The Star. SATURDAY, SEPT. 14, 1878.
That Messrs Radcliffe, Pbatt, Ruddinxxau, and Jameson should be irritated and annoyed need not excite surprise. Indeed, it would bp more surprising if they were not. The sentiments of disgust, however, are not by any means confined to fchese four gentlemen. They have resigned their seats in the Oity Council. Let us examine their right to take their present position and the relation •in which, by their last act, they atand towards the citizens. When last year they placed their services at the disposal of the ratepayers the position of City Councillors, which they agreed to fill, woe one of honour and repute. ,It was acknowledged to be such a portion as should only be conf erred upon the wisest, most honourable, and moat distinguished, of the citizens. But in the event of (he potitioa beoom-
ing degraded, Councillors, in our opinion, can no longer be held bound. Should, for instance, some low ruffian from the street, who had only just escaped hard labour at Lyttelton by the keenness and perception of his lawyers get elected to the civio Senate, — then, supposing suoh a case in this city of Christchurch to be possible — the obntract originally accepted by the sitting Councillors would be broken, but not by them.
•Let us suppose another case. If, for example, in the passing through Parlia- , ment during their term of office of a new Manicipal Corporations Act, the wise provision which disqualifies' from becoming Councillors persons guilty of certain offences, was through some oversight or misapprehension left out or neutralised* and the honourable protection which thus prevents the civio body from the liability of becoming a veritable den of thieves were swept away, the Councillors would be quite justified in takiug the position that they never consented to serve under circumstances of so dangerous a character. Then, again, as the law now stands, though an actual convicted felon is disqualified, it is possible that two or three, or even half-a--dozen besotted drnnkards, or persons in the habit of associating with profligate women and persons of the very lowest type, may in an evil hour, through Borne strange hallucination which might overtake the ratepayers, be elected to transact the Council business —members of the City Council could not be regarded as censureable for consulting their own feelings. Indeed, it will readily occur that there are a number of possible cases which would quite justify members of a Corporation in holding that the implied contract subsisting between them and the citizens had been broken, and that they were quite free to follow their own inclination. Every man must be allowed to be the best judge of what is due to himself, and it is generally upon a man's estimate of his own value that he is accepted by the community. Insults — to use a familiar saying — are just as they are taken. There are some persons indeed, so utterly destitute of moral perception and whose natural instincts are so debased that it is not possible to insult them at all. The four Councillors — if they feel themselves humiliated, which we must suppose they do — have certainly a perfect right to take any steps which they may think requisite to show that they at all events do not belong to that class of in* dividuals.
We do not propose to disouss to-day the merits o£ the particular act which has severed the connection of some of our most estimable citizens with the service of the ratepayers. We have acknowledged their right and pointed oat some of the grounds upon which it is established. We do not blame them, but we regret that they should have consulted their own feelings only. When a fracas occurs between drunken I blackguards in the streets, we commend the self-respect and the wisdom of the individual who declines to enter a melee in which he would be brought in contact with bad characters —but, at the same time, we are ready to applaud the . individual who is prepared to make some little sacrifice of his feelings, and bravely fight for the protection of his neighbours from spoliation and robbery. We know that the four gentlemen who have resigned hold that it would have been a sacrifice to have remained longer members of the City Council, but we regret that they were not prepared to run the risk of the sacrifice required of them. We do not blame them for the course they have taken, but in such a course as we have indicated — supposing it to have been required — we would have applauded them. We fear that in resigning the Councillors have aoted hastily, impulsively, under the influence of very natural feelings, and thereby a great mistake has been made. Even although the result of the polling was most irritating and disgusting, the interests of the ratepayers should nevertheless have been weighed. As it is, the citizens have been abandoned. By this act the door has been left open, and free scope given for a repetition of the injuries which have led to their retire* ment. We are sure that the resigning Councillors have never fully considered the whole aspect of the case in regard to the citizens and the full bearing whioh tbe course they have taken is likely to have upon the future prospects of the city If they had only waited a day or two the sting of the election wonld have lost its virus, and steps could easily have been taken to have reduced the sacrifice required to a minimum. Under the circumstances of the possible action which might have been taken, the interests of the citizens would have been rendered safe, whereas the position now is one of great danger. The honour of the City may sustain a yet greater blow — possibly a yet lower level may be found to which to reduce to oontemptibility the principles of local government. We deeply regret that the City has lost the security afforded by the late possessors of seats in the City Council. Our language is nob that of censure but of j regret. Public men in public positions must of necessity be unselfish, or they would not enter public life at all, and unselfishness is perhaps never better exemplified than when, under circumstances of great provocation, they put their private wrongs in their pocket and proceed with the discharge of the duties they have undertaken. We, at all events, cannot allow ourselves to ho disheartened or discouraged. We must continue to fight for the realisation of a high ideal — for civic purity and advancement. The fight, however hopeless it may appear, must never be weakly given up. We are hopeful that champions of morality, purity, and public spirit will come forward to aid us, and that the misfortune which has overtaken the city may yet be the meanß of producing good fruit in the banding together for the public good of all true friends of law, sobriety, and order. :
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The Star. SATURDAY, SEPT. 14, 1878., Star, Issue 3257, 14 September 1878
The Star. SATURDAY, SEPT. 14, 1878. Star, Issue 3257, 14 September 1878
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