THE "OBSERVER" OBSERVED.
Gentlemen— I cannot but think that the Editor of the Observer writes some of the more virulent of his articles, under the impression that they will not be
read by those who are able to judge of their truth, but by these who see his own paper only, and who will, perhaps, believe on his statement, that the others are profligate and profane. His article on Saturday, in which reference is made to verses published in the Register, and which he terms "indelicate, and other- wise objectionable," is a case in point. No one in the habit of seeing the Register can consider his statement correct. I am, myself, at a loss to con- jecture to what particular verses he alludes, as I have no recollection of any which are obnoxious to his censure. I would not judge uncharitably, but I al- most fancy he has written at random, and could not, himself, point out any line or word to which his re- marks might apply. It is just possible, and but barely so, that two lines in your last Wednesday's paper might be perverted by a man of gross and filthy ideas, into something indelicate, but I should hope that the Edi- tor of the Observer is not a man of that kind. And I know of no other verses published by you which could be ever distorted into impropriety. He has, himself, been a little careless in the inser- tion of a low joke or two — which I should be sorry to request you to reprint — which need no distortion to be branded as indecent. His paper also has been the usual vehicle of every disgraceful and scandalous story — not matters of joke — not charges of folly and imprudence — but gratuitous insinuations, calculated to bring misery into the quiet circles of domestic life, and to brand the names of helpless females with dis- honour. These are things which disgrace the press, and which would warrant the strong terms he has used towards yourself. It is a grievous thing that one born of a distinguished family in the religious world — one related to two of our early Colonists (men how re- spected !), should so sadly prostitute his talents, and give so much licence to his naturally splenetic temper. It is sad that one of his family should figure only as the libellous journalist — and expose himself, truly or otherwise, to the charge of attempting to overreach a brother tradesman. But the names of his father and his brothers will not screen him from well merited censure. On the contrary, he will be naturally comp- ared with them, and need I say, who will suffer by the comparison ? Perhaps he will point out, in his next publication, the particular verses which have given him offence. His keen perception may enable him to elicit some hidden indelicacy which has hitherto escaped notice. I am, Gentlemen, Yours very respectfully, Z. X. Z. Adelaide, 6th May, 1844. "ONE TALE'S GOOD TILL ANOTHER'S TOLD." Gentlemen— l am never careful to notice private slander, or to contradict the intangible rumours which busybodies in other men's matters may choose to circu- late to my prejudice ; but, when any one, as Mr. Platts has done, condescends to make a mischievous rumour, "broadly and distinctly" palpable, to give it publicity, and to avow its paternity, I should be wanting in justice to myself, were I silently to lie under an imputation, which, if true, would render me deservedly odious. With respect to Mr. Platts's cautionary advertisement to which I allude, inserted in the Register, of the 4th instant, I do not intend to trouble you with all the ins and outs of the circumstances connected with my in- tended occupancy of his late premises. Suffice it to say, that that occupancy is purely accidental, and did not at all originate in any preconcerted scheme to circumvent Mr. Platts ; or, rather, it was the result of the folly of which wise men like him are sometimes guilty in worldly affairs; for when I knew the premises were to be let, al- though in quest of a publishing office, I did not go after them, or even think of taking them; and after they were offered me, and I was told the rent, I replied, "I don't think they will answer my purpose." But the gravamen of the charge against me is, that I "bid a higher rent" for the premises ; or, as you allege, that I "outbid" Mr. Platts. Now when I tell you that the advanced rent was £80, and that the premises were let to me for £70, the public can, if they please, credit the story about my giving "a higher rent," or of my "outbidding" Mr. Platts. Again, I am also charged with eagerness to "commence business in C. Platts's line, IN THE SAME PLACE." I suppose no one will dispute my right to commence business in Mr. Platts's line (a business to which I was bred), and so eager was I to do so "IN THE SAME PLACE," that with the knowledge that several parties were apply- ing for the premises, I took no immediate steps to secure them; on the contrary, my doubt and hesitation about the matter were quite incompatible with the idea of eagerness, having suffered ten days to elapse between the premises being offered me and my accepting the offer. Now, I put it to the common sense of every one whether, if I had been bent upon clandestinely seizing Mr Platts's premises and "appropriating" his business, I should have acted with such tardiness and irresolution ? I certainly was surprised, as were many others, to see Mr. Platts ad- vertising for other premises, and resolved (as it would appear) upon the surrender of Waterloo-house; but the charge of circumventing him by any "private" and "secret" concoction, is not only grossly unjust to me, but a reflection upon the professional reputation of the highly respectable firm with whom I negotiated. But the following correspondence will, I trust, render the whole affair intelligible, and supersede the necessity of my entering into any further explanations:— "North-terrace, 4th May, 1844. " Sir— l beg to call your attention to a printed ad- vertisement published by Mr. C. Platts, in the South Aus- tralian Register of this day, headed—"NOTICE AND CAU- TION TO THE PUBLIC" — in which he accuses me of "ob- taining possession of his late shop by bidding a higher rent for it;" and also to some ex-parte editorial remarks in the third page of the same paper, headed—" PLATTS'S LI- BRARY" — in which the same charge is reiterated, but in a more offensive form, namely, that I obtained the pos- session complained of 'by outbidding Mr. Platts privately and secretly.' Now, Sir, as the whole affair was negotiated through you and your firm as attorneys for the landlord ; and as, 1st, I never knew from you or any one else what rent Mr. Platts paid, and therefore could not 'bid a higher rent' than he, or 'outbid' him ; and, 2ndly, as it so happens that I never even made you an offer for the premises ; or, thirdly, treated with you for their occupancy until after Mr. Platts had repudiated them by public advertisement (vide Southern Australian, 19th March, and South Aus tralian Register, 20th March) ; or, 4thly, communicated with you or your firm, 'privately and secretly,' I respect- fully request you will do me the justice to exonerate me, by letter, from these false and vindictive aspersions. I am. Sir, Your obedient Servant, (Signed) John Stephens. To F. Bayne, Esq., Messrs. Smart, Johnson, & Bayne, Solicitors, Stephens-place."
"Stephens-place, 6th May, 1844 Sir—ln answer to your letter of the 4th instant, in reference to Mr. Platts's "caution" advertisement, and the Editor of the Register's comment upon it, I beg to state that the offer of tenancy of Platts's late premises came from us to you, and not from you to us ; and that as you did not offer the advanced rent, or any specific sum, you could not be said to have "bidden a higher rent" or "outbidden" our late tenant. You are right in stating that our proposals to you were not made until after Mr. Platts had renounced the pre- mises verbally as well as by public advertisement; and, what is more, pending your taking them, other parties applied for them ; and I even gave Mr. Platts the oppor- tunity of taking to them again, warning him, that in the event of his finally renouncing them, they would be taken by a gentleman conversant with the London paper trade. Mr. Platts's significant answer was, "let him do so; he will only burn his fingers." You have neither communicated "privately" nor "secretly" with me, nor with my partners ; but your intercourse with us in this affair has been strictly busi- ness-like and honourable. I am, sir, Yours obediently, (Signed) F. BAYNE. To John Stephens, Esq. One word in conclusion. You do not seem to be aware, that the moment I learnt Mr. Platts accused me of taking the premises over his head, I not only waited upon him to deny the accusation, but accom- panied that denial with most of the explanations con- tained in this letter ; nay, I did more, I volunteered to let the matter go to simple reference, and expressed my readiness to abide by the arbitrement of mutual friends, or the decision of the landlord's solicitor. This Mr. Platts declined ; but he has, I am sorry to say, continued to give currency to statements which I think you, and your readers will admit have no foundation in truth, with no other apparent object than to injure me in the public estimation for the conse- quences of his own seemingly deliberate though inju- dicious finesse. If, however, as I would fain hope, Mr. Platt's "Caution" is merely intended as a business ruse, I would advise him for the future to be careful not to compromise character with his puffs, or to filch from another his "good name" in the hope of bringing grist to his own mill. I am, Gentlemen, Your obedient servant, John Stephens. North-terrace, May 6, 1844. P.S. I have no wish to shirk any one of the alle- gations contained in Mr. Platt's advertisement, or in your running commentary upon it; but the assertions that I have stuck up "STEPHENS, late PLATTS," and headed my advertisement "STEPHENS late PLATTS" are really too trifling to reply to. Any one who has passed the premises within the last few weeks will have ob- served that I have not "stuck up" anything, and that the only things "stuck up" have been a plurality of placards, "out of all plumb," strongly indicative of Mr. Platts's nervous irritability, and my advertisement is headed "Waterloo-house, late Platts's." Equally puerile is it to talk of my appropriating a business, which the proprietor himself first shut up, and then advertised as "finally closed" at one place but "removed" to another. I have never announced that I had suc- ceeded to Mr. Platts's business, but merely that I had taken premises which had been in his occupancy, and whilst I would scorn to take advantage of Mr. Platts or any one else, and fully appreciate his solicitude to keep my fingers out of the fire, though he would let other people burn theirs, I have yet to learn that he holds any prescriptive right to a stationary monopoly or any other, J. S.