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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 70

The Elder Brothers v. the Younger Sons

The Elder Brothers v. the Younger Sons.

1. Younger Sons.—Why are there so many ill-considered and unworkable laws entered on the statute book? Echo answers, why?

2. Elder Brothers.—Party governments make party men; party men make party laws.

3. S.—Are party laws good for the community?

4. B.—No, by no means, no.

5. S.—Then, why do you suffer it to be so?

6. B.—Those are the swadling bands which our fathers have handed down to us from time unknown, with this injunction, "Break not those swadling bands, nor do this our injunction any harm."

7. S.—What shall we do? The fetters you have bound us with have become unbearable. We find that we must think and act for ourselves. Our surroundings demand it.

8. B.—We will think for you. We know better what you want, and what is for your good than you can possibly do. We have had your welfare in view, lo, these many years. We spend our time three and four months each year while you pursue your lawful callings in peace. We make a sacrifice to serve you, and complain not. See what we have to contend with in the discharge of our duties, both mental and physical. We have also had much to do in making all the present laws. We know the ropes, and we intend to pull them.

9. S.—We are and have been sensible of all that for a very long time, and we are anxious to relieve you of some of those onerous duties which cost you so much care and worry. We feel sorry to be a burden to you in any way. The present laws, many of them, are very unsatisfactory. The mode or the process of making those laws are equally unsatisfactory.

10. B.—We fail to know what you are driving at. Do you think that we do not understand what we have to do. There are so many forms to go through which you know nothing about. Your place on this earth is to toil. You live by the sweat of your brow. Be ye, therefore, content to abide in the place where Providence has placed you.

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11. S.—That is very consoling advice. We have no wish to bandy words with you, or we might retort and say we have no wish to take the beam out of your eye. We beg to remind you that there are many among we toilers that live by the sweat of our brow, that are not short of brain power. It would give us great pleasure to congratulate you on any advance you have made. The late session is in no way commendable for what it has done. How much have you had to do with that? The Ministry must have been more than human to hold its own without in some way being over-Ballanced. We understand you have received your wages. We will not say anything about not being earned. We toilers have a pride in earning our wages before we receive them. We have more important things we wish to say, and we doubt not you will carefully consider what we are anxious to lay before you.

(a) You admit that party government is a failure. You have also raised your own salaries to £240 and £150 per annum, or £20 and £12 10s. per month. Do you not think you could spend the whole of your time for this salary and abolish party government?

12. B.—That is a large order. How are you going to arrange that? Gladstone, the leader you think so much of says he cannot carry on any government without parties. You would never know your strength if you were not in the position to count noses beforehand. It would be rish for any ministry to hold office.

13. S.—Just so. That is were the mischief comes in. Do you not carry on your own business on their menu? You have to adjust all the mode and details of you business on those lines that will pay best. The only party view you take is how to sell as cheap or cheaper than those you are competing with.

(a)Is it not strange in this 19th century that you should band yourselves together to keep a set of men in office in spite of the quality of any measures they bring down? You have to swallos them all, good or bad, in order to keep your party in office.
(b)Politics is the most important of all the duties man has to consider for the well being of all men and women.page 5
(c)The method of dealing with each other should be of the purest order, free from all infection of any kind.
(d)We, the Electors, the Younger Sons, have this conviction deeply engraven on our minds, that the object of all legislation should be to make all laws as simple and as understandable as they can be. We are decidedly opposed to politics being made a trade of.
(e)We also think a greater burden is put upon you than is necessary. Three or four months is not required for you to spend at the seat of government each year; it makes your expenses unwarrantably large. We think six weeks would be quite long enough for you. That would be a considerable saving to you.
(f)There are so many more bills brought down every session than can possibly be well considered. Those bills, so many of them, have to be slaughtered. How many of them every session have to suffer? Who knows? This is a great waste of time and money. We ask, is this required? Verily, no. Why then this waste? Have you not something to do with this waste? We, the electors, say waste not. Reform your ways. We cannot afford to have our money thrown into the waste paper basket or stuffed into the pigeon holes.

14. B.—Tell us what you would do You seem to know all about it. I have no doubt that you would find your level if you were amongst them pretty quick. You would soon be sat upon. You had better try it. We can assure you you would not find it so very pleasant to be among those seventy-four members who are always on the look out for any one that is weak-kneed when they make a slip and depart from the usual custom. We would recommend you to make one of the number. They would soon take your weight and your size, and if ever you did see yourself small that would be the time.

15. S.—All you say goes to prove that the whole mode of Parliament is rotten, and requires a thorough overhaul of the present mode of Parliament. If we have said anything amiss we are very sorry. We have no intention to wound anyone's feelings in any way. We speak the words of truth and soberness. We, the electors, the younger

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Sons, crave you attention to the following ideas, trusting you will receive them favourably:—
(a)Limit the number of Bills brought down each session, say twenty. Those twenty Bills should be well considered, and a vote taken upon them on their merits, free from all parties, and party feeling. At the close of each session each member takes as many copies of each Bill as there are Road Board districts in his electorate. Each Road Board will make such use of each copy so that all the electors may have the chance of reading and studying the contents of each Bill. A duty shall rest upon every Road Board to take an interest in placing every facility in the way to assist all the electors to clearly understand each Act. The clerk of each Road Board should be responsible for those Acts, and act for the Board.
(b)It shall be the duty of each member to visit from time to time, during the recess, the different road districts in his electorate to clearly unfold and fully explain the contents of each Act, and to consult with them from time to time on how each Act would be beneficial to all the electors, and also what parts of each Act would be objectionable. To each member it would be a pleasure to be in touch with all the electors.
(c)The electors would also be pleased to entertain their member, and convey to him how each Bill would be acceptable in their district. Each member should meet the electors during the recess in their several school-rooms and other buildings and take their votes on each Bill, i.e., on the merits of each Bill.
(d)This would require the whole of the time of each member during the recess, or nearly so. Each member would adopt the best method of obtaining the votes or opinion of the electors in his electorate. Each member would then act upon the will of his electorate. In his person would be the voice of the electors.
(e)When the next session opens each member would make his report to the House how each Bill had fared with his electors. (We consider that each member would take an interest to serve his electors.) When those Bills were brought forward again, and page 7 fully discussed on their merits, the second vote would be taken. The fate of those Bills would rest on their value. This should be the work of each session.
(f)The present Acts that are on the statute book should be from session to session corrected and revised by the same process, clearing away all those amendments, and make all Acts understandable and workable, so that we the electors may read for ourselves, none daring to make us afraid.

16. B.—Yes. We have listened attentively to all you have said, and we think you have made out a very good case. There would be a great improvement if many of your suggestions were adopted. There would be some difficulty in persuading all members to agree to spend all their time during the recess attending the various districts of his electorate. There are some members that do not see or visit their electors only at election times. There are some that pay a visit sometime during the recess. Many of them wish it could be otherwise. We can assure you it is no pleasant thing to meet a lot of discontented, dissatisfied electors, and to receive their badgering and abuse. What would it be to be amongst them for six or nine months every year. It would be irksome to be in that position. Again, then, could members afford to do that. Those that are in business, having been so long away, they must now attend to their business. The upshot of it would be, you would lose your best men. No, no, it will not work. There are so many things you know nothing about, and it would not be wise on our part to enlighten you. Take our advice. Don't move any further in this matter. Let sleeping dogs lie, or the howl may be very great. The fact is you will not get any men of ability to do your bidding. They would not be fettered with all those conditions.

17. S.—We are somewhat flattered by you admitting we have made out a good case, for which we thank you. The objection you raise, viz., that business men could not spare the time during the recess to visit the several districts in their electorates; also, the best men would not accept the conditions, and their dislike to meet the electors. Why is it thus? If those members had discharged their duties faithfully and honestly they need fear no evil. This is a clear proof those men are not fit and proper persons to page 8 represent the electors. No man can serve two masters, himself and his constituency. So, as each member receives £20 per month, this is a fair wage for his labours for the whole of the year. Any man not satisfied with this wage is not a fit and proper person to represent the electors, and it would be desirable that those men should be folding their flocks, herding their cattle, ploughing their land, or any other useful employment. The members need not fear any antagonism in meeting the electors. The electors will only be too glad to exchange ideas with them, as they meet not on party lines there is no room for any contention. The members may rest assured that they will pick up much useful information from the electors that will be of great use to them. The electors also will be educated up to their proper position, as men and women whose sole object is to live peaceably with all men and women.

18. B.—Surely you mean to have a model Parliament The best and most efficient thing that you can do would be to have a set of men made to your order. You then could guide them perhaps with an electric motor. Very fine indeed. Utopia you may write as the name of your ideal Parliament. You may bet your bottom dollar that you are not going to have it all your own way. We shall be on the look out, and you bet we will put the martingale on. If we cannot stop your fancy gallops we will seriously impede and frustrate your objects. We have let you have your own sweet way for some time. Be careful, do nothing rash. Many have fallen within sight of the winning post. It may be your fate.

19. S.—For our edification and improvement permit us to take a review of the past of this present 19th century. During the earlier part of this century there were some faint whispers; at first they were so faint, so faint, you could scarce hear those whispers, and as each year passed on they were heard a little louder, and a little loader. The few only heard those whispers at first, and as years rolled on many heard those whispers. Many were the questions that were asked. Did you hear that whisper? Yes; I could not make out what it meant. Hark, did you hear that? Well, that was a groan; there is no mistake about that. Whatever is going to happen? You may depend that means something. We shall hear more about page 9 that in next week's paper.* And as years rolled on they did hear more about it. It grew from a faint whisper to groans, and those groans came from overburdened souls that keenly felt the burdens were too heavy to be borne. From those groans came moanings, which were more grievous than the groans. From those moanings came words which said: "The husks we have been feeding upon are not good enough." Those words, when collected together, forced those men in the 'twenties to form combinations, such as political and other unions. They sent accounts of their grievances to the House of Commons. That House was run by the Elder Brothers, tradition says. The petitions were miles in length, and very little notice was taken of them by those Elder Brothers. In the thirties the walls of those Houses were shaken by the introduction of a Reform Bill which was rejected by the House of Lords. The Ministry of the day resigned. Several attempts to form another Ministry failed. At last, in 1832, King William sent again to Earl Gray to form a Ministry. Earl Gray said, "No; not unless I have permission to nominate so many men to the House of Lords." The King said, "Nominate only what you require to carry this Bill." Lord Brougham said. "One other thing, your Majesty." "What?" said his Majesty, "Have I not conceded enough?" Brougham said, "Will your Majesty put it in writing?" The voice was heard time after time during the remainder of the 'thirties, which sadly vexed the souls of the Elder Brothers. What they could not stop they obstructed. In the 'forties the voice was heard. It was no longer a whisper; it was a defiant demand. In this decade the memorable rise of the Chartists appeared. Many good and able men were cast into gaol, and the souls of those same men were crushed within them. Strikes and bloodshed followed. This was how tyranny trampled upon justice. Decade after decade had its risings, working all the time, every decade gaining something more than the former decade. The decade of the 'nineties made a bold stroke. The faint whisper had grown into a powerful voice, and it approached the Parliaments of New South Wales and New Zealand with a mighty voice, saying: Lift up your heads, O ye gates, page 10 and be ye lifted up, ye everlasting doors and let in muscle and brains. The Elder Brothers asked: "Who is muscle and brains?" The answer came: "The strong and mighty in battle; lift up your heads, O ye gates; even lift them up, ye everlasting doors, and muscle and brains—the mighty—shall come in." Later on, in 1892, the old conservative House of Commons were compelled to admit a number of those mighty warriors—muscle—against their will. The Governor of New Zealand was forced, much, very much, against his will, to allow some of those mighty men to be appointed to the Upper House. Some of we toilers have heard this whispering voice for more than half a century, and have watched its growth, little by little, till it has become like a mighty torrent. Who can stop it? Echo answers, who?

20. Some advantages by adopting the foregoing proposals:—

(a) The electors would be the revisers of all Bills, they knowing what the wants of the country is, are well aware what kind of Bills are suitable for the welfare of the country.

(b) It would be the best means of education the people could, have. It would cause them to think, and those habits of thinking would grow upon them. How many farmers, when following the plough, would think out some grand ideas? It does seem monstrous that a lot of old men should say what all other men should do. Bear in mind we would not say one word disparagingly of old men. No, far from it. All honour to them. Those men, many of them, must know that they are making laws for others, not themselves. That is to say, old men, as a rule, look at things through their old green glasses, which they have used for so many years; any other glasses of a latter date would not suit them at all, at all. Well, bring those glasses I got the other day. Here they are, grandad, try them. No, no, I cannot see a bit with those glasses. What queer things they do make in these days. I suppose they are some cheap German goods they get now. Here, grandad, are your own dear old lovely glasses you prize so much. Yes, those are the right sort. I can see as well with these glasses to-day as I page 11 could 50 years ago. Well now, what do you want my advice upon. Well, grandad, we want to know ourselves and our surroundings now and also in the near future? What do you think of that mode of procedure we have already talked about, grandad? No, that would never do. We in our day selected men of standing, of good families, somewhat above ourselves. They had more education, and their surroundings entitled them to be our legislators. So you thought, grandad; that is where the mistake comes in, and that is the fault of your glasses, the focus is of too short a sight, and they look backwards. If you would only use those glasses that look forward, you would see as clear as daylight the real state of things. Grandad said, those things will never suit me. They are too large, I could never keep them on my head. Well as you like grandad, they are what we must use at any rate. The old folks evidently overlooked those mountains by which we are surrounded, that has grown up during their day, and they are still growing, growing, growing. We see them much clearer than grandad could with looking through those backlooking glasses. Brothers and sisters, do you not see all those mountains. There they are to the right of you, to the left of you, to the front of you, some very large mountains. They do appear to be beyond our reach. There are no appliances by which we can climb up to them. Turn also to the right-about-face, you see them there also. Some are so small, so small. What! those little things, I would call them hillocks. There are some larger and some larger still. Yes, and there are larger, larger, still larger, and all are in a state of vegetation. All are growing, and as you have drawn our attention to them I think I can see them growing. Wait a wee bit, we will fetch you our glasses. Now can you see any better? Why those little fellows there, and there, and there, they do look so much larger through these glasses. There was a time when those mountains were very much smaller. In our grandad's time they were his servants. They have now out-grown themselves and are now page 12 our masters. We bow down to them, and our surroundings compel us to hold them in a very high place in this our daily life. Those mountains have grown up side by side with ourselves. But they have overgrown us. We know it to our painful experience. These smaller mountains of so many various shapes and sizes is the artificial modes and habits of this our daily life, which shows itself day by day in so many different ways. To describe them would be an endless work. We and you, you all of you, know more about the details than we do. You are familiar with them, we and you dance with them, sing with them, feast with them, entertain them with elaborate entertainments and appear to enjoy their company; but they often leave a sting behind. We and you now find that all have become their servants. They tell us what to do, where to go, and what to say. They lead us about wherever they list, and we dare not say nay. These are the swadling bands that bind us. To break away from them seems utterly impossible. Whenever we attempt to loose those bands the faster the fetters bind us. Those two very large high mountains immediately in front of us, which have grown to such a height, oh, such a height; the one to the right of us is Money, its high rate of interest and its tyrannical power over us; the other immediately in front of us is Strong Drink, which must sooner or latter be swept off this our beautiful land. The sooner this can be done the better it will be for the world. We have been trying to find out some means by which this may in time be brought about. Benjamin Franklin, in the character of Poor Richard, gives us the idea how it may be done, viz., "if you want anything well done do it yourself, if you do not care how it is done get someone else to do it." We, the toilers, wish to do our part honestly. The latter method has been tried by grandad over and over again, long before grandad's grandad's time, It may have had its purpose, we say nothing about that. Our purpose is not to find fault, but shot unto you a more excellent way, as referred to else- page 13 where. The breaking of those swadling bands, and the practice of doing all our legislalation purely on its merits, free from all party interest, must and will bring to the front those men that are suitable for the great work of human redemption. It will also make all men and women thinkers. From thinkers they must become workers. The surroundings of the present day demand it. There is no if about it. Common sense, prudence, fidelity, confidence in one's self, and confidence in each other, will bring it all about. It would be much better for the electors to work themselves up to a knowledge of law. As it is at present scarcely any one of the electors know what the laws really are. How many of the electors have to go miles to obtain of some lawyer what certain laws mean. That is also at a cost of guineas which are often wanted in other ways. In the new order how many of those electors could see at a glance what laws would be workable, and what laws would not be workable.

(c) The Legislative Council would be abolished, or rather extended to all electors, thereby saving, it might be, some £20,000 a year. The luxuries of that House is one small item that would be a nice nut for the Colonial Treasurer. The building could be converted into sleeping rooms for members during the session, or for any other purpose. The present members of the Legislative Council would appear as electors Those men in their various districts would be very useful in teaching the unlearned what is commonly called "the ropes." To them

It would be an honor to appear
As those well born and nourished there.