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A VINDICATION., Ashburton Guardian, Volume III, Issue 626, 3 May 1882
To tb.s Editok. Sir,—l have to thank you very much for your article in Saturday's Guardian, giving publicity to the letters I have received from the chairmen of several meetings misreported in the Ashburton Mail, aud showing your readers the true character of the proceedings adopted by the proprietor of that paper. May I ask your kind assistance to complete the chain of evidence so well begun, by giving your readers an opportunity to peruse some further correspondence on the subject. You will remember, perhaps, that in the Ashburton Mail, of Saturday, April 8, an article appeared professing to narrate and to comment en some statements made by me at a meeting at Ashton, in reply 1 to a question put to me by a Mr Williams, re my trial and imprisonment at Nelson, in the year 1860. Perhaps I am unduly proud of this the brightest and most fortunate incident of my life, but there is more of gratitude than vanity in the pleasure with which I remember an event that reflects more honor on the Nelson people than it does even on the man whom they so nobly resolved to vindicate. My feelings in this matter can only be understood ,by the few who can still recall the exciting circumstances of that somewhat ancient trial—who remember the terriffic machinery that was put in motion to frighten mo into a compromise or a retraction of an illegal but animportant, apoteht,anda pregnant truth—who saw the Nelson people rise as one man, and peaceably compel a reluctant judge, jury, prosecutor, and Government, to do honor to the man they inteaded to degrade, and to convert his prison into the highest pinable of popularity. I mentioned this fact at the Uakaia meeting in these words—" The runholders and land speculators of Nelson managed to get me into prison, but the farmers and working men soon got mo out again, and put me in the House of Representatives instead, so that I am not likely ever to forget what I owe to farmers and working men." You will thus see, sir, that I mentioned the fact, not in the way that Mr Ivess insists upon putting it, after being twice corrected, but in exactly the opposite way. Not as a claim on the gratitude of the working men, but as a proof that I was never likely to forget my obligations to them. Mr Ivess' agent at the Ashton meeting put a question to me in ,Mr Ivess'favorite form, but before answering the question, I corrected him, and repeated the words I had used at Rakaia. Notwithstanding this, the Mail of the following Saturday entirely ignores my correction, and bases an article upon the Bubject, as Mr Ivess wished it to be, and not as it was. In fact, sir, as you say, Mr Ivess never allows mo to have or to express my own opinions on any subject, but forms opinions and frames statements for me, which he finds it more easy to hold up to opprobrium. In this case he would evidently much prefer that I should claim gratitude from the working men than that I should own my obligations to them, but with your assistance I hope tokeej. myself in the right position as their debtor, and not allow him to make me figure as their creditor, however anxious he may be to do so. It was, however, with ths fall knowledge that I have never stated anything of the sort, and had several times refuted it when stated fi-r mo, that Mr Ivess makes the following statement as an excuse for his libellous article in the Mail of April Sth —" It is an unpleasant duty to have to refer to matters so far back. Mr Saunder's Nelson career would not have been alluded to had he not stated that he had suffered impiisonment in the cause of the working men." Now, sir, my " Nelson career," which was a quarter of a century long, and raised me from a bullock driver to be Superintendent of the province, is not one that I am likely to wish concealed or avoided by any honest enquirer, but I imagine that no opponent to Mr Ive 34 would care to have his career in any part of the world sketched out by Mr Ivess. In the article iu I cannot see even a particle of truth, although I should have thought it would . have been better policy to have mixed a little truth, if he knew any. with so much misrepresentation. But, sir, I am not going to bandy statements with Mr Ivess, but will commit him and his article to dis- '
interested witnesses. In sending the article to my first witness, the chairman of the Ashton meeting, I underlined the following words as a part to which I particularly wished him to direct his attention ; f-“ Mr Saunders informed the electors of Wakanui, at Ashton, on Thursday night, that that sentence was the outcome of a good feed (to put it concisely), which was given to the worthy Judge the night beforejthe trial. Mr Justice Johnston supped at the houiO of our enemy, where he was not only primed with eatables and drinkables till he was as full as a tick, but primed with uncharitable thoughts.” Of course the Nelson witnesses have directed their attention to that part of the article fabricating a story about the cause of the Nelson trial, in much the same strain and with much the same degree of veracity. And how, Sir, for the correspondence : Broomfield, West Melton,. April 15th,iBB2.—Mr Gilmour. Dear Sir, —As. chairman of a meeting of electors held at Ashton on Thursday, April 6, I wish to call your attention to an article which appeared in the Ashburton Mill on the following Saturday, professing to give the substance of what I said at that meeting. Will you kindly inform me, in a letter that 1 may make public, how far the expressions contained in that article were justified by anything said by me at that meeting? I am sorry to give you so much trouble, but when a candidate has a paper of his own, and uses it in such an unscrupulous manner, I think you will admit that it becomes our duty to give the public some idea of the character of the man who is now offering himself as the representative of honest and truthful electors.— Yours truly, ALFRED SAUNDERS. Ashton, April 17, 1882.—A. Saunders, Esq. Dear Sir, —Yours received, with thanks. The article in question is undoubtedly anot! er added to the many scurrilous and untruthful statements which have of late emanated from the Mail office. As chairman of the meeting in question, I do not profess to know more of the matter than what transpired at the meeting, but I must confess, after hearing you, that I fail to see the least semblance of truth in the comments made upon your answers to the question put by the Tinwald carpenter. You not only said nothing ol the sort attributed to you in that article but you said nothing that could possibly be mistaken for it. All those coarse expressions about the Judge are entirely the writer’s own invention, as you said not one word about either meat or drink. Had the article been a fair and open criticism upon your speech, no one, I am sure, would have called it in question, but as it is got up simply on a question which, I think, was accepted by the meeting as clearly and satisfactorily answered, it ;shows how very little the Burnett street champion will grasp at to further his own ends, and the very discreditable means he adopts to entirely mislead the readers of the Mail. It was self-evident to all present, and was f-eely remarked by many after the meeting, that Williams, who was spokesman ol the Tinwald party, was there solely for the purpose of raising questions which he thought would be most likely to injure you in the eyes of the electors present that evening; but it may be interesting to you as a candidate to know that several who had previously supported Mr Ivess gave every assurance that they would not renew their confidence in that gentleman at the coming election. Your straightforward address, and the full explanation given to the several questions asked, were as much admired as the action taken by one of the Ivess parly was condemned. In the article before me there is a most singular likeness to the feeble speech attempted by Williams after your address. In fact one half of it at least seems to' me word for word, so that no one can fail to see where the question which supplies a text for the article sprang from. So far as the meeting at Ashton is concerned the article is a tissue of falsehoods, and as those falsehoods appeared in print you are quite right in getting them refuted in the same manner. — Ycurs truly, G. Gilmour, Ashton
That, Sir, is a pretty strong refutation of what Mr Ivesa has to say about the proceedings at the Ashton meeting. It might bo supposed that I should have some difficulty in disproving what lie says took place more than twenty-two years ago, but fortune always favors truth, and I am
BtUI able to get the two best witnesses it would have been possible to procure at any time. They are both gentlemen of the highest possible character, and both gentlemen who have certainly no temptation to exceed the truth in my favor, one of them being the brother-in-law of the farmer with whom Mr Ivess expressed so much sympathy, and the other the gentleman with whom I successfully contested the Superintendency of Nelson four years after going to prison, and the very gentleman that Mr Ivess spoke so highly of at the late nomination, when he produced, with manifest pride, a letter from him conveying the very scanty and equivocal compliment that Mr Ivess was not regarded as “ obnoxious,” to the Nelson Provincial Council, “as abody.” To both of these excellent witnesses I sent a copy of Mr Ivess’s article, with the following letter, and received the following replies : Broomfield, West Melton, April nth, 1882. . Revd. Decimus Dolamore, Rangiora. Dear Sir, — I lake the liberty to invite your attention to the enclosed article, cut from the Ashburton Mail, pretending to state the circumstances under which 1 was induced to write a letter to the Nelson Examiner, which led to my trial and imprisonment at Nelson in : iB6O. As the case referred to in my letter was brought into the District Court by your brother- : in-law, as you were a Baptist Minister officiating in Nelson at- that time, and as I know that you look a lively interest in the kind proceedings of the Nelson public which brought about my release, my vindication, and the many compliments that preceded and followed it, I . naturally look upon you as the highest and . best informed authority I can apply to to prove , the utter falsehoods of the statements invented ‘ by the proprietor of the Ashburton. Mail, and ' should feel obliged if you would give me a reply that I may make public. In making this request permit me to say that I seek from you no justification of my conduct at that time. - ‘ 1 have always felt perfectly satisfied to let that ■be judged by the almost unanimous action of the whole Nelson public, whilst every circum- * stance of the case was iresh in iheir memory ; but it is very important for the safety of every member of this community, for the reputation of. the Wakanui electors, and for the character . of the New Zealand Parliament, that the true character of the Ashburton Mail and its proprietor should just now be known as widely and- as uumislakcably as possible. —Yours truly, Alfred Saunders. 'Rangiora, 15th April, 1882. Dear- Mr Saunders, — I regard the enclosed article from ' the Ashburton Mail as altogether nrslead'ng, and so far as it relates to matters of fact with which I am acquainted, it is not true ; but any
influence a matter so remote as to lime can ;have on the Wakanui electors, must, I sup-
pose, turn on these two points—were you ; when prosecuted for libel regarded as favoring the interests and claims of the wot king classes in the Provincial ;Cduncil ? and —were the proceedings at the prosecution generally supposed to be influenced by class and political feeling ? As to the first you were regarded as the exponent and advocate of the working class interesl in opposition to that of the runholders, and had been so regarded for seveial years. As to the second there was a general opinion among the working classes that (he prosecution was influenced by class and poli.L tical feeling; and the prevalence of this
opinion was among the chief causes of the warm and almost unanimous sympathy with ; , you manifested at the time, and probably had weight in your after election to the House of Representatives and to the Supcrintendency of the Province. But the influence of party feel-
ing in the trial was, I think, only that unconstious inflnence we receive from our convic- «' ticnsand surroundings from which the most njright men are never, I suppose, ab.ohite'y ; free. ‘Believe me to remain, yours truly, D. I OLAMOKE. ' ' Broomfield, West Melton. Canterbury, - £ept. 13th, 1 882. J. W. Barricoat. Esq., Speaker oi late Provincial Council. Dear Sir, — T May I ask you to peruse the enclosed article cut from the Ashburton Mail, and to give me I-opinion upon it that 1 may make public. ’ You will sbe aware that the proprietor of that isperis now a candidate for a seat in the House of Representatives for the district in which his paper circulates, and it therefore becomes a matter of importance to the whole colony that the true character of the man and - hia, paper should be accurately known. As one of the very oldest settlers in Nebon, and . ~5 one;who bas' taken a prominent and intelligent -i- part in'everything honorably connected with - (hw' history of your Province, I could apply to j. - no higher,.authority than yourself under any V;. CKCumstanods-ja hhtthe tact that my hardest i i •
battles in the Nelson Provincial Council have been lought against you, and that I have twice actively and successfully opposed you as a candidate for the Supcrintendency of Nelson, will convince the most sceptical enquirer that I am not seeking the opinion of one naturally biassed in my favor. At the same lime I remember with much pleasure that our political contests never degenerated into personal animosity, and that after having often put your veracity, your sense of justice, and your magnanimity to the most severe tests, I can tiust them now with a confidence that could only result from very long experience under very trying circumstances. —Yours truly, Alfred Saunders.
Richmond, Nelson, April 19th, 1882. Dear Sir, —I have read with a great deal of pain the long and violent article in the Ashburton Mail of the Bth of this month, directed against you. The only part which calls for distinct notice from me is that towards its close professing to narrate the circumstances in which an action in the District Court originated and the decision of the Judge ; your remarks on which involved you in an action for libel. Though occurring long ago, my remembrance of the circumstances is clear, and altogether at variance with the version given in the article referred to. In plain fact you
allowed a certain person to sue you, with-the view of proving how Dr you could legally compel the completion of an unquestioned contract only partially fulfilled, but were defeated
in consequence of the agreement between yourself and the plaintiff not having been reduced to writing. There was nothing whatever in the transaction which in the least degree was held by anyone to affect that unblemished character for honor and integrity which you had always maintained.—l am, dear Sir, yours faithfully, [. \V. BAUNICOAT. Alfred Saunders, Esq.
A letter to Mr Hodder, written only yesterday, produced the following immediate reply:— Ashburton, May I, 1882. Dear Mr Saunders, —It was not until this morning that I read the leader from the Ashburton Mail of April Bth, to which your letter calls my attention. It was painful to me to see that even your long and upright career has not exempted you from such scurrility in an election contest. I should like to have been at the Ashton meeting, and to have heard you relate that old-time story, but I know you too well to believe that you spoke such trash as the Mail wishes its readers to believe that you uttered. I could have told
the audience, without fear of my statement being questioned, that I had known you for twenty-seven years, and had the fullest opportunity of hearing all about your business transactions w'hen at Brightwater Mill and Nelson, and never have I heard from friend or political foe of any unfair lousiness dealing by you. As to the wheat transaction alluded to I knew' the farmer well, and the story in the Mail is altogether untrue. The public of Nelson had no reason to be proud of their newly-appointed County Court Judge, and you know why. They will ever feel thankful to you for speaking out about him as you did. Your noble conduct in refusing to apologise, under such circumstances, was generally applauded, and there was at that time no question in the minds oftheintelligent publicbut that you were morally right, and that you had good grounds for writing what you did. The fact of your being enthusiastically re-elected to the Nelson Provincial Council w'hile actually in gaol, and immediately afterwards defeating one of your jurymen (or the House of Representatives by an overwhelming majority, and being twice elected to the Superintendency of Nelson, all show the esteem in which you were held by those who knew you best, who were acquainted with all the circumstances of your eventful life, and did not gather their information from such a source as the Ashburton Mail. Living as I did in the Waimea while you represented that district both in the Provincial Council and the House of Representatives, I had the fullest opportunity to know the esteem in which your valuable public services were held, especially by the farmers and woildng men. But even the run-holders and land speculators, with whom you fought so hard, always admitted that you were a noble and honorable antagonist ; and pray excuse me for saying this, but it is not in flattery, that I never came across a man of greater straightforwardness, integrity, and truthfulness.—l am, dear Sir, yours faithfully, Thos. Riches Hodder.
These four witnesses dispose of all the fabrications contained in the article sent to them, and no one could desire witnesses of a higher character. After this array of evidence, added to that which you produced on Saturday, as to the true character of Mr Ivess’ assertions, his reports, and his articles, can X add anything more appropriate than Mr Ivess’ own words, used in the last issue of his paper, and to which I would bog the special attention of his readers. “Itis of importance to the electors of VVakanui that they should bo placed in possession of anything which would test the credibilityof a candidate who seeks to represent them in the Legislature.” May I add that the man who is not commonly truthful in his writings can never be fit for any position of trust. In conclusion, I fear that some of your readers may feel disappointed that in this letter I have confined myself so much to the defensive, and have resisted all temptation to repay Mr Ivess in his own coin. But, sir, it is with very great reluctance, and only under the pressure of necessity, more felt by my frienus than mvself, that. I have descended oven to this defence, and taken up so much of your space un these small personal matters. In a contest alleating not only the electors of Wakanui, but one that may more or less influence the welfare, (ho credit, and ihu inline de-times of New Zealand, I fed that the electors have a right to expect that a candidate should prove his fitness for the high position he seeks hv devoting his best cnormos to the profitable and instructive discussion of those great public questions affecting the well-being of his constituents and of the colony, and which must now so soon call for all the energy, attention, and ability which Can he brought t.o hear upon them by such legislators and statesmen as the electors of New Zealand have hem wise enough to place amongst their repiesentatives.—l am, Ac., Alfred Saunders.
MB. IVESS AND THE KUMAR A TIMES. To the Editor. £ia,- A shore time since you re-pub-lished an article from the Kumara Times 'charging mo with being the means of reducing compositors wages. I thereupon ■wrote to the proprietor requesting si retraction of the statement, and I now ask yoix to publish their explanation [the "explanation"- appears b-lov,'-- En.], which yon will see exonp.ruti.-.-i me cnni■pletely from the charge It is now stated by the same paper that I incurred some "odium" on trade account. I have •written to the editor <>f the Times, calling upon him to explain the " odium," the meaning of which I am at a loss to understand, seeing that the only tiv.de dispute which occurred on the Coast during my time was one in which I took the side of the men, and lost considerably by doing so. Ewry newspaper nr.m on tho Cosisfc at that period must be acquainted with tho fact. I started in business on my own account, and ra;.y have incurred the disapprobation of the master printoi-3 I was competing with. I employed no labor at that time, as myself and partner —Mr George Tilbrook—alone worked the business. —I am etc., Josf.ru Ivkss.
Ashburlon, Ist May, 1882. Our attention has been drawn to an article published in this journal on the 27th March, which contains certain remarks calculated to reflect unfavorably upon Mr Joseph Ivess, formerly a resident on this coast. Upon enquiry we find that the strictures referred to were not warranted by the actual facts. Effects inimical to the interests of compositors and Iheir calling generally were undoubtedly brought about during Mr Ivess's stay at Hokitika, and although he incutred some odium on that account, we have every reason to believe that personally he was not responsible for the effects produced. To a combination of untoward circumstances, over which he had no control, was mainly altribuiable the condition of the trade referred to, and the ill effects of which fell upon Mr Ivess equally with others. In so far as the statements referring to trade i;ma.Uers are concerned, we have to express regret'thai;, f any.uiug should have appeared in ' these cohtitahs calculated to injure Mr Ivess
that were not strict W borne out by facts. We always strive to avoid anything like unfair or unfounded charges in criticising the actions of public men ; and should we ever err in that respect through any of the various causes which sometimes lead to such mistakes in the colonial press, we arc always pleased to promptly repair any injury we may have inadvertently caused. —Kurnara Times.
A VINDICATION., Ashburton Guardian, Volume III, Issue 626, 3 May 1882
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