The Ashburton Grardian Magna est Veritas, et Prevalebit. SATURDAY, DECEMBER 9, 1882. Mr Stout’s Candidature.
Mr Robert Stout is definitely announced as a candidate for the
vacant seat in Parliament for the Peninsula, and the, fact, is hailed by some of our contemporaries on both sides in politics as an irnportapt public event. For our own part, we fail altogether to see where the importance comes in. First of all, it is not at all certain that he will be elected, for elections in the colonies are often great surprises in their results, and the fact of a candidate being able, good, well knovn, or the reverse of all these, is no certain indication as to whether he will be returned or rejected. But, supposing Mr Stout to be returned to Parliament, there is not the slightest reason to suppose that he will do anything great there. He has been for several years in the best part of his life before the public as schoolmaster, barrister, member of Parliament, and press-writer, but who can point to any one capacity in which he has distinguished himself? That he is a very fairly-educated person, with rather more than an average quantity of energy, and possessed of a very fluent tongue, is true enough ; but that is about all that can be urged on behalf of his intellectual stock-in-trade. In Parliament his name is not connected with the success of any great movement for the benefit of his fellowcolonists. He was a staunch supporter of Sir George Grey and of the so-called “ Liberal ” policy, whatever that may mean, but we could mention some notoriously very inferior men who may claim the same distinction. The most prominent occasion in which he came into notice was in 1876, when in -conjunction with two or three other dreary bores, he endeavored to stonewall the confirmation of the Abolition Act, and spoke for seven mortal hours a tissue of such rubbish as might be expected from a person of powerful jaws and limited mental capacity talking against time upon a subject on which argument has already been exhausted. As a presswriter Mr Stout contributed an essay to the defunct “ New Zealand Magazine,” on “ Specialisation of the Functions of the Government,” defending the continuance of the nine Provincial Governments with their numerous and costly officials, on grounds which, if worth anything, would have logically justified all the absurdities of the French Court under the old regime, when it was the special duty of one distinguished nobleman to clean 'the king’s toothpick, and one distinguished lady, the First Lady of the Queen’s bed-chamber, to receive her Majesty’s first article of apparel as she made her exit from her bath, from the first Princess of the blood, and thus commence the clothing of her august mistress. As a Press writer, editor, and newspaper proprietor in. more recent years, Mr Stout has not greatly improved. He is the reputed proprietor, editor, and leader writer of the Dunedin Echo, a journal devoted to Spiritualism and Liberal politics, little circulated and less read or advertised. Nor has Mr Stout been at all a success in his public utterances. Of course it is hardly fair to be hard on any man for a foolish after dinner speech, but then Mr Stout glories in not indulging in what Artemus Ward calls “ the flowin’ bole,” so that even at the dinner given w .r - much sense as he was car-’ 1 - at the time, unless, luueea, the soup at Palmerston was too rich for his digestion, or the dessrrt too sour. Be that as it may, we find from the reports ol both Dunedin papers that Mr Stout, the enlightened advocate of Freethought, deliberately recommended his hearers not to read any newspapers except those of the political party they belonged to, in fact to hear only one side of all political questions. Nor was this all. Mr Stout seriously proposed to his hearers to “ boycott” the newspaper proprietors who concurred in opinion with the present Ministry, quite forgetting, all the time, that if it were possible to carry out so vicious a policy in some places in others, still more numerous, the supporters of the Ministry might retaliate, and turn the tables on himself and his friends by boycotting them. On the whole, then, if Mr Stout is returned to Parliament we can scarcely hope that he will be a very shining light there. As a duplicate of his brother lawyer, Mr John Holmes, of Christchurch, he may doubtless be depended upon for voting equally straight on party questions, and he is insepaiably assoi ciated with him in the lobby of the House, as were Beaumont and Fletcher, Sternhold and Hopkins, or Tate and Brady, in other walks of life. The oratorical duetts, from time to time, will doubtless be sweet things in parliamentary oratory, but the combined wisdom elicited will scarcely equal that of one honest independent Minister of good common sense. We must confess to the weakness of a prejudice against having too many lawyers in Parliament. Their fluency of tongue, “ gift of the gab,” as the vulgar call it, is a taking quality in getting them elected; but when they are elected it is a “ delusion, a mockery, and a snare,” and leads them as language lies so near at hand to neglect the thought which language should express. Swift reminds us significantly that the people come much faster out of a church that is nearly empty than out of a very full one