Monday Evening Political Addresses.
Auckland Printed at the Star Office, Shortland Street.MDCCCLXXXVII.
The Political Campaign.
Mr. J. Aitken Connell's Address to Young Colonials.
Mr J. Aitken Connell (candidate for Eden) delivered in the Choral Hall, Auckland, on July 25th, an address to "Young Colonials," being the second of his series of "Monday Evening Political Addresses." There was an assemblage of fully a thousand persons, of which by far the largest proportion were youths and young men.
MrConnell, on making his appearance upon the platform, was received with cheers. He said: Ladies and Gentlemen,—I am compelled to ask you to-night as usual to choose your own chairman, for I have no chairman to propose.
After an awkward pause Mr Geo. Akers proposed that Mr Wm. Kelly (former member for the East Coast) should take the chair. (Applause.)
Mr Council called for a show of hands in favour of the proposition, and a large number were held up. Another long pause ensued.
Mr Kelly declined the honour on the ground that he was not an elector of the district.
Mr Connell: Well, it is rather an unusual thing in a large meeting of this kind that we cannot get a man to take the chair. If you cannot give me a chairman, I shall be obliged to choose one myself. I am quite in your hands, gentlemen.
Mr Akers was then proposed, but declined.
Mr. J. R. Green next moved that Mr. J. M. Philson should take the chair.
Mr. Philson: I am not an elector in this district.
Mr. Connell: That does not at all matter; you had better take the chair.
Mr. Philson: Much obliged, but I would rather not.
At this stage, loud cries of "Hodge!" were raised, and Mr. Connell said that he would be very glad if Air. Hodge would come forward and take the chair.
Mr. Hodge, however, did not appear to be present, and the proceedings again hung tire.
After a minute or two of hesitation Mr Connell said: There is a gentleman here I would like extremely to take the chair. I will tell you why later on. He is a young colonial (cheers), and I beg, therefore, that this gentleman here [pointing to Mr George Sexton] should take the chair. Mr Sexton, however, preferred to retain his seat, and firmly shook his head to all Mr Connell's inducements for him to mount the platform.
Finally, Mr Connell said: Well, gentlemen, if you cannot give me a chairman, you cannot expect me to give you a speech.
Hereupon Mr Geo. Akers rose from his seat, strode up to the platform and took the chair, amidst loud cheers. In opening the meeting he said: Ladies and gentlemen,—Electors of Auckland city,—On account of being called to the chair, I think I am hero in my right place. (Applause.) Mr Connell told us the other night that he was an old colonial. Well, I am also an old colonial. (Applause.) He told us too that in the year 1859 he stood on the Queen-street Wharf with only sixpence in his pocket. To that I may say that, in the same year, I was for three weeks in Auckland with only sixpence in my pocket. I went up in the world after that, but I have come down again since. Ladies and gentlemen, I trust you will give an impartial hearing to Mr Connell for his address. (Cheers.)
Upon rising to address the audience, Mr. Connell was greeted with renewed outbursts of cheering. He said: Ladies and gentlemen,—I am happy to be able to say this evening that I can see in all your eyes the intention to give me a fair hearing. (Cheers.) Now, this evening I have to speak to you on the subject of Democratic and Representative Institutions. I am sorry that I will not be able to speak to you as loudly as I could wish, because in going to Waiwera I caught a cold; but at any rate I will speak as loud as I can. My object in calling this meeting, as you are aware, is particularly to meet the young colonials of New Zealand, and my reason for doing that is that I recognise the fact page 4 that we have in the young colonials of New Zealand a very large force, and, as I have told you already, I profess to be a tactician. (Loud laughter.) I told you also that a tactician always looks about him for a big force, and, therefore, I have invited the young colonials of New Zealand to meet me to night, because I recognise in them by far the largest force in the country. (Applause.) Now, gentlemen, it is my purpose to-night to endeavour to impress on each of your minds that which is impressed on my own mind, viz., that every young colonial in New Zealand is a very important person. (Laughter.) Most of you are aware that I am not a man who hesitates to tell big men and great men the truth to their faces, and in the face of the colony, and I say also at the same time that I am not a man to hesitate to say good things of any men if they deserve them, and I think the young colonials of New Zealand deserve some very excellent things to be said about them, and it is because they are true that I intend to say them. Now, there are a large number of persons who are only capable of taking a superficial view of things. People of this stamp — I speak as a politician—when they look over the face of society and see a large amount of what is called "larrikinism," and juvenile crime, say, "Ah, what is to become of New Zealand when these youngsters grow up, become electors and have the Government in their hands?" To these persons I reply, "If you take nothing more than a pessimistic view of things, you are not able to see very far through a grindstone. You are only looking at the skin and surface of things." The larrikin element is chiefly to be met with in our large towns, and I think I am correct in saying that it is in proportion to the rest of the population probably not 1 per cent. With regard to the remaining 99 per cent.—with regard to the great mass of the young population of the colony, I think so highly of them that it is my distinct purpose that they shall be an example, not only to the Australian colonies, but also to England and America. I believe that in the young men of this colony we have material not to be surpassed in the whole world. (Loud applause.) Now, when we come to look at democracy it will be found that a large number of people are afraid of democracy because they think it an institution that is bound to end in revolution and ruin. Now I tell you emphatically that I am a democrat to the backbone. (Applause.) I firmly believe in democracy. I believe it to be the grandest and most magnificent type of government the world has ever seen, because it is the government of the people by the people and for the people themselves. There have been other good forms of government in the world, but there has been no form of government, in my opinion, which is a patch upon democracy. But unless you have the individual units of a democratic nation of good material there is no possibility of having a grand and great democracy. If you have them debased and corrupted then you cannot expect to find a pure form of democratic government.
Dangers Threatening Modern Democracies.
Now it is my purpose to-night to show you some of the dangers which threaten our modern democracies, and in order that you may be interested in tracing these to their source, I propose to glance back at the causes which have wrecked democracies in the past. I am not one of those persons who are fond of theoretical arguments, but I attach the greatest weight to historical facts. If you can bring me a single fact to show the operation of a custom, of a law, of a vice, or of anything else, and say, "There is the consequence of it," I begin to look at it with the keenest interest; and it is by a study of the causes which led to the decay and fall of the ancient democracies that we may hope to save ourselves from similar disasters. If we find the same causes operating and producing the same results as in ancient times, it behoves those of us who look below the surface to be anxious, and watchful, and raise a warning voice in the endeavour to save our modern democracies from the dangers which overtook and overwhelmed the ancient ones. And before we go to these ancient republics let me put it to you in this way. You can easily see and understand that if we took 100,000 of the Pacific islanders and put them into one of our great countries, they would never make a democracy. It would be impossible. We are indebted to the history and traditions of our forefathers, to the customs of our forefathers, to the information sent down to us through the art of printing and now accumulated into a vast mass, being imparted to us in our earliest years—it is solely in consequence of all this, and the training we receive from the time we are born until we are called upon to exercise the vote of an elector, that we arrive at sound principles. Therefore it is highly important to all of us that the great institutions on which we depend for successful training should be preserved in their purity and integrity. I have referred in my address to the women of Auckland (laughter) to one of the great causes to which we can trace the fall of ancient Rome. We find the earliest danger in an attack upon the sanctity and beauty of the marriage tie, and, after the divorce laws had been page 5 changed and related, instead of the Roman matron being held up to the admiration of the whole world for her chastity and loyalty to her husband, she gradually became degraded until, in the last years of the Republic, when the State was plunged in civil war, women thought nothing of poisoning their husbands. In a single year two hundred women were found guilty of poisoning their husbands. (Laughter.) And women in the highest places—not merely the lowest portion of the population—were found guilty of these terrible crimes. When we compare that state of affairs with the state of affairs in modern democracies now in regard to women, we find the same danger. The institution of marriage is being attacked. A cry is being raised by unthinking persons for the divorce laws to be extended, and the sanctity of the marriage tie is being invaded. We have to fight it at the initial point. If we do not, but allow these things and the abominable innovation of the Woman's Suffrage Bill to go on to the degrading of our women — although it may take fully 200 years to degrade the women of England—yet, as surely as history repeats itself, so surely the women of England, of America, and of these colonics will be degraded unless we raise a warning voice in time and see the thing stopped Then, again, another great cause of the fall of Rome was the corruption of her senators and legislators. You can take a time in Roman history—I think about 270 or so b.c.—I have the date here, a time as late as 277 b.c., when the senators of Rome were pure and the citizens were pure. Anyone going then and attempting to bribe the Roman Senate or the Roman people met with a very queer kind of reception. In 277 b.c., Pyrrhus, King of Epirus, came to Italy to assist the Argentines against the Romans. He defeated the Roman armies with great loss, and he found himself in such a position that he thought it a capital opportunity to make an advantageous treaty. He therefore sent his minister, a great orator, to Rome to negotiate terms of peace. And that great orator used his utmost arts of flattery upon the Roman people and upon the Roman Senate. He was also furnished with large sums of money in order to bribe the Senate, but what did he find? He found that there was not a man in Rome whose hand would close upon gold, and when he went away he declared that every burgess in that city was equal to a king. (Applause.) Well, gentlemen, we pass on to a later age, and in the meantime a great change had come over the Roman people. Something like 150 years had passed away when another very suggestive circumstance took place. You have all read of Jugurtha? (Cries of "No we haven't.") Well, if you have not you had better do so. (Laughetr.) Well, Jugurtha was an African General who had served under the great Scipio and who had taken it into his head to usurp the kingdom of Numidia. He came over to Rome bringing immense sums of money with him, and he found a very different reception on the part of the Roman senators and the Roman people from that which Pyrrhus had experienced. He found he had not enough gold, vast as his wealth was, to grease all the palms that were held out for it. That was the state of affairs then. (Cat-calls, general disorder, at the extreme back of the hall, and a voice, "Hurry up, old man.") Now, you know you will have to behave yourselves there behind. Well, gentlemen—(renewed disorder and a voice: "Oh, shut up ")—when Jugurtha left Rome his testimony was very different from that of the minister of Pyrrhus. His words were: "Here is a city for sale if she can find a purchaser." Now, during these 150 or 160 years a very marked change had been coming over the Roman nation. It was found at the elections that bribery was going on. It was found that this system of corruption very gradually begun, was permeating the whole mass of the Roman people.
There was another thing that characterised the last century of the Roman empire. (Interruption.) It was this: the sudden rise of demagogues. These demagogues got so bad at last that they actually would pay men to come and listen to them, and they went on making great speeches, trying to tickle the ears of the more ignorant portion of the people, and to delude them by putting before them all sorts of visionary ideas and by promising them all sorts of magnificent things if the people would only place them in power. Cannot you see some of these things passing round about us now? I see them with great clearness. I see a degeneracy of the integrity of public men in the last few years. I see attempts made in England and in the colonies to imperil the constitution, and to degrade the citizens by appeals to the lowest side of human nature. I see all sorts of promises made by our public men in attempting to get power into their hands. I see them promising large sums of money to be spent in various districts if they are put into power. That is neither more nor less than simple bribery—than corruption of the people. (Cheers.) If it were not for the fear of wearying you, I could show you other signs of weakness in the ancient democracies rising into the greatest prominence now. There was, for instance, the worship of wealth—one of the most notorious things that characterised the decay of the Roman empire. We see now page 6 amongst ourselves in Europe that if a man has a large amount of gold every one bows down to him. Scepticism spread with alarming rapidity throughout the whole mass of the people, and unholy and unclean orgies of the most frightful character debased and degraded the people. To such a terrible extent had this grown that at one time 7000 men were put to death on account of it without, however, crushing the frightful disorder. All these things we may 'see traces of in our modern democracies and we must face them with a determination to purge them out of the land. In attempting to do my share in this direction I have a distinct purpose in standing for a seat in parliament to endeavour to aid in raising the public life of New Zealand, and to purge out of it these evidences of a decay or of a corruption which is sapping the public life of the colony. And, gentlemen, when I think, or when I thought, how best it was to be done, I could see that my hopes lay with the young colonial blood of the colony. (Cheers.)
Mr. Connells Faith in Young Colonials.
Now, I will tell you one principal reason why I have such faith in young colonials. It is this: — We all have character. (Laughter.) Mind, you have all got character—some a little better than others, and some a little worse. And that character was not made in a day. It is a thing that has been built up. It is the result of causes which have been at work for years'. And each one here bears in himself the effect which those causes have produced. Now, the grandest of all things for building up character are the influences of home association, and the influence of work. Mark that. I say the greatest thing for forming and settling a man's character is that home influence and the nature of the work in which he has been engaged; and there is no kind of occupation in this world that yields such splendid character as outdoor labour in a young country. If you find a large number of the population of a country engaged in assisting to conquor nature, and in improving the face of the land on which they live, you get the finest material in the world for a nation. But if you find the vast mass of men shut up in small rooms, ill-ventilated, and engaged in a dull routine of toil in the production of boots and shoes, and things of that kind, you cannot expect to have the sturdiness and manliness of the man who takes his shirt off and knocks down a big tree every day of his life. (Cheers and laughter.) Therefore it is because our young colonials know what this sort of work is that I believe they are unsurpassed in the world. (Laughter and cheers.) There is scarcely any young colonial who does not know what it is to knock about in stock-yard up to his knees in mud among cattle, or who cannot take his axe in his hand and chop down a tree, or who cannot take his spade and dig up a patch of potatoes. (A voice: "What about gum-digging?") I will tell you something about gum-digging in a little. I say that that is the kind of occupation that forms character, and it is in the out door sports, the occupations, and the life of the young New Zealander, that I see the formation of the grandest material to be found in the world for democratic government. There is another thing to be seen, and that is what I call the esprit de corps of the young colonial. (A voice: "What's that?" and laughter.) It is a grand thing. we older hands have got the esprit de corps of old colonials, and the chairman and myself feel a bond of sympathy between us to-night simply because we are old colonials. And every old colonial has got a love and a liking for every other old colonial. I say, then, that the young colonials have also got. esprit de corps. And I will tell you, gentlemen, that, highly as I think of my own class—the old colonials—yet that I think still more highly of the young colonial class. (Applause.) That is a fact. (Cheers.)
Mr. Connell Tells a Story.
Now, I will diverge here a little from my subject, and tell you a story about gum-diggers. As you have asked about gum-digging. (Laughter and applause.) You know, gentlemen, that I committed myself at the Opera House to the statement that it is a most unfortunate fact that a considerable number of old colonials have given way to drink. (Laughter.) Now, gentlemen, that is a statement which is absolutely true. (Cries of "No.") Wait a little. I say with sorrow that it is a fact, because I speak of my own class. (Interruption.) Now, I will tell you a story about gum-diggers, but you must not make a row. (Derisive calls of "Hush, hush.") Well, I was going to Waiwera on Saturday for a spell, and I reached a point on the road where I thought I would enter a house and get tea. That was at the Wade. I went into a public-house there. (Loud laughter and cries of "Oh, oh!") I say again, gentlemen, I went into the public-house. (Renewed laughter.) They were going to show me into a nice little parlour in the front, where there were muslin curtains and a mahogany table. It was very cold, and seeing two men in a room by themselves with tea on the table, I said, "No, I am going in here." The men were two gum-diggers, (A voice: "Old colonials?") Yes, page 7 they were both old colonials. They had been old soldiers. One of them was what I call three-quarter seas over, the other was not quite so bad. (Laughter.) We entered into conversation and managed to shake down well together. I said to the one who was furthest gone, "Look here, you are a pretty kind of fellow to be like this now. You are an old colonial. (Yells of laughter.) It is drink that is keeping you a poor man. Why should not a man like you who has been so long here—for they had told me that they had both been about 30 years in the colony—be in a comfortable position by this time? Why is it that after making so much money you have not got a good farm instead of sitting here in a hotel under the influence of liquor?" "Well," he says, that's a fact. I remember coming down here one day with £17 10s in my pocket and leaving again in about a week £4 in debt."I said, "Yes, that is the way they do. You had better join the Blue Ribbon." He said he would not, because he could keep from the drink if he liked. I said, "Well, you had better like now." I also told them that I had got into a row at the Opera House, because I said that if old colonials got out of work it was nearly always through drink. (Cries of "No "and "Yes.") Listen, and I will tell you what the two gumdiggers said - and they were both old colonials "Well," they both said, "that's a fact." (Cries of "Oh" and laughter.) That is just what they said. And therefore, much as I respect the old colonial—and I am one myself—I say that a great number of these old colonial hands have not had the same educational advantages, and have [not had the same moral training in the form that you young colonials have, and the consequence is that a large number have developed drinking habits and other things rendering them not so good as the young colonials.
Now, I will tell you a very creditable thing about the young colonials. It is a very rare thing to find a young colonial that drinks. (Loud laughter and boo-hooing.) Now, when I was at Waiwera the other day there happened to be there at the same time a gentleman who had got a large quantity of land — 10,000 acres of fine agricultural land. And he was a very good sort of man too, although he had got plenty of land. (Laughter.) Some of you think that there is no good in a man when he happens to have a large quantity of land, but I tell you that there is not one of you mad enough to refuse a piece of land if he could honestly get it. As for myself, I have never owned an acre of agricultural land in my life, but the only reason for that is that I could not buy it. (Laughter.) I was speaking to this land-owner about myself, and I said to him, "What sort of fellows have you got working about your place?" He replied, "Mostly young colonials." I asked what he thought of them. Pie said, "My experience of them is grand; none of them drink." (Cries of "You don't say so? "and loud laughter.) It is a fact. The young colonial that drinks is the larrikin about the city. (Cheers.) And that man simply told me, gentlemen, the very same thing that I have observed myself throughout the colony—that the young colonial sticks to his work like a man and that he is a grand fellow. (Cheers.)
Now, I promised to-night not only to speak about Democracy, but to say something about Representative Institutions. (A voice: "What about the gum diggers?") Now, our modern democracies have got many great advantages which the ancient democracies did not have, and one of these is the perfection of our representation and representative institutions. The older democracies were subject to very, very groat drawbacks in this respect. They did not have anything like the perfection of our representative system, nor even any approach to such a system. It is a device of a more advanced civilization to gather up the minds of the units of the nation and concentrate them in a single point, viz., the representative of the constituency. And, gentlemen, it is a grand device. I say then, that for a man to deserve to gather up that magnificent power into his own hands he can only do so properly by acting faithfully to the trust reposed in him. If our public men take over this glorious thing called "power" with a deep and true sense of its responsibilities, and instead of debasing their constituents by abominable bribery, act with honour and uprightness, we may have representative institutions such as the world has never seen. (Interruption.) Now, gentlemen, as we have these representative institutions at work amongst us, I want, to-night, to tell you one or two things about them. They are marked by great strength, but they are also subject to great weakness. At present democratic institutions in England are going through a period of considerable peril. Why? For this reason: because representative institutions and government necessarily involve the opposing of two great forces—the force that governs and the force that desires to govern. There is no room for any third, fourth, or fifth forces. We have to send a great mass of men to Parliament, and once there that mass has got to select from its own members men to be entrusted with the power of the Government of the country, and that House of Assembly page 8 must then fall into two great rank?. (Interruption.) I say it must fall into two great ranks—the ranks of those who uphold the existing Government of the country and the ranks of those who oppose that Government. As soon as the Government of the country has, by virtue of misconduct, or ill-doing, or by incapacity on its part, lost the confidence of the nation or the House, then the number opposing it grows larger and larger until it becomes the majority, in which event it casts that weak and incapable Government out of office and out of power. And then those who have gathered the concensus of opinion on the other side take their places as the Government.
A Cause of Peril.
Now, the great peril in which, at this moment, democratic institutions in England stand, is that this distinguishing principle has become confused by the introduction of the Irish question. In England we have now - in consequence, I may say, of absolute blundering, which I propose to deal with more particularly next Monday night—got the spectacle of the English Government and the English House of Commons in a state of almost irretrievable confusion. Instead of those two great forces of which I spoke being alone at work, we have now the introduction of a third force—Mr Parnell and his party—who hold the balance of power and render it impossible for either side to govern with effect. (Applause.) Now, gentlemen, it is because I see the trouble that this state of affairs is bringing upon England—because of the confusion and loss of power which make it impossible to carry forward good measures—in consequence, I say, of that third power—that I have distinctly stated we must not and shall not have a similar state of affairs here in New Zealand. I say that at the present time the crisis here is so serious that we must have representative government in an orderly form. And if we have a third power, neither falling in with the Government nor with the Opposition, the hands of the Government will become paralysed like those of the Government at Home. The hands of the men who are knocking on the head the ignorance, fraud, deceit, and incapacity that have arisen of late in the colony must not be paralysed by some third power. (Interruption.)
Sir George Grey.
And, therefore, gentlemen, at the risk of all the unpopularity you can cast upon me, I testify, in the face of the colony, that there is a power in New Zealand incapable of falling in, I believe, with representative institutions, and that power is Sir George Grey. (Tremendous uproar, hooting and groans from the back of the hall), Now, gentlemen. I have never said—and I defy anyone to point out that I have ever said an unkind word of Sir George Grey—(disorder)—and if anybody says I have, I ask you not to believe it. (Three cheers for Sir George Grey, followed by three groans for Mr Council.) You must know that it is not bellowing that will do it. You must bring argument. Now, I say this, gentlemen, that if he can get into Parliament with a following of six or seven, or eight men after him, he will belong neither to the Government nor to the Opposition, and good and effective government will become dimply impossible. (Uproar.) Gentlemen, if the colonists of New Zealand send Sir George Grey to Par-lament with any tail behind him, there is not the slightest use talking of retrenchment. You will have no retrenchment. My own feeling with regard to Sir George Grey is almost one of affection, because he could exercise a magnificent influence for good in our democracy if, instead of sitting in Parliament, where he has no power (loud dissent), he stood outside where he would be the guardian of the liberties of the people. He could make magnificent orations in serious crises which would compel the Government to do right, and he might be a magnificent force in New Zealand of a kind that has never been seen in any country in the world. I recognise in Sir George Grey great honesty of purpose, and that he has the real good of the colony lying at heart, and I would not say that of any man unless I believed it to be true. But, I say again, in order to make him an effective representative, you must have in him sound practical political character, and the training of Sir George Grey has been such as, in my opinion, to render him unfit to work in with the representatives of the people. (Hooting and hisses, culminating in three cheers for Sir George Grey, followed by three groans for Mr Connell. The speaker paused to consult his notes, whereupon loud cries of "Go on, Connell," were raised.)
Young Colonials' Democratic Association.
Now gentlemen, if I have spoken to you to-night with any effect I hope I have done this: I hope I have raised in the minds of the young New Zealander tins feeling, that, as I said before, he is an important man. And, gentlemen, mark this: You may have vast forces which are at present wasted. Why? Because they have not intelligence to direct them—because they have no power of organisation. You have no conception of what might be done by organisation. Now, I want the young New Zealander to wake up to a sense of the importance of public affairs, and to wake page 9 up to a perception of the fact that he is the substance of which a great nation is made. And I want the young colonial of New Zealand, not only in Auckland, but all over the colony, to organise as a Young New Zealand Democratic Association in order to take an active interest and part in political affair. If you had such an association as that, not committed to any special programme, but a kind of committee of public safety for the whole colony—an association which would guard the liberties, and the privileges, and the hopes of New Zealand, and composed, not, mark you, of every young man in the colony—because I believe it ought to be an association which it should be considered an honour to belong to; and my own impression therefore was that no one should be admitted to it unless he came within certain limits of age — say twenty to thirty that he was following some outdoor occupation or belonged to some athletic club. That is my idea, but I may say that there is a young man sitting in this room to whom I am indebted for bringing my views into practical effect. I know what was in my heart it was the desire to raise the public life of the colony. When I found the spirit of disorder manifesting itself on the occasion of my first appearance, I felt that what I needed was the sympathy of the young colonials, and I knew that I would get it. My first idea was only to ask the young colonials to see that I got fair play and to put down that kind of larrik nism that I saw at my first meetings and to show an interest in public affairs and a determination to uphold right doing But for the enlargement of that idea, for the bringing of that idea to the far more important form which it assnmes in my mind to-night, I am indebted to a young colonial who is present here to night. (Loud cries of "Name.") I do not know his name, but there he is, gentlemen. (Here MrConnell pointed to the young man whom he wished to take the chair at the opening of the proceedings. Cries of "Platform" and "Name.") You will get his name afterwards. (At this stage Mr Connell consulted the young man to whom he referred.) It is Mr Sexton, gentlemen. (Laughter and renewed cries of "Platform.") I am indebted to that gentleman for giving me a larger and better idea than I had myself conceived. And this idea was, that I should not merely seek the influence of the young colonials for my work, but that they should be encouraged to form themselves into an association to do their own work. If you think proper I shall be glad to have you throw me overboard, for I want only to be the means of assisting you in the way I have indicated. I am a politician, gentlemen—a practical politician — a commonsense politician—I even profess to be a little in the nature of a scientific politician. And I tell you, gentlemen, that I can see the enormous power you can exercise in politics. I tell you that there is no man in New Zealand who had a constituency to represent would dare to do wrong if there was a strong democratic association like this in existence, determined to see right done, and to support only men who were determined to do right. There would be an end to all the chicanery, log-rolling and corruption, which of late have been so disgraceful to the name of the colony. Now, gentlemen, that is about all that I have got to say to you to night. But, before I sit down, I want to move the following resolution:—"That this meeting cordially approves of the suggestion that a political association should be immediately formed, and be called the Young New Zealand Democratic Association, the members of which shall consist of persons between the ages of 20 and 30 years, and that a committee be selected from young colonials to convene a meeting of such persons as may be willing to join such association, for the purpose of enrolling names, settling the constitution of such association, and otherwise taking steps to give effect to this resolution." I beg therefore to move that resolution with the greatest pleasure. And I have not the slightest doubt that in Auckland, you who are young colonials will appreciate the honour of starting this association, and that you will have branches all over the colony. And before you know where you are you will have 20,000 young men, the back bone of the colony, influencing these elections for good, and thus saving New Zealand.
Mr Connell resumed his seat amid loud cheers.
At this stage a little fellow of about 15 years, who subsequently stated his name to be Frank Mason, mounted the platform in order to propose an amendment, and was received with loud cheers. He said: Mr Connell, I wish to recommend an alteration in the resolution you have just proposed. I suppose you can easily see by my appearance that I am not used to public speaking. (Loud laughter.) I hope, gentlemen, you will give me a fair show. (Cheers.) Mr Connell, I attended both of your other meetings, and I learnt there that you were an old colonial hand. (Shrieks of laughter.) you are also, I believe, a Scotchman. Well, I am a bit of a Scotchman myself. (A voice: 'A mighty small bit," and laughter.) My experience of old colonials is—(here the lad's voice was drowned in uproar).
Mr Connell: I think, gentlemen, you really ought to give the lad fair play.
The appeal was effectual, and the youngster resumed:—My experience of page 10 old colonial hands has always been that they give the young colonial hands a fair show. I have attended all the political meetings I could during the last three years. (Loud laughter.) And I take a very great interest in politics. I attended both your other meetings and I may say, conducted my self in a very orderly manner (renewed laughter), considering the way that other people conducted themselves. (A voice: "Oh, put him out," and laughter.) I saw your advertisement in the paper, and I have had for some years a great desire to belong to such an association as you published your intention to form. I came here, and on coming to the door I was told that I was not a young colonial hand—in fact, that I was only a boy. (Laughter.) And the gentleman said that as Mr Connell was down in Otago I could not see him, and that I knew nothing about politics. (A voice, "Let us see if you are stuffed ") Well, I have managed to see you at last, and I have no hesitation in saying that if the gentleman at the door only knew one-half as much of politics as I do it would be well for him. I do not see why I should not be admitted to the meeting I was told no one would be admitted except he were over the age of 21 years. I consider that when one has reached the age of 21 he is not a young colonial. (Laughter and uproar.) I knew, Mr Connell, that this could not be your purpose, because you said your were a tactician (laughter), and tacticians should know that in order to produce any effect, the child should be trained up in the way he is desired to go. (Laughter.) I see from the resolution you have read that no one is to be allowed to join this association unless he is between the ages of 20 and 30 years. Well, gentlemen, I beg to move as an amendment that the limit of age for members of the association be altered from 15 to 30 years.
Mr Connell: Speaking to that amendment, gentlemen, I should say that if all our young fellows had the intelligence of our young friend here, it would be highly advisable to make the alteration he suggests. (Cheers.) But, unfortunately, we now but too well that our young lads have not the necessary self-control and confidence, and many would probably prove a source of hindrance and confusion to the association. I think they may very well study politics, as this young fellow has been doing very effectively for some time. (Interruption.) I think, however, we might, perhaps, carry the limit of age down to 18 years. But I do not think it would be wise to make it any lower. (A voice: "Did you give him half-a crown?" and laughter.) If you will allow me, therefore, I shall alter the ages proposed in my resolution to 18 to 30. With regard to keeping boys out of the hall we thought it wise to so in order to ensure order. But when I saw the anxiety of our young friend and his mates to get in, I said, "You can come in, but you must behave yourselves." I now move this resolution again, 20 years being alter, d to 18 years.
Mr Sexton: I beg to second the proposition.
A gentleman at this stage rose up in the body of the hall and began to address the chairman, but a noisy uproar prevented him from being heard. He several times attempted to speak, but his voice was lost amid cries of "Platform."
The Chairman requested a fair hearing for him, but without avail.
Mr Connell: Gentlemen, this is a most unfair proceeding. The gentleman desires to say something which I would like to hear as it may throw light on the subject we are considering. (Disorder.) Why do you bellow at him as if he were a bull? (Loud laughter.) Mr Connell (to the subject of the uproar): You had better come up on the platform.
The gentleman in question: No fear.
The Chairman was about to put the resolution, the amendment not having been seconded, when Master Mason came forward and appealed to the audience for a seconder.
Mr Mills: I will second it.
The amendment and resolution were then put to the meeting, and upon a show of hands being taken the Chairman declared the resolution carried.
The Chairmam asked if there were any questions, and one written upon a slip of paper was handed up.
Mr Connell however, declined to answer questions, explaining that he only did so at meetings of his intended constituents.
The assemblage at the back of the hall then gave three cheers for Sir George Grey, and three groans for Mr Connell.
Mr Connell proposed a vote of thanks to the Chairman, and this brought the proceedings to a conclusion.
The admission to reserved seats was by ticket (free) only. About six hundred orderly citizens, some accompanied by ladies, availed themselves of these tickets. Admission to the back part of the hall was thrown entirely open. Any interruption or noise was confined throughout the evening to the back part of the hall.
Printed at the Star Office, Auckland.