Other formats

    Adobe Portable Document Format file (facsimile images)   TEI XML file   ePub eBook file  


    mail icontwitter iconBlogspot iconrss icon

The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 78


page break


The editors of this publication make no pretence to originality in their work. Their primary obligation is to the pamphlet "Seven Years' Hard" (Wellington, Wright and Carman, 1904), which, apart from the fact that it led to the organisation of the Meikle's Committee, and afterwards to the appointment of the Royal Commission, still remains, with its record of the evidence at both Meikle's and Lambert's trials, absolutely essential to a full understanding of the case.

From the report proper of the Commission itself, the editors have got little help. With its curt, unreasoned conclusion on the main question, and its wordy, inconclusive reasoning on the (subsidiary issues, it radiates darkness and not light, but here is illumination in the many individual comments of the Commissioners interspersed throughout the proceedings. Those of Mr. Justice Edwards, designed mostly to probe the weak points in Mr. Meikle's case, strongly emphasise the value of the verdict of "Not Guilty," at which he finally arrived; while Mr. Justice Cooper's more obvious attention to the weak points on the other side inspires a regret that he was satisfied with a merely negative decision. The addresses of counsel on both sides have also been studied carefully, and with much profit. Dr. Findlay's brilliant address and ruthless cross-examination make it certain that whatever could have been done to save the Crown case was done. Mr. A. R. Atkinson's less showy, but more exhaustive argument on Mr. Meikle's behalf has laid us under obligations too numerous to be satisfically acknowledged, especially in its reference to salient points in the evidence, some of which do not otherwise appear either in the Blue-book or in the Pamphlet.

It had at first been proposed to include in these pages tion of opinions of the press, but the work has unfor- page ii tunately proved too long without them. The "Evening Post." the "Lyttelton Times," Christchurch "Truth," and the "Marlborough Express" are examples of papers which have been thorough-going in their demand for justice for Mr. Meikle. Few, indeed, have been hostile, but many have been utterly mystified by the Commissioners' Report, and not a few have tumbled into the pitfall indicated on page 8. Let the tired journalist who has no time for more read at any rate Chapters VI. and VII., entitled "Merely to Sharpen His Knife" and The Benevolent Detectives and the Ingenuous Sheep-stealer" respectively, and give some samples to his readers.