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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 30

Essay on Exhibitions, Shows, Etc

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Essay, for 1885, on Exhibitions, Shows, &c.

In Three Parts.

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Auckland: Printed by J. H. Field, Masefield's Buildings, Albert Street.

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Essay on Exhibitions, Shows, Etc.

Part First.

Great Shows are good, useful, and often necessary; Public Shows are of time immemorial wont and usage, and have ordinarily been designed to display in attractive combination the useful with the ornamental and the amusing. And even regarding the amusement concomitant of Exhibitions a good purpose is served by supplying a safety-valve for the exuberant spirits of the athletic, the strong, the vivacious, and the gay, as well known and understood in ancient times, especially in Greece and Rome. Recreative change is a necessity of nature; monotony is unhealthy; and it shrinks and shrivels and dulls the fine faculty of imagination; absence of such safety-valve is dangerous, politically and socially, especially among the concentrated conglomerated myriad populations, yet that subsidiary characteristic of Exhibitions is now only adverted to as incidental and by the bye; (is slightly parenthetical).

Most of our conveniences and accommodations in modern civilization, especially the intricate and elaborate, have been brought into common use and vogue through well appointed Exhibitions, published, advertised, and instituted.

We have all heard it is unwise to put the lighted candle under a bushel, when, during darkness of night, you want to see, although you may happen to be comfortably conscious that there it is, for emergent use and need; when put on an appropriate stick it radiantly throws its beams and shows, giving light to all present. Show is needed.

A modest man of genius invented a grand instrument; and, for want of means and consequent lack of courageous spirit, hid the thing, and both it and he were in obscurity. A spirited page 4 man plucked it out; touched it up; advertised, advertised in several different ways; exhibited before Royalty and in presence of the Royal Society of Scientists, received approbation, made his fortune, and benefited the world. Always show!!

Some have done great' tilings in secret and kept in perdu until boldly and energetically lugged out and compelled to be public benefactors.

Several centuries ago a great man modestly hid himself among his obscure kindred relations, and they, discerning, not liking, his extraordinary abilities, chided him severely for his seeming diffidence, saying unto him. as thou doest these things, "show thyself to the world," this said in contemptuous scorn; but then his time was "not yet," (envy and jealousy among brethren not uncommon). But. eventually, he did show himself; and, now, to-day, the grandest, the most magnificient, the most superb, and the loftiest monumental towers in all the world stand reared expressly in his mime and to his fame; (surely we need not mention, as chief among ten thousand, and in architecture beautiful, the two Cathedrals of Rome and London, Peter and Paul), a palpable fact, on which it behoves us to philosophise.

And, it will be remembered that some good while ago a man was vehemently and bitterly denounced for hiding his talents; for not exhibiting and using. Now this particular curse will not surely come upon the flagrant puffs who glaringly, staringly, flaringly advertise upon our street walls; these rather show forth the truth of fact—reduced to a maxim—that "the bold of face shall be hated." Now this just shows the converse: some men, some inventive geniuses, need, and ought, to be backed up and brought out and manifested openly; and we must give honour where honour is due. Some bold ignoramuses bragging of some most marvellous discovery, a panacea for all the ills that mortal man is heir to, should be shown up and exposed. For a few shillings their stuff will take off an honest man's leg and put it on again. Some of them have wrongfully made large fortunes. I am afraid Morrisson, with his pills, was one of them although just before he died he gave away many thousand pounds. Multitudes are easily deceived. Pity that many newspapers have, for a large consideration, disreputably advertised their stuff and nonsense, extolled their nostrums, and written them up. Some Newspapers in Great Britain I know peremptorily and constantly refuse them. Counterfeit coins are, however, proof positive that real coins are existent; and so on. Nobody counterfeits the worthless.

In all departments of human life, not even excepting the religious, shams and spurious pretences and pretenders are mingled with the real the honest and the true. Yet abuse does not argue against the U6e. Discrimination always needed.

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Part Second.

And, again, monopoly Patents should be few, and ever of shore duration, not exceeding four or live years in time. Certainly grand inventors must be secured a remuneration, even if it should be by subsidy; but the light of the knowledge of their invention must not be confined and secreted nor even cabined, but must be openly exhibited for the benefit of the universal public and as auxiliary to the promotion of universal brotherhood, to which, doubtless, any close monopoly is adverse and opposed. Merely for instance, now, say, the Steam Engine,—no monopoly patent! No; no! Proscribe no man from making a locomotive engine. Exhibit! Frankly and openly show! Teach! Instruct! Diffuse far and wide the knowledge of arts and sciences! Show forth! hold out the knowledge of' truth of fact and truth of art; have them free; free as the beautiful the lovely the wonderful light of heaven, which they do resemble. Hold forth knowledge as the sun holds forth light, (the sun is not the light as most imagine), or as the street lamp holds out the gas light (the lamp is not the light, is often dark, and black, and dirty). Do not hide or tax light, as they once did in England. Light is a wondrous entity; per se perfectly distinct; and, as King Solomon says, "Truly the light is sweet." Light is genially enlivening. Knowledge is compared to light. Men of knowledge are called enlightened. "God is light," and furthermore we read, "Jehovah is a God of Knowledge." Light! Light! physical, mental and, spiritual! Geniuses are "gifted," enlightened, not for themselves only, but for mankind. And boasting disallowed; they have nothing, but what was given.

An ancient writer prognosticated, "Wisdom and knowledge shall be the strength and stability of the times." Knowledge shall be spread abroad, and mankind shall be noted for migratory activity. Travelling helps and advances knowledge. And travellers unwittingly, or otherwise, scatter seeds of knowledge. And Great Exhibitions have incidentally induced travelling and caused congress. We have read that home keeping people have ever homely wits. Perhaps it is so. Well then, Grand Public Exhibitions prompt to travel and promote intercourse. Knowledge must have free course, and must increase; and its vehicle must be untrammelled and well lubricated. Educate! Show! Exhibit! Teach!

We Great Britishers have spent large money on schools and school-houses; we must spend more and more on Grand Public Exhibitions.

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Show! Show is the word; alike proper as verb, noun, and adjective; do show; a show; a show cart or Palace And show is the theme.

Now for a small pertinent fact, which, perhaps, may be almost as useful as large philosophy:—Once upon a time a fastidious lady went for sundry articles into a fine drapery establishment; first met the eye of a genteel youth who blandly inquired for her orders and commands; she mentioned different things the particular names of which the novice did not know; the lady, supposing nothing was there she just then wanted, was about to depart the place, when an experienced "assistant" busy further on, descrying the situation of affairs, shouted to the youth," Show the lady, show the goods, or similar." Well, then, he did show, and, sure enough' there was every thing required and more, and the lady became a large purchaser. A fact! Show! Do Show!

Apropos: A few years ago, at a Horticultural Show, among many fine, pretty things from the gardens and orchards, all sorts of vegetables were exhibited and prizes duly awarded; one prize was for the finest and best green peas; after first prize for peas was given, it was remarked by a visitor that a neighbour of his had real green peas hanging in luxuriant festoons, sort called Prussian Blue, having the largest and longest pods, and looking the very best ever seen. Connoisseurs had previously remarked same. But gardener was modest and diffident. He did not exhibit. That splendid growth was not shown; the public lost a sight; and the honest, humble man certainly lost a first prize. Prize taker well knew it was so, he had afore seen. Writer himself saw this case—had personal cognisance of these two simple fact instances, now adduced merely in illustration. Extreme bold assurance is hateful and is denounced; excessive modesty is injurious and should be quashed. Balance of power, please. But do show and do not sneak nor slink.

But gamblers and hunters after patents say, Never show your hand! Perhaps they are right for that line; they ounningly wink the eye and know about that, they are notoriously "knowing." But we judge this sort of thing no good to the community. Selfism is not only wrong per se, it is impolitic; in the long run it will not answer; gambling is cooly and calmly judged an evil. In respectable common life cunning concealment of knowledge for private ends is a wrong; open exposition a duty. Certain professionals may take the hint Do good and communicate, with kindness and readiness. Regard your kind! Hold forth the light, as the sun does.

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Part Third.

THe London Great Exhibition of 1851 was truly a splendid success; although the vast moral results pronosticated by the most sanguine have not yet been realised,—say as to universal amity, the total ending of horrid ruinous war, and so on. But, but, as a great writer the other day said. God Almighty is never in a hurry." A thousand years (Oh!) with Jehovah God like as one day. Most assuredly wars shall and will cease, and cease forever! But not yet.

I was pleased to see at that magnificent Palace of glass, representatives from all the chief nations, well nigh from all the nations amicably and happily exhibiting: all hearty, cheery, and glad; some coatless in shirt sleeves working very hard with a will and with spirited hilarity; I rather think a marvellous and new printing machine for The Times "was there; and, I, solitary, all alone in a crowd, full of thought, slightly tenebrious because of lack of means and opportunity to study there a week or more.—Was there five or six hours only; and—saw.

The wonderful machine department was especially interesting to many. No doubt many of the operatives, there and then engaged, got some new ideas—caught a wrinkle, as they say; indeed it seemed to be an excellent purpose prevailing there, to diffuse special knowledge, to disclose and show peculiar art. I reflected, Surely vast good will come out of this fine exhibition of inventions, and this happy showing forth of international goodwill. Was also pleased to know that the originators and promoters of that world's great Show were Prince Albert (Consort to our Sovereign Queen); Richard Cobden; Joseph Paxton, and several other philanthropic celebrities. The building itself was verily a wonder, and probably, altogether, unprecedented, not to say unequalled. "The Glorious Alhambra" (so called) of Granada, Spain, of Moorish fame, is not glass. There have since been many imitations of that Palace Exhibition in all parts of the world, most of them successful. That Great and excellent Exhibition at London, '51, was an advance on, and did advance civilization.

I have said grand exhibition; gran is, I think, the Spanish for our English word great. We have tacked on one ultimate letter to the word and made it mean exceeding great.

The appointment of great and grand Exhibitions for New Zealand is very well and good. May Divine Providence vouchsafe success!

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It is believed by the intelligent, and has been more than once stated and published by scientific experts, geologists and others, that the physical intrinsic wealth of the two fine islands of New Zealand is inestimably vast. Much of it at present is latent, known by index and needing disclosure, yet showing unmistakably throughout both islands, north and south (and, remarkably, each and both pretty much alike for inferior worth) ostensible riches and vast potentiality.

William Edmund Sadler.


In regard to the development of our industries (to use a hackneyed phrase) I think there must be nothing for aid or help at all like political protectionism, which in reality is and means making by compulsion 7 men immensely rich at the direct, dire expense of 70,000; and so on, all the way, as per average. No, no. Political protectionism in trade, as understood, yields no revenue, per intention; it is an atrocious an abominable iniquity, and, in words of poor old Job of the ancient Scriptures, must be "hissed out of the place." But, and when, finally iniquitous political protectionism is hung up and gallowsed, "he who passeth thereby shall hiss." Young important enterprises here may and should be subsidised; say, a considerable offer, as pure bounty, for ulterior universal good, for such and such a quantity of, &c.; as has, I think, been done here before. And the lure of Great Exhibitions, with prizes and the "honourable mention," is good and helpful impulse.

[A Government chief clerk could now give (if deemed fit and proper) a half page of statistics,—gold, coal, wool, gum, timber, &c. and &c.]

W. E. S.

Footnote.—Foregoing is judged sufficient for one side of the great subject. It is impromptu and independent; suggested by advertisement, Jany, 1885, Wellington inviting Essay; not any the least idea of the thing afore.

J. H. Field, Printer, Albert Street, Auckland.