The Ashburton Guardian. COUNTY AGRICULTURAL & SPORTING RECORDER THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 23, 1880.
In these days of advanced thought —when any agent in the enlightenment and instruction of the masses is hailed with satisfaction —when the education of the people is looked upon as a matter of paramount importance by statesmen — it is somewhat remarkable to hear of one of the most Liberal Governments in the Southern Hemisphere stepping in to prevent the delivery of a lecture on the planetary system, simply because it was proposed to be delivered on a Sunday evening. Yet this is what the Ministry of New South Wales is said to have thought proper to do. It is alleged that - pressure was brought to bear by the Government on the lessee of one of the theatres in the New South Wales capital to prevent Professor Proctor delivering an advertised lecture. There was naturally great excitement caused by this action of the Government, which result was not to be wondered at. We have no wish to see introduced into these colonies anything approaching to what is termed the “ Continental Sabbath,” nor to see the sacred day robbed of one of its attributes, but we cannot hold with a Ministry that will use its influence to prevent the delivery on a Sunday evening of an instructive lecture by one of the ablest astronomers. Only an ultra-Sabbatarian will object to the use of a theatre on a Sunday night for the delivery of a scientific popular lecture, and surely the “ unco guid ” people of the elder colony are quite able to distinguish between sitting in a theatre to hear an astronomical lecture, and sitting there to witness some trashy burlesque in which an extra display of limbs and a shower of double entendte are the prominent features. We are quite prepared to be told that if
people wish to hear scientific lectures, they should go on other nights when such are delivered, and thus avoid trenching on the Sunday, This is quite beside the question, as in large towns the Sunday evening is really the only one the masses have at their disposal, and the masses of the the present day are not of a highly evangelical cast of religious feeling. That the people wished to hear Professor Proctor’s lecture is demonstrated by the fact that a thousand persons, disgusted at the embargo placed upon him, went to his hotel and loudly cheered him. The course of action followed by the New South Wales Ministry is the more unintelligible, seeing that Sir Henry Parkes is the head of that Government —one that so recently threw the whole, weight of its influence into the scale against priestly intolerance on the education question, and did not hesitate to deprive the Church of its endowments that it might aggrandise the cause of education. Can it be that the wily Premier is tacking to catch once more the ecclesiastical vote in view of the general elections ? We cannot believe that such is the object of the movement, nor can we believe either that the great good done both in America and England in the cause of instructing the masses by the Sunday evening lectures of many great lights of science has been overlooked by the Government of New South Wales. Men will only be ruled as they deserve to be, and when such a strong feeling is manifested on the part of a people as the population of Sydney have displayed against their Government for the unusual step that has been taken, there is every chance that a revulsion of feeling will take place that will be fraught with danger to the stability of the Government now in office.