1867 - Thomson, J. T. Rambles with a Philosopher - CHAPTER XXXV.

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  1867 - Thomson, J. T. Rambles with a Philosopher - CHAPTER XXXV.
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A VESSEL had at length arrived, so our companion's time of departure was at hand. We took our last stroll to the summit of the Bluff, and there sat scanning the expansive panorama,. To the north were the brilliant snowy mountains in the distance--so beautiful to behold--so glorious to contemplate. To the south rolled the turbulent Antarctic Ocean: beyond, who has penetrated?--who has revealed its mysteries? Mystery is attractive to mankind, because the path to it leads from the known to the unknown-- i. e., from contrary to contrary. The opening of mystery is life--thus is the revealing of mystery over-poweringly absorbent of the faculties of mankind. What if all mysteries were open to man?--what would the pleasures of life then be?

The train of our companion's thoughts seems to have been in another direction, for he at length said to the Squire--

"I am nearly done with you. Our journey had a beginning, so will have its end--otherwise it never had been travelled. And now, before I part, let me say a

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word or two of friendly, quiet counsel--and do not be angry if I be plain.

"Do you see Stirling's Point there?"

"Yes," said the Squire.

"And do you see a man gathering limpets on it?"

"Yes," said the Squire.

"And do you know, oh Squire, that Stirling's Point is the apex of creation--the extremest point of modern civilisation?--yet that man, insensible of the eminent position which he occupies engages himself in the stolid occupation of gathering shell-fish."

"He is, perhaps, not aware of his prominence in the geography of the earth," said the Squire, "and is, therefore in his usual frame of mind."

"Just so," said our companion, and were we not insensible of our travelling 24,000 miles in twenty-four hours, neither would our frame of mind be in its usual."

"True," said the Squire; "the earth revolves with that speed, and carries you and me with it."

"Then to the point," said our companion. "Your and my mind, in the universal balance, are no higher than that man's: weighed in that balance, we are equal--neither higher nor lower, greater nor smaller, better nor worse; we are equally insensible, equally stolid. Compared with the universe, a ton of one man's knowledge is no better than a grain of another man's; a ton of one man's greatness is no better than an ounce of another man's; a ton of one man's goodness no better than a pennyweight of another man's. On universal principles, then, one man is the equal of the other. But by comparison, how different!--that is, comparison one with the other: therefore it behoves us not to neglect our relative positions and qualifications; for humanity, after all, is not intended to be at a dead level. --

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Squire, you are a single individual in a remote and sparsely-populated colony, and so you may have important spheres of duty cast upon you. With the liberal Constitution granted to your colony, a seat in the Assembly is open to you, and before ten years are over, many of your inferiors will sit there. Conceal it not, oh Squire--you are an aristocrat in tendency, though poverty be your portion. All the better for your popularity. The people will hoist up a poor man before they would a rich one, because of common sympathy: and more than that, they will honour him because he is a gentleman. The rule of contraries, Squire! It is the circulation between opposites that warms the heart and moves nature. Mark my words: use your gifts, and a fair field is before you. Let your energies and training be more drawn to your own advancement and less to the assistance of your friends, and your position will be better for this--more dignified, Squire.

"Now listen awhile. I have gone over a goodly country --this New Zealand--from Cape Maria Van Diemen to Stirling's Point; a fair portion of the great volcanic zone that stretches from south Victoria to Kamtchatka. A great nation you are bound to be; and to bear a tangible part in the building-up of such a nation in its early stage is certainly honourable. Your climate is good--the zone or latitude that of all great nations in the northern hemisphere. Otago, particularly, bears off the palm in this respect, as I see your average temperature is that of the south of England--the great British centre, the heart of our worldly influence."

The Squire yawned; and a woodhen having suddenly made its appearance at the side of the bush close by, he gave chase to it with all the speed with which his legs could carry him. Thus our companion and myself were

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alone. I then suggested that, as a disinterested visitor to New Zealand, I would be glad to hear from him a general expression of his opinions on one or two main social and political topics, before we parted.

"Well," said he, "the peculiarities in your colony that struck me were its great length north and south, its separation longitudinally by impassable mountains, and transversly by a navigable strait. These features will tend to disjunction of interests in the beginning, close binding in the end. Ephemeral politicians will clamour for the former --your far-seeing patriots for the latter."

"Pardon me," said I, "for I have given little attention to sociology: will not the islands being separate tend to clashing of interests and estrangement of sympathy?"

He replied, "As an eminently maritime people, the navigable strait is your finest highway; besides, your interior is impassable, so that will be all the more necessary to your very existence. Your islands are nearly of the same size and will carry nearly equal populations; here, then, is nature's first requirement of life made to hand -- two opposites. Again, your climates differ as much as England and Spain, so the products of the one will differ from the products of the other. Thus again your industries will be put in a state of polarity, between which there will be circulation often and intimate, creating a bond that will be difficult to sever, for the bond will be that of mutual benefit. Now, separate the two islands into two peoples and what will be the result?--separate tariffs, stoppage to interchange, mutual distrust, no circulation between opposites, deadness. You would be the creatures of foreign influences, who would set one against the other and so conquer all."

"But," said I, "is that to be imagined under the aegis of the British Empire?"

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"You may imagine anything in this world," said he, "for existence is change; so fail not to put on your armour, you know not what events may come to pass. Mark this: unity is strength, separation weakness; so let not local or partial interests weigh against the all-important one of supporting the policy of a united New Zealand. Nature has separated you into many centres of communities, but the ocean highway, as steam navigation is developed, will hold you close together.

"Now, as to your system of government, the great law is true in its indications, and well it is for a people who have thoughtful, self-abnegating pilots at the helm of the state. I have fully shown you, in my conversations, that everything that exists has two opposite principles at work within it-- one drawing against the other. In savage, or uncivilised communities, or tribes, might is right, so it holds the balance, and forces one principle to conform to the other. It makes the poor labour for no hire, is in the slave, and it extracts gold from the money-hoarder by violence and torture. In civilised countries, or nations, law is substituted, and out of which emanate the illimitable forms, functions, and contrivances for supporting the state machine and maintaining laws. One of the most important of these in constitutional governments is the franchise, a constant bone of contention between the opposite sections--viz., those men who hold property, and those who hold none--or those who have accumulated labour, and those who have current labour only. The natural habitat of constitutional governments is between the 40th and 60th degrees of latitude; they exist only exceptionally in other latitudes, and the relative vigour and education of the masses are most closely connected with the numerous graduations from absolute to popular systems. As New Zealand is in the proper zone of

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popular government, the extension or contraction of the franchise is a matter of absorbing- interest. As interest governs all, and money or property are a subject of universal craving, the holders of property will tend to contract the franchise, and the non-holders will tend to extend it; and, between these two opposites, there will be constant circulation from one to the other, and to the other back again, as in every other thing that has existence. It is well when law is strong enough to adjust the balance--when wisdom is sufficient to restrain the strivers; otherwise revolution must take place.

"Circumstances and ever varying interest can alone adjust the fulcrum of these opposite forces, and this only for the time being, till other features arise--for change is life. The line! when--where, how, or, in what manner it is to be drawn--whom it is to include, and whom to exclude --who is to vote, and who is not to vote--must at all times be an arbitrary one, settled by the mutual concession of opposite interests. To all lines will be found objections; at £10 voters, £6 voters, manhood or universal suffrage, it matters not. Opposition is life, and to live is opposition! The poor men--that is, the possessors of nothing--clamour for universal and manhood suffrage; but what are these but arbitrary, and often unjust, demarcations? for their laws exclude the educated youth of 18, who may be a collegian trained in the statemanship of mighty Rome and the sciences of modern Europe; but include the loafer of 40 and the sot of 50. The rich men--that is, the men possessing accumulated labour, clamour for property qualification solely, and they haggle over the £10 and £6 votes. Yet they ignore all piety, virtue, and learning for these material considerations. There is no principle in extremes. Equitable concession between opposites affords alone the temporary and ever changing solution."

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"But what is your opinion?" I asked.

Our companion replied that he necessarily had none, for to adopt the views of both principles was impossible; if of one, then his independence as a student of nature had ceased. "But," continued he, "the effects we may study, and to a certain extent anticipate. If he had partiality to any one system more than to another, it was to the glorious constitution of dear old England, which gives abundant liberty to the subject, but no license--full freedom to the person, under humane laws. What higher national aspirations could there be? As I said before, there are two opposite tendencies in all bodies politic--the tendency to overturn, and the tendency to conserve. Extremes in either are the prelude to dissolution. It is one of the aspirations of the patriotic that their nation should be long preserved; its shadow umbrageous; its influence far-extending. The growth, maturity, and decay of a nation may be quickened, and its end accelerated, by certain measures, and so may these be retarded by others. The poor crave for the dispersion of wealth: this longing is ministered to by expenditure on public works, wars, and other project---other means of accelerated circulation. To carry on public works, debt is incurred; and thus the stores of the rich are advantageously made available to feed the poor--just as the sap of a tree's roots is drawn up into its branches to vivify the leaves, but to return, with interest and increased power, to the roots again. There is one power in all nature. This beneficent process goes on as long as there is vitality: after this, the national system must die out. The indications of the end are to be observed in the impoverished circulation--in the loss of sympathy between opposites.

"As your colony grows up from its present infancy, your

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colonial ministers, your men in power, will control your opponent elements, i. e., put your sympathies in healthy circulation by lawful organization, and, I hope, carry you forward to a brilliant destiny. And let me remark that their virtue and honor will be your surest guarantee of common welfare to rich and poor, to capital and to labour. Sound judgment, disinterestedness and honesty are noble qualifications for the high trust. Gloria virtutem tanquam umbra sequitur. When these are awanting, which I can scarcely anticipate, then comes decadence--in a young country, temporary decadence; in an old country it is another nail in the coffin of state."

"Why so?" asked I.

"For this reason," said our companion, "in virtue alone is there faith to mankind. Doubtful virtue creates distrust. Saved up labour or capital can alone be supported by credit, the offshoot of virtue and undoubted reputation. Where these supports are awanting, capital leaks out, is lost, and evaporates or seeks other securities; with its departure the cravings of the poor have no helpful nurture. For instance, compare the condition of the poor in Morocco, Persia, Mexico, or of any other nations suffering from lax and unprincipled rulers, with the condition of the poor of Holland, Saxony, England, or of the Eastern States of America, which countries rejoice in the high honor of their statesmen, and you will see the force of my argument. Indeed," continued our companion, "there is great grasp in the sage Roman maxim--qualis rex talis grex. Right or wrong, a people are judged by the character of their rulers. If the rulers be just and high-principled, all nations respect them; if tainted, they become the laughing-stock of the world, and their rights are trampled on with impunity. As I have shown in my various discourses, I may shortly reiterate

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that the Author of nature governs all things by an inscrutably just law. He guides all nature on one principle, whether it be the sun in its place, the planets in their courses, or the stars in their positions; the currents of the ocean and the winds of the atmosphere in their motion or circles; the geometrical bee in its cell, the mathematical spider on its web, or the feathered bird in the air, or the scaly fish in the water; all exist on and in, and through, or by His law. In the minutest form His creations are beautiful --in the mightiest scale His creations are bountiful. This same law extends to man. But, above all things, to man has been given reason. If he ignores this high principle, and knowingly departs from the law, retribution, sure and certain, awaits him or his people."

"To question your argument," said I, "would be senseless, and I have high hopes of New Zealand--my home-- a country in which I can listen to the music of my own native Doric. Ah, the fascination of the quaint county dialect--it is overpowering! No," said I, "to, be statesmen is necessarily, even here, to be great men; constitutional statesmen are so narrowly watched during their long career, that the very name of littleness, or more venal characteristics, cannot attach to them."

"True of great countries," replied our companion; "not entirely true of young, half-fledged conventions--yet the effects are the same in all. Much depends on the people--on their vigorous perceptions and love of honor and truth. I have no fear you will vindicate your status here, for your climate will sustain your British genius. The virtues of your father-land may sustain an occasional blast, but to shoot forth with increased purity."

"Do you not fear the labouring clement?" said I.

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"Our labouring men will be the landed proprietors--the most influential body politic."

"Not at all--not at all," said he. "Of all other classes, the labouring man loves honesty; his mind is slow, but his convictions firm. A proprietary of labouring men, under your limited franchise, is your best security. It is a noble feature in the English language that there is no such phrase as 'the dishonest labouring man.' No: he is called, par excellence, the honest labouring man. Look at the most popular of songs:

'What tho' on hamely fare we dine,
Wear hodden grey and a' that;
Gi'e fools their sack, and knaves their wine--
A man's a man for a' that!
For a' that, an' a' that,
Their tinsel show an' a' that,
An honest man, tho' ne'er sae poor,
Is chief o' men for a' that.'

The language is rough-spun. Observe that the whole force of the sentiment is in the poor man's love of honesty; and in this respect all humanity sympathises. No, sir, no; it cannot be that your statesmen and men in power, being dishonest, can ever long rule; and least of all may you in this respect fear the poor labouring man's support of that rule. Magna est Veritas, et prevalebit, I repeat again, is a great old Roman maxim: it has stood the test of ages. Look to history for examples, and see how honest virtue has triumphed, and crawling vice been abased. Look at the licentious career of Henry the Eighth. No one commenced a reign with higher hopes. He swayed a sceptre more absolute than any other European monarch; yet in him and through him that very kingly power had its foundations sapped. The virgin purity of our Elizabeth, it is true, for a time stemmed the decadence, and at the same time scat-

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tered to the winds and crushed the formidable foes of her people."

"Her purity?" asked I.

"Yes, her purity--most emphatically her purity," said our companion. "By the force of her transcendent example, the virtue of the nation was called forth to great deeds, which never had been done under a corrupt ruler. Indeed, her virtue and bravery cropped out while vice and weakness crawled in the dust. Look to the lesson given by Charles the Second, who, in the words of a thoughtful historian, was totally destitute of principle and honor as a man. Under his aegis how were the honor and interests of England sustained? Under the humiliating blow dealt by a limited but honest people, the Dutch, what happened? Why, they, taking advantage of the national prostration, actually blocked up the mouths of the Medway and Thames, thus, as it were, stopping up the magnificent lion's mouth with dirt. A tainted ruler taints the people. No; nature is always true to principle, whether it concerns the individual, the people, or the nation--a drop of water or the whole ocean. Virtue is power--falsity, weakness. Look we also to the high virtue of our most gracious Queen and her noble Consort, now living; do not we as a people reflect their prestige in the eyes of the world, and does not this mighty influence extend to all corners of the earth and crown us with their halo? It is as much the interest of the labouring man that your rulers be above suspicion--transcendently virtuous if possible--as it is that of the capitalist; for under just control and equitable experience alone can the balance be adjusted to sustain a healthy circulation--contraries between contraries. 'Tis by this means the pent-up stores of that beneficent magazine of life--capital--are let forth to sustain and feed the poor. Circulation--contraries between

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contraries-- is the life of a people, as is the case with all creation; and further than this, I hold that there is as much a unity of principle between labour and capital as there is between the sun and this earth. Destroy that principle and both are undone. Honesty, that high attribute of the working man, is his feeder: for to capital it is the preserver. Everything, to exist, must have two opposites. How often have I not proved this to be the condition of all nature?"

"I admit the force of your argument; it seems unanswerable. Now, the next question occurs: on what principle do you support the limited franchise?"

"On the following grounds," said he. "There are two forces at work in human society--a physical and an intelligent one; and one is nothing without the other: one would die without the other to live upon. The law of self-preservation, of itself, wonderfully adjusts the balance of these two forces--most practically, most scientifically. Thus, unskilled labour, say, is valued at 2s. 6d. a-day; skilled, at 5s. a-day; professional, at 20s. a-day; stored-up labour or capital, at five per cent, per annum--and so forth. It is the supply that fixes the ratios. There are many ratios--in various countries. In the tropics, extremes are greater than in temperate zones--unskilled labour running in the former at the rate of twopence per day; professional at five or ten guineas; capital at ten to forty per cent, per annum. But the principle is the same: each individual is valued at what his material or physical, current or stored-up, labour is worth. Thus, in Europe, a professional man's labour is valued at the rate of eight unskilled ones; in Bengal, at a hundred and more. No sentiment can alter this adjustment of the public: the demand creates the supply, and the supply adjusts the price. Thus inexorable

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nature, or necessity, or the voice of the public--call it what you like--makes one human being equal to two in one case, five in another, twenty in another, and a hundred in another. In other words, intelligence is a power in human nature that has its importance, value, and ratio as compared with physical force. To ignore the one, and solely adopt the other, is therefore against nature. In all constitutional policy both must have their weight; and it is the function of the true statesman to adjust the balance of these forces equitably, that it droop neither way. Now it so happens that the unskilled--the possessors of physical force--preponderate in number; the educated--the holders of intellectual force--are the fewer: yet these sections of men are of equal value to the State--their interests equally important, and their functions equally necessary. To give the franchise, then, to numbers, would be equally as unjust as to give it to the few. Hence a line of mutual concession must be struck--and I know of no better solution than the property qualification; for, property being a universal craving of humanity, it is on this platform alone that all men can meet. Such is not the case with labour, power, learning, or religion. When this line is adjusted to the mark which places pure physical power at an equal weight with pure intellectual power, then, I say, the conditions of a healthy, long-lived nation are attained."

"Good," said I. "Then what of the vaunted American Republic?"

"There," said our companion, "is slavery of four millions of humanity to balance the manhood suffrage of the four million white voters. As long as the slave element is maintained--as was the case in democratic Greece--the Republic will live: abolish the slavery, and physical force, running rampant, will destroy intelligence and break the

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Union of States in pieces. The Constitution in entirety will have an early end, and four great nations spring out of the debris."

"And Victoria and New South Wales--what of them?" said I.

"Their system of manhood suffrage," said he, "is pregnant with decay; for a commonwealth, to live, must deal equal justice to the opposite forces or powers in this earth. Unhealthy excitement may, in the early years, blind the people to the inset of decadence; but, in the long run, permanence of institutions can only be guaranteed by adhering to true principle. Great Britain alone, of all nations, has reaped the full glories of the labours of her honourable and prescient statesmen, supported as they have been by the general good sense and honesty of her people.

"Now," said I, "to another subject, I would ask your attention: What of the Natives of North Island? Is it our interest that they be preserved or not? To this query I would again reply--to consult your interest alone is not the function of a philosopher. As between black and white men, they are your opposites--so between you will be mutual craving of property. Put these opposite tendencies into healthy, equitable, lawful and generous circulation, and so help one another as human brethren in these islands of this world of His. They are entirely in your hands, so let the universal law of creation be your guide in dealing with these people, or you will be punished by an equal calamity. As the force of the blow, the. greater the rebound. That calamity, if not coming from a foreign source, will be by a source within yourselves, such as the canker of evil example on your rising generation. If a war of races must come, save your honor: the field will be a serviceable one in the training of your

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young men to martial habits, hardihood and self-reliance. The best guarantee of peace is the preparation for war. Your rising generation of this portion of New Zealand will be more vigorous than those of the other Australian colonies. An outlet will be there, before they carry their arms to exuberant New Guinea and the populous islands of Asia and Polynesia."

"Ah, you dream of the future," said I.

The Squire at this moment returned from his wild-goose chase, so we all proceeded down to the shores of the harbor, where the ship's boat was ready waiting. There was evidently a desire on the part of our companion to loitre. The Squire would have listened to a most metaphysical lecture, so that our companion would tarry a while. But time and tide await no man, and we observed that the main topsail was aback, the anchor a-peak, so to tarry was impossible.

"Now," said our companion, "I may say my destination is Japan. I see there that the ports are to be opened and a new element let in. I love to observe changes in a nation, that I may study the science of their preservation. Then farewell: for from thence I return to Old England-- God bless her. Here," said he, "as a souvenir of our memorable journeyings, is a diamond ring which I obtained at Serro de Frio, in Brazil; wear it for my sake, and ponder on THE GREAT PRINCIPLE."

"And," said I, "allow me to reciprocate your generous feelings by offering you a diamond ring of Matan, procured from Pangeran Yusof. You will find it of pure water."

"Ah," said he, "you, then, have been a traveller also, and a good judge of diamonds to boot." Then said he, turning to the Squire, "My horse and trappings I hope, oh Squire, you will accept from me as a small consideration for your patient support of my many discourses. You will

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find him staunch in the saddle. I wish you a good journey back: and call on my friend with the three daughters on the way, and don't -----."

Here our companion was interrupted by the Squire who, calling him aside, placed a large parcel in his hands, well wrapped up in brown paper. It was his whole stock of tobacco, which, being pressed so earnestly, could not be refused.

Our companion turned round, and I perceived one eye flicker with a tear and the other eye twinkle with a smile; then both seemed to flicker and twinkle with tears and smiles alternately. The Squire's present was a gift of his all--the intrinsic value small, the sacrifice great. Our companion dare not look at him again, as he warmly shook him by the hand, for the Squire's mite had equal value in his eyes with the diamond of Matan.

Turning to me, he bade farewell; and, stepping into the boat, he was borne off. We turned back to our tent--it was solitary.



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