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2 corrections, most recently by diverman - Show corrections

MR. GEORGE MILNER STEPHEN.      

We are unwilling to say more about Mr. George Milner Stephen than will suffice to save the constituency he persists in seeking to represent from the regrets that would assuredly follow his election, and to secure the Legislature against his presence. We have no desire whatever to "persecute" him. We had hoped that when he last left this colony it would never be our duty to mention his name again. We had hoped that he would select some other

scene than Australia for his future career—  

perhaps that the bitter experience of what he calls persecution might have done him good ; and that his undoubted talents—those talents of which (we learn from Mr. Wills) he made such flattering mention in a requisition written by himself to himself—might have

won for him in a new field a fairer fame than he could ever hope to establish in Australia. Even when we found ourselves in this respect disappointed, and that he had the intrepidity again to cast his lot among those who had been acquainted with many years of his history, we con- tinued to nourish the hope that he would confine himself to a private career, so that there need never be any obligation upon us, as journalists, to recall the facts of his

past history. He had not been many days   in Melbourne, however, before he was at characteristic work. In his graceful and naive way, he represented to the public,

through the columns of this journal,   that certain relations subsisted between himself and the Port Phillip Gold Com- pany, and to these representations Mr. Bland, the company's local manager, was compelled to give a flat contradiction. It seems puzzling, indeed, that he should affirm what was susceptible of such speedy disproof, but those who have paid any attention to his somewhat remarkable an- tecedents will know that a shallowness

and penetrability, curious in so cunning

a man, have more than once characterised similar transactions in which Mr. Stephen  

has been concerned.

Disgusted as we were, though not sur- prised, there was still no casus belli be- tween Mr. Stephen and the Argus, except in so far as we had been deceived into circulating his misstatement. The ques-  

tion of his relationship with the Port Phillip Gold Mining Company  

was one for the company and him

self to settle between them. It     was only when we found him entering upon the field of politics—representing   himself as " a fit and proper person" to   sit in Council, that we felt it necessary to interpose. Mr. Stephen himself knows best how forbearant we have been, and we here assure him that we will be as for-   bearant as he will permit us to be still.   But wc have already explicitly told him   that if he desires the memory of his Ade-   laide proceedings not to be revived, he   must resign all pretensions to sit for Tal-   bot, or anywhere else in this colony. He   must earn a creditable reputation by years  

of good conduct before he can aspire to a public position either with any hope of success, or without drawing the veil from circumstances now past, and irrevocable indeed, but which can never be forgotten when the principal actor concerned in them comes forward and asks for public confidence and public

favor.

It is not, indeed, a principle of our moral philosophy that a man who has once offended is never thenceforth to be com- pletely forgiven. Past misconduct can be repented and atoned for ; and we have even liked Burns the better, ever since we have had any perception for the beauty of broad Scotch, for that unorthodox hope he expresses in his address to the De'il—

" Oh wad ye tak' a thought and men'       Ye aiblins might—I dinna ken,

Still hae a stake——"

We say the same thing to Mr.

Stephen, but ample evidence of amendment must be given, and for a long period he must bear the well-earned penalty of being distrusted.

Only very gradually, slowly, and hum- bly, can lie hope to rise from the position

to which his own faults have reduced him. He is a man whose considerable talents, and former brilliant opportunities, would   have secured for him, with ease, honors far higher than those to which he now aspires. But the whilom Colonial Secretary and Acting-Governor of South Australia flung away his chances, and laid up for himself the " persecution," as he calls it, which he braved for many years with an effron- tery that was almost admirable—it was so dauntless and so sustained. He errs, however, in saying, that only one journal "persecuted" him. It is possible, indeed, that in the journal to which he refers private animosity may have had some influence in envenoming the language,

but it could not alter the facts. The mere publication of the law reports be- came a "persecution" to Mr. Stephen— but whose fault was that ? The republi- cation of them would be another perse- cution, which we trust Mr. Stephen will not render unavoidable by persisting in his candidature for legislative trust and honor. If he will aggravate the pain of his own dis- comfiture by not accepting the advice his best friends would give him, if sufficiently well-informed as to facts, he will be draw- ing down his own punishment, and making us the reluctant instruments of its in-

fliction. ____________

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