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(From the Ashbmton Herald, January 17.) “I am not yet so bald that you can sec my brains. ” —Long eel low. I had occasion last week to refer to the pleasantries so frequently occurring among the legal profession in Court. The atmosphere is still clouded there and tfie importation of a legal luminary from the metropolis this week didn’t make the “ courtesies of tfie profession ” a bit more courteous. The venerable Bench was bounced the other day into giving two decisions in one case, and a member of the bar politely' informed a “ learned brother ” that he was ‘' telling a deliberate falsehood,” and characterised another statement as being “absolutely false.” The Christchurch lawyer informed our local cock of the walk that he “ objected to be interrupted by this bullying gentleman,” while all through a long sitting they were constantly giving lessons to each other. If I might be allowed to suggest a motto for the Ashburton Courthouse, I would say', judging from the week’s experience that “ You’re another” would ;vt bo an inappropriate one. There seems to bi a doubt now as to how a man should be described when he appears to answer a charge. It seems he can be referred to as “ prisoner,” which is objectionable unless he has boon found guilty ; and there seems to be a sort of descending scale of epithets such as “ accused,” “ defendant,’.’ and “ gentleman before the bar.” It all depends on what you go up for, my friend, what you will be called when you get before the Court. I see the Fire Brigade intend shortly to. go in for a sumptuous blow out, and to do due honor to the occasion they have made up their minds, pending the arrival of the uniforms now so long overdue from the Borough Council, to go to the extravagance of an clevcntcen-shilling Frenchpeaked cap each, to distinguish them from ordinary mortals. If they scud old Chispa a cheap ticket, he will honor these gallant firemen with his presence and patronage. Auction sales arc, generally speaking, dull items to dilate upon ; but I wont to one in a country' district a few day's ago, where the census taker would have had a good chance of filling in the whole population within a radius of ton miles —man, woman, and child, horse, dog, and country where born, all at one “ fell swoop.” That last expies-fion is a poetical one, I believe, but not being a poet, I take it for granted it is at least classical. I suppose Shakespeare, or Voltaire, Homer, or Joe Ivess, or some of these ancient cusses we hear lecturers rampaging and lecturing about, invented it, but I don’t know what it means. If they would convert it by the change of a couple of letters, and call it a “full sweep,” then I could understand it to mean pairing with half-a-crown, with the probability of getting two-and-sixpence back. But Chispa is not much up to classics nor poetry, but he understands human nature ; at least, lie thinks he does. These country districts show how the climate affects the individual. For instance, at a sale in the metropolis, that is, Ashburton, you will find, gentle reader, that people keep one eym on an item to be sold, another on the auctioneer, and both wandering around the audience to find out who was going for the same bargain. This kind of thing gets intensified when the combatants for the “ bargain” happen to be of the softer sex, and one of them has what is called by courtesy'an obliquity of vision, which expression, when boiled clown is in plain English a “squint.” These kind of contests are always a good line for Chispa, as the combatants, when they bid against one another, generally seem to have a good idea of the depth of each other’s pockets, and look for an auction as a test of the financial resources of each other. I may be wrong, you know, but I judge by Mrs. C. and her next door neighbor ; and if they meet at an auction room, and a leaky pannikin is put up for public competition, both these females will go for that tin structure down to their last threepenny bit, and Chispa’s weekly' income lias precious little left for beef steak and onions on Saturday night. They conduct auctions differently in tfie country though. There they go in for a good skinful of whisky before they start, and then they bid. The extent of their bids could bo judged by the happy smile on the physiognomy of the auctioneer, and the self-satisfied look of the owner of the goods being disposed of. The items “sacrificed ” at the country sale I started with in this paragraph, were of a varied description. One swagger went for a mattress, and was so zealous of its safe keeping that he hung it round his neck, but the mattress and the whisky combined wore too much for his legs, and in the straggle which ensued the mattress got the best of it, and Mr. Swagger came to the ground, whereupon another festive purchaser ripped up the bod and put the swagman inside of his purchase. But why dilate ? They spent their money, and the auctioneer attained his object. But the vision of that old “tight” shepherd who bought a box of cigars and was in a fog as to whether they were for eating or not, still causes me a little grin. The companionship of adversity passed in tfie day's of our ancestors into a proverb, and the same feelings of the old Adam are still exiatant in our midst. Whilst tire borough was rolling in wealth, or what was just as good, had good credit at the bank, everything went “ merry as a marriage bell,” and the Councillors gave vent to their ideas in forcible language, and the differences of opinion were duly ventilated, leading occasionally to some tolerably “high falutin,” Now, however, a change has come o’er the spirit of the dream, and cash and credit having both vanished into thin air, the harmony prevailing at the meetings is quite delightful to see. Nothing occurred last meeting night to disturb the exquisite politeness of the councillors to each other, except a small “ tiff ”on the subject of a Fire Brigade well opposite the “ Guardian ” office, which the sage of the Councillors, Mr. St. Hill, clesciibed as an “octopus.” That, we believe, is a kind, of fish with good sticking propensities, and a large number of foolers. Probably the former reminded the Councillor of the glue-pot, and the latter of his tendency for fishing out grievances. Another matter was brought up —the annoyance caused by the circus being pitched in close contiguity to the residence of one of our Reverends. It was too bad altogether of Chiarini to peg his section out on a Sunday alongside a parsonage, but as the acrobats and clowns were not so well acquainted with the residence of the clergymen as Ashburton residents are, it would perhaps bo advisable in the future to warn Chiarini and his dogs not to bark, at least on a Sunday. Council discussions are sometimes amusing, and occasionally bring out a little joke. Fancy one dryly humorous Borough Father wanting to know when that bye-law was to come into operation that prevented “ dogs from barking.” Chispa.

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Bibliographic details

Ashburton Guardian, Ashburton Guardian, Volume 1, Issue 50, 20 January 1880

Word Count

CHISPA’S LETTER. Ashburton Guardian, Volume 1, Issue 50, 20 January 1880