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THE NEW MEMBERS OF PARLIAMENT., Ashburton Guardian, Volume I, Issue 41, 30 December 1879
THE NEW MEMBERS OF PARLIAMENT.
(From the own cor it of the Press.)
Now that the sec >nd session of 137'.h and the first one of the now Parliament has come to an end, you will have no more thrilling speeches and exciting te’egiaiiis to lay before the pvblic. But it may bo possible to sustain the feverish interest of your readers a little longer if
I send you a short description o£ the new material that was this year introduced into our House of Representatives. It may seem strange to commence a notice of the new members with such an old veteran both in Provincial and Colonial politics as the Hon. John Hall. Yet for this session he is one of the new members, and being one he is entitled to head the list. He looks about fifty-five years old. He is rather under the average stature, with small body and a 1 most feminine shoulders. His forehead is large, prominent, high, with remarkably equal development, the back of the head being rather small. His eye is grey, watchful, patient, and enquiring. The brain power is evidently in excess of the nutritive apparatus, the mental 100 strong for the vital nerves, and altogether he does not give at all the idea of the happy man with a hard heart and a good stomach. He is a good every-day speaker, nothing very brilliant, and nut a bit better on the greatest than on the smallest occasion. His most successful speeches are never the result of prepara- ' tion or effort, but depend upon favorable circumstances, and enough without tod much excitement. But whilst he rarely rises very high, he never sinks low as a speaker, but shows a wonderful store of knowledge, the result of a powerful mind closely concentrated on his official duties. You could never imagine him reading a novel, extolling the quality of port wine, or playing lawn tennis. But the youngest clerk in the Telegraph office is never sure that his work will not be personally inspected by the Premier. His voice is clear and pleasant when not strained, but does not reach very far. Those who know him best trust him most. But no one really doubts his integrity, although his opponents often amuse themselves by trying to make him resent their expressions of suspicion. His weak point is that he has not enough contempt for such attacks, and condescends to arswerwhat he ought not to condescend even to hear. He wants a more comfortable satisfied assurance of his own powers and unassailable reputation, and of his immeasurable superiority over the little fry that try to annoy him, or of the arch deceivers that want to put him apparently on their own level. His present position must soon harden him, if it does not kill him. He is not Fox’s equal for slashing, cutting reply. He is by no means Vogel's equal for plausible proposals. He is not Stafford’s equal in talking constitutional history, or spawning new Acts. But whilst he is less brilliant than his predecessors on particular points, he is free from their special weaknesses, and is more reliable, because his powers are more general, and he is free from their most dangerous defects. He stands far • above Fox in his power of calculation, has none of Vogel’s daring dashing imprudence, and can give a confidence to his colleagues, to his supporters and his friends which Stafford never inspired. Perhaps the next new member who should claim our notice is another old public servant, Mr. Reader Wood. And if the choice were left to the ladies’ or strangers’ galleries, it is juite possible that he would be chosen first, as his speeches are generally far nine diverting than Mr. H-dl's. He stands about six feet high, with no great weight of body, and a large proportion of “ legs and wings.” His head is high and narrow, with an irregular forehead, and prominent shaggy eyebrows. He looks to be approaching sixty years of age ; has a rather wiry beard and a large Roman nose; In a political sense only, lie has the appearance of a gentleman who has seen better days; and after discharging the Onerous duties of Colonial Treasurer, the light amusements of a member of the House are evidently not sufficiently exciting to rouse his energies, so that ho is not remarkable for zeal in the discharge of his present duties. When he first entered the House, nearly twenty years ago, ho was just as fluent as he is now. But -then his manner was quite clerical; whereas it is now quite theatrical. He speaks very little, and though that little is always to the point it is always amusing. He looks down with almost equal contempt on both partiesin the present House and is wonderfully indifferent to praise or blame. The next in iinporuinoe, and the first really new member, is Mr. Albert Pitt, who has taken Mr. Curtis’ place for the City of Nelson. He is not equal to his predecessor, as a neat, plausible, successful speaker, but he surpasses him as a most attentive siovqtbiem' of all the business that comes before the 'House, and naturally possesses that impartial judioAl mind which Mr. Curtis could always so successfully assume. He can express himself clearly in good voice end in gqod English upon any subject, and never talks for thg mere , purpose of .figuring in ‘f Hansard.’- \4|t)iough a lawyer he is transparently honest, and never to special pleading- He looks about forty years of ago, has an open frank face, and nothing in the House has ever ruffled his temper, and that is saying a good deal. The hill, wlute-hevleh meuibpr for Dunedin comes next. He looks as if he had 'never s aid at) idle word iff }|is life. He spooks but seldom, .and never long, but is always listened to. Though solemn and ponderous, there is a slight under current of lunqor, and hist a little indication that hq has originally came from the North. The ‘ listener gjsq feels that he believes what ho ; h saying, Hq looks very carefully before ho follows the present Qovernmont in anything, but he would certainly put on a dust coat if ever he had to go into the same lobby as Sir George Grey. The ,4 whips ’■ on Lojdi sides keep as dear of him as if he were a bomb-shell about £0 explode, and no one ever tells him how he had better vote, or which lobby to' go into. I don ! t mean H anything choleric or explosive about him, but he looks as if he would not value unasked for advise.
No far from Mr. Dick sits another member of the same bijild, and almost the same age, but with a much loss serings countenance, Colonel Trimble, tie speaks a little too often, and makes it his mission to correct Sir George Grey’s misrepresentations, which v.’ogkj give any member an active life. His speaking is faultless enough, hut rarely goes beyond that, and his bright intelligent face leads you to expect a little more variety than you get. His best clays were spent h| England and' Ireland, and like most other men under such circumstances, he cannot refrain from taking his hearers to his old hunting grounds oftener than they are willing to go.
I must now come to the two new representatives for Wellington. And it is
quite a,matter, of opinion which of -thani ■ should rank first, as different judges would be sure to place them differently. ■ For a , „ tea meeting, or, even an agricultural; din-, ner, I should choose Mr. Hutchison, but for a Legislative Assembly I prefer ; his ,; much younger and much less imaginative. ■ colleague, Mr. Levin. Neither of them - are bores, but Mr. Levin thinks twice before he speaks once, and then he never • says a word too much. He has a neat effective way of saying what is necessary for. ' his case, but has hardly spoken enoi’gh to ■ gain confidence at his work, and probably for that reason never ventures to, diverge - in the slightest degree from the direct object he has in hand. - . Mr, Hutchis-n is just the reverse of : . this. He roams from Dan to Beersheba with the most complete coolness and confidence, and van .make a..very few ideas into quite a long speech. I think upon . the whole his manner as a speaker, is the . most telling and varied in the House, and- ..3 his voice is a pleasant one. He does not ’ aim at hitring, or I fancy he could .do It. He is not a sound roasoner, and as ha \ swears by Grey he has often to talk one ... way and believe another. There-is, hbw- - ever, more apparent sincerity in, his sym--pathy for tjie working man than there .is.. in Grey’s, and he . may therefore li&t'.-:,, longer.,,-.. ' • ■: "p., •. I-: will , take next the . member fot., Coieridge;, Mr. E. : G. Wright. He •. has. done verylittle in the way of spealdngypj but that little has been done very well, ... and with so much energy that itmust have been a severe act of self-denial to Kirrt to refrain, as ail the Government sup? porters have had to do, to prevent the whole -session being' wasted in- useless ' talk. He is always at his post, and gets. to the bottom of most things.
The electors of the Buller district have changed their doctor for a lawyer, a younger . man, and one with at least: enough talking power, in the person of Mi . J. B. Fisher. He has a good command of language, with plenty, of-voice, and unlimited confidence. He has made some sensible suggestions, and once 6r • .twice scored a point against the Government, and I am not sure that he has. not, proved the most useful man in the House to his own party. He is quitq .the, “ special pleader,” and- sometimes even, calls the Chairman “Your Worship-”. His manner and his accent-betray -an..-ac-quaintance with at least non-professional society at some period of his life, which may have been in boyhood or manhood; One of the new members for Hokitika,Mr. Reid, is said,to be the editor of a paper. Though a very intelligent,-pleasant, unagressive looking man, he talks like one who lives all the year round in politics, with avery suspicious party to uphold. His personal appearance is ah exact index of his speeches, stiff,- formal, and slender. His language aud voice are very good, he is not troublesome, and indeed does not speak often or long enough to make the dry formality of his style much felt.
Mr. Shephard, of the Waimea, belongs to the same class, but his build is of the opposite type. He looks nearly three score and ten years old, but so far from being worn down with his work, he is the fattest man in the House. His occupation, too, is essentially different from other editors as whatever Government may be in power, he.-usually supports the ■ Gor Veminent one month, 'and the Opposition the next month,’which must make his tasjc much, less monotonous. Hedges not seem to enjoy the unlimited eonfidence.pt any party, though he never joins in nhy •personalattaeks.. He. talks like a book, jf you can imagine a book in which every third or fourth line -isa long a-a-a-h. He is a thoughtful member, who • never trifiea with the;time>or temper.,pf does not talk too qnd flgan -ViThe member for Taieri, little heard, hut. greatly respected by bath sides of the House.. . The few words ho does say are always to the purpose, He is a thoroughly judicial,' impartial uiraggressive man. ■ . Mr. William John Hurst, of‘Auckland City West, has been very unfortunate-in his first entrance upon Parliamentary-life, and has been actually sat uponi by ;the Greyites in a manner that I heVeP (saff practised Ijy qny hfldy of hßffPf.'ll9 is an energetic, active, self-conscious man, of good presence and of no mean ability, but he is howled dow.ii in the' House as if he were some dangerous .wild beast,. he even ventures an ejacqlqtiqn when Sjir Geprgp Qrey is speakipg, Sif; j3;gpgge will stop tj,nd te}l bin} to minC.hw 6wn business. Mels, in fact, the soape-goat for the sins of the four Auckland members who dared to think; and act for themselves. Mr. Reader Wood is 'bbtoftd their reach. lie feels the utmost' contempt and indifference for . all they .can say to bmp and- fie cqp h|t. tqp )Q return.’ Wei Sw.aqsqn -'hftq ■ a fepuUtlom for honesty and jqdg'nept that outweighs that of all his would be assailants put together, and has, besides, some little bits of paper in his pocket-book-which makes it very dangerous for some of them to turn their guns on him. Mr. Colbeck keeps so quiet, and once showed them he coi|lc| fijis pioretfiai} hq barked, that hehas given timin'‘the impression .that they had better let sleeping dogs alone.. And, thus, fhe whole brunt of their disappointment and anger and revenge is .centred on this sensitive, flinching, innocent victim, Something of the same kind, but muoh ieaa in degrde, was' tried on with the new member for the Grey Valley, Mr, Masters, who is a very nervous, delicate-looking man. When the vote of no-confldence in the Grey Government was coming off, this aoxioqa member pvas plied with telegrams from a multitude qf hjs constituents, |hg said telegrams bqiqg iqanqfqciqfqc( • lyglliqgtqo 1 With q vitjW to . the greatest efleet on the known conditions of his nerves at any given hour. He suffered intensely, but stood it all without wavering, and learned to appreciate the ratn who had under-estimated his character. He speaks very-little, and wnqld need a peal of practice to give him confidence enough for a debater. Mr. Barron is not a nervous mnn, nor apparently a very anxious one. He is on the watch for the ludicrous side of all that trangpireq in the Rouse, and now end then contributes a sort of Punch article to the proceedings. Efe gives the idea of a meiqbep who 13 supporting a party for whom he has not'an atofn of respect. Near him sits Mr. Colbeck, who has made one very good speech, after an immense deal of provocation, in.which he retaliated bn his assailants with an effect that they had evidently not calculated on. Nothing else has ever brought him out in the same style.
THE NEW MEMBERS OF PARLIAMENT., Ashburton Guardian, Volume I, Issue 41, 30 December 1879
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