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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 40

The Dunedin Exhibition

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The Dunedin Exhibition.

THe New Zealand Industrial College was formally opened on the 14th June, 1881, and was closed on the 12th July.

The Chancellor of the Otago University gave a pagan prayer—quite characteristic of the tenets of that school.

The Mayor read a very interesting account of the origin and progress of Exhibitions of Art and Industry.

Mr. Bathgate uttered highly swelling words in praise of the peerless City of Dunedin.

Mr. Bracken read a beautiful poem describing the three successive pictures of Dunedin—as presented on the landing of the first settlers in 1848—at the gold discovery in 1861—and as seen in 1881.

All the comforts and even the luxuries of civilised life are here exposed, in miniature, to the Colonial gaze of a masement. The glory of New Zealand generally, and of Dunedin particularly, is conspicuously blazoned before the admiring eye. Verily, we have made great progress "in agricultural and pastoral pursuits, in trade, commerce, and manufactures," according to Dr. Stuart's prayer.

In this Colonial Museum of Art and Industry, one is apt to get bewildered in a labyrinthine maze of endless variety. Here are elegantly executed cast-iron verandahs—wooden mantelpieces enamelled so as to resemble marble—crystal goblets, wine-glasses, tumblers, &c.—engraven with fantastic devices: coats of arms, mottoes, monograms, rural scenes, classic figures, and Native pahs, all nicely cut into the glass. Our factories supply every variety of plain and fancy biscuits. Here are pyramids of coffees, spices, and peppers. Sowing machines are kept busily in motion by the delicately tapering hands of skilled females. Cases of ferns and beautiful wedding-cakes attract, the eye. Bee-hives, plain and fanciful, and pure Indian teas of the richest flavour, and free from any noxious herbs, grace the show. Vinegar from the Kaikorai, and sauce from Kelvin Grove are here also. We have all sorts of saddles, harness, carriage rugs, and horse clothing. There are choice specimens of panel-painting, and resembling marble, maple, walnut, and oak. Tables of wool mats, hearth-rugs of all colours, and shapes. These mats are exceedingly soft, delicate, and ornamental. For lamps, carriages, and pianos, they are pre-eminently desirable. Our dye-works exhibit varieties of coloured cloth and ostrich feathers. Colonial wines in profusion and variety are to be seen here. We have Venetian blinds and window shutters of considerable taste and design—models of cottages and mansions—cordials and ærated waters, pickles, jellies, and homœopathic medicines are shown in abundance. New Zealand is, apparently, rick in the black diamond—which is the basis of manufacuring cities. We have, also, a variety of stones for architectural purposes. We observed a bust of the Rev. Dr. Stuart. It has very little expression, page 2 and reflects small credit on the Professorial pensioners. Steam boilers, harrows, ploughs, and carriages of every sort are here exposed to view.

Our founders and plumbers are evidently cunning artificers in iron, brass, lead, zinc, copper, &c. We see tempting baths, wash-hand basins for hot and cold water—of wood and marble. Plants for brewers—oval-tubed refrigerators, ventilators, reflecting lamps, pumps of special excellence, copper washing boilers, cisterns, and bells are exhibited. There are large glass cases holding various samples of engineers, plumbers, and gas fitters' brass works—and ponderous cast iron steam works. There are, also, ships' sidelights, &c. Our photographers revel in every sort of views, and all kinds of portraits.

There are various kinds of lime-stone represented. Bricks, plain and ornamental, and patent artificial stone, drainage and sewerage pipes—ice machines—flower vases and pots, and samples of stone cutting. Perambulators, cradles, chairs, &c., of wickerwork merit special commendation. We have elegant baskets and chairs of Otago willows. Our foundries furnish launch-engines bicycles, and tools for masons and miners. Our minerals are well exhibited—copper, lead, iron, quicksilver, antimony, gold and silver quartz, cobalt, sulphur, chrome, manganese, tungsten, nickel, galena, scheelite, &c. The ropes, cords, and lines reflect credit on our local factories. Beer of every quality is stowed away in the ground cellar. A new quartz-crushing machine is exposed to view. Bones are here converted into fanciful articles—e.g.—bone-rattles, draughts, chessmen, &c. On tables are seen rape and turnip seed, ryegrass, and clover seed. Hats of every description, military helmets, college, railway guards, engineers and police caps. There is an organ of Colonial construction. Here are to be found models of steamers—specimens of glass-embossing, sign-writing, and graining of the most perfect and imitative kind: maple, oak, rose-wood, walnut, &c., are almost realised. Pretty slippers and elegant boots and shoes arrest the observant eye. Also, wax candles, tallow, sperm, and soaps of every sort, and richly perfumed—besides starch, arrow-root, sago, and various other farinaceous articles. Pipes from Otago clay—and oils for the hair, and artistic works in hair, e.g., watch-guards, bracelets, lockets, wigs, and coils. Invalids will here find herbal medicines. Delicate people will find here an apparatus for heating and ventilating their houses. There is, also, a table of preserved meats. We saw water-engines and a medical battery—also, a model of a portmanteau canoe, to save life at sea—also models of patent aerial tramways, and silt elevator and carrier for dredging work—also models of furnace bars and bridges.

Milton makes a splendid figure by its pottery collection of crockery, dinner services, jugs, tea wares, and other articles illustrative of the different branches of that important industry. There is an elegant case of wheat, oats, peas, and beans in the exhibition. Also, a chair consisting of 29 different kinds of Otago wood, and of 8000 separate pieces. The products of our hosiery factories are numerous—socks, stockings, drawers, jerseys, mufflers, shawls, &c. Here arc, also, articles of furs and skins, e.g., muffs, boas, and foot mats. Fergusson and Mitchell surpass all the colonies in book binding. Their ledgers, journals, cash books, and commercial books generally are excellent specimens of art. There is a case of stays, corsets, and other articles of ladies' dresses, of considerable merit. The New Clothing Factory's monster case of garments is a leading feature of the show. They are set on elegant wax figures. There page 3 are various sorts of suits and of different designs—sailor habits, cricket and rowing flannels, hunting dresses, overcoats, caps, &c. W. Gilchrist makes a very creditable display of plate and sheet glass, colours, varnishes, brush-ware, and paper-hangings, Portland and Keene's cements, crystal and chinaware, furniture, fancy goods, silver and electro-plate, &c.

A. & T. Burt, and Anderson and Morrison, are skilled artists in brass, iron, copper, and zinc. Their baths, gasaliers, corking machines, pumps, and water engines, &c., are excellent pieces of artistic workmanship. Had they lived in the time of Solomon, they might have been profitably employed about the Temple.

The New Zealand Clothing Factory's case is a special feature of the Exhibition. The garments are well cut, and the fittings are perfect.

The Mosgiel, Kaikorai and Roslyn Woollen Factories are conspicuous for their pure, soft, white And excellent flannels, blankets, &c. There are also, shawls, cloaks, yarn and tweeds of various dyes. The Dunedin and Christchurch silversmiths might, in days gone by, have fitted out the Jewish High Priest's breast-plates and the utensils of the Sacred Fane. Brown, Ewing, & Co., excel in the preparation of the garments of ladies, youths, and children. Their style is peerless. Almao is great in every kind of head-piece. His hats and caps are gems. Sparrow and Wilkinson are famed for their ranges, portable and stationary—grates, furnace fittings, tomb rails, ornamental castings for balconies, verandahs &c. About 600 ironworkers are in Dunedin, which, according to Mr. A. Burt, is destined to be "the Glasgow of the South Pacific." The Christchurch potteries are inferior to those of Milton. There are, however, some earthernware vases, adorned with groups of raised flowers in porcelain work, and carved roses, of superior excellence. Akaroa and Peninsula cheese is equal to Cheshire, or Dunlop. Our cooperages supply elegant samples of dairy and farm implements. The art of bone and wood turning is being practically exhibited by Mr. Graham of Lyttelton. Mr. Inglis has a boot sewing machine of rare speed and excellence. Coombes displays every sort of leather, of every colour and quality from harness and shoe leather to kid and lambskin. Our millers show samples of flour and oatmeal, wheat, barley, malt, and hops. Various kinds of starch, corn-flour, &c., are exposed to public inspection, also bacon, hams, and rolled bacon. Splendid potatoes, loaves of bread, sacks of wheat, peas, grass-seeds, beans, turnips &c., arrest the eye. Various nick-nacks from the Otago Museum disgrace the exhibition. Beautiful ferns are collected here. Here also, are to be seen specimens of elegant carving in wood and stone. There is a beautifully embossed chess table, by Mr. Melvin of Dunedin. Drawings of street architecture and ship models are seen here. The furniture department reflects credit on the Colony—Christchurch and Dunedin, specially excel in the construction of furniture. The New Zealand Woodware Factory's exhibits are really handsome. Their furniture would grace a drawing room in Holyrood Palace or Gordon Castle. Tins of preserved fruit are sent from the Thames. Christchurch furnishes us with tins of roast beef, corned mutton, &c. Dunedin excels in the production of native sticks. Here are seen Canterbury frillings, stays, and braiding, in great variety. The spirited proprietor of the Evening Star has sent to the exhibition a life-saving apparatus. The picture gallery is neither extensive nor of groat merit. Kauri gum, dyed and bleached flax, artificial legs, fretwork, plaster mouldings of eminent characters, house decorations and architectural drawings, crowd themselves upon the weary eyes. Cases of artificial teeth page 4 and dentistry tools, artificial fruits, fancy wool work, antimacassars, cushions, knitted stockings, New Zealand flaxen bags, model castles, fern painting on tables, chairs, &c., fern work, painting on earthernware, floral and wool work, and fruit work, plain needle work, hand painting on cloth—new style of book-keeping, representations of ships, rubber stamps, wood copying press, wool and skin mats, skeletons of animals, and stuffed birds—fishing and rabbit nets, cardboard boxes, elegant writing desks, easels, flax matting, baskets, bird cages, bellows, wooden beehives, picture frames and crosses, brushes, &c., are to be seen in endless varieties and profusion. Here are two glass cases of stuffed birds, British and Colonial, prepared by Mr William Smyth. He should be taxidermist for our Musuem, and curator also. They are life-like. There are three large glass cases from the monster firm of Kempthorne and Prosser, containing drugs, chemicals, perfumery, cordials, toilette requisites, even down to paste blacking, all manufactured on the premises. This is a unique show.

About 45,000 shilling tickets were sold from first to last. We were requested by Dr. Stuart, in his prayer, to "zealously defend and maintain the institutions of trade and commerce, of Government, and justice, and education." But, all these boons are based on religion, and of this there was no mention, and without this we can only become a mean race of reptiles. Without Religion we cannot infuse a spirit of rational "enthusiasm" into the breasts of the people—with all due deference to the Chancellor of the University and the President of the Dunedin National Industrial Association. We are, we fear, not aiming "to give a bent to the minds of the people of the Colony," in the right direction. The minds of the young are being poisoned in the bud, and the old are setting them a very pernicious example of everything that is base, demoralising, and, in some cases, blasphemous. The President of the Freethought Association, in the course of his remarks at the close of the exhibition, said, "To get a bent given to the minds of the young men of a nation is everything." But if that bent is towards the blackest infidelity, then, we fear, its consequences will be felt for mischief, "for hundreds of years." "Exhibitions of machinery" and "industrial enterprises" of themselves are perfectly powerless "to raise the race to a higher level." The President's knowledge of history, like his acquaintance with Political Economy, is infinitesimally small. The Roman Empire, at the time of its greatest national degradation, was at the head of the world's industrial enterprises. Its luxuries were enormous, and its morals were the lowest. It had no Religion, and so it perished off the face of the earth. "We should keep up the standard of living," said the President of the Protection Association. Why, that is the very thing we ought never to do. Trades unionism has been the curse of England, and has diverted capital to Belgium and America. Fair field, free trade, and no restrictions are the alpha and omega of manufacturing prosperity. We must have "the standard of living lowered," whatever quasi scientific sciolists say to the contrary. Oh! reiterates the President, "wherever you find the standard of living lowered, wherever you find people with small wages and poor houses, poor food, and indifferent clothing, you will always find a race degraded, and vice and immorality follow in its wake."

Is that the case in the Polar Regions, for example? Docs the President speak feelingly? Is he not aware that, in Church and State, "to be poor is to be pure," as Cardinal Manning once said.

J. G. S. Grant.