THE FRETFUL PORCUPINE
Observer, Volume XI, Issue 712, 20 August 1892, Page 1
THE FRETFUL PORCUPINE
A Quill for Everyone.
John Buchanan's creditors have accepted his offer to pay them six shillings in the £, and he is to have the estate back again. It is a monstrous wrong that our law permits such a thing. It is bad enough for a man to become insolvent even once, but if he repeats the operation he should most assuredly be called before the judge of the Supreme Court for examination, and his business dealings should be subjected to the closest scrutiny. In a case like that under review, it is preposterous that the bankrupt should escape such judicial investigation, especially in view of the fact that the Official Assignee is advised tha^ there has been fraudulent preference with regard to several of the secured creditors. I have done my duty by entering a protest in the interests of the public against this method of summarily white- washing bankrupts and starting them afresh on a business which they admit they have not reasonable financial means to carry on, and which, if unsuccessful, must eventually be a trap for the unwary. Perhaps Buchanan has been befriended on the principle, that a 'fellow-feeling makes us wondrous kind,' but in any case Auckland commercial morality will be a by- word in the colonieß while such insolvencies are condoned and bankiupts escape examination at the hands of a judicial tribunal. Our bankruptcy laws sadly need amending. # ' # # I was not very far astray when I suggested that the self-styled son of Sir Wilfred Lawson was a fraud. He is an accomplished fraud, and in some respects has even outdone Glampett. It turns but now that his connection with Sir Wilfred Lawson is too remote to be traced, and moreover, that he is a colonial young man after all.' It seems, too, that he has in his time executed a public works contract in the Lyttlecon GaoK the term being a year, and the reason embezzlement. What gratifying news this will be to the W.esleyan and Congregational, parsons of Wellington who took him at his word as a son of Sir Wilfred Lawson, and permitted him to fill their pulpits and preach to their congregations. If is really time we learned to be more discreet in dealing with travelling preachers, either in the evangelistic or temperance interest. Four times out of six we seem to be victimised in one way or other, but' we must have novelty, no matter at what cost.
This precious young scamp preached water drinking, but was not very partial to it himßelf. He liked his own water very strong — ' neat,' in fact. Indeed they say the discovery of the imposture was due to a heavy bill for liquor he incurred on his trip up from the South on one of the coastal steamers, and for which he forgot to pay. This forgetting to pay is the ruin of the imposture business. In the' colonies a man might travel for years as King Pharaoh if he had only plenty of dollars and spent them freely. As long as the money was forthcoming, people would believe he was genuine, but when it would run out the show would be at an end.'
Mes Jingles (who is nothing if not solid) : Wait a moment, young man, I wish to ascend too. Winklbs (who doesn't relish a fall from a fourth floor : Ah, let me see, I don't think I'll go up just now. I'll wait to see how ycu get on. Smallness of stature is sometimes a decided disadvantage, and so Dr. Forbes, of the Hospital, found it a few mornings ago. He went into the delirium tremens cell to see a man who had been creating snakes and lizards and such other things for his own terror, and in doing so, incautiously closed the door behind him. That door unlocks only from the outside, and the doctor was alone with a madman. He began artfully to mollify the patient, but the madman took in the fun of the situation at a glance and made the most of it. The doctor si rove to assure him that he was ' looking well now,' but the patient wouldn't have it, and cut capers at a terrible rate, while the doctor vainly listened for a footstep. At last, the situation became awkward, and the doctor, making a rush for the grating, called loudly for help, which was forthcoming, and he was rescued. # # # There is a good deal of burlesque about our inquest system. As a rule, the inquest is a mere formality, and the jury, busy men taken away from their business, know as much about the cause of death, when they bring in the verdict, as the man in the mooon does. The inquest on the man O'Connor, found dead with a gun beside him at Goromandel, is a case in point. Dr. Daldy, of Auckland Hospital fame, was one of the witnesses called, and this is what he said : ' I saw a single-barreled gun lying across the feet, with the stock on the floor and barrel resting on the bunk, and the trigger in close proximity to- the right great toe ; I therefore concluded that this was the instrument that caused
death. On examining further, I could perceive no wound on the body of entrance or exit, but the mouth was full of blood, and there was a pool of blood .on the floor on the left side ; also blood on the left shoulder of the singlet. I did not examine the brain, but I came to the conclusion that death had been caused by a small charge fired into the mouth, a portion of which had ruptured an artery in the brain.' # * * It was on this evidence that the jury based their verdict of suicide, and the inquest as a whole was consequently nothing more nor less than a farce. This sapient, doctor saw a gun, and therefore concluded the man had shot himself. There was no wound on the body, but blood in the man's mouth, so he thought a bullet must have been fired into the mouth and got into the brain. Methinks the supposed suicide's brain was more accessible than the doctor's. What use were bis thoughts ? Why did he not make an examination and see ■whether it was really a bullet that caused death ? and why didn't he find the bullet ? His evidence is worth no more than that of a six year old child, who would . form exactly the same conclusions from the same facts. The jury were rare noodles to return such a verdict, for the presence of a gun and some blood in the man's mouth did not prove death by shooting any more than death by the man's own hand. # #