“I am not yet so bald that you can see my brains. ” —Longfellow. A correspondent of the Christchurch ’ “ Press,” who hides his identity under the nom de plume of “ H. 8.F.,” has recently been painting an Utopia, the realisation 1 of which would gladden the hearts of 1 some of my friends in whose substratum matter predominates over mind. He has it that ere weean approach the Millennium, ' chimney-pot hats and trousers and the such must be conspicuous by their ab- ■ sence, and men must adopt the well--1 known and airy classical attire Avhich is ! aptly represented by a cipher, and must no longer tax and deterioate his physical ’ endowments to acquire mental proficiency, ' but in the spa v e and not very delicate 1 costume above indicated sit down before his beautifully executed statues of Achilles ’ and Lares and Penites, .and by close association with these models, tnrough ' the agency cf his vision, mould his im- ' perfect form into the likeness of these ’ great standards. This result would be very gratifying, but as the necessary contemplation of Art is to be accomplished under the homoeopathic protection of a 1 solitary umbrella, and that a small one, the prudery of our nineteenth century is ■ likely to long delay the realisation of this visionary picture. And, worse still, it is contended that matrimony should no longer be a matter of natural selection, but an insurance of the survival of the fittest. The eligibility of each unencumbered young man is to be annually assessed and publicly recorded by a duly qualified medical and athletic assessor, and “a respectable girl would disgrace herself and ■ her family, would commit a mesalliance,” 1 who allied herself with the holder of a ; low-class certificate. The youth aspiring to hymeneal felicity may be a Solon, a Solomon, a Nestor, or a second David in , those mental attributes which our shallow minds nave learnt to reverence, but unless a correctly chiselled nasal protuberance and herculean limbs indicate the worth within, his love, if directed to a “respectable’, girl, must go unrequited. Imagine such a dialogue as this (characteristic of their sex, the youth quotes, the maiden is original) : Youth —Nothing in the world is single, Everything \>y law divine In each other’s nature mingle, Why not I wi h thine ? Maiden —Because, my love, your number’s low, Your nose is flattened at the tides, In your legs there is bow, And many flagrant faults besides. I don’t know whether the Easter review is regarded as a success by military authorities. Mars did not smile at my birth, and ball-istics are not ray pet hobby, and although I was an unapplauding spectator of the military evolutions which a section of the southern volunteers executed against the shop of a local confectioner, I cannot from that movement pronounce an author!ttaive opinion on the efficacy of the Bashi-Bazouk section of our national forces. They undoubtedly appear proficient in the art of sacking, and even this may occasionally be a virtue in a soldier. While on the matter of sacking, I cannot refrain repeating a story which many of my readers will recognise as the oft repeated anecdote of a professional gentleman of military antecedents, who recently in our midst ministered to the relief of the ills to which equine flesh is heir. “ Yes,” he would say, “ I was frightened once; but never risked another such shock to my nervous sensibilities. You know as much about the Maori Avar as I do, although you Avere never there. What with unmouthable Maori names, and being absent on sick leave half my time, I can never remember a single place rightly. But never mind, it Avas someAvhere, and we had done a very fair morning’s Avork, ejecting a feAv Maori Avomen and a patriarchial looking pig from a village, and the majority of our men had abandoned themselves to appropriation, and I joined them. I couldn’t find anything Avorth lifting for a time; you seldom could in those beastly pahs ; but at last I crawled into a hut on my hands and knees, the door being too low to admit of any other mode of entrance. It was pitchy dark, but after a time my raptorial
eyes became accustomed to the light, and my gaze alighted on two saddles and a blanket. 1 went for the lot with filibustering alacrity, when, oh horror ! 1 viewed for the first time a sight which made my hair stand on end, driving my hat off liko greased lightning, and my blood felt like as if it had been milk suddenly 7 dashed with fifty per cent of vinegar. There, in the opposite corner, were two Maoris loaning against the wall, each with a musket by his side. I hadn’t got so much as a toothpick with which to assist my civilized superiority, and only a very 7 threadbare pair of pantaloons to cover my retreat. I saw no alternative, so I made a rush for it, struck out right and left, and both men went down without a sigh, and I found that th>-y were two bodies that had been dead for some hours, and someone had planted them in an upright position, for what reason I could never imagine. I need hardly say that I scrambled out of the hut as fast as my trembling limbs would carry me, and from that day to this I have never been tempited by thoughts of plunder.
Since my last I have fought and bled for my country, doing the regulation six days’ training ; and a particularly good time we all had of it. The fighting was, of course, against an imaginary enemy, and therefore not dangerous to the attacking party, who consequently performed heroic feats of valour, whilst the bleeding was, I regret.to state, very considerable, and the wounds were in all cases in the direction—,ix., the finances of the army. Christchurch will not regret having been made a garrison town of, and would, I reckon, like to have perennial Easter Encampment. There was a great variety of uniforms —from the dashing cavalryman to the hybrid between a Jack Tar and a beach comber ; some being guady in the extreme, especially the Christchurch City Guards. Most of the Artillery looked very neat, and were all as nearly as possible alike, whilst one company in a dead black suit, with no light colors to relieve its somebreness obtained the sobriquet of the “Death Watch.” Most of the Invercargill and far aivay South men affected a light grey suit, and were popularly known as the “ Dandy Grey 7 Russet.” It wasn’t all play at the encampment, and and those who went to it with the idea that they were merely on a visit to Christchurch to show their manly forms and fine clothes were proportionately disappointed when they found, as the Cavalry did that their duties commenced at I past G in the morning, and did not end till half past eight at night, with pirecious few and short intervals between , and they were called upon more than once during the not “ silent midnight hour ” to do pmtrol duty 7. There seemed to be a plethora of officers, epecially from the £south — averaging, I should think, about one officer to 2£ privates. In fact, I rubbed all the band off’one side of my cap owing to the terrible amount of saluting I had to do. As you newspaper men say, “ the resources of the hotels and lodging houses were stretched to their utmost limits.” and on the whole the force appeared to be satisfied with their tucker. Two instances came under my notice where the Irish stew and dry hash cuisine was not appreciated by the boarders, as a company showed their opinion of the purveyor one morning by holding a funeral service over the viands provided for them. The funeral was conducted with military honors, the band (a German concertina), then the Sergt-major with a fish barrow containing the remains, then the company four deep with arms reversed, marching at the regulation pace, and chanting the “ Dead March in Saul. ” As the cortege wended its way down High street all were visibly affected, the boarding house proprietor showing his grief in a very demonstrative manner. It is currently reported that he had so much affection for the remains that he subsequently acted the part of a resurectionist, and the same edibles did duty in a curry for tea that night. The games on the Saturday were the most interesting of the meeting, especially the head and post practice of the cavalry, the dismounting of the guns by the artillery, and the bayonet exercise of the infantry, the two latter latter being equal to the work of regular troops. The cavalry exercise was considerably marred by the line of galloping being directly in the fire of a flaring sunshine. Monday’s review was of course the sight of the meeting, and it may be many years before Christchurch has such a crowd on the course. With the exception of the naval brigade everyone conducted himself in a most respectable manner, but this larrikin corps seem to consider their special mission to be the destruction of anything inoffensive that comes in their way. Having been dismissed for a few minutes’ recreation, they at once gave vent to their exuberant spirits by wrecking sundry property in front of the Grand Stand, and continued their depredations until put to flight by the advent of the left troop of cavalry. Ohispa.
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Ashburton Guardian, Ashburton Guardian, Volume 1, Issue 83, 6 April 1880
CHISPA’S LETTER. Ashburton Guardian, Volume 1, Issue 83, 6 April 1880
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