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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 8

The Luncheon

The Luncheon.

The Luncheon Committee, consisting of Messrs Allom, W. Davies, F. C. Dean, J. McGowan, H. McIlhone, B. N. Smith, and John Osborne, successfully supervised preparations for a cold collation, is the drill-hall, Richmond-street. About 200 attended. Daring luncheon the Scottish Volunteer Band enlivened the proceedings by the performance of a selection of music. The chair was taken by the Chairman of the Thames Valley Railway Committee, Dr Kilgour, supported on his right by Sir George Grey, the Mayor, Colonel Fraser, and Major Murray; on his left by the Count; Chairman, Wm. Rowe, M.H.R., and E, W. Puckey. The vice chair was occupied by Cr. J.Brown. The elite of the town were there, together with the many distinguished visitors from a distance who came to mark their interest in the proceedings.

After lunch the usual loyal toasts were given from the chair, each being received with hearty cheers.

The Mayor (who was received with cheers), said the next toast had been placed in his hands. It was that of "His Excellency the Governor of the Colony." He believed there were no portions of the British Empire more loyal than its colonies. His Excellency was the representative here of Her Majesty the Queen, and it was only their duty to drink his health. The toast was received with cheers.

A. Brodie, Esq., said that in proposing the next toast he was placed in rather unfavourable circumstances for doing justice to it, inasmuch as a change in the programme had been made, and he was not aware that it would fall to his lot to propose the Army, the Navy, and the Volunteers, until he entered the room. What the British army had done in former years, and more recently what it had done in India, needed no recapitulation from him, What the Volunteers had done in this colony was well known. He remembered that several now present were engaged page 5 in defence of the colony, either as soldiers and sailors in the British navy, or as soldiers in the ranks of the volunteer force. He saw a very old volunteer before him in the Mayor of Auckland. As to the force here, the Premier would have an opportunity of inspecting it himself that evening, and as an old military man he may perhaps tell us, later on. what he thinks of them.

Major Withers responded for the army, regretting that he lacked the necessary eloquence to reply to the toast. The deeds of the British army were blazoned in history. As to the Volunteers, in this colony we knew what they had done He was only sorry that his powers of speech were not greater, to enable him to do proper justice to the toast.

The Mayor of Auckland, in responding for the Volunteers, said he was somewhat surprised to be called on, after so many years, to respond to the toast, which, however, was in itself a proof that the service rendered in a time of difficulty to the country was long remembered. He had served in the Volunteer force, and in the rank of "full private" he had endeavoured to do his duty. He thought that the toast would be more appropriately responded to by some volunteer whose connection with that branch of the service was more recent. He had every confidence that, if the Volunteers should over be called on again in presence of active hostilities, they would do their duty as they had done before.

Major Murray, in obedience to loud calls, also responded, and in doing so took the opportunity of again acknowledging the support given them by the present Government and especially by the immediate head of that department—Col. Whitmore.

Col. Fraser could not refrain from saying a few words on this toast. He came to this colony emphatically as a volunteer The late Captain Goldsmith and himself, with their men came, when help was needed. Our men felt happy they had done so, he felt happy in his happy home, and if they carried out the work commenced they would have a happy people.

The Chairman said the toast he had next to propose was that of their illustrious guest, Sir George Grey (prolonged cheers). He was sure he had but to ask them to drain their glasses without another word and they would respond at once, but the present was not an occasion to be passed lightly over. This had been a great day for the Thames. A great day in so far that they were favoured with the presence of the Premier to initiate an important work for the district. Long before he came to New Zealand Sir George Grey was a man of mark. He had been Governor of the Cape of Good Hope and South Australia, and the peoples of both rejoiced at his rule. He had not therefore, when he re-entered public life, yet to win his laurels, but as the world would say "he was comfortably laid up in lavender at Kawau." But when the colony needed his help, he once more in answer to the call of duty merged from his privacy and reentered political life. He did this not for the sake of sordid gain, but for the good of the country. We may differ in opinion from Sir George Grey on some points, but in this we should be united, that in the attempt to open up the lands of the colony to bona fide settlers Sir George Grey's policy was one that must be endorsed by all the world. As one instance he noted the case of the Broomhall settlement, in which Sir George and his colleagues took a much broader view of the question of settlement than that implied in the sale of lands to English capitalists, who could send out labouring people to work them, or immigrants with more or less capital. He looked to a more permanent advantage from settlement than was implied by the money paid into the Treasury. Sir George felt that the lands should be as open to settlers actually in the country, or the children of settlers born in the country, as to gentlemen in England and those whom they employed. They took high ground, and said we have men ready and willing round about us, and it is our duty to give these men, who have come so far and suffered so much, an opportunity to obtain and cultivate this land. No political man with whom he was acquainted had achieved such deserved success as had Sir George Grey. He trusted the toast would be drunk with enthusiasm. He wished Sir George a "Merry Christmas and a Happy New year, and many of them." (Musical Honours.)

Sir George Grey, after the prolonged cheering had somewhat subsided, said Mr Chairman, ladies, and gentlemen, your Chairman just now in proposing my health, said I ought to be a proud man. Well, I am both proud and page 6 thankful to he allowed to live to realise what had almost seemed a vision. The scene of that day reminded him of a vision he had tried to realize years back. It was 35 years since he first visited the Thames. He came down in a little schooner belonging to the late Bishop of Lichfield, who brought him down and left him here a few days. He proceeded up the river Thames, in a small boat, as far as practicable, and then still further in a canoe. At that time he was perfectly satisfied that this district was one of great importance. He relied on the belief of Captain Cook, formed years before, that a great city ultimately must stand here. (Cheers.) He stated that if a great city was to arise in New Zealand, he felt perfectly certain that no more convenient locality could he found for it than the Thames River. That was the opinion of a great navigator. (Cheers) He spent several days in going up the river, and in fancy saw such a city rise and a great settlement established. Early one morning be walked up to the top of the Aroha Mountain, and as he looked down upon the valley he spent some time musing upon what the future of this valley and this country was to be, and in that fancy saw some such scene as witnessed to-day. (Cheers) He did not imagine that he was to take a part in the scene himself, but he thoroughly believed that a day of greatness was to come for this place. He now enjoyed the blessing—a blessing not often realised in the world—that after the lapse of so many years he had been permitted to see the visions of comparative youth thus brought vividly as a fact before him. (Loud Cheers) Now, from this he could point to one thing worthy of their consideration, and that was that steadiness in the pursuit of some particular object almost invariably met its reward. (Cheers.) We are told that "the rolling stone gathers no moss," and there is more in that proverb than at first strikes the ear. If he had not persistently, through many years, felt a great affection for New Zealand,—felt determined to see this country reach the goal to which he felt sure it must come, — If he had not remained here and felt that determination to witness the great end which years before he had seen in prospect,—if he had been a mere rover, a wanderer, caring little for the country, except during the time of official life, he could not have had the infinite pleasure and satisfaction which that day had afforded him (cheers.) Now, to form the opinion he had then required a belief in many things. It did not simply require a belief in oneself and one's own powers to do anything; but it required a belief in his fellow-man. It required a belief that an industrious, thrifty, and enterprising population must prepare to face great difficulties and great dangers. They came to this country and persisted in the noble career upon which they had entered of founding a great nation and a great people in the very remotest corner of the earth. He believed in that—he believed in his race; he believed in the Anglo-Saxon people; he believed in the British as a race and people who were destined to occupy the earth, who would dare all difficulties and dangers, and who would not be easily turned back from any proper and legitimate pursuit upon which they had entered — he asked them all to look around today, and answer him, had they well and faithfully fulfilled this expectation of his? (Cheers.) Had they shown that they had sprung from a race who would dare all things, and do all things legitimately and properly to found homes for the families who were to follow them He said the enterprise developed here had been wonderful, and was but little known. Look at the machinery brought into the place look at what the miners have achieved; look at the difficulties and dangers which they all had to encounter. See them all overcome, and see now the great career which is opening before them! (Cheers.) Well, now, in reference to that career, just let him say one thing more. It was not his business on an occasion like this to make a political speech or allude to politics. He might tell them that he had heard it said Sir George Grey will make a fine speech to you; he will tell you all about the Public Works Policy." Now, he would tell them that he was the first man who introduced the Public Works Policy into the British Colonies. (Cheers.) He was the first man who even proposed that a change should be established—the first man who recommended the British Government to establish a system which should be carried out in all Her Majesty's dominions—and he, upon his own recommendation and his own advice, pointed out a Public Works Policy which was afterwards introduced into this colony. They have done this, and it was as much their duty to make use of it to extend page 7 their public works as it was their duty to grind their corn. Well, that subject, introduced by him, raised great discussion. He had returned to Great Britain, and recollected being present at a dinner party where a discussion arose on the subject as to whether he was right in wishing to spend money on works part of the burden of which would rest on posterity. There were present among others Sir G. Cornewall Lewis, Lord John Russell, Mr Gladstone, and Lord Macaulay. The first three opposed his view, but Macaulay—who was a man of infinite wit in a peculiar way—supported him by saying in opposition to the statement that you have no right to burden posterity with anything—it is a bad system, "We all know of the massacre of the 100,000 Chinese under Lin. When I (Macaulay) heard of it I was painfully affected, but I really believe that the effect of distance is such that an attack of gout in my little finger would have caused very much more trouble and pain to me," and applying the story to the burdens on posterity said "he did not think they would ever bring the people to think much of those burdens if they were satisfied that the money raised was to be expended for right and legitimate objects. It was like professing an intense regard for those who surround you, but neglecting their demands out of consideration for those who might come 300 years hence." But here the time has come. You have created that invisible thing, credit; and it is your duty with it to open up the country—to spend it, not extravagantly but wisely, so that the country may become populous and fertilized. Insist on your right to have that done for you which has been done for other parts of the colony. Do not be led astray by the glittering temptation of imported wealth held up before you As your chairman said just now, with reference to your lands, whether, temperance settlements or intemperance settlements, or any other kind of settlement that may be proposed, by which large numbers of people ate to be brought from England, allow nothing of the kind to be done until the wants of yourselves and your children have been provided for. He made no answer to the arguments on that side of the subject used in the House. They amounted to this, it would be "providing a great blessing for Thames people if capitalists came from England to provide work and employ labour. He sat still, he said nothing. In his own mind he thought the Thames people knew their own interest too well. They want to employ themselves. Knowing that nothing could be done, he made no answer, but resolved in his own mind that the lands (which properly belonged to them) now that the power rested with himself, should be secured to them. When what is necessary for their own wants has been taken, let the whole world have a chance and not the water drinkers only. (Laughter and cheers). He was himself a water drinker and had a very great respect for them : let them have the same rights as other men. But he believed the way to make men temperate was not by restrictive laws, which produce little effect; not by depriving them of lands and money and making them simply labourers to other men. The true way, he believed to make sober, thoughtful, temperate, and, he believed, religious men was to give them the opportunity of obtaining homes for themselves; to give them a chance of providing for the wants of this life, and time in their old age to prepare in peace and comfort for the life to come. One word more, on the work in which we have this day been engaged. May the work in which we have been engaged produce all the prosperity and blessing for this place which he believed it was capable of achieving. He hoped those who had aided him that day might live to see this good and prosperous town the starting point of a railway connecting every part of New Zealand. (Applause)

The Vice-Chairman (John Brown, Esq.) rose to propose the next toast—"Our Visitors"—which he said he was sure would meet with a ready response from the people of this goldfield. They were much indebted to those gentlemen who had come from the Waikato, Auckland and Coromandel to assist them on that occasion. He trusted that they would have the pleasure of carrying out Mr McMinn's wish, by going to Waikato to assist them, in return, to make a success of their end of the line. He also hoped they would have the pleasure of going to Coromandel on the same business, to assist them when they had completed their own line. The wisest policy they could carry out was that of assisting one another to get through New Zealand with their lines of railway, opening up the country, and carrying prosperity with page 8 them. This event was one of great importance. It was the beginning of the end, and he hoped it would be pushed on with all possible expedition until completed. It was the good intention of the Government to give us the railway. They did not like to be under any obligation to the Auckland people, and hoped soon to be able to help them on a similar occasion. (Drunk with loud cheers)

Thomas Peacock, Esq. (Mayor of Auckland) rose amidst applause to respond to the toast. He said he could assure them he appreciated the hospitality they had extended to him and others that day. The undertaking they had commenced that day was pregnant with the most beneficial results to this community. He had a high opinion of the efficiency with which they conducted matters. He need only print to their Volunteers and Volunteer Fire Brigades as evidence of this, as well as to their County and Borough officials, who carried out all their undertakings with energy and enterprise. (Cheers.) He felt sure the Government would concur in his opinion when he said that they looked after the interests of the Thames people. (Cheers.) He had heard words of a jealous tendency between the two places, but he did not think it was their wish such should arise. (Cheers.) The interests of both were identical—the success of one meant the success of the other. He hoped that cordiality would not diminish, but grow on and on. (Cheers.) He concluded by thanking them for the kindness and hospitality shown him.

J. W. Melton, Esq. (ex-Mayor of Parnell), also thanked the proposer for the toast, and regretting that the Mayor-elect, Mr Coleman, was not able to attend. He was assured it would have afforded him great pleasure.

Mr A. J. Cabman (Chairman of the Coromandel County Council) was called upon to respond, and in doing so said the committee deserved credit for the successful issue of the arrangements. The Coromandel people had an interest in the Thames railway, and hoped when the time arrived they would not forget that others wanted railways also. They hoped to see the line extended to Coromandel from the Thames. (Cheers.)

Dr Kilgour (Chairman) rose to propose the toast of "The health of W. Rowe, Esq, our representative, Mr. McMinn, and other members of the House present." He could add his testimony to that of others as to the work done during the last session. He happened to be present during the session, and it was his duty to be brought into contact with their representatives present, and he could testify to their diligence, and to the kindness he had received during his stay there. They worked hard to promote the welfare of the country. He could say that there was complete accord between the gentlemen before them when anything affecting the good of the country was concerned, just as there was with himself. He hoped they would be in accord in time to come as they had been in the past. (Cheers.)

W. Rowe, Esq, M.H.R., rose to respond. He said he believed short speeches ought to be the order of the day on these occasions, For himself he had not felt a happier day for a long time past. He felt that the outcome of the day was but the result of what they had been looking after for years past, and he saw before him those who had assisted to push it forward years ago. There was Mr Berry and Mr Robertson, both to be classed among the pioneers of the movement, and to-day they saw the outcome of their exertions. He was a firm believer in consistency. He believed that if men formed their convictions they should not let men or circumstances put them aside. He did not seek popularity—he cared nothing for that. His convictions were his guide as to his public duty, and by those he stood. They might have heard something of differences between Sir George Grey and himself—(Question?) They were met to day on an occasion when old sores could be healed,—when they might take advantage of the occasion to become united. (Hear, hear.) He had differed from Sir George on some occasions, but he might say that on all he had found him intensely desirous to promote the welfare of this community. (Cheers) He always endeavoured to say to ir Geo. Grey that he was about to do so and so for the Thames, as representative, and his invariable reply was, "Very well, it is good, it is right, and I will support it." No man had a greater respect or affection for Sir George Grey than he had; but he might say that page 9 he would not sacrifice any political opinion of his own in that respect. He was glad to see the Auckland people present, because he did not believe in the reports that they would oppose the Thames getting their railway. Now is the time for cementing a unity of opinion not only among the people of the Thames, bat of the people of the whole Provincial District. (Cheers.) He could say of Mr Macandrew, the Minister of Public Works, a more sincere friend Auckland never had. He believed that the Parliament of New Zealand desired to promote the best interests of the colony at large; that they did their duty, and deserved every praise. The Hon. Hoani Nahe and Mr McMinn were sterling representatives of the interests of their constituents. He was sorry that the name of the former had been omitted from the toasts. (Cheers.)

The Hon. Hoani Nahe rose to respond to the toast (interpreted by E. W. Puckey, Esq.) He said he was glad to meet them that day. He was pleased at the way they had drank the toast of the New Zealand Parliament, although he hesitated about making a speech, for it occurred to him that Sir George Grey had already spoken long enough. (Laughter and cheers.) He was pleased at the opening of the railway, and hoped it would be carried to a successful completion. He was also very glad to bear that the permission of the chiefs of this district had been given to take the land necessary for the railway line. The railway would be the greatest possible blessing to the native race as well as to the European. The first railway he saw was the one from Grahams town to Tararu. He would only say that he was pleased at the proceedings with a view of opening the Thames Valley Railway. (Cheers).

E. McMinn, Esq., M.H.R. for Waipa, rose to respond, and was greeted with loud cheers. He said he was proud to gee so many people of the Thames and Auckland, and had to apologise for the Waikato people, as he was the only representative present from that district. Mr Whyte, the Mayor, and a number of others, intended to be present, but as he had already explained, the harvest season prevented their leaving home just now. He was pleased to see them in one respect because they reminded him of the large body of consumers in this district which the railway would open a market for from the Waikato, although he did not say so in any selfish way. (Cheers.) He felt sure the settlers of the Waikato would take the same view, and say the same. (Cheers). He was glad to see that those entrusted with the arrangements for the day had shown their good sense by inviting the presence of the ladies. There was one hon. member of the House who, if he were present, would be rejoiced to see them—he referred to the ladies' champion, Dr. Wallis. (Laughter). Mr McMinn said he had a toast to propose before he sat down—the "Health of Mr Brodie," and he paid & high compliment to the County Chairman of Thames (Mr A. Brodie), whom he had met in Wellington. He said that there was not a person present at the County Conference held there so well versed in the County system as Mr Brodie. He thought he was somewhat proficient in that respect himself, but he himself was a mere child in these matters in the presence of Mr Brodie, and there were others who also felt they had their match on that occasion, when Mr Brodie was present. (Loud cheers). He asked them to drink his health. (Cheers.)

A. Brodie, Esq. (County Chairman), thanked Mr McMinn and those present for the honour thus conferred upon him, and the hearty expressions accompanying the toast. (Cheers.)

"The Ladies," by Cr. Robt. Graham, and "The Mining, Commercial, and Agricultural Interests," by Capt. Souter, brought the programme to a close, and the proceedings terminated with three cheers for Sir George Grey.