Young and Old Australasia
A correspondent writes from Wakefield, near Nelson, to the London ' Daily News, as follows :•
There is no lesson which the Colonial Office needs to learn more imperatively than the fact that there are colonists and colonists. I am persuaded, as the result of ten years' close study of New Zealand, that most of the friction which is constantly obtruding itself into the relations of the Mother Country and her colonies is attributable to the ignorance of the Government officials as to the public feeling among the rank and file of colonial life. The men who have been regarded as the representatives of the coloniesretired squatters, wealthy merchants, colonial bishops, bank directors, and such like hangers on of London Bociety—have not given a fair representation of the prevailing tone of thought, and hence the ofttimes provoking collisions—such as that between the Queensland Government and Lord Salisbury over the Governorship. I am afraid, also, that the Australasian Press is occasionally misleading. In Melbourne, for instance, the leading journals but very inadequately represent the public spirit of Victoria. They are immensely wealthy corporations, and affect the r6le of sundry journals 3f & similar stamp nearer home; but it would be just' as absurd to take their ipsi dixit on colonial public opinion as it would be to take the utterances of the London • Times' as the voice of the English public. They are, in fact, the organs of the plutocracy, the high priests of Mammon, and nothing more. The visit of Mr John Dillon and his friends has just brought out this fact very strikingly. If scurrility could have spoilt their success in the Victorian capital the leading journals would certainly have done it. Happily, their curses were as powerless as those of an old Billingsgate fishwife, and a magnificent ovation awaited the distinguished patriots, and over LI,OOO was contributed to the Parnell defence fund. I am not aware that the even greater demonstration of Sydney was attributable to any similar influence on the part of the Press; but as the leading journal of New South Wales is a paper with so high a character as the 'Sydney Morning Herald* I should infer not Anyhow, more than L 2,000 was collected for the Irish delegates, and unbounded enthusiasm prevailed. A striking illustration of the wide gulf which separates Old and Young Australasia in matters of opinion was afforded by a recent election at Nelson. Our colonial " npper ten " has as their candidate an old resident, Mr John Sharp, a retired brewer, the present mayor of the city, and a man of considerable influence. His opponent, Mr J. G. Harkness, was son of a country farmer, a young man of no influence, as far as wealth and position go, but of high character, and thoroughly Radical sentiments, a good representation of young Australasia. The result of the election spread consternation through the ranks of upper-class society. The young New Zealander won the election by over 100 votes. It will be well for Lord Knutsford to take the gauge of this growing—and fast growing—young Colonial party, for whether the English Government likes it or not, these are the colonists who have the determining of the future relations of the colo nies with the Mother Country. I remember a conversation I had somn years ago with Mr Harkness about the " Old Home," and his contemptuous utterance which impressed me,
" The old home! What care we about the old home? 1 his is our home. Our chief use of England is to avoid her governmental blunders and her social disgrace." There is my opinion, spoke Young Australasia, and if it be deemed unfilial I would remind the British public of the fact that all the dirty linen of the old home is hung out in full view of the colonies. Reuter keeps us fully posted up in Old World news. We know all about the vagaries of your rich and the unspeakable miseries of your poor. Ireland's sores are ever before our eyes, and before us has passed the memorable doings of the " Irish Commission." We have read Sir Charles Russell's speech, and have witnessed the pitiful writhings of England's Attorney-General under his hands. We are cognisant of your departmental shortcomings—the infinite waste, the lavish expenditure, the beggarly results. Every critique of a Churchill and a Beresford reaches our ears. We see also your ecclesiastical confusion—a Reformed Church lapsing into Romanism. Bishops, priests, and clergy openly violating the law, and masquerading in the garments of Popery. What wonder, then, if young Austra-, lasia should say: " Let us keep the great Republio of America before us and pass on to the accomplishment of oar destiny." This, roughly put, is, I venture to think, the colonial attitude, let the belted knights of Belgravia say what they may. Colonists shrink from Old World social and political enormities with a morbid fear. British Governments inspire no confidence, and certainly earn no respect. Their own Governments they have well in hand. Woe to the ruler who contravenes the popular will 1 Universal suffrage and the ballot, free schools and no State Church, are democratic positions of advantage frem which there is no dislodgment; and as for the thirty-six million of British subjects who constitute the old home, if they are content to go on wearing their chains, so be it; they simply pass them by. Thoughtful men will find little difficulty in reading between the lines of Dr Dale's cautious testimony on the Australian colonies, confirmation of all that I have advanced, and Dr Hannay more than hints at an undercurrent of resolution at no distant day to cut the painter. No mean factor in the argument are the insane war panics of the Mother Country. Young Australia asks: " What want we of the cumbrous armor of Goliath round our free limbs ? We have no quarrel with any State. And as for defence, we need no outside help to protect our hearts and homes. Any wilful aggressor must lay his account with a united people, and would have to get at those hearts and homes only over our prostrate corpses." The moral of the story lies in a nutshell. Colonial Secretaries must study the undercurrents of colonial society, and if England would keep her colonies she must retain their respect by a Home Government widely different from the present burlesque.
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Young and Old Australasia, Evening Star, Issue 8018, 21 September 1889, Supplement
Young and Old Australasia Evening Star, Issue 8018, 21 September 1889, Supplement
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