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CHISPA’S LETTER., Ashburton Guardian, Volume 1, Issue 90, 22 April 1880
(From Ashburton Herald, April V 7.) “lam not yet so bald that you can see my brains. ” —Longfellow. It is certainly an unusual thing for Nelson'—the “Garden of New Zealand” — to have a row. But the quietest and smoothest stream that ever flowed “adown its mossy bed” is bound at some period of its course to encounter a stone or other element of disturbance that causes a ripple. The stone that caused the ripple this time was lawyer Bunny’s head. I don’t know that Mr. Bunny’s head is any harder than other people’s, or that it is as hard even for. that matter, but no matter whose head gets a cut over it with a riding whip, there is bound to be some sort of a ripple. The head of Mr, Lawyer Bunny got a cut over it this week, and the inevitable ripple followed, and it seems from the telegraphic accounts to have been a bit of a scrimmag.e Fortunately only lawyers had to do with the shindy, and it is satisfactory to know that they were taking in out of each other. It appears that a case of perjury had been brought against Acton Adams, M.H.R., known in the House and amongst electioneering men in Nelson as the “Smoothbore,” a soubriquet he has earned because of his ability to pour out fluently long strings of nothing. Bunny is the Branson of Nelson, only somewhat bigger, and Percy Adams is Acton’s brother. The latter didn’t like one lawyer taking up a case against another, especially when the other was a blood relation of the Percy, so the Percy went for the Bunny with a riding whip. I rather guess the whippist regretted the part he played before the day was done, or may recollections of Charley Bunny are indistinct. The last “ ripple ” in Nelson was when a blackguard black barber was dragged through the streets with a rope round his neck, and would have died without the benefit of clergy had not the very muscular Bishop Suter stepped in and rescued the poor shaver from the crowd. Speaking of barbers. He was a very conceited one—the one referred to above. A conceited barber is not an uncommon commodity, and .no one took particular notice of his most inordinate vanity, seeseeing that in addition to his profession he was a nigger. But when a barber who is a white man puts on airs similar to Sambo, one is inclined to laugh. When I make my bi-weekly visit to the “salon de coiffure” of my tonsorial professor, I take a delight in letting him know that I prefer plain English to ‘ ‘ high falutin. ” He is above saying “ It’s a fine day •” He must “apologise for following up the conventionalities of the. age by repeating the hackneyed phrase regarding the salubrity of the climate, and the specially benign smile today of the clerk of the weather.” By the time he gets all this rigmarole poured out, as glibly as comes his concoction of olive and castor from his “ phial,” he has adjusted the chintz rag round the neck of yours truly, and proceeds. He had just got this length with me one day last week, when there entered to him two swaggers. Ist Swagger —“I say, mate, is this a barber’s shop 2” Barber (in an attitude that was meant to convey that the rage of a Bengal tiger was boiling within him) — “Barber’s sh-h-h-op !!! (menacing flourish of the razor and fearful elevation of the eyebrows) “ barber’s sh-h-op 1 ! ! No ! you’ll find a barber’s shop further down the street. This is the establishment of a hairdresser who knows the difference between the art of cultivating the natural adornments ot the human person and the barbarity of simply chopping hair off a man’s face with a weapon that might have been a tomahawk. ” I shrunk to a very small space, and the two swaggers, overawed with so much barberous majesty, retired to hunt up the common barber, and pay their two bob to some shaver who shaved for money and not for honor and glory alone, and who could say “yes” to a question that required it, without tacking on a dozen words that were not wanted.
I was on lawyers a little ago. They are the only people making money just now, and I like to admire men who can make or unmake your fortunes in a day. I am therefore a frequent visitor at the teetotal hall where they worry his Worship every Friday, and lug decisions out of him. Poor man, I pity him : he has to stand umpire occasionally between legal champions whom I every now and again expect to see becoming gladiators, and I do not wonder sometimes that he, too, loses his temper. But there was a general losing of temper on Friday over a case of
damages for an unfulfilled contract. Of course I am neither a lawyer nor an R.M. -—(thank goodness)—so 1 cannot give a legal opinion worth much on the cases I listen to. But I have come to the conclusion that if ever I sue anybody it will be damages. They are about the most profitable thing to go in for. A short time since a man bought two cows for Ll 3. One cow was not in calf, as he had been led to believe, and the purchaser brought his action for damages in our R.M. Court. He received the price of the two cows as damages, and something over, so he had the two cows and their price and two calves to boot, for a second calf rolled up from somewhere, but not, according to the evidence, from whore it should have come. Oh, Justice—&c., &c. Yesterday a man brought an action for damages, L6O, calculated at 3s. per acre on stacking 400 acres’ crop. He said he had made os. profit on what he had done and had got paid 6s. per acre on 112 acres. Verdict for L6O damages. So this lucky litigant made 6s. per acre profit on the 112 acres. Yes ; actions for damages are a real good speculation.
More poetry. Will the stream ever cease ? THINGS IN GENERAL. Hail, Muse, et cetera. On these spreading plains Now plume your pinions for a glorious theme. Filed are our schedules, bagged is our grain, And still prosperity doth seem a dream. The lienist is active ! ■ not in vain— His document is spread, his eyes, wide open, gleam Upon the still beleagered cockatoos He'll have their grain, and leave them in the blues. Two acts of fair and graceful celebration, The paper tells us, have been jnst performed. Two lofty minds although in different station, Created admirers, in whose bosoms warmed The noble inctinct to create occasion To air themselves in print, and eager stormed The food and drink provided, while each spouter, Proclaimed some other quite an out and outer. And cheap Iheir fare —one gorgeous banquet cost A signet ring ; and as from Andes’ height The condor, hungry at his lofty post, Beholds a carcase, and like arrow’s flight Darts to his odorous prey—so the host Of watchful spouters spy a coming toast. All health inspectors, sedulous to feed, And drink, aye —anybody’s health at need. The one a statesman, editor, aud lawyer. To Gladstone, Delane, or Eldon almost equal ; That is, he thinks himself so—a top sawyer At everything. If Demosthenes you seek, well He’s your man. Though rather Yankee, a famous jawer, And will be Mayor or Premier in the sequel. When the old knight is buried at Kawau, As foremost statesman Joe will make his bow T’other celebrity was Saunders’ cook— A man well skilled in his most useful art. A meerschaum pipe brought him, with puzzle look, To thank the donors, then, of course, to part With largess for grog, which the admirers took With fervor. The cook had “done his part For twenty years,” he said ; but in his station He ne’er before had got a presentation.
The Editor and Cook have both departed, And minds and stomachs feel the depriva tion.
The festive gentlemen are broken-hearted. And hide their seedy heads in private station. The re-reflected fame the Cook and Editor imparted To these bold soakers on such greal occasion
Has waned, and left them of their glories shorn, Stomachs hot coppered, and their [minds forlorn.
I was at the Masonic ball last night, and in the early morning two or three printers were initiated into the mysteries of the “craft.” I judge so from the terrible smell of burnt flesh that pervaded your office and that of your contemporary yesterday. My judgment is borne out, too, by the fact that the “ Guardian” appears with Messrs. J. E. Buchanan and Co.’s black heading over Mr. C. Cavendish Hurrell’s announcement that the Resident Magistrate and District Court offices are to be closed for a spell. As I know the gentle Buchanan holds no distraint warrant for rent over the R.M. Court, the Court furniture is notto be sold yet, and your printers must have been at the “ Somerset” Lodge, and the barman must have been steward. Then things were crooked with the Caxtonians of the Mail. A firm have some sections for sale, and in making the announcement they had apparently written instructions on their copy that the words “ eight pounds each ” were to be printed “in good prominent letters.” That ball again—the man of types was loyal to his profession, and followed his copy, and that firm find themselves as offering sections for sale at “ eight pounds each, in good prominent letters.” Not so much next time, lads; not so much !
CHISPA’S LETTER., Ashburton Guardian, Volume 1, Issue 90, 22 April 1880
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