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“I am not yet so bald that you can see my brains.”—Longfellow. Of course I was one of the inaugurators of John Frazer’s railway. He came to me and said —“ An say, Chispa, auld man, am gaun tae open the noo line, ye ken ; an’ there’s twa-three big railway bugs cornin’ up tae look at it—tae inspeck it, ye ken. An’ there’ll be a wee drap whusky a-gann, an’ a bit snack tae eat as week Ye’ll no be nane the waur o’ a hurl up jist tae see what we’ve been daeing, an’ the fresh air’ll blaw awa’ a’ yer ill-nature.” Honest John looked so hearty on the subject, and so proud of himself and his line that I could not but say “ay” and “ thank you ” to his kind invitation. I once felt myself in the like circumstances to John, and could have kicked the man into the middle of next week who refused to come and rejoice with me on the completio.. of my contract —which was the making of a tramway of a few miles long. The man I invited to my little lay out drew himself up to his full height, bent his scornful eyes upon your humble servant, and wanted to know if there was nothing else for a man to do but go and look at a trifle of a tramway, and pass compliments on a work of which he knew nothing. It was the first year of my connection with the teetoC and the man I wished to be tlrate knew it. He knew my young enthusiasm in the cause was burning brightly, and he believed that the whole thing would be a cold water and lemonade affair. But he forgot my partner was a namesake and a fellow countryman of Mr. Frazer, and that the Scotch Highlands are portions of a splendid whisky country. He did not know that Tam Frazer had been up at Ben-y-Gloe the week previously, and that a hearty-looking barrel had come down the hill to him on its own feet, and that that barrel was as innocent of all knowledge of her Majesty’s name and the “ trade mark ” of her excisemen as Tam himself was of respect for the law against smuggling. But that scornful one looked rueful the day after the event when he heard that 37 of the most whisky proof men of the district had gone down before the potency of that barrel’s contents, and had been carried home vainly endeavoring to sing that grand old Scotch song “ Happy we’s been a’lhegither Canty we’s been ane an’ a.” The scornful man was of that class of lushists who don’t drink to get drunk, but take spirits to become sober. He usually swallowed a pint of raw forty-rod of a morning before he could steady his nerves to write, so you can imagine his feelings when he heard that the mountain dew had been flowing like a rivulet. I never forgave that man for his refusal, and I judged John Frazer’s feelings by my own. It was my first job of the kind, and I was proud of it. It was John’s first job, and he was proud of it—and well he might. So I went. Of course, I expected to see the representatives of the press there, but I missed them., There was only the big man from the “ Guardian.” I pass over the compliments that were showered upon Messrs. Frazer and Co.—are they not written in the “ Herald’s” chronicle of the event ? I pass over the blessings that were invoked on Tom Quill, his cook, and his liquor. They need not be chronicled, lest on a future occasion they should be insincere by being second-hand. But I must compliment the “ press” men [small “p,”Mr. Printer], who stood up manfully for a time to their liquor, but finally, having enjoyed the full pleasure of a gigantic befuddle, and aired an eloquence that was at least well meant, if it was misplaced, and a trifle incoherent, went to bed on the return journey, without even going through Jack’s formal selection of the softest plank. I -was sorry for the editor of the “ Mail.” He was not of the jolly company of inaugurators. Ido not know if he regretted missing the chance of “tasting life’s glad moments” after the fashion of the “men of letters” who hover like carrion crows over the “ copy” he supplies ; but 1 do know from his jeremiad over the w r eakness of human nature, and over the proneness of humanity to fill the temporarily vacant places of representatives of the press, that his soul was vexed within him with those terrible mixtures of words and saliva that were blurted out by the befuddled ones in the belief that they were “replies for the press.” The “London Times ” has before now been annoyed by amateur reporters, says the leaderist of the “ Mail,” and in the same breath he tells us how his journal has also been so afflicted. He chooses company, don’t he, but would his company choose him. 1 have gone off with the soldiers to the Review', and your readers must excuse my short letter. When I return, and have laid down the sword, I will again assume the pen. Chispa.

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Bibliographic details

Ashburton Guardian, Ashburton Guardian, Volume 1, Issue 80, 30 March 1880

Word Count

CHISPA’S LETTER. Ashburton Guardian, Volume 1, Issue 80, 30 March 1880