Shocking Suicide. — A man whose name was not known, but who was supposed to be Henry Davis, committed suicide by shooting himself, in the neighbourhood of Glenmark; and at the inquest upon his body, Mr. Moore, upon whose station the suicide was committed, said, that at about six o'clock on the night of Wednesday, March 7th, he saw an elderly man, who asked for work, and that he told him he was full-handed and did not want any one. The man then asked if he might stay the night, and was refused. The weather had been more or less wet for an hour or two preceding. Deceased then left to proceed to an accommodation-house, to which he was directed by Mr. Moore, it being then dusk: the accommodation-house was distant about three miles across the country, with no track. Mr. Moore did not hear any more of the deceased until the Friday morning, when one of his shepherds said he had seen a man lying dead about a mile or so away, with a pistol at his feet; he had no horse handy, and so sent word to Kaiapoi by the dray which was just leaving. He had an indistinct notion that some of his men asked him to have the body removed to the wool-shed, but did not remember his reply. The body remained on the same spot until Sunday, when a constable asked Mr. Moore to provide a shell for it, but he said the carpenters were on contract work, and moreover that it was the Sabbath; but he gave some woolpacks to wrap it in.
The jury, after hearing other evidence, returned the following verdict—
We are of opinion that the deceased died by his own hand, there being no evidence to show the state of his mind at the time. And the jury cannot too severely reprobate the conduct of Mr. Moore, for denying the deceased shelter, and committing him, in an exhausted state, to the inclemency of the weather in a dark tempestuous night, with an almost certainty of his not being able to find any other accommodation.
On this subject, the Lyttelton Times of March 21, says:—
A man whose daily bread depended upon his daily toil, and whose exertions to obtain work in the more settled districts of this province had not been successful, was on this day fortnight travelling northward to carry his services where they might be more acceptable. He was not strong in health, and he had little or no money in his purse; but he went along on foot as best he could, trusting that the spirit of hospitality for which our settlers are famed would shelter and forward him on his way; confident at any rate that while he should be within reach of a fellow creature he would not want the necessaries of life. He did as many rich men do — as every one must do who would travel through our thinly peopled districts, to visit or help in colonizing the extremities of the settlement — he depended upon the humanity of his fellow-man to give him at least food and shelter, necessaries which even with money he could not buy. The poor man knew that those to whom he would apply were well-to-do, men by whom a meal given to a stranger could not be felt as a loss.
As he went along, his poor and enfeebled condition was noticed by every one who saw him; keepers of houses where food and shelter are sold to the rest of the world for money as a business, allowed this poor man to eat and drink and go free on his way refreshed; his journey was eased by a lift now and then in a dray; and none refused a sick and weary fellow creature what help lay in their power, but one — that, one was Mr. Moore, of Glenmark.
Mr. Moore of Glenmark is a possessor of sixty thousand acres of land. In making so large a purchase it seems to have been his object, besides the growth of wool, to keep as far removed from him as possible the society and the sympathies of his fellow creatures. Inside his boundary humanity has no rights: he has bought them up with the freehold at so much an acre. So, when a man fatigued, sickly, and hungry came to him, on a wet bitter night, and prayed first for work and then for shelter, Mr. G. H. Moore felt that he was exercising an undeniable right in uttering a blank refusal, and shutting his door upon him. The door was shut— and not only the master's door but the servants', by the master's repeated command; the man was left outside in the bitter night; and whether from hunger, or from having lost himself in the darkness, or from the effects of the storm, or from all together acting upon a diseased frame to the injury of the mind— he took the means of speedy death which lay within his grasp, and killed himself but a mile away from the food and shelter which he had failed to obtain.
Shame— a thousand times shame— to the individual who sent from his door into the waste a famished footsore man, without a chance of reaching shelter or a prospect of a bit to eat, till morning! What man with a spark of feeling would serve a dog so? Shame to him, even though no lasting consequences might be the result of his inhuman deed! But what did Mr. G. H. Moore do when he found what had really happened ? Surely he repented his act bitterly. — Not he!
On Friday morning his shepherd came running to him in such a hurry that Mr. Moore thought that he had lost the dogs, and he hastened to help him. But the shepherd said that he had found a man lying dead; and Mr. Moore did nothing — for a message to Kaiapoi by a bullock dray does not deserve to be called anything. When a constable came up on Sunday he found the body of the unfortunate man lying where it had fallen, exposed to sun and weather, not a human hand having been moved to rescue the remains of humanity from being literally a prey to the beast of the field and the bird of the air. Nor was common help in the performance of the constable's official duties forthcoming. What indeed could the inhuman rich man care about the miserable body, who had but now sent the soul from his presence to bear witness of his barbarities in the presence of the Maker of them both.
When Mr. Moore is summoned to answer at the inquest, he swears that the man who died was drunk. The evidence of all others who met the poor fellow proves that he neither was nor could be drunk. Mr. Moore had formed an opinion that the man was an impostor; and by that "opinion" of his own, he thought himself justified in suffering the other to starve. He gave no help to the constable, for one reason— because it was the Sabbath. Mean, hardhearted, barbarous, blasphemous man ! Possibly he who so venerates the Holy Day of Rest, may know what is promised to those who see the hungry, and feed them not; the naked, and clothe them not; strangers, and take them not in.
But we have not to do with this view of the subject, further than to express our loathing at religion being made an excuse for want of charity. We cannot say with certainty that Mr. Moore's offence is within the letter of the law; perhaps it may be. But this we do know — that after this, no hands of a Christian man should clasp that of Mr. Moore, till he has done penance for his deep crime against the laws of God and man.
Nelson Examiner and New Zealand Chronicle, Volume XIX, Issue 28, 7 April 1860, Page 4