Capitation Grant for Fire Brigades.
Not the least important of all our colonial institutions are the Fire Brigades, and it is well that some means of securing their permanency and efficiency should be considered by Government, At present they are left, as in the case of the Ashburton Brigade, to the tender mercies of the Borough Council, not over well found in funds, or otherwise, they are dependent upon the subscriptions of the members themselves, the patriotic public, and the insurance companies. It is impossible that a Fire Brigade, with all its costly plant and accessories, can be maintained in a proper state of efficiency if the funds are not supplied to meet the frequent disbursements necessary, and to do this, appeals are made to tho general public for aid. These appeals are not infrequently responded to handsomely, but they are just as often not responded to at all, many people fancying that, paying their insurance premiums their duty in regard to fire prevention is discharged, and that the support of the Brigade ought naturally to devolve upon the insurance companies. These, again, while subscribing to a certain amount towards Brigade support are not prepared to go to, the length of finding all, or even a large amount of the needful funds, but choose rather to protect themselves in other ways, which they apparently find more satisfactory and less costly. We do not blame the insurance companies. Were every owner of property compelled to insure, and the whole possible insurance business of the colony made actual business, then the companies may be naturally expected to provide Brigade protection for all and sundry, but as every man does not not insure, the companies are perfectly justified in subscribing only to such extent as suits them. Still, fires are always a public loss, however small they may be, and when one occurs there is not always a limit to the danger. Fire, therefore, is a public enemy, calling for suppression when it lias the mastery just as loudly as do armed foes whom we might be asked to meet in battle, and the support of a volunteer Fire Brigade is thus as much a Government’s duty, as is the support of a volunteer rifle corps. The riflemen meet for drill, to be sure, but their time finaction comes but seldom. The Brigade must drill to be proficient, and drill often, while at any ■ moment they may be summoned to a post of danger, and to a duty just as noble as the country’s defence. It is with pleasure then that we learn tho Government mean to consider the advisablenesa of placing firemen upon the same footing as volunteers, and giving them a similar capitation grant. This will be a guarantee for the future of Brigades’ efficiency, and an encouragement to members that will go far to add to their efficiency.
THU OPERA IN ASHBURTON.
During repairs to the theatre in Christchurch, the celebrated It, B’Orsay Ogdon will take his talented opera company tor a short local tour, and amongst the places visited will he Ashburton. The company comprise 24 of the best names in the colonies, and in their appearance on the Ashburton stage there is a treat m store for tuu people of the county n.w to no enjoyed once in many ye.as out oi tnc larger cities of the colony. The piece to bo given is the “Doctor of Alcantara, ’ and we quote too following resume of tne plot from the Ohr.stcharcii “Press”: — The performance will be given on Monday week, due notice and furl particulars of which will doubtless bo given. “ Carlos, the son of Honor Balthazar, lias fallen in love with Henorita Isabella, daughter of Dr. Paraceiaus. In the meanwhile, Isabella lias been betrothed to a young man, with whose name slie has not been made acquainted. Surprised by her mother in listening to a serenade given by Carlos, she confesses her love fur nim, and refuses to marry the unknown intended. Carlos contrives to have himself conveyed into the house in a basket, under cover of a present to Inez, the confidante of Isabella. Carlos takes advantage of the absence of everybody to get out of the basket and conceal himself. The Dr. and Inez, in trying to hide the basket from the quarrelsome Lucrezia, drop it in the river, and afterwards learn that there was a man in it. Attracted by the despairing screams of Inez, the night watch appears, l e d by the aiguazil Bomposo, who informs them that they are under the surveillance of his nien as suspicious persons. After the departure of the night watch, the Doctor and Inez are left brooding in fear and dismay over their crime, when Carlo enters, to the great tenor of the Doctor and Inez, who immediately suspect him to be a police spy. He discovers himself to them as the son of Honor Balthazar, being at the same time unaware that his lady-love and his intended are one and the same. Transported with joy, the Doctor asks him to take a glass of wine with him, which wine, brought by Inez, proving to be one of the Doctor’s poisonous 1 decoctions, plunges Carlos at once into a deathlike swoon. The Doctor, believing him dead, and afraid of being detected in this his second imaginary murder, conceals Carlos in a sofa, in which act he is disagreeably surprised by the sudden arrival of Honor Balthazar, who comes to conclude the arrangements for cho marriage of his son and Isabella. His presence being objectionable to them, they put every obstacle in his way, so that at length he is forced to pass the night on a sofa, beneath which his son’s body is concealed. When lie is asleep, the Doctor and Inez, fearful of discovery, enter to remove the holy from under Balthazar, who awakes, and start sup in fear. Carlos by this time recovering from the effects of the opiate, contrives to get out of the sofa, and his father, meeting with him in the dark, utters a cry of alarm, which terrifies the Doctor and Innez, and also attracts the neighbors. Mutual explanations take place, and Isabella and Carlos prove to have been loving at cross purposes, as they were, from the first, intended for each other by their respective parents.
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