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Life of Sir George Grey: Governor, High commissioner, and Premier. An Historical Biography.

His Attitude

His Attitude.

When a man who has held superior office condescends to fill one of a somewhat lower kind, he may be advised to assume a position of lofty impartiality. Such an attitude was taken by Sir Robert Peel in his closing years. It was scarcely possible for Adams, on fire with abolitionist zeal, or for Wakefield, whose distinctive ideas had been assailed by Grey's legislation, to become "the acknowledged arbiter in public questions and moderator of political dissensions." A sagacious and experienced official—the Clerk of the House of Representatives— counselled Grey to make himself the judicial Nestor of public life in New Zealand. Never for a moment did he intend to pursue—never for an hour was he capable of pursuing—any such policy. If ever such moderation was possible for so imperious a nature under any circumstances, it was doubly impossible now. The Ministry of the day was bent on destroying that part of the Constitution which was pre-eminently his handiwork, if any part of it were his—the Provincial institutions. To the grief of seeing the constitution he had drafted mangled by ill-informed Ministers on the advice of treacherous colonists was to be added the mortification of witnessing the last living relic of it killed. All the pride of a parent in his offspring or of an author in his work, all the anger of an autocrat who saw the creatures of his hands rebelling against their maker, poured itself out in speeches page 184of a kind never before heard in a House where the style of public speaking had been much above the average level of that of colonial legislatures.