The Ashburton Guardian, COUNTY AGRICULTURAL & SPORTING RECORDER TUESDAY, JANUARY 27, 1880.
Tlie inquest at Ohertsey yesterday, although, one of a very common nature—on a death from habitual drunkenness—is calculated to teach a useful lesson, apart from the moral to be drawn from the evidence and verdicts in such cases. Most of our readers are aware that, in many centres of population in this colony, what Is now known as “ larrikinism,” is rampant. The term is of recent colonial manufacture, and every colonist understands its meaning. The “ larrikin” is a most unlovely object. He is, as a rule, from 15 to 20 years of age, and possesses as much vice, and more impertinence; than a well developed London blackguard, and the diversity of his acquirements is fully as great as the field on which he sows them is extensive. It is all the same to our larrikin whether ho finds his amusement in standing with his companions at street corners , on Sunday evenings, and giving expression to the filthiest of language for the benefit of .ladies return- I
iug from divine service (ho has too much vcspoct foi’kis bide to do so if the ladies have a protector with then;) ; or in creating what might very properly he termed a riot, if action wove taken which would consign tho larrikin and Ilia fellows to a couple of years of well deserved imprisonment. This Chortsoy affair would never have been known to tho public had it nut been for tho fact that an old drunkard’s constitution infused to bear any further doses of whisky and gave way, and whilst he was dying a disgraceful debauch was taking place close at hand, in which the deceased’s wife and five young men, varying in age from 1G to 30 took part—the woman herself being a weatherbeaten moral and physical ruin of peihaps 55 years of ago. The inevitable whisky bottle was in attendance, and all the other witnesses acknowledged that they were tho worse of liquor, and did not retire from the orgic until nearly daylight. Two of the actors in this scene wore under 20, and we understand the R.M. Court will shortly her more of the doings of some of the companions of these precocious youths, in a charge of wilful destruction of property a fortnight or so ago. Legislation can do but little in such cases ns these. It is by mere accident that such evidence as was adduced yesterday can be got at on ordinary occasions, and perhaps the police will for the future have an idea on whom to place their hands in Chertscy when any specially outrageous piece of larrikinism occurs.
It is not a pleasant subject to think on, much less to write of ; bat it is one of those blots on our colonial character which requires investigation. Every mail wo receive from Sydney or Melbourne brings us news of atrocities by tho ill-bred and badly-reared specimens of the human race, who are only more advanced in larrikinism than the Chertsoy specimens have yet become, and the question which arises in our mind is—Ai’e they to ho allowed to terrorise over the respectable portion of the community '? Tho Australian cities have tried to crush the incubus, and have signally failed. The same incubus is rampant in this colony, and appears to be daily gaining ground, until one fears that the time may not be distant when New Zealand’s larrikins will outshine those of the other side. It now becomes a groat question for our legislators, moralists, and teachers sis to what ws shall do with our young men. Our public libraries do not soom to offer attractions—witness our own local institution. Any man of education starting a night school is looked upon as an idiot, as ho has no chance of support ; and tho larrikin has no more idea of what music is than is conveyed to him by the trashiest songs, or perhaps by making night hideous with tho noise to bo produced from an empty kerosene tin. If our country is to be what its boast has boon — the Britain of the South—wo must discover some means and. recreation for our young men, other than holding such disgraceful meetings as we have noticed above. Generally speaking, thosomost likely to “go to the bad” are young fellows with talent to make a mark in the world, and having that talent they usually lead others with less brains in the same road to iniquity, with its inevitable infamy. We leave the matter in our readers’ hands to suggest some remedy for the great and grov mg curse.of “ Larrikinism.’’