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PRIMA FACIAE, and from title, it is open to question as to which side is here taken,--whether freedom for commerce, or governmental protectionism for New Zealand.
The reported request for the discussion conveyed no definition and nothing definite. It was simply and freely, which of the two particular lines of policy is the better for this country? My determined, peremptory decision was gratuitous, and solely on the responsibility of my own personal conviction. The following treatise is decidedly for Free Trade and Free Ports all the world over, "and no mistake."
A request is above referred to. It was rumoured last July, and hinted before, that a prize was to be offered in this province for the best pamphlet-essay on the question, Should, or should not the agriculturists of New Zealand have government protectionism? Since, it has been intimated that, partly in consequence of hard times, and partly from the belief that probably ordinary newspaper ordinary writing would, the cue having been given, supply all demanded, the prize would not be offered. All was rumour. Albeit, the on dit did service,--it acted as a powerful suggestion. And the suggestion operated. This pamphlet is the outcome. Had there been competition, probably this confident predetermination of the problem would have been a fatal risk.
The only regret for the shortcoming alluded to is, that had a prize been offered, something fuller, more elaborate, and more satisfactory would probably have been presented. --Years ago gossip said that certain exquisite literary productions of renowned men were written eight times over for definitive perfection of touch. This small brochure has been written twice only. The good of free, honourable competition is quite inestimable.
THE RECENTLY ENACTED AUSTRALIAN PRECEDENT BEING CLOSE BEFORE OUR NOTICE MAKES THIS WORK APPEAR NECESSARY.
If Providence--to which is referred its projection--will make the Essay in any degree useful, the object in writing it will be attained, and any mere opinion of its quality must remain a matter of indifference. Only conceit of dissent and affectation of philosophic candour are deprecated.
The short quotations employed here as title-page-mottoes are
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worthy of notice by all, but especially by publicists. The leading, professional, working principle of some able writers is bad,-- not truth but expediency. With them the constant mental inquiry is, what is the average of public opinion? what will take? and, sometimes, perhaps, what will pay? Often, doubtless, an unswerving adherence to the direct line of truth is unpopular And herein is perceived the signification of the startling, impassioned expression of one of England's greatest men, "God Almighty save me from prudence!" But, as, in the long run, self-seeking is really impolitic and ungainly, so also is there a pseudo discretion. For of course it is the popular, sham thing denounced. It is surely more noble to bring over to the truth. It is difficult to estimate those minds which for years and by fair means and foul oppose a policy, and then suddenly veer round? and, without explanation, premonition, penitence, or apology, praise and advocate it. Conviction docs not appear with them. Of course a case of simple mistake acknowledgment of it is sufficient. But not seldom in such noted cases animus is ostensible. Yet, as a great man has said, with large though not, as I think, entire correctness, "In order that a truth may become our own, it is necessary that we should have begun by disbelieving and disputing it." The reverse,--most certainly, is fact anent one. best class of great minds. --Man's vast interests here and hereafter are couched in truth moral and political. "And the whole constitution of human affairs is based upon some idea of God." Well were we ever prepared to suffer if necessary for truth! "Men should pursue truth for its own sake, and independently of the consequences it may be found to involve." 1 Still it by no means necessarily follows that an earnest lover of truth is entirely free from error. Wrong, error, sincerity, earnestness, have ere now dwelt together. Nevertheless sincere love of truth is a genial soil luxuriantly productive of good. And I most decidedly believe that no former age was better than this.
Lately we have seen a newspaper report of plagiarism, as detected and exposed by an honorable literatus; who, on reporting it, affirmed that it was a gross violation of honesty. I concur in this judgment. Now mentioned because some time since literary theft was gravely alleged against some men in the highest places in New Zealand--parsons and others. I was once literally smitten with astonishment by a similar discovery elsewhere. Every thing, every sentence, and every expression I advance, whether
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good, bad, or indifferent, come straight: and immediately from my own head and heart, as is always plainly perceptible to the perceiving. The contrary would be uninteresting, and, through consciousness of waste, disheartening. Self-love and rational aspiration should suffice to interdict such beggary. Here individuality and idiosyncrasy are alike sufficiently apparent. It is deemed generally injurious, and specially opposed to the second side of manly humility, to believe in caste superiors. The chief superiority in our world, as even Isaac Newton himself declared, is that of meritorious industry. --THis averment is doubly necessary because of said detection and the fact that my theme, in its general aspect, is not new. And there is a special private reason. --Plato says, an efficient teacher must be poor. Some will feel forced to do as they like about believing him. A learned sect of a large church is under a vow of poverty. Some feel and affirm the vow superfluous.
I was impelled to write the following, which duly appeared anonymously:--
AUCKLAND AND PROTECTIONISM.
To the Editor of the Daily Southern Crons.
SIR,--Will you allow me to set forth a few words, chiefly as announcement, through the medium of the D. S. Cross? To-day, I read "Anthropos" advocating Tariff Protectionism, gratuitously owning incompetency therein, and inviting discussion. I wish authoritatively to inform him and "all whom it may concern" that some persons are now stripping for the race in competition for the £30 or £10 Otahuhu prize, shortly to be advertised. Further, that they are practising on their own private grounds, hoping soon to "come out strong," and that, "as at present advised," they judge it improper to trespass with their disciplinary gyrations on your domain.
I dislike the strain of to-day's letter upon the problem. --I have, &c.
July 19, 1867.
Scarcely twice a-year have I ever resorted to the anonymous.
To this humorous communication it should just be added that only the first paragraph and a few relative notes were jotted in July: the paper was then stowed in the limbo of oblivion for more than three months. A felt hesitation is accounted for by the first third of this proem.
W. E. S.
Auckland, December 23, 1867.
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