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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 78

"A Touch of Human Sympathy."

"A Touch of Human Sympathy."

From this two things are clear—(1) that the money was paid for convicting Lambert; (2) that the Government still held and proclaimed the recipient a sheep-stealer. Meikle said, "I am innocent; give me compensation." The Crown replied, You are a sheep-stealer, but you have convicted a perjurer at your own cost. We will give you £500 for that if you sign a full receipt." Meikle's acquittal having since been recorded by a tribunal appointed by the Crown itself, can the Crown honorably take shelter behind that receipt? To quote from the same authority to which we are already indebted:— page 38

"Is money paid as to a sheep-stealer for convicting a perjurer to cover the claim of the recipient to redress in respect of the charge of sheep-stealing, of which he is subsequently proved to be innocent, whatever the unfortunate man may have signed' in the meantime ? 'Claim' is, however, an ambiguous word, which lends itself readily to the litigious analogies of the Commissioners. Honour does not look primarily to the merits of the claim or of the claimant but to what is due to itself. The country owes it to itself to do something to right this man, and we do not believe that its conscience will be easy or its reputation clear until it has done so. Not forensic logic-chopping, but a touch of human sympathy and a chivalrous conception of public honour, are needed to settle the question, and the good feeling of the country will supply what may be sought in vain among the dry bones of this report."—"Evening Post," 20th April, 1907.

This is surely a point of view which will make a more effective appeal to any man with a heart than the nicely balanced doubts of the Commissioners. Mr. Meikle himself is cleared by their verdict after waiting for nearly twenty years, but the country's reputation will not be cleared unless it hastens to make what amends it can at this late hour for an irreparable wrong. After the sympathetic and kindly words of the Premier to the deputation which waited on him on the 25 th July some compensation is inevitable. For the credit of the country try, let it be handsome and handsomely given—" not grudgingly or of necessity, for God loveth a cheerful giver." For twenty years we, the people of this Colony, through the blundering of our Courts—for which, whatever the Commissions may say, we cannot honourably disclaim responsibility—have made the life of this brave old man a hell upon earth. Are we now to add to this involuntary wrong the disgrace of deliberate meanness and hardened cruelty by staying to haggle about the measure of redress ?

Printed at the Evening Post Office, Willis Street, Wellington.—20012.