Typo: A Monthly Newspaper and Literary Review, Volume 3
The Dunedin exhibition is one of the greatest mistakes the colony has ever made. The Christchurch fiasco was bad enough, but this bids fair to be worse. The promoters calculate that the £10,000 promised by the Government, besides railway concessions, &c., will be insufficient, and are asking for more. By a « fluke » they have carried in both houses a bill that will practically turn the thing into a big liquor saloon. The stupidest part of the affair to fix it coincidently with the Paris Exhibition, to which all the world is going. New Zealand is said to be miserably represented there—all her exhibits are in Dunedin, for New Zealanders themselves to look at! And notwithstanding the paltry and humiliating show at Paris, without even a catalogue in the French language, our liberal Government has appointed more paid « commissioners » than are found necessary for the whole of the United States! New Zealand indeed possesses marvellous vitality—otherwise it would long ere this have been strangled with Red Tape.
A good many suicides have taken place in this colony lately, and in three recent instances in Napier, letters were left by the parties, setting forth their motives, their disbelief in a future state, &c., and these letters have been published in full in the press. It is a suggestive and significant fact that letter No. 2 was in many respects an echo of No. 1, and No. 3 was evidently the composition of a man who had read both the others, and whose morbid state of mind they had greatly affected. The local coroner, while admitting the perfect right of the press to publish such letters, strongly deprecated the practice, as being mischievous; and in consequence he has been warmly criticised. We are not sure that the coroner was right. We doubt whether the press had any right whatever to publish either of these letters. In each case they were addressed to surviving friends, whose property they were, and who were entitled to say whether or not they should be published. It does not appear that such permission was given; and if not, the press have not only published very unwholesome reading, and telegraphed it far and wide, but have taken an unjustifiable liberty with papers of a private nature.
« Macandro, » in the Buller Miner, referring to our criticism of his little poem last month, acknowledges his obligation to Whittier for the measure employed, but « thinks he can fairly claim some originality for being the first, as far as he knows, to engage the Muse in the service of the coal trade. » We copy another short piece this month by the same clever writer, and commend it to the notice of the compilers of New Zealand School reading-books.
England has given Europe an object-lesson on the subject of sabbath observance far more impressive than any homily. Sunday is the high-day of the Paris exhibition, and the day of heaviest toil and strain for officials and servants. But on each Sunday « the many thousands who flock to the exhibition are struck by the silent protest presented by the fact that the British section with its exhibits is covered up, and the exhibitors away. »
The Mataura Ensign has discovered the following comical instance of telegram interpretation:— « This is what the Southland Times made of a message yesterday:—'Dr Moorhouse, Bishop of Manchester, in an address dealing with the burial question, expressed himself in favor of the adoption of cremation as against the present system of interment.' The Otago Daily Times made it another suit altogether. It said:—'Bishop Moorhouse, of Manchester, whose name was amongst those mentioned for the Primacy of Australia, has expressed himself in favor of the creation of a bishop for the purpose.' Now, what is it? Is the bishop a convert to cremation, or does he want a special perambulating Australian bishop? »
There is no better test of a working principle than to follow it out to its logical issues. When this method is applied to free-trade and protection, the fallacy of the latter becomes evident. No protectionist, « fair » -trader or advocate of « reciprocity » has ever ventured to be consistent. If interchange is good between street and street of a town, or a town and its suburbs, and restriction would be injudicious, the same rule applies between town and country, city and city, colony and colony, nation and nation. No free-trader is afraid of pushing his doctrine to the fullest extent. The more widely it is accepted, the better for all concerned. The protectionist is always in a vicious circle. Each new duty imposed upsets the desired equilibrium, and necessitates fresh imposts, which in their turn neutralize the supposed advantages of the former taxes, and the whole machinery of state is diverted to the humiliating object of bolstering up private monopolies. Protection reduced to its ulti-mates would sweep every ship from the ocean, and every railway train and carriers' cart from the land. It would bring about a state of barbarism more primitive than that in which the simple savage who is an adept at carving exchanges his paddle for the fish which his neighbor has caught. In the protectionist paradise, every man must build his own hovel, weave his own loin-cloth, and live (or starve) on such subsistence as he can wring from the soil by his own unaided exertions.
If there is a department in the government of New Zealand more under the dominion of red tape and characterized by administrative folly than that of her Majesty's Customs, we should like to know what it is. The anomalies of the tariff are bad enough, but they are outdone by the contradictory decisions of the commissioner at head-quarters, which have made confusion worse confounded, and have made it almost impossible for an importer to pass entries for a case of sundries without some dispute or discussion with the department. Formerly a disputed matter could be adjusted by a post entry, and unless the amount was serious, the importer paid the difference rather than go to the trouble of appealing to Wellington. We have known a post entry required for an alleged deficiency of 1s 6d in an amount of £8 or £10 duty, when the discrepancy was due to a bonâ fide question of classification. But the vagaries of the new « expert, » instead of opening the eyes of the government to his invincible stupidity, have apparently impressed them with a fixed belief in the deep-seated dishonesty of all importers, great and small. An order has now gone forth that in future no post entries are to be allowed, any supposed error in description is treated as a fraud, and is to be reported to Wellington, the offender is to be fined, and his goods retained until the matter is settled at headquarters. Importers have submitted to injury long enough—they are now subjected in addition to the most scandalous insult. And the kind of tariff which they are supposed to master is one which passes paperhangers' shears free and taxes tailors' shears, and in a single series of drawing-books, admits free those numbers containing ornamental subjects, and claps a tax on the more practical ones dealing with engineering and freehand drawing. The civil service of New Zealand is a costly and magnificently-organized institution. One thing, however, it entirely lacks—brains!