SATURDAY, 20th MARCH, 1869.
The depths and bounds of parliamentary corruption have yet to be ascertained. We see “the heavens all black with sin,” and we now know that one surprising revelation but leads to another still more startling. Loyal liberal gullibility is likely to undergo a very severe trial. The strain upon it must now be something tremendous, and we are afraid that it will break down at last. It has now transpired, beyond the possibility of question, that Jones, the gushing friend of “the people,” has been the hired servant of the squatters, and admits that he received £600 when the infamous Quieting of Titles Bill was before the Legislative Assembly. Of course, we have the old story over again, Ambrose Kyte, another man of “the people,” was seized with a sudden fit of benevolence, and that fit, just like Mr Kerferd’s and his friends’, took the form of a violent desire to give Jones money. Nothing is more surprising than the number of persons who have been impelled to contribute to Jones’ support—nothing save the innocence of Jones himself, and his ready acceptance of the cash. At present we must confine ourselves to him.
He is the centre to which all ardors tend. Round him the waters are deeper and dirtier than elsewhere, and the big fish lie concealed in their depths. But we admit that it is
difficult to tell where to leave him.
Each Charge seems monstrous until another comes to diminish its gravity, and we are actually getting on so fast that former sins appear mere peccadillos in the presence of the ones more recently revealed. Whether Jones had the £600 or not, is really a question unimportant now, for if Loyal
Liberals can believe in the sudden benevolence of Mr Kyte and of Mr Kerferd and his friends, there is no earthly reason why they should not also believe that judge, jury, and witnesses were all in a conspiracy against Jones. To us it is quite unimportant whether Jones is still held to be immaculate or not. Not to us or to the party with which we have fought so long for common-sense and common decency in public affairs does the duty belong of delivering the district of Ballarat West from lasting shame, and popular institutions from disgrace. We are told that the Ministry
is seeking another candidate, and tlie constitutional party is asked, to support him, if he can be found. We sincerely trust that the constitutional party will do nothing of the kind. We trust they will stand aloof and let “the show what is their estimate or a suitable public man. Whether Mr Jones is now returned or not, we do not see how he can escape from future and more serious consequences, and his return and future utter downfall will give but due emphasis to the general verdict which must follow, as to the blind folly of a partisan crowd, led to disgrace free institutions to serve party ends, and win a victory by means which render that victory more fatal than defeat. Past folly is already bearing its bitter fruit. The outrages committed in the name of “the people,” the lies told, the follies upheld, and, above all, the blind servility have resulted, as all calm thinkers saw they must result. Mr Jones is but the typical man of the times. The others now inculpated, those yet to be found out, and those who never will be, all followed in the same path, and counted as popular folly to believe and popular blindness to shelter. And a mere accident has shown the depths below. Had not Mr Jones, with the effrontery of long success, attacked Alexander, the celebrated trial would not have taken place, and the friends of “the people” would have kept their money and their places too. By all means, say we, let Mr Jones be returned. This alone is wanting to complete the edifying history which will be sent home to show how much they lied who criticised unfavorably our doings. The appeal lies, of course, from the select committee to a public meeting, and let us hope that the appeal will be made, and with accustomed success, so that when all is done, when “the people” have shown to the utmost the value of their opinions, the great stroke may fall which shall confound at once the fools and the knaves; and teach, once again, that great lesson, so often taught yet so seldom learned, that honesty is the best policy.