TOWN EDITION. [lssued at 5 p.m.] The Ashburton Guardian. TUESDAY, JANUARY 18, 1881. Tie Resignation of Mr. Bryce.
The resignation by Mr. Bryce of his portfolio as Native Minister, a few days ago, took most people by surprise. Mr. Bryce has been looked upon as one of the most honest of our legislators, one of the most painstaking and cautious, and withal one of mildest of men. It was, therefore, with some degree of anxiety that a full explanation was waited for of why he had chosen to separate himself from his colleagues, and decline the further responsibility of being head of the Native Office. The explanation that reached Canterbury through the “ inspired ” correspondent of a Government organ was not the fullest that could have been wished, but it was sufficiently clear to lead the reader to the inference that Mr. Bryce wished stronger measures to be taken with Te Whitt than had yet been tried, and subsequent information has placed before us the fact that these measures were such as, had they been followed out, would more than likely have resulted in a civil war. The native districts are at this moment kept quiet in the way that the English Government keeps Ireland quiet—viz, by the presence in their midst of a large number of troops. This is a very costly mode of keeping things quiet, and judging from past experience, should the Government be led to believe the presence of the Constabulary had had a pacifying effect upon the natives, and withdrew the troops in consequence, there was no assurance that the retreat of the Constabulary would not be the signal for all sort of trouble between the unchecked natives and the unprotected settlers. Mr. Bryce desired to take steps which he calculated would be decisive. He wished the Constabulary to advance at once on Parihaka, and at the monthly native meeting which was to have taken place there yesterday, occupy the stronghold of the prophet, and appehend the prophet himself. Mr. Bryce felt so sure of the success of his proposal in bringing about a pacific settlement of the native difficulty that he was persistent in urging.the course he suggested upon his colleagues. They, however, firmly refused to adopt these strong measures ; and the result was that Mr. Bryce, who apparently would not permit himself to see any other mode of dealing with the sore at Parihaka than what we may call an iron cure, chose to resign because his plan was not adopted. He has evidently overlooked the fact that he and his colleagues stood committed to try all that had been suggested by the Royal Commission with a view to pacifying and reconciling the natives by redressing as far as practicable the grievances they suffer under. In spite, too, of the fact that another Commission is at work to find out how best these grievances could be removed, and in spite of any real offence on the part of Te Whiti Mr. Bryce wished to take this very highhanded course. Te Whhi is not a rebel j he has not taken up arms against the Europeans of the colony 3 nor has he dared to defy the Government. Pie is a Maori, and according to the custom of his race he has taken his own way of protesting against the infringement of what he believes to be his rights, and those of his people, to certain lands. To those rights he has tenaciously clung, and if his mode of entering his protest is a peculiar one, still it cannot be called rebellion, for he allowed, nay ordered, all the men he employed in making the protest to the Europeans’ prison for making that protest. Those men were the flower of his tribes, and it was wisdom on the prophet’s part to let them go to prison, for their absence secured all the more safety from a breach of the peace between the races. The Royal Commission have admitted the righteousness of part at least of Te Whiti’s claims, and Government have so far adopted that admission as to send another Commission out to see how best they can be met, and how far. Yet in face of fhe present state of affairs which all thd Cabinet seem to consider ripening into a happy understanding between the prophet and the Government, Mr. Bryce would precipitate a war with the natives by the armed entrance of Parihaka and the forcible arrest of their prophet. Tliere are’ many, h 6 ftoubt,
in the colony who believe with Mr. Bryce that the time has come for troublesome Parihaka to be cleared out by a shower of leaden hail, but we firmly trust these are not a majority, and that the colony in the mass is willing to try the case fairly between Te Whiti and the whites, to inquire into and rectify his genuine grievances, and attempt a lair reconciliation between the races before we resort to the arbitrament of powder and shot. We cannot but regret the loss to the country of Mr. Bryce’s services as Native Minister, end that he should have chosen to st.; nd out of the Cabinet because a majority of its members are against his idea of dealing with Te Whiti; but we must at the same time congratulate ourselves that his resignation is the sign that not at least until every effort has been made to heal the breach now existing between the races will the troubles be attempted to be removed by a resort to arms.