The Ashburton Guardian, COUNTY AGRCULTURAL & SPORTING RECORDER. SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 8, 1879.
The heartiness with which the ex-Pre-mier of New Zealand has denounced the squatters is something refreshing,
like to see a man show energy and vigor •; in everything he puts his hand to, as there : is some hope that a vigorous and energetic man will make headway in his undertakings. Denunciations so hearty and so vigorous as those rained upon the terrible men the squatters by Sir George; Grey, should long ago have exterminated every landowner in the colony, if curses could' - kill. But unfortunately for Sir George curses don’t kill, and the squatters, are alive to-day to look serenely upon the } lands the knight did his bsst in the far past to throw into their. hands:; but in the midst of their serenity they occasionally take a moment’s time to ask what can have happened to their old friend, who is now extending his benefactions to all humanity present and to come. One l of Sir George’s benefactions to the human race is to be—when he can accomplish it —the extermination or the improvement off the face of the earth of the whole family of monied men who own large tracts of land, and raise large flocks of sheep. Vigorously, we say, he denounces them—with a vigor remarkable in a man so old as he. We have not known, in these degenerate times, a man so like - Moses the lawgiver as is Sir George Grey. To see spots on which to plant his curses Sir George’s eye seems never to grow dim, ' and in hurling those curses his natural force is not abated, but seems to grow with what it feeds on. Attliese qualifications, however, we are sorry to. add the likeness of our quondam self-appointed lawgiver to that of the heaven-commis-sioned lawgiver of Israel incontinently ends : for Moses was of meek men the meekest, while Sir George is of vituperative men the most vituperative. Sir George is very vigorous and energetichut a man may exhibit both energy and vigor and yet not be earnest; or he may be all three, and yet not he far-seeing. It would be a pity as well as ungenerous, to deny earnestness to Sir George’s curses when they are so hearty, so often renewed, and not only loud but deep. We therefore, inclined to allow the earnestness in anathematising the squatters, but in view of the facts as time has shown them, we are afraid he has allowed Iris passions against the objects of his
hatred to blind his prophetic eyes, and t> > lead him innocently to play into the hands of his foes—of the very men, he ia never weary of telling us, who wish to hunt him down, but whom he will yet “ drag at his chariot wheels.” It will be remembered that one of the ex-Premier’s pet schemes for the emanci pation of the human race, of that portion of it especially who had no governing voice in the country and lay 60,000 strong in a galling political serfdom, was to give to the Colony of New Zealand, in emulation of John Bright’s reforms, and quoting from John’s phrase book, “a free breakfast table.” Sir George was able to see that pet scheme carried out, and for the better part of a year tea and sugar have floated into the colony under a greatly reduced import duty. When the customs duties were relaxed upon those commodities, admirers of “the people’s George ” were ready to gape and claw the elbow in astonishment and admiration. But the day of reckoning that proved Sir George’s terrible short-sightedness, as well as his perverse self-wiil, has not been long in coming, and we find that the colonial revenue has been lessened by £85,000 to gratify a crotchet of the so-called “Liberal” Government. The tea and sugar duties were undoubtedly relaxed, but can any one of our working men readers point to even the semblance of a diminution in their bills to the grocer for these exceedingly pleasant commodities. We are afraid that honest horny-handed John Bull, when asked how much he has saved or gained by the remissin of duties on tea and sugar, will reply in the English equivalent of Brother Jonathan’s “nary red cent.” Who then has profited ? Ay, there’s the rub. Not the working-man, who buys his week’s supply of a Saturday night; not the artisan, not the clerk, nor the professional man, whose consumption of these articles does not represent large sums spent in wholesale purchases of them, but whose requirements are supplied by the capacity of a paper bag, or at furthest a 40 or 501 b sugar mat, or unpretending 101 b tea box. None of these can point to an appreciable reduction. But there are those who can. The ■mall retailer cannot, but the large importer, and the wholesale dealer' can—and —tell it not in Gath, publish it not in the streets of Askelon—the squatter : the man who, if he occupies many acres, employes many hands whose engagements with their employers include tea and sugar in the comprehensive word that comes after the cheque figures—- “ Found.” The squatter is perhaps the only private individual in the colony who feels any direct benefit by the loss caused to the country by Sir George’s “benefaction ”to the human race in the remission of tea and sugar duty to the extent of £86,000 out of the Colonial Exchequer. And yet the squatter ia Sir George’s bete noir, the man who stands in the way of the colony’s progress, and who affords the good old knight so many opportunities for thrilling thehearts of the mass with his fiery declamation. If the colony has a nightmare in the squatter—then, truly, Sir George is not the physician who is to roll the stone from off the colony’s heart. £85,000 dropped out of the colonial chest, by the liberator of mankind, not to relieve the working man whom he pretends to love, but to relieve the large station owner whom he pretends to hate !
The Wakanui Road Board on Thursday decided not to accept any tender for Leadley’a drain, although several were sent in, and the work duly authorised last month. The action of the Board has led to a considerable amount of comment, both from farmers and contractors : from farmers, because, should a wet harvest happen, their crops will be inevitably ruined, as in many cases it will be impossible to get a machine on the land to cut the grain ; and by contractors, since the Job is one of some magnitude, and a great number of horses and men are out of employment. There is a very poor chance of the work now being undertaken till harvest. The Board’s reason for delaying the work was to enable them to interview the County Council, to endeavor to obtain from that body a grant in aid, but as no meeting takes place for a month, and the work has already been reported on by the County Engineer, we must admit that the Wakanui Board have co mitted an error, and trust that some of the members will adopt measures to rectify it, as it is a most necessary work, and- no time ought .now to be 1 lost in prosecuting it.