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CHISPA'S LETTER., Ashburton Guardian, Volume 1, Issue 86, 13 April 1880
“ l am not yet so bald that you can see my : brains.”— Longfellow.
What has happened to Ashburton? There seems to have been quite a rhyming fever on last week, and a 40-bushel crop of poetry (?) has been carted in by a host of friends to the humble shanty of yours truly. I hope my kind friends when they take an attack of the muse will kindly send their effusions in turn and not all at once, as it is impossible I can do the persuasive with your printer to get such a lot printed all at once, and besides the gushings are, som e_pf them, second hand.
For instance, though my reading is not very extensive, I think I have read the 23rd psalm before, I know I have read the old song “ The Arethusa ” before, because I can sing it, and probably the fair lady who forwarded the delicately scented note with a request to publish the (enclosed) poem begining “We met, twas in a crowd ”
will not be offended if I tell her I have sung that too. Of course I couldn’t think of asking you to print these very excellent pieces, because all your readers have seen them before, though perhaps the pieces are new to the senders. But some terribly bad man sends me a piece on the “ Love of Money,” with a peremptory order to have it in or he’ll stop the “Herald.” Put it in, just to show the rascal rip. You can stick it at the end of my letter, or anywhere, no matter. But I wept bitter tears ewer the following
Farewell. Farewell, Ashburton’s bleak domains, Her bankrupts, and her tussocked plains, O’er which nor’-westers blow. Farewell, a blessing now I leave you, As of my talents I bereave you, And to Hawera go. Farewell, Tom Bullock, thou’t bereft Of my paternal cave ; But faithful George, to you I’ve left, My part in him thou’lt share. Adieu too, to you too, My Hugo, bosom friend, What hearting to my parting Does your Mayoralty lend. What bursting anguish tears my heart, From thee, my Chispa, must I part, And thou didst love me so. Alas, I could not go the pace I ought, if I would win the race, And so I choose logo. Thee, and the Town Hall stage so dear, A fond and warm adieu ; And when in “ spout ” I next appear, I’ll still remember you All bail then, the gale then, That wafts me northward, ho 1 In a bumper —a thumper, Won’t you remember Joe ? No more I’ll gush on water scheme, No more the footpaths be my theme, Nor concrete for the drains. No more I’ll quote from legal lore, When G. D. Branson I would floor. With my excess of brains. No more I’ll fight with “ gentle ” Harry. I’ve paid him his 2 quid. No more I’ll at the Court House tarry — I’ll not again be had. So long then, my song then, Is small here for a time But wait ye, old mate ye May see me back again.
It is a mistake sometimes to write your name inside your hat. One morning last week, just after I had breakfasted I took a walk to enjoy the morning air which was bracing,and invigorating, andtheearly sun was only shaking the cats-claw from the comers of his eyes. I had travelled over the greater part of the town at a great pace, and had reached a locality that shall be nameless, but it was said recently by a worthy Councillor that the cabs did most of their trade between the township and the nameless locality. A fine-looking hat lay a yard oft' the road, and I made for the lonely tile. The position of the hat did not at the time strike me, and observing that a certain name was written inside I inched it up, and took it home to the wife of the owner’s bosom. “ Yes,” said she, “ that’s ’s hat! Where did you find it 1” I innocently told her. But no sooner had the fatal land-mark escaped my lips than—— Well, I needn’t continue. That hat still adorns its owner’s head, but he looks at me with the eyes of a tiger.
In looking over a paper a few days ago, I came upon a paragraph in a Wellington paper, which ran as follows : “ Relative to the hardness of the times, I might mention a little incident that came under my notice at a certain barber’s shop. The tax collector called, and poor Strap was in a terrible state, being exactly eighteenpence short. The collector had called so often that lie felt ashamed to put him off again. At that moment a couple of customers entered, and Strap asked the collector if he would kindly be seated and cast his eye over an exciting leader in the ‘ Times,’ while he (Strap) sent his boy to the bank to cash a cheque. He winked at the boy as he left the shop, and during the next ten minutes Strap worked as he had never worked before ; went through both his customers’ heads, and turned them out in first-class style, receiving two shillings for his trouble. The collector was getting impatient, but Strap was jubilant; and, loudly anathematising the boy for being gone so long, said, ‘ perhaps he could make up the money in the house,’ which he accordingly did, and so paid out his unwelcome visitor, leaving himself with a balance of sixpence. Strap ought to get on in the world.” Now, I confess that Strap was a smart man—but he paid. Now I knew an oil journalist who scared off a taxcollector better than Strap did. The able journalist was a man who now and again was sober. He had been frequently hunted for by the printer, when the mirage of whisky had led him away on paths that were crooked, and when found it was not unusual for him to pull out a stumpy pencil, and write a swingeing leader on the leaves of the printer’s pocket-book, with his own belltopper for a table. But there is always an end to a tether, and the able journalist reached it in time. He found himself run down to living in a garret, in which the only piece of furniture was a chair fractured in one leg, and diseased in the spine. The übiquitous tax-collector found out even this hovel, and entered in quest of a contribution to the State. He found the ratepayer sober for once, but unhappy —unhappy because he was sober, and s >ber because he needs must. The collector tendered his piece of blue paper, which was a dun for eighteenpence. “ Eighteenpence.” laughed the A. J. “Do you think if I had eighteenpence I would be sitting here?” The collector looked round the empty room, and failing to find anything distrainable, his heart became unnaturally soft, and for once in his life he parted—instead of collecting the three sixpences be left three, and that journalist vacated his ricketty chair, as you may well imagine. The last time I saw him he was haranguing the multitude on the benefits of life insurance, under the auspices of a teetotal society.
For a change, the P. R. representatives went for one another on night last week. The audience was large and—select (in a sense). Talk about Bill Sykes and bull dogs, why, the audience could only be matched in personal appearance and behaviour by that now historical army yclept the Dunedin Naval Brigade. There was expected to be a grand display of science, but Chispa, having done some punching in his early youth, is of opinion that he could knock spots out of any of the pugilists who took part in the proceedings, more especially in repect to the wind required for the contest. Talking about fisticuffs reminds me of a series of battles held in the good old days on the Coast, when things were lively. About a dozen of us got bailed up by a flood at the junction of the Big and Little Grey rivers. There was no getting away; we were as fast bound as if in the lockup, and no chance of retreat. There were two pubs, and we drank all the whiskey, wore out all the cards during the first week, and slept as much as we knew how to, when one of the crowd discovered an old set of boxing-gloves. Some repairs, with the help of sheepskins, were made, and we took them in turns ; that is, we took the gloves and black eyes in a style which was at once edifjing and instructive. This style of thing lasted for some ten days, and Chispa and his dozen companions departed on the subsidence of the flood as deplorable and smashed up a lot of colo- ■
nists as were, ever collected together. Oh yes ! boxing is a find kind of amusement, and, as Dan Lea says when he sees a couple of his pupils knocking his gloves and themselves to pieces, “ Nice quiet pi iy, gentlemen,”—but the patrons find their noses pretty sore next morning.
My friend, Mr. Ivess, has gone, and before his departure his friends and admirers gave him a feast and a gold ring. The great heart will beat for a time for the rights of some other village, and the persuasive sweetness of his soothing oratory will be diffused for a time over the hearts of another constituency, but he will never cease to cast longing eyes to the Rnnnymede where he fought so many battles, both legal and journalistic, and where every week brought him a new bill of rights of greater or less importance to strive for. When, after his customary eighteen months’ warfare in the new land whither his wanderings lead him and the fight attracts him, may he come back again to the scene of his former victories covered with honors from fields freshly won, to assume the high positions of Mayor of Ashburton and member for Coleridge. These glories await him when the balm of time has healed all sores, and in a light mellowed by age the memories of his greatness.
It is an old and stale trick on the part of “ cook” in the old country to choke off “'followers” who love her cold mutton more than herself, by treating them to a dish the chemist has aided her to prepare. A nod is as good as a wink, &c., so I need not be unnecessarily explicit. I find that when sots become troublesome at publichouse bars, it is not infrequent to choke them off in the same way with doctored beer. An instance of this kind came to my knowledge to-day. I do not require to mention names, but if you study this description closely, _ you won’t want a photographer to aid identity. Jamie M‘Swill’s red face so bright Sheds abroad its crimson light, Like a bull’s-eye lamp afar ; Or a blazing barrel of tar. It may be fancy, but one would think That Jamie, poor man, was flushed with drink, As corkscrew like he winds along ; Swearing by turns, and gasping a song. If my readers have sufficient penetration they’ll spot the man who, after hanging like a disease, and a dirty one at that, around every pub. in the town for the last three months, was at last disposed of. But it required, oh such a weight of medicine. It would have killed three ordinary men, and I am not astonished to hear that his landlord has found it necessary to remove to another house. The Good Templars are to get a recruit. Chispa.
THE LOVE OF MONEY. Money, oh Money, thy praises I sing, Thou art my saviour, my god, and my king, ’Tis for thee that I preach, and for thee that
I pray. And make a collection twice each Sabbath day. I have candles and all sorts of dresses to buy, For I wish you to know that my church is
High— I don’t mean in structure, or steeple or wall, Hut so high the Lord cannot reach it at all. I’ve poor in my parish, who need sore relief, I preach to their poverty, pray for their grief, I send my box round to them morning and night, And hope they’ll remember the poor widow’s
mite. I gather my knowledge from Wisdom’s great
tree. And the whole of my tiinity is £ s. and d. Pounds, shillings, and pence are all that I
crave From the first step on earth to the brink of
the grave; And when I’m laid low, and my body at rest, Place a box on my head, ’tis my last request, That friends may all see, who come for re-
flection I can’t rest in peace without a collection. Money’s my creed, I’ll not pray without it ; My heaven is closed against those that doubt it. For this is the essence of parson’s religion. Come regular to church, and be plucked like
a pigeon I’ll have carriages, and horses, and servants,
and all, I’m not going to foot it like Peter and Paul, Neither like John, live on locusts and honey. So out with your purses, and down with your
money. Fools sometimes ask what I do with this
money You might just as well ask what bees do with
honey ; I answer them all with a wink and a nod, “I keep three-fourths for myself, and give praises to God.” In cold, silent earth I may be laid low,
To sleep with the blest that went long ago, I shall slumber in peace till the great resur
rection, Then shall be first on my legs to make a collection.
CHISPA'S LETTER., Ashburton Guardian, Volume 1, Issue 86, 13 April 1880
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