Wednesday, December 31, 2008

New Year's Eve - 1858 & 1908


It is a good old custom to wish friends at the close of the old, a "happy new year" and in a young country like this, where year by year changes so important occur, the wish is both significant and suggestive. We wish this cordially to our old follow colonists, who long have sojoured and long intend to sojourn amongst us ; but no less cordially do we give those Stammverwandten who are visiting us, and who we only fear will leave us too soon, nach alt-vaterlœndischer Weise a hearty prosit neu Jahr.
(Southern Cross, 31 December 1858)


Oh, whither away, old year, old year,
So swift do thy footsteps flee;
Wilt thou not wait till the paling flowers
Of the autumn hours go with thee ?

What tho' the flowers, with their thousand dyes,
Earth's bosom still festoon o'er,
I may not linger for these, but haste
To my kin that have gone before.

Adown the waters of time I sweep,
Those waters for aye that flow ;
To the scenes of my youth I return no more,
I have gone where thou must go.

What hast thou left, old year, old year,
Mementoes that yet may be ;
Oh, what that oft in the after time
May speak to our hearts of thee ?

I have left a story to teach thy soul
How the sand in thy glass doth run —
How each year, as it cometh, away shall speed
As quickly as I have done.

Whence dost thou come, new year, new year,
With thy joyous smiles that greet,
With the ripe ear binding thy tresses brown,
And thy breath with the fresh fruits sweet ?

From the Mighty, the Gracious Hand I come,
From whence flows every good,
Whose seasons unswervingly round have rolled
Since the pillars of earth first stood.

What hast thou brought, new year, new year,
What gift on thy glittering wing ?
Heaven's richest blessings around thy steps,
Wherever they roam, I fling.

I have bow'd the plumes of the trees with wealth,
Made golden each mead and field ;
Thy heart is cheer'd and thy home made glad
With the fatness the earth doth yield.

With sunshine and dew I come, I come,
Of goodness a tale to bear ;
Then let, oh, mortal, the firstling fruits
Of thy spirit be praise and prayer.
(Nelson Examiner and New Zealand Chronicle, 1 January 1859)



With the perfection of the telegraphic system, which gathers its daily news from every part of the globe, the years appear to become more and more destitute of striking "landmarks." In the days when our fathers were young the receipt of a mail containing important information made a strong impression on the memory. Nowadays, be a crisis ever so far-reaching, so much detail comes to hand that the real principles involved are not infrequently obscured, and to a corresponding degree the force of the incident is lost. Thus, it happens that in mentally reviewing the past twelve months a year of great political and scientific significance may appear more or less colorless.

The year was entered upon with the commercial world shaken to its foundations by the American panic and the back-wash of that great money smash reached New Zealand at a later date. Whatever ill effects accrued it is pleasing to notice that they are practically removed now. There has been a recovery from the big drop in the price of wool and it fortunately happened that contemporaneously with the slump in wool and hemp, the values of butter and cheese rose to a high point of' profit and were splendidly maintained.

Throughout the year there has been a clatter of scabbards and the world has stood on the brink of calamitous war. Morocco (more especially over the Casablanca affair) and the Balkans, have been perilous storm-centres. In the former country a sanguinary and prolonged struggle has ended in Abdul Aziz surrendering his sceptre to his brother, Mulai Hafid. . The Moroccan embroglio was not merely a local affair; it held the elements which might at any moment have bathed Europe in blood. The clash between America and Japan for a long time threatened to end in an appeal to arms. First there was the alarm caused by the report in January of a new distribution of the Japanese fleet which was followed by the transference of the United States navy from the Atlantic to the Pacific ocean. Happily the clouds cleared away and now the great white fleet is making a triumphal return from what proved to be a mission of peace. Persia and Turkey have both passed through political crises of the first importance, while Venezuela, Hayti, Brazil, and other of the smaller republics have been engaged in sword sharpening. More serious than all other events likely to produce international complications was the action of Austria in annexing Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Bulgaria's bid for independence. What the outcome of the situation will be cannot even now be indicated. But if danger threatens on some hands it is gratifying to remember that the foreign policy of the Imperial Government has been to strengthen friendship with France, Japan, and America, and that the King's visit to the Czar hastened the rapprochement with Russia. The ebullitions of the German Kaiser have kept the European atmosphere a-simmer but the outbursts have apparently harmed their author more than anybody else. The "danger incidental to the profession" has been emphasised by the assassination of the King and Crown Prince of Portugal and the attempts upon the lives of the King of Spain, the Shah of Persia, and the Sultan of Turkey. In India cold steel and explosives have been used as argument, and sedition has been preached from the house-tops.

At the close of the year, however, the prospects have brightened very considerably and influential natives have thrown in their lot on the side of reform and for the maintenance of law and order. The industrial world has borne witness that publicists and political economists have still before them some giant problems. Coming more directly, to New Zealand we must write 1908 down as a fat year. In January bush fires swept Hawke's Bay, Wairarapa, Manawatu, and parts of Southern Taranaki. but the immediateness is said to have ended in a substantial gain now. With the brighter outlook for wool and the record out-put of dairy produce the present benefits and future prospects are altogether satisfying. The country has passed through a general election and although the Government has been weakened we think it will be agreed that Parliament itself has been greatly strengthened. On the whole New Zealanders may enter upon the coming year with cheerful confidence. With a period of prosperity just ended and the outlook so bright there is justification for the pleasure we take in wishing our readers — A HAPPY NEW YEAR.
(Hawera & Normanby Star, 31 December 1908)

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