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A FRIEND OF THE

PEOPLE

JOHN EDWARD JENKINSON

(By L.F.)

Conquered in the body but steadfast in soul, John Edward Jenkinson went to his rest this week, at the age of seventy-nine years. Some facts of his useful life, particularly his service as one of the Seddonian "Twelve Apostles" in the Legislative Council, have appeared in "The Post," but the brief summary gave only an indication of his self-sacrificing public spiritedness. A valiant stalwart worker for the people in the years of his strength, he lived long enough to be forgotten except by old-time friends. The furrows that he helped to plough in the democratic field have been harrowed and sown by many hands, but his part in the making of the harvest is remembered by only a few who knew the rugged land of the pioneering. That kind of fate is usually inevitable, for the tides of life are ever changing. "The times are changed, and we are changed in them," as an'old Roman writer has truly said.

Standing among the mourners at the graveside the- writer's mind turned to a passage of Carlyle's "Lectures on Heroes": "A man lives by believing something; not by debating and arguing about many things. A sad case for him when all that he can manage to believe is something he can button in his pocket, and with one or the other organ eat and digest. . . .

The world's wages are pocketed; the world's work is not done." Well, John Jenkinson did believe something. He believed in justice for the people; he believed in striving to raise the standard of living for the average family. He was not the kind of politician that Carlyle decried in these words: "Woe for us if we had nothing but what we can show or speak. . . . Let others that cannot do without standing on barrelheads to spout, and be seen of all the market-place, cultivate speech exclusively—become a most green forest without roots."

There are two kinds of politician— "worders" and workers. John Jenkinson was a worker, a faithful, intelligent, effective worker, but his duties did not bring him much before the public gaze. Journalists know well that committee work in secluded rooms, to which the Press is not admitted, is among the most important business of Parliament. In those rooms, out of sight and out of mind of the general public, the mettle of legislators is tested. There the real worker for the public can prove his worth, and the bluffer, the superficial opportunist, betrays his ignorance and has his shallowness exposed. As a member of the Statutes Revision Committee John Jenkinson won the highest tributes of Leaders of the Legislative Council. "He should have been a lawyer," said Sir John Findlay, and a similar remark was made by Sir Francis Bell. Flaws in Bills which experienced lawyers missed were detected by Mr. Jenkinson in committee. He had the ability to throw his mind forward to the time when the proposed law would be in operation and was thus able to suggest timely amendments.

Many a time his vigilance defeated the schemes of self-seekers. The writer remembers well a case of craft which Mr. Jenkinson broke up during the final helter-skelter of a session many years ago. It was a • section of the "Washing-up" Bill amending a general Act to permit a reduction of the width of streets in certain circumstances in subdivisions of land for residential purposes. There was nothing in the subtle wording of the section to indicate that it was meant to apply to any particular district, but it was noticeable that one member was a special pleader behind the scenes of the House of Representatives. Members, eager to return home, suspected no guile, and the Bill quickly and quietly slipped through the Lower House. Just before it reached the Council Mr. Jenkinson discovered that the promoters of the street-width section had a Wellington suburb in mind. The owners of a large estate were hoping for a big advantage against the public interest. Mr. Jenkinson reported the ruse to "The Post," which exposed the scheme, and the obnoxious section was thrown out by the Council.

Ladies! We do the Cleverest Fur Work in New Zealand. Bring us your Fur Coaf requiring repairs. Fur Tailors, Ltd., 68 Manners Street, between Regent Theatre and Shillings.— Advt.

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Permanent link to this item

https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/EP19371204.2.85

Bibliographic details

A FRIEND OF THE, Evening Post, Volume CXXIV, Issue 135, 4 December 1937

Word Count
720

A FRIEND OF THE Evening Post, Volume CXXIV, Issue 135, 4 December 1937

Working