(From the Ashburton Herald, November 8.) “ I am not yet so bald that -you can see my brains. ” —Longfellow.
In my peregrinations I now and again meet some “ hard cases.” The other day, whilst on the look out for an item, I dropped across a new-chum “ looking for a job.” The man looked melancholy. His swag was not done up in that artistic style which at once, to a practised eye, reveals the old digger accustomed t- ■ “ hump ” Ins gold ; and the whole bearing of the man, from his roofless billycock to his well ventilate ! watertights, betokened that he wanted a job. Ho had, however, one feature .about him which was an uncommon, and in these times I should think, a good idea. Under his arm he carried an enormous naval telescope. I couldn’t get at the hang of that spy-glass for a bit, but all of a sudden the utility of it struck me. The man was “ looking for a job,” and the originality of using a telescope for the purpose is worth a patent. Why ! only imagine the chance that man has over any other swaggei. The spyglass man could see a job live miles off’, while any other fello w would be limited to ordinary human vision.
And talking of swaggers I once knew a West-Coaster in the early days, who was quite a genius in bis way. Ho had been brought up as a Civil Engineer and Architect, but as a builder of his own fortunes he was a failure. So, after a few years’ vain attempt to live by his profession in one of the settled towns, he left for the diggings and fetched up on the North Beach. That man’s “swag” was a caution. He was an ardent musician, and he would sooner go to his blankets hungry than do without his tune. Well, as far as I can recollect, his swag was made up in what is known as “ horse collar” fashion, and consisted of the usual 6xß tent, his blankets, theodolite box and legs, a frying pan, a billy, and pannikin—all strung together higgledy-piggledy, the tinware rattling and swinging around him ; in his hand a long-handled shovel, and surmounting the whole impedimenta on his back, a Yiolincello Case ! I knew that man for years afterwards. That big fiddle accompanied him in all his wanderings ; and he always looked like a man carrying his own coffin with him ready for any emergency.
The selection of a valuator for the Borough has resulted in the consumption of a deal of liquid, particularly ink ; and the Fathers of the City are being called over the coals in the most approved manner by the burgesses. Not without cause, either, I think ; but not for the reasons given by the scaibblers. What the Council should have done, when there was not a full meeting, and opinion was so equally divided, was to have adjourned the meeting to obtain an expression of opinion by vote from every individual in the Borough; and in the meantime to have asked the fifteen pound man if he was prepared to find sufficient security for the due performance of the contract. You see, this is not an ordinary job like a bit of road making, where, if a man can’t go on with it, or makes a mess of it, he can throw it up and some one else can start; but it is a question of great importance to the ratepayers. The law is that the roll shall be completed by January 15, and be open for inspection for a month after to enable ratepayers to object to it if rated too high, or if they consider their neighbors are getting off too cheap. Then the Judge of the Assessment Court hears objections, and if the discrepancies are too glaring the roll is condemned, and a new one is ordered to be made. By this arrangement several months are lost before a rate can be struck and collected. As to the merits of the five tenders, I don’t know enough about them, but I don’t think that if the highest one had got the job he would have made a pile out o' it, as it will i-e well on in April next before he can handle the money.
There was a pretty hard case in court yesterday. A small debt case had been previously adjourned ; and the blister had, in court language, been “ enlarged,” (no debt the costs were also). On the copy served, the defendant was notified to appear on the 7th instant, “and to fail not at his periland on the copy preserved in Court the date was the 14th. Both parties appeared, and the plaintiff having being told that the 14th was the date, had not brought his witnesses, and had to ask for a further adjournment, which was granted, for the modest sum of £1 3s. Seeing that the disputants have to travel 25 miles to get to court, wait all day, and then return home, as wise as before, they are to be excused for “ enlarging ” on the beautiful uncertainty of the law. Their little argument was postponed till the 28th.
Parliament has decided by 34 votes to 29 that the softer sex are to have a voice m the government of the country. I am staggered. There are so many points from which to view this subject. Fancy what might have happened in the bosom of my family over last election if female suffrage had been in existence then. I was out and out Hart, Mrs Chispa was ultra-Wright. Now, only imagine the oldwomam out canvassing on one side, and me on the other. My reasoning powers may be good, but are not to be mentioned in the same breath with her persuasive tongue. And what awful complications will ensue when they go in for starting one of their own sex for parliamentary honors. Why ! no single man, and precious few married ones, will ever know what peace and bliss and home comforts are again. I don’t like to take a gloomy view of affairs, but I will stake my prospects of comfort for the future, that there will have to be a Divorce Court established in every County in the Colony. And yet another horror floats before me : fancy a Wahine, a dusky skinned Maori female, with a font of clay pipe and enough soil about her to make a quarter acre section, fraternising with me for my vote : Away 1 the idea is too much. Chispa.
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Ashburton Guardian, Ashburton Guardian, Volume I, Issue 20, 11 November 1879
CHISPA’S LETTER. Ashburton Guardian, Volume I, Issue 20, 11 November 1879
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