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SOIREE IN DUNEDIN., Otago Witness, Issue 3, 8 March 1851
SOIREE IN DUNEDIN.
A Soiree, arranged by the following householders in Dunedin, who had prepared the programme and secured the speakers, and also acted as stewards, was held in the School House, on the evening of the 21st January : — Mr. John Healey, late of Edinburgh, — r Henry Clark, do. do., (originally Dunse.) — John Proudfoot, do. do. — James Adam, do. Aberdeen. — Charles Robertson, do. Airdrie.
The Chair was taken by the Rev. Thomas Burns, at 6 o'clock, who constituted the meeting by praise and prayer. Tea and Coffee having been served — ■ Anthem — Give Thanks !
(Sung by an amateur band, led by Mr. Adam, and accompanied by grand Piano Forte.)
' The Aspect of the Colony ' was then announced from the Chair as the subject of a short address ; and Captain Cargill being called upon, stated in substance as follows :—: —
It is necessary upon this interesting subject, in the first place, shortly to refer to the circumstances in which the Otago Settlement was undertaken. New Zealand colonisation having been grievously obstructed for a series of years, chiefly by misrule and inconsistency on the part of the Government, and partly, also, by inveterate quarrelling between the New Zealand Company and the Government authorities : an apparent truce to these evils was announced in 1842, and followed in '43 with such an appearance of peace and general redress, that the scheme of this settlement, then called ' New Edinburgh,' was published, and about to be proceeded with. But it turned out that even then the main battle for redress had yet to be fought. Things got worse and worse : the old settlers were to a great extent ruined and scattered, and New Zealand presented the singular aspect of being physically the most attractive to British colonists, and at the same time the most repulsive, by means of injustice and misrule. I merely state the fact, but without assigning to any one party its precise share of the blame. "Well, then, the battle was waged in earnest; and most nobly did the New Zealand Company take its part, shewing, at that time, a tact, an energy, and a power, both in and out of parliament, that could hardly be sui'passed, which secured the Parliamentary Committee of 1844, laying bare the whole ulcer of New Zealand wrongs, and was followed in '45 by the debate on the report of that .Committee, led by Mr. Charles Buller, and which decidedly carried the House. So far the victory was complete. The sagacious premier, Sir Robert Peel, admitted the whole af the evils complained of, and pledged his cabinet that every one of them should be amply and speedily redressed. The pledge was honestly made, and such things as could be done were set about at once ; but, besides the complication of the whole matter, there was the necessity, on many points, of corresponding with New Zealand^ and it was not till 1847 that matters were sufficiently adjusted by Acts of Parliament, and Orders in Council, to warrant the resumption of colonisation. Had this adjustment occurred in '43, there would probably have been sufficient faith in it, but the long series of wrongs, and the exposure of them from year to year, had so possessed the public mind, that few could believe in the reality of the change, or that the Otago Settlement, now advertised, was really to be proceeded with. Almost every one hung back till the fact should be established by others, and it was in these circumstances that the Company and Association resolved on the immediate despatch of a preliminary party. The party sailed accordingly in December, '47, in the full knowledge of having to attack the wilderness in the beginning of winter, with provisions, indeed, but with no other appliances for present shelter and future progress jthan what they could create for themselves.
Since that time nearly three years have elapsed, and now comes the question as to the result of that achievement, or, in other words, % the present aspect of the Colony.' Be it observed, that the sailing of the first little party could not have restored confidence in a general sense, — that must depend on the reports of the party, and which, to be satisfactory, would require another three years or so ; but it had the effect, in the meanwhile, of bringing forward a few, and of thereby enereasing our population by driblets from the 260 souls first landed, to about 1,450, our present population, as nearly as may be. Such, then, being our numbers, the questions to be answered are, what is the character of our people as settlers, and the progress they have made ? what their experience of the climate, and the capabilities of the site? what the impression at home, as notified by the lastarrival ?
As to the character of our, people, religious and industrial, and the progress made by them as founders of the Settlement, I will leave it to an experienced onlooker, to a Reverend father who is to address the meeting, to state the impressions made by his present visit, and I crave this liberty because of his having been urged, on leaving our father land, to look narrowly into our homesteads, as well as our public assemblies, and to_ report faithfully to those who take a deep interest on-aIT that concerns us. I will only 'state, in respect* of the progress made, that the harvest now being reaped, will amount to about 100 acres of excellent wheat, besides oats and barley, together with po.tatoes and vegetables about equal to our consumption ;— that to the 273 houses erected on the 31st March last, at a cost of about £15,600, there has since been added about 50 more of ,a greatly improved and improving characjpbr j— that the number of horses, sheep, and cattle-have been about doubled within the year, and, what" is still more to the purpose, that at a recent meeting .for the purpose of reviewing our position, the settlers recorded their, conviction of being now strong enough to stand alone, and to progress without further addition from home, if the will of God were so, -But of which last, I believe,' there is no indication whatever. (Applause.)' < ' , "As to our experience o,f tfte climate and the capabilities of our site, :I need : only to mention the sub-
ject to ensure a response of nearly all who hear me, that these have generally exceeded our best expectations; and we have the further testimony of visitors from the other settlements, that, for the extent of our scheme, we have the most compact, attractive, and profitable site that could have been found, regard being had to its combined advantages for tillage, pasturage, and fisheries, together with inland navigations and a useful harbour. In regard to the impressions at home, they are to be seen in the documents lately published, especially the petition of the Association and Earl Grey's reply to it, and which impressions are farther confirmed by the passengers of the Titan, so as to indicate additional arrivals of the same stamp as those who have lately joined us; and thus not onlyto swell ournumbers, but to maintain our character as a harmonious and welldoing community.
I have assumed that the ' aspect of the Colony,' as stated in the programme, had special reference to the Otago Settlement ; but if we refer to the hopeful movement at the Canterbury, — to the partially renewed immigration in the old settlements, and to the fact that whatever contributes to the restored popularity of New Zealand colonisation must benefit the whole and every part of the colony. If we refer, moreover, to the system of representative institutions, the only pledge that had not been made.good to us, but now on its way from the imperial parliament, we cannot but admit that the aspect of the colony is hopeful to our hearts' content. (Applause.)
Anthem — The Earth is the Lord's !
'The Duty of Colonists* was then spoken to by the Rev. W. Nicolson, late of London "Wall. — Referring to the call which his friend Captain Cargill made upon him to state the result of his observations as to the character and circumstances of the settlement, he said that, as his observations were not yet completed, it was rather too early to give his report ; yet, he might just say, that from all he had seen of the people and the place, he was disposed, without going into particulars, to certify generally in very favorable terms. In proof of his good opinion, he might mention two facts, viz. : that since Ms arrival in the colony he had made himself an Otago laird ; and that had it been consistent with his duty, and had not he been charged with a commission to proceed to another country, he would have been very happy to have remained among them. These two facts were substantial proofs of his good will and good opinion. He had great pleasure in referring to the industry and enterprise which he had witnessed among the agricultural portion of the community. He had inspected several of the localities where farming operations were going on, and was delighted to see the judicious and persevering operations of such men as Mr. Valpy of the Forbury, Mr. Todd of Anderson's Bay, Mr, Blackie of Cayersham Valley, and others. It was by such operations that the colony was to become self-supporting. Every bag of flour purchased from a ship took so much money out of the colony, but every bag purchased from those who had raised it in the colony, was a transaction, not only advantageous to both parties, but retained the money among themselves, as a means of further improvements. Another class of persons useful in a colony like this was hardy laborers. Nor did he forget that, in such a state of things, there would be found among the laboring class many who had not been heretofore accustomed to labor. But it was plain, that the man to be useful in an infant settlement, must be one who either has the money to pay for labor, or is willing to be a laborer himself. The useful colonist is he who, although at home he may have walked erect, and never soiled his hands with toil, is ready, on coming here, to wage war against the manuka-tree and fern-root ; and, in doing so, let all such true-hearted ones know that they have the means of laying the foundation for the future comfort and independence of their families, which they never could accomplish at home. He would, however, caution them to beware of being in too great haste to be rich : the shortest way of doing a thing is not always the best. The Rev. Rowland Hill is said to have once advertised that he would preach a sermon, and teach those who should attend how to make a pair of shoes in five minutes ; and when a great multitude had assembled, the good man embraced the occasion, as it was his object to preach the truth to them as it is in Jesus, and then, at the conclusion of the service, he kept his word by telling them that if they would cut the legs from a pair of boots, they would have a pair of shoes immediately. Now, this was doubtless a short way of getting a pair of shoes, but whether it was the best way is a very different question. In all their pursuits, however, he would beseech them to be harmonious and united. And as they were now about organising a Sustentation Fund in their Church, he hoped they would be united in this matter also. As Free Churchmen, the principles of the Free Church were their principles, and there could be no doubt it was the duty of every man to give his part in providing for the ordinances of religion. Mr. Nicolson concluded by narrating some interesting circumstances in his own experience of the working of the sustenation fund in the Free Church of Scotland, tending to prove that a cheerful giver to the Lord's causcis often thereby more abundantly enriched — God providing for those who honor ,him. The Rev. gentleman was repeatedly cheered, and sat down under a torrent of applause. Anthem — Sing'unto God ! 1 Social Harmony,' by Mr. Justice Stephen. Mr. Justice -Stephen illustrated the subject committed to him with great feeling and good taste, and. with an impression upon the audience that will, not easily be forgotten. We regret that want of , space prevents our insertion of, or doing anything like justice to, his admirable address. ' Intemperance, 1 by Dr. Purdie. » Dr. Purdie having referred to the unparalleled greatness of the British Empire, — to the achieve* ments of her navy- and army — to lier industry-* science and wealth.-7-drew a strong picture' of what would appear to be the alone check to her farther glory and influence— the tarnishing, vice of intemp-
erance. He showed the effect of this national evil upon the mind of foreigners ; and still more ingly in the squalid misery and crime produced by it in the crowded streets that surround the palaces of the great and the rich ; filling, also, the hospitals I for insane and deceased; and landing the victims by thousands in an untimely grave. He called upon every one to do what he could to eradicate, and, above all, in a young colony, where the temptation was great, to guard against its entrance by every means in his power:' Anthem — Miriam's Song! 1 Education,' by Rev. Thomas Burns. The Chairman then rose, and said that he had been requested to address them on the subject of Education, but that he would not, at that late hour, enter into such afield, where he must necessarily encounter a variety of topics of a grave and weighty character. He would merely take that opportunity of stating how our Statistics as to Education stand at this moment, as made up by himself in the course of his annual ministerial visitation of the settlement. The statement is as follows :—: — Names of the separate Districts. P. "B S£ a m Shil 1. Town of Dunedin District , 581 100 2. North-East Valley do 158 43 3. Half-Way Bush do 131 39 4} Green Island Bush, Forbury, &c. 11l 33 0. Anderson's Bay District 87 23 Total within Church-going dis — — tance of Dunedin 1068 238 6. The Harbour, including Port Chalmers and the Heads 238 36 7. TheTaieri 108 15 8. The Waihola, Tokomairiro, and Clutha 41 8 Total, 1445 297 Thus there are in the settlement no fewer than 297 children between the ages of 5 and 15, who ought to be in school; whilst the number attending the school of Dunedin is 40 ; the girls' school of Dunedin, 20; and the other 3 schools in the NorthEast Valley, Anderson's Bay, and Port Chalmers, 40; in all, 100 children in actual attendance at school, whilst there ought to be three times as many. This, it must be admitted, is a very staggering statement, more especially if we consider the high national character in point of education which we inherit from our forefathers. Most earnestly it is to be hoped that next year's statistics may represent i;he state of education in the colony in a greatly more creditable condition. Conclusion — psalm by the meeting, and benediction from the Chair. « The meeting broke up at 9 o'clock, highly pleased with the entertainment. Tickets had been issued at Is. 6d., and the attendance, of all ranks and 1 sexes, numbered about one hundred and fifty.
SOIREE IN DUNEDIN., Otago Witness, Issue 3, 8 March 1851
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