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CHISPA’S LETTER.

(From the Aehbtuton Herald of October II.)

“I am not yet so bald that you can see my brains. ” —Longfellow.

I often notice in the Parliamentary reports allusions to the purchase of votes, and it makes me cogitate as to the market value of such-like commodities. Is the market ruled by the number to be sold, and are they cheaper when bought wholesale or retail, and do buyers and sellers class them like wool, or grain, or any other mercantile article, or is a guarantee required that, like Manchester prints, they have fast colors and are warranted to wash ? Really I think the buying and selling of votes must have become a recognised institution in Wellington when the Press correspondents so directly allude by name to members who are open to political conviction for the sake of emolument. Such things used to be whispered with bated breath, of representatives of the people, but now it seems to bo looked on as rather a meritorious feature in a politician’s character to be recognised as a rat, who will turn his coat at every division—and the more divisions the better—whilst the real business of the colony is going to the dogs.

I wonder if, when the next big loan is raised, any portion of it will find its way here to assist in improving the appearance of the railway reserve fronting on Eaststreet. It never was a particularly picturesque looking spot, nor will it ever become beautiful, but it might at least be made decent. “ Strangers visiting Ashburton,” as. the advertisements say, cannot be very much impressed with the extent of the paternal care the General Government sheds upon its offspring, as the' dilapidated station, the miserable huts, and the filthy gully in the busiest part of the town will vouch for. I don’t say we should demand luxuries, but let us have a few necessaries to go on with in the meantime.

For doing a smart stroke of business, and making both ends meet, commend me to a smart ofiicial in the Puritan City of Philadelphia. He was coroner of the city, and one would naturally imagine that very little could be done in the way of trade in that line of business. However, he had his eye to the main chance, and as perserverance and ingenuity are generally rewarded by success, he hit upon a splendid idea. It seems that one of the duties of a coroner in the “ States ” is to deposit the lamented remains of the sat upon ” in their last resting place for which the city authorities disburse 20 dollars per “ corpus,”—and as the business of his department was equal to twenty cases per month, one would imagine that the coroner ought to make a good thing out of each line placed—seeing that timber is cheap in America, and the coffins consequently could be built by the mile ready for any emergency at a low rate. The Philadelphian coroner had, however, a soul above coffins, although he took care to draw the cost of them from the city funds. It is necessary in the pursuit of medical science to obtain corpses occasionally, so that surgical students can be educated up their future vocation by ocular demonstration on the anatomy of a defunct; and as these necessary adjuncts to a training hospital are not to be purchased as readily as a reaping machine or a pair of blankets, the coroner saw a chance of doing business. The medical colleges wanted “subjects,” the coroner had the mesns of supplying the market. The advantages were mutual, the college lecturers being able to lecture with the advantage of giving practical illustrations of their art. The coroner got rid of his bodies and saved his coffins. The pursuit of scientific investigation was forwarded, and an enterprising official was rewarded for having developed a new source of industry. He is now called upon by the legal authorities to explain how he made the two businesses to fit in, and I have no doubt that his information to the Court will be as ingenious as his previous proceedings.

Highway robhcry is not a common way of making .a living in New Zealand — perhaps because there are not many highways. Such highways as we have, however, we have been taught to consider as almost as safe to walk upon as the garden path to a parsonage. This belief got a rude expulsion recently from the bosom of a respected Sumner resident. Riding home some nights .ago he was set upon and chased by a mounted Dick Turpin, revolver in hand, and only escaped with dear life through the terror in his own bosom inspiring, through his spurs, the heart of his noble steed. Next day the “ victim ” told the “ orrible tale ” through the daily press to the wondering and alarmed people of Christchurch. We wonder how he feels now that the murder is out. It was this way: A poor chap had a message to deliver to the hero of the tale. He sought the Sumner residence of the hero, who of course was away. Told that the hero could be met on the road from the city, the messenger made tracks. He held his “briar-root pipe ” by its ample bowl, and when he saw the hero approach in the grey light he summoned him to stand with a loud “ cooey ” and a big briar-root flourish. But alas! That unfortunate briar-root took the form of a revolver in the brain of the hero, and every repeated cooey sounded as a call to surrender. He bent his head to the mane of his steed and sped

“Away, away, Like a torrent in a stormy day. ” The messenger pursued but lost the race, and next day the full truth flashed upon his mind when the terrible “ letter to the editor” appeared. Too much afraid to tell the part he had played in the story he kept his secret bottled up lest a policeman should hoist him for highway robbery. But murder will out, and we have received his confession. His shrift has done him good, may it also relieve the feeling of the couageous escapee from the clutches of a New Zealahd highwayman. Chlspa.

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CHISPA’S LETTER. Ashburton Guardian, Volume I, Issue 8, 14 October 1879

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