A FREE PRESS AND MR JOHN STEPHENS.
On Thursday last, the great room at Gloag's " Crown Hotel," Mount Barker, was crowded with the farmers of the district, to record their estimation of the principles and character of the proprietor and editor of the South
Australian Register and the Adelaide Observer news papers. Although through some mismanagement the races were held at Balhannah instead of on the " the old spot," the enthusiasm and bonhommio of the extra- ordinary number of the Mount Barker folks present was beyond all expectation. Mr John Dunn was unanimously voted into the chair. The Chairman opened the meeting in a neat speech, stating the main object of the promoters of the assembly. He believed a free and independent press to be the life and sinews of a free life. He called on the representative of Mr John Stephens to state his opinions upon the subject, and generally to inform the meeting as to the present position and prospects of the press of South Australia. Mr Stapley addressed the meeting at some length. He cursorily described the past and present condition of the press of the colony. After incidental allusions to various topics of deep moment to the agricultural in- terests, he appealed to the meeting as to whom they would support — " John Stephens and No Taxation without representation," or a system of imposts left to the tender mercies of the nominee Legislative Council. The meeting listened with attention, and gave repeated testimony of their assent to the principles enunciated. The following resolutions were put and carried with- out a dissentient voice :— Proposed by Mr J. B. Shepherdson, seconded by Mr John Rundle — " That tbe fearless advocacy of the true interests of the public of South Australia is the first duty of a free and independent newspaper press. In the opinion of this meeting, each duty has been, on the whole, well performed by John Stephens in his daily and weekly journals." Proposed by Mr Nosworthy, seconded by Mr Green- field— " It is for the interest of the colony that the Register and Observer newspapers should not be suffered to go down ; and this meeting pledges itself to support them by every fair and equitable means." Proposed by Mr J. J. Atkinson, seconded by M. William Humphreys — " The present meeting recommends the farmers, land - owners, and holders of the Mount Barker district, to assist Mr John Stephens in the prosecution of his duties as caterer for the public, and in his efforts to abolish a system of indiscriminate taxation in the present circumstances of the colony, possessing no government elected of the people ; in fine, it condemns 'Taxation without Representation' " Moved by Mr John Tallant Bee, seconded by the entire meeting— " That this meeting determines to resist the payment of the odious dray-tax by every means in their power, and calls upon the farmers to support any individual who suffers in consequence of the refusal ; and the Register and Observer, the only papers which condemn the tax." Mr Shepherdson, in proposing the first resolution, made some few but sensible remarks on the importance and value of a free press. Mr John Rundle, in seconding the same, believed that Mr John Stephens had conducted his papers fear- lessly, and with much talent and skill. This opinion was
daily gaining ground. Mr Nosworthy, in proposing the second resolution, said he by no means agreed with all Mr Stephens ad- vanced. He firmly believed, however, that his object was to state things as they are, and the truth would bear telling. The friend of truth was the friend of mankind. As such, Mr John Stephens deserved the support of every intelligent mind. He considered the term " odious " a happy one as applied to to the dray tax. The duty of government was clear, to give or make good roads. Quick communication was invaluable to a community. In a clear, eloquent, and " to the purpose " speech, he shewed the value of the press in general as the organs, and of the Register in particular, as the main bulwark of South Australian liberty. Mr Bee, in proposing the fourth resolution, gave an admirable address upon the subject of the farming in- terests of the colony. We cannot do justice to this speech by reporting it fully. A vote of thanks was proposed, and carried unani- mously, to Mr John Dunn, as Chairman of the meeting, who returned thanks in a very impressive and feeling manner. Mr John Rundle told the old story of the Quaker, who felt so much for an individual that he felt positively five pounds for him. (Loud cheers.) The meeting being concluded, resolved itself into a society, to be called the " Anti-Dray-Tax League." Mr John Dunn was elected President, and Mr Bee Secretary. The first meeting to be held on Monday next, and advertised in the Register and Observer news papers.