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NOTES., Issue 7916, 25 May 1889
Her Majesty Queen Victoria completed her seventieth year yesterday. God Save One does not think of her as the Queen! being so old as that, and undoubtedly she is an energetic woman for her age. Perhaps the Queen could have no higher testimonial than the fact that, even in the most Radical circles, so little is said in her disfavor. An occasional growl sums up the indictment. When Mr Swinburne, who may be termed the president of Republican poets, can bring himself to speak (or rather sing) of his Sovereign as " a blameless Queen," it is clear that anti-regal opinions in England are not founded upon personal grounds. People do not believe nowadays that "the King can do no wrong"; they clearly recognise that he, like other men, does wrong, and Queen Victoria has not been perfect. She has made mistakes and missed opportunities of doing good, but is she not a mortal—and a woman? Moreover, she has been a very convenient kind of head for a period of political transition and turmoil. Her successor will do well if on his seventieth birthday (should he see it) he is able to present an equally " blameless " record.
Haira Te Pere was hanged at Napier last Monday week for the murder of the Pook family, his final observations in this transitory state of existence being to the effect that his brother did the deed, while he himself was but an involuntary and appalled spectator. According to Haira, a pleasant little family arrangement was patched up in order to frustrate the penal vengeance of the Caucasian and secure the immunity of the amiable brethren. This interesting plan failed of success, with the gloomy consequences of Monday week. Haira's tale may or may not be in accordance with fact, but people will not be wanting who will recognise a striking coincidence, or even a Providential sign, in the fact that the engaged executioner was unable to effect a landing. The case of James Lee will be remembered—the ca.ee where the condemned youth was thrice placed upon the gallows, and thrice the fatal screw refused to perform its function, Lee's innocence being afterwards demonstrated. Unfortunately for Haira the sceptical authorities at Napier refused to »ee the hand of Providence ; another prisoner was impressed into the honorable job (the remainder of his sentence being commuted in consideration of his patriotic services); and, moreover, the screw worked. If the screw had not worked there would certainly have been remarkable prima facie evidence in favor of the Providential theory.
Haira's Last Words.
I Mr Justice Dknniston i 9 evidently determined to avoid a judicial reputation for unobligicgness. On the West Coast the other day a facetious casuist fouuded an objection to being sworn as a juror upon the fact that the Bible was wrongly translated ! His Honor observed that the objection was a novel one ; but nevertheless kindly absolved the objector frcm serving our Sovereign Lady the Queen. Far be it from us to censure this delicate respect for scrupulous qualms; we only remark that some Judges would have somewhat peremptorily ordered the playful theologian to take his seat in the box. Supposing another man had objected to swearing service to the Queen, on the ground that he had no certain knowledgo that Her Majesty was alive at that moment, would His Honor have been equally gracious? It would not bo very difficult to invent a host of " conscientious" excuses quite as worthy of admission as that advanced by the West Coast humorist. Fortunately the majority of men prefer not to make public fools of themselves, otherwise the principle involved in Mr Justice Denniston's leniency might lead to awkward results.
We quite agree with a correspondent who wrote to us the other day as to the imbecility of the report that "Jack the Ripper" had been seen in Melbourne. It would be as sane for a man to assert that he had observed the Wandoring Jew Bauntering on the other side of the road, or had noticed Mrs Gamp's friend, Mrs Harris, getting into a tramcar. We do not mean to intimate that the miscreant of the East End does not exist, but he is altogether unknown, and there does not apparently exist the slightest clue which could lead to his identification. The Melbourne report is probably the result of some hoaxing letter. When the police receive any of these precious communications, there is surely no occasion to convey the intelligence outside. It is not sufficiently recognised how easily simple people are frightened. We ourselves know of more than one worthy soul in Dunedin who has been rendered seriously uneasy by the cablegram from Melbourne. We do not want a "Jack-the-Ripper" craze here, with its probable accompaniment of harmful practical jokes. Our larrikin mind is quite sufficiently fertile of itself. More than one woman has died in England owing to the "joke" of pretending to be the Whitechapel murderer.
No doubt every man is entitled to his own opinion, but we confess that it is not without a feeling of impatience that we read of a public meeting being held in Sydney to express sympathy with the Balfourian policy in Ireland. One can understand such manifestations in England, by men drenched with party feeling and ancient prejudices; but that people who eDJoy the unfettered liberty of colonial life should applaud the coercion rdgime in Ireland is, to put it very mildly, incongruous. In 1877, when invoking the energetic action of England on behalf of the oppressed Nationalists of Eastern Europe, Mr Gladstone expressed the hope that "the people who had built up such a glorious heritage of freedom for themselves would bo willing to do what in them lay to obtain the same inestimable boon for others." Colonists who possess a liberty of which English liberty is but a shadow should surely do nothing to retard the birth of that Irish liberty which does not yet exist. There is, fortunately, every reason to believe that the Sydney coercionists are in a small minority, and that Mr Dillon and his friends will take Home with them an expression of cordial sympathy representative of the great bulk of cojonial feeling. So it has been decided that women are not eligible for seats upon the new English County Councils. It is characteristic of Parliamentary draughtsmanship that Mr Ritchie's Bill, which was so highly praised for its "lucidity," left the point so doubtful that not until more than one woman had been elected, and the services of the Judges been obtained, was the qualification of eligibility settled. It is by no means impossible, however, that the ambiguity was purposely manipulated in order to avoid Ministerial decision of a delicate question. It is a wonder that the *' women's members ' did not have the point clearly settled when the Bill was before the House of Commons. The nullification of Lady Sandhurst's and Miss Cobden's election will be a distinct loss to the London Council, and it may be hoped that before the three years' term is over the Act may have been amended in the desired direction. It will have been noticed that the Earl of Meath has invited the House of Lords to take the first step in supplying the omission; but, needless to Bay, their lordships respectfully excused themselves, by a largemajority. The hereditary rulers would gladly have dispensed with local government altogether; to ask them of their own free will and
Women's Rights and Wrongs.
gallantry to sanction petticoat government was indeed an idle task.
It will have been noticed that Lady Aberdeen and others are initiating a movement which shall attemptto do for the Liberal cause that which has been done for the Conservatives by the notorious Primrose League. It is to be trusted, indeed, that no Liberal organisation will descend to the paltry methods of half-compulsory proselytism which are followed in the "lodges" sacred to Lord Beaconsfield's happy memory, but it ispossible to learn from one's foes without imitating their vices. It is getting to be more and more recogDised that women can exercise, and do exercise, an enormous influence, direct and indirect, upon political fortunes and electoral contests. It would be a pity for the Tories to monopolise the organisation of feminine campaigners, especially as a Liberal undertaking of this nature is likely to do a more lasting and more effective work for the party than is done on the other side. For it is observable that, whereas Conservative ladies turn to politics usually for the form and fashion of the thing, Liberal ladies only do so as the result of conviction and enthusiasm.
What mußt it not be to belong to the "hupper suckles" of the Empire City ! How spiritual and rarified must be the mental and moral atmosphere in which those favored ones live and move and have their being ! To what a Quixotic pitch has delicacy of feeling evidently attained in windy Wellington ! The mayor has issued invitations to a ball—issued them, alas ! to only 450 of the elite, whereas the elite number so very many more, Two hundred of the " many more " have, in consequence, made direct application to His Worship. What that unfortunate official purposes to say to them does not yet appear. Others, again, are reported to have adopted a more original and delicate couree, Arguing that it was utterly impossible that ilis Wash-up could have intentionally omitted them, they decided that the kindest and wisest thing under the circumstances was just to send a line accepting the invitation which—of course, through sheer inadvertence—they had not received. It would have been so provoking, you know, for the mayor to find out his mistake afterwards. Let us hope, in the interests of healthy excitement, that these thoughtful people will not fail to turn up on the evening in question, and that a policeman will stolidly demand their cards of invitation. The discovery that the Count Tolstoi, recently deceased, was the bad count and not the good one is acceptable. Men who write first-rate novels, and apply the principles of the Sermon on the Mount to their own lives, are less numerous and less readily to be spared than men who arc willing to act as agents of a gigantic despotism. Meanwhile the unfortunate Czar still trembles in an atmosphere of plots andbomb3. Hisfond friend, Mr W. T. Stead, tells us that the dear monarch is brimful of fortitude, resignation, and all the Christian virtues, but even if it be so he is nevertheless a pitiable object. And people generally seem to be uncharitably sceptical as to those same virtues. They incline to conjecture that the Czar " had" Mr Stead, the gushing and the innocently credulous. Perhaps the strongest evidence in support of the Imperial fortitude is that he has not been terrified into himself putting an end to his precarious existence.
The Wellington •Snobocracy.
NOTES., Issue 7916, 25 May 1889
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