject with our people, and ended with Tommy Moore, whose Hues appeal to genial natures always.— -"With Defence he made a great point, for he gave the mind of the Government upon it with that patriotic ring which alwayß tells. When he said that the Government would, if Parliament pleased, like to help the Mother Country in the Soudan (or elsewhere I presume) with money or produce, but not men,— the meeting, 1 faucy, was not with him. In everything else it was. Nothing would be done without Parliament, except the ab olute parts of the defence scheme just submitted by Major Cautley — that was the Bubßtance of his announcement, and it was well received. Next day lie was corroborated, greatly to the public satisfaction, by news that the Defence Minister had sent home for £100,000 worth of war material. Cheap excursions, low tariffs and a possibility of nonpolitical Roards of Management, enabled him to dismiss the railway question to tbe satisfaction of his hearers. Tbe brilliant success of the Loan gave him the 'opportunity to do as much for Finance. In Direct Steam he found a popular BUbject, and in the West Coast Railway and the boondless resources of the West Coast, golden and otherwise, he found another, and made a great deal of it. A friend of mine who
was present (an admirer of Sir Julias rather than bis politic*) said to me tnat be knew bow to pat things. "He learat all that kind of thing as a journalist, you know, long ago ia Duuedlu, and did it very well," which was complimentary "to the journalistic profession, at the expence of its character for sincerity I thought. Sir Julius did . not speak with any great oratorical effect. He has a style which owes its force to a remarkably steady, sustained power, great clearness, and considerable concentration of thought. The profession, by the way, came in for some cheering and eulogistic remarks — my friend aforesaid told ma " became they've teen writing up Defence with a very good simulation of patriotism." Oue of our local elitors who returned thinks referred with some pride to the honourable deaths of some journalists in the Soudan during the last battles — perhaps that was what the diners were thinking of. The Soudan threw its shadow across the festive scene as a matter of couse. It throws its shadow everywhere just now, from the leading columns of the editors who are perpetually telling us how far one place we have never heard of before is from another place we are never likely to hear of again, to the drawing-room where ths button-holing patriot wants to slow that he knows less about the Soudan than about 'any other place,, and could not be in the least objectionable if he would stop there ; but he insisbs on your parading your slight modicum of ignorance on the subject as well. Colonel Brett made the army speech. He is an old Indian officer, whom everybody loves, who ought to have been in a book of Thackeray 'a, my impressible friend says—and there is something in this, for the charming old gentleman has all the dash and brogue of the immortal Costigan, with all the simple upright high-minded honour and courage of the great Colonel Newconxe. The Colonel was received with cheers which lasted several moments 1 ; he was soldierly ; he spoke like the veteran he is ; he declared ttiat there was fine material in •' our boys," whom he would like to have the honour of commanding in action ; he was highly complimentary to the ladies in the gallery, whom he addressed as " those goddesses up there " (with an inimitably military wave of the hand) ; and he was applauded to the echo. He came out as an advocate of the Suakin base of operations. The Judge complimented the Bar, and spoke modestly of the Bench. The ladies bad the pleasure of listening to a speech from the veteran John Oil i'vier, who, avoidiog the customary nonsense, spoke sensibly and feelingly of the women workers in the country. The agricultural men got away on grain, and beeves, and muttons in a way which, as the feast was composed chiefly of birds, gave no offence to the viands, but made the"guests wonder whether they would have to sit there till the next Cattle Show. When the toast -list was over, everybody began to drink everybody's health, with many apologies for the lateness of the hour. Everybody went away well pleased with everybody, especially with Sir Julius "Vogel, except one individual who was not satisfied with General. Wolseley. Whenever that worthy officer's name was mentioned he hissed loudly. My impressible friend suggested that he was an ex-army officer who had probably found it convenient to settle a difference with the General (about some point on which the ex-officer was probably wrong) by retiring from tne army. The Unemployed Commission has supplied us with a contrast to this display of festive and genial qualities. It has made a report, of which the substance has been published. . This makes the melancholy announcement that there is still a dearth of employment in Canterbury. The causes are, in its opinion, dulness in the building trade, lowness of prices, bad seasons, and decrease of money. This is supported by evidence, and may be taken as correct. The harvest just closing is a fairly good one, but owing to the diminished cultivation of cereals, being a result of former bad seasoas as well as low prices, the good character of the harvest does not detract from the correctness of the OommissioneTs' report. The Commissioners recommend village settlements as a cure, and increased work of planting. on the plantation reserves as a temporary remedy ; also the re-opening of the relief works at Litile River and the Waiau. There is sonw difficulty about the report, which is only signed by three out of the four Commissioners. Of this we shall hear more anon, I suppose. The three signatories have a grievance which they have ventilated at a public meeting, at which they made a bid for loss of public sympathy by some very injudicious speeches, abusive of some of the best friends of the working men.