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THE SOUTHERN CROSS, TUESDAY, APRIL 23, 1850.

luceo Noar vbo. "If X hare been excinpo'shed, yet there risi A thousand beacons from the spark I bore."

We proceed to redeem the promise, mail in our last, of entering into full and fittiS consideration of the extraordinary actafl Magisterial oppression, evinced bj thedfl cisions of the Licensing Bench of this dH week. H The proceedings of that day, far frog being confined, in their interest and op 9 ration, to the comparatively few concerntH in obtaining or being denied a liceDseS sell spirits, have acquired an especial ifl gree of public importance, because of tfl arbitrary, unjust, and (in our opinfflß illegal decisions then pronounced ;— dJfl sions, which if not put a timely stopija will bring the Court of Justices — which fa most earnestly desire to see honoured a *9 respected — into open hatred and content's since the community will inevitably ' 1 forced to regard it not as a pure and« j polluted source of Justice, but as c, M pregnant at once with oppression and r^"J However much we may regret that||j question forced upon our discussion is IB merely relative to the right to sell spffpl still, as the principle involved is one of [a much importance to the public as onefj more generous mould, it becomes the<fr|l of independent and impartial Journalrfa to exhibit the injustice, sought to be-a flicted, in the clearest and most conchtfjl point of view. wm Licensing Day has, notoriously, lCj been one of deep and feverish excitemil to the parties concerned. Why it shell justly be so, we cannot discover by peruis of the Ordinance, either as a whole, pj even by special construction of any of || individual clauses. Yet, such is the fai|| and when we reflect upon the Judging! to which Publicans "have been yearly s ! tj jected, and, seemingly upon no other prim ciple than the pleasure of the majoritjj| a fluctuating Bench of annually fl uctuatiw opinions, it can be little matter of wod^J that Licensing Day should be regard*! with anxious hope and gloomy apprehjf sion by its victims ; with disgust and «* satisfaction by the people, who can re<s nize neither justice, equity, consiste^ nor good feeling in the decisions of* Magistracy. . Referring to the Ordinance, — that mj of conduct by which, every Magistrate 1 ! presumed to be governed, and to V^ C VI should be compelled to adhere, — wfl jj in the fourth clause the prescribed for . m .J which "every person desirous of obta** l^ a, license" shall apply : — one of the stip 1

onS being, that t^e applicant shall Age a certificate of his fitness, signed by i least five householders of his district L s being complied with, it does not apP ar at all clear that the Magistrates, acnrdmg to the fair construction of the Orfnance are justified in refusing a license ! anY and every one of "good fame and eoutation ;" such being the character Scribed by the applicants' approving ' sebolders . an( j reiterated by the Jus\\cei in their certificate of license when anted ; with the further addition that jL pcp cr son is "fit and proper to be licensed." fro our apprehension, the Ordinance clearly Lumes the right of every individual to Lnply f° r suca a ti cense ne think proper L^to so— and the Magistrates are bound 0 adjudicate upon each application if supported by the recommendation of five lou&holders, and the explicit terms of the Justices' certificate seetn to indicate that •good fame and reputation, &re," are the nrtiole a nd sole points to which they are \xpected to direct their attention. Not a Lnterice, not a syllable is there, either fiirectly or by implication, to draw the ateution of the Justices to the necessity, or be propriety, of an extra back room, of a arger yard, of a stable, — much less is there my suggestion that these are matters upon rhlch they may grant or withhold a new j cense , certainly nothing to warrant their fusing renewal of an old one. The class tiid quality of the accommodation of a louse is evidently left for the public to letermine, and not unreasonably so ; since t is only a natural inference that the pubic will patronize those most largely who ford the most liberal convenience for heir money. A reference to our report of the Liceniing Onslaught of Tuesday, which will be bund in Friday's issue, must satisfy every me that neither in its letter nor its spirit las the Licensing Ordinance been the rule if conduct for the Bench then assembled. It would sorely puzzle any Englishman of ■jght feeling to divine by what guess-work [these Justices arrived at their secret conclusions. They have departed from the only authority by which their decisions could be tendered legal. They have usurped a privilege the law does not award them, that of IdsHnnifying applicants and destroying property upon pleas of which the Ordinance makes no mention ; and they have disqualipei others, upon other equally untenable prands, dismissing them with a convenient sentence, so frequently reiterated as almost owear an appearance of having been stereotyped for the occasion, " The Bench are }F OPINION THAT YOUR HOUSE IS UNJECESSARY." 1 We must, however, take leave to tell the feench that it is not by their opinion of what Is necessary or unnecessary, that houses are lo be licensed or unlicensed ; that men are lo be upheld or ruined. It is by the law If the land ! — A pretty pass we should come »o — nay at that pass we have already arlived— if men selected from their fellows to Be public protectors are to be thus privileged to become public oppressors. If eight ■ustices of 1850 are by their mere opinion, Bnd with an " unnecessary" and unreasoning ourish to be permitted to destroy the very ien,— no crime imputed, no charge prefered,—whom their fellow Justices of 1849 amped with their approving certificates as of good fame and reputation, and as perms fit and proper to be licensed." — If such ustiees are to be allowed to sacrifice such en on the altar of their yearly opinion, hat is to become of the Publican's calling ? Ihe to be battledored out of his rights by 'eh successive Bench ? B/educed to Magisrial serfdom ? — Bowed down to solicit their I'ctoral suffrages ? — To woo their necesry or " unnecessary" opinions ? If so, a iuial, or an approval, is reduced to this tere contingency, — a prize or a blank in their er fluctuating, ever capricious, Licensing rttery. Faugh ! The system practised is i abomination. — It is a subversion of every inciple of law and equity. It is a produre so utterly irreconcilable with British stiee, that we can only hope the monstrous fractions of Tuesday will serve to arouse iat degree of vigorous resistance best calcuted to ensure constitutional redress, and to •hold the indispensable dignity of the agisterial office. We have heard it urged, by individual istiees, that the traflic in licenses has be'^e so extensive — has assumed so much * character of speculation — that decided are necessary to restrain the growing ti. Admitting the full force of this oblfition, it cannot be tortured to apply to P«ses already licensed, far less so to old Puses of established reputation, upon which ffge sums of money have been expended, [frl which afford large amounts of public •commodation. Yet many of these have W& disqualified, whilst new ones have been iw'ttsed in their immediate vicinity !—! — whence this crushing of the one, this crea-

tion of the other ? ' Upon good and sufficient reason shown to the Magistracy, and made clear to the Publican ? Nothing of the sort ! Absolutely and recklessly upon the unrecorded, sic volo sic juheo, opinion of the Bench that the one house was necessary, the other " unnecessary !" The havoc thus caused, with what, may not inaptly be characterized as vested interests, has been most distressing. — Houses renting at from £200 to £300 a year have, by this " fell swoop," been rendered worth not more than from £40 to £50. These houses, it must also be remembered, are unsuited for any other trade. Their proprietors are, therefore, involved, alike with their occupants, in one common, unmerited ruin. Had one offence been alleged, and even had conviction ensued, previous good conduct is generally admitted as an extenuating plea. But with no imputation conveyed taxed with no derilection of duty — convicted of no infringement of the Ordinance framed for their governance — to be, at the sport of a Magisterial majority, callously destroyed, — " Wbibtled off, and so let down the wind To prey at fortune." is a consummation, in our opinion, equally opposed to justice, as it is unworthy of the Magistracy. Let us take one out of several of the flagrant examples of Tuesday's disqualifications ; and that one, not so much for the peculiarity of its hardship as for the amount of the sacrifice it entails. The Caledonian Hotel, in Fort-street, a house of extensive accommodation, licensed for the last nine or ten years, is one for which a renewal has been refused. And upon what pretext ?—? — " Simply," according to our reporter, "because it was quite unnecessary to have two houses in that part of the town." Now, if one house only was necessary, and supposing this * 'necessary" to be a legal objection, in what way did the Justices determine a righteous election ? Did they overlook the fact that the one they have disqualified is a brick, the other a wooden house ? Did they forget that both have been in existence, and apparently necessary to public convenience since the very foundation of Auckland ! Are they, moreover, ignorant that' upon the requisition of a former Bench, an outlay of about £600 was incurred in the erection of brick work and other extra accommodation ? And can they conscientiously aver | that, these requisitions complied with, — a cellarage drained, — and a good wharf made in front, — that the widowed proprietress, and the industrious occupant (whose license was obtained not by speculation, but through death) were not fully entitled to renewal of that license which, without fault or complaint, has been so arbitrarily withheld? If there be speculation, amounting to gambling, for licenses, it must be with persons applying for new houses with a predetermination to make money by the transfer. If such exists, it is an evil, but it is an evil with which a discriminating Bench can easily and legally deal, and that to the public content, as well as to the public good. "We look upon the proceedings of Tuesday as most disgraceful to the Magistracy of New Ulster. If such flagrant and incompetent decisions are to be upheld, the injustice will only be equal to the injury they will entail — for in the face of such perilous, such slavish contingencies, what publican will run the risk of sinking money in the improvement of property, or in the enhancing of public accommodation, which the Bench of one year may approve, but that of the succeeding condemn? To what end are Magistrates appointed ? Surely for the public convenience and good! Are such decisions, we ask, the way to accomplish either ? If Magistrates can arrive at the conclusion that a house is "unnecessary," they should be both able and fearless in showing cause why it is unnecessary ; and lest unmerited censure should attach to all the Magistrates of a Bench, it would be well if individual opinion were expressed with the frank and generous confidence of men conscious of a grave and important trust, and neither ashamed to proclaim their sentiments to the world, nor to explain the grounds upon which their decisions may be formed. A sense of public equity requires other than the secret, casting, vote of a Magistracy to convince mankind that their decisions have been formed upon good faith and integrity, much less upon Law and Justice. Such a belief is an English prejudice— an English principle ! We ask any man how the good of an English public — even at the Antipodes — can be promoted by secret voting ? Such a cloak may, indeed, be congenial to a Venetian Council of Ten, or worthy of its appropriate counterpart, a Spanish Inquisition, but to free-spoken, freeborn Englishmen it is a detestation and a digrace !

The highminded gentry of England repudiate secrecy. They are proud to give frank and open expression to their sentiments. This is the sterling, manly, honorable English principle : It disarms distrust; it begets confidence and respect ; it teaches the public to look to the Bench, that deals thus openly and above board, as its natural protector and friend. It is this that causes English Justice to be esteemed ; — and, as a pattern worthy of imitation, it cannot be too warmly commended nor too widely followed. The adoption of a contrary course begets suspicion, — the innovation is regarded as an oppression — it engenders hatred — and inspires contempt. Every member of a Bench who submits to such a practice identifies himself with it, and however individually and strongly opposed, incurs the responsibility and shares the odium inseparable from secret voting. His private sentiments are valueless, so long as, by his presence, he tacitly gives effect to the resolutions of the undivulged majority j he must therefore be content to participate the mistrust of having acted quite as much upon prejudice as upon principle. We cannot, even for the present, take leave of the extraordinary Bench of Tuesday without urging the Chairman to attempt some immediate measures for reversal of the reckless and ruinous decisions so callously pronounced. We shrewdly suspect that several of those decisions were diametrically opposed to his superior intelligence and larger practical experience, as well as to that of other more capable members of the Bench. The question is neither a party nor a political question. It is a question in which the protection of property and the welfare of the community is largely involved — for, if so many members of the community can be thus seriously, and yet safely, injured, what security is there that outrage may not be offered to all the rest ? If Magisterial opinion, rather than Law and Justice, is to be the ruling principle in Licensing, the Publican's avocation is worse than any game of hazard, since the victim is never safe from disqualification j but, on the contrary, may, at a moment the most unlooked for, be turned upon the world, broken in spirit, and beggared in fortune, — left in an agony, such as Shy lock's, to turn upon his destroyers, and exclaim :— "Nay, take my life and all, pardon not that : You take my bouse, when you do take the prop That doth suitain my house ; you take my life When you do take the means whereby I lire.' 1

By the overland mail, which arrived from the South on Saturday, we received Wellington journals to the 23rd ultimo, From the extracts, given in another column, it will be seen that our New Munster contemporaries are, not unnaturally, astounded at the energetic strides which Auckland has made towards the establishment of an extensive trade with California. This, quoth the "Independent," like the mineral discoveries of South Australia, will furnish a handle for the claqueurs of Governor Grey to exclaim, " see how much Sir George has done in the development of the resources of New Zealand !" We rejoice to observe that even the Company's journal is fain to acknowledge the incontrovertible truth — a truth by us long and perseveriugly inculcated —that with land of easy acquisition, and at a moderate price, New Zealand must become " F.rst flower of the Etrth, And fint gem of — the (Southern) sea !"

By the schooner "Children," we learn that the barque "Bostonian," is nt the Bay of Islands, where she had arrived from San Francisco direct, in forty, five days. At has hitherto been usual with Californian ships, it is very difficult to gather anything like authentic intelligence. Rumours and reports are plentiful j but information of a reliable character' is not to be had. Jt i* said the ••Bostonian" comes for timber and potatoes ; whilst, in the same breath, it is averred that wooden-houses are a drug, if not unsaleable, and that the only timber suitable tor the market is scantling ; houses being erected of it in frame, with canvas itretched upon it for outward walls and inward partitions. The utter absurdity of such a device convinces us that the report must be a cracker I 13,000,000 feet of iawn timber are said to have arrived from the United States during tbe month of February alone ! ! The "Johnstone," ••Hamlet," "Commodore," and otber ships of similar capacity, carried on an average something like 160,000 feet of timber each. Supposing, therefore, the United States' ships to hrive "been of an average of from 350 to 400 tons each, an.) similarly freighted as our own, it would have required something like an hundred sail to have conveyed the timber spec.fied I Our joatTchunts must bide their, time until their Account .^ales reveal the real it ate of affairs.

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https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/DSC18500423.2.7

Bibliographic details

Daily Southern Cross, Daily Southern Cross, Volume VI, Issue 294, 23 April 1850

Word Count
2,835

THE SOUTHERN CROSS, TUESDAY, APRIL 23, 1850. Daily Southern Cross, Volume VI, Issue 294, 23 April 1850

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