Canvassing Under Difficulties.
Mr Tanner: Sir, on one occasion I contested an election, and it was a single electorate in one of the country districts. Well, I had to travel thirteen days to go through the whole district, and I had to speak fourteen times. But it is not only the travelling ; there are really many dangers as well as difficulties in contesting these elections in the country, when they are held in the winter, when the weather is bad and the rivers are flooded. On one occasion I had to go into the primeval forest that stretches away to the foot of the Ruahine —I had to go on foot through the bush three or four miles, and nearly got bogged three or four times. When I got to the foot of a hill I saw a little light on the top, and when with great difficulty we had climbed the hill there was a little school, with a couplo of candles in it that " made darkness visible "; and when I got into it what did I see? In the foremost forms Scandinavian women, with books in their hands. I siid to one standing by " Will you tell me what books these women have in their hands?" and he inquired, and then turned to me smiling, saying " The women have brought their Bibles, thinking yon were going to preach a sermon to them." I ask the hon. member for Parnell what he would have done under such circumstances. Mr Moss could not tell—never had such an experience.
Mr Tanner: No, the hon. gentleman never had such an experience ; he does not know what a country candidate has to go through. An Hon. Member: Were there any men present, and how many ? Mr Tanner: About thirty or forty. An Hon. Member: Were they the husbands ? Mr Tanner: I cannot tell. All I know is that I did not go there to woo the ladies ; I went to woo the gentlemen. There was no comfortable hostelry there to retire to. I had to accept, and very heartily did accept, the hospitality of the Scandinavians. The next day there was the journey on foot through the bush. Beyond that I had to ride a hundred miles to the East Coast, across rivers and flooded creeks, and over mountain ridges, and in the teeth of a southeaster. When I got to the hamlet I had to speak to about twenty people, and after that to retire to the little wayside inn, and then found that its three bedrooms were occupied, and I had to be indebted to the oow- ' boy, who kindly placed his little garret at |my disposal. I will not harrow the feelings of hon. members or the feelings of the hon. member for Parnell by saying what I experienced, but I know that I smoked bo vigorously that I could hardly see the small light in the room. It is all very well for town members to laugh at this sort of thing, for they do not experience it. Now, I will give the hon. gentleman another bit of my experience. On my way back I met one of my opponents on the top of one of the highest ridges. A terrible north-west gale was blowing—such a gale that the northwest gales of Wellington are mild zephyrs to it; it was hard enough to blow the buttons off one's coat. As I passed my friend and opponent we could scarcely shriek salutations to each other; and immediately after we had passed, my friend's guide, who was well mounted on a strong horse, when passing over one of the ridges, was lifted clean out of the saddle and pitched into a gully, and my friend only saved himself by leaning forward on his horse and clinging round its neck. That will give some idea of the country and experiences we had to pass through. Now, I should like to picture the hon. member for Parnell in that position. When he returned it would be delightful to hear him, like Othello, tell of hairbreadth 'scapes by flood and field. But what is more to the point, when the hon. gentleman returned to this House I feel quite sure he would be one of the strongest advocates for an increased quota. The hon. gentleman would then say: " Give them 100 per cent.—they have well earned it."
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Canvassing Under Difficulties., Evening Star, Issue 7984, 13 August 1889
Canvassing Under Difficulties. Evening Star, Issue 7984, 13 August 1889
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