(From Ashburton Herald, April 24. )
“I am not yet so bald that you can sec my brains. ” —Long fei.low.
The land fever has again set. in, and it is gratifj'ing to Chispa to notice that some of our most noteworthy residents, who have been in the habit of crying down what is termed “ light land ” have gone in a docker for the lightest of it at a tolerably heavy figure. I thought the late hard times would have led to very cautious dealings in fee simple, and I do not say for one moment that the purchasers have not been cautious, as they arc about the knowingest of our local land speculators, and have a very clear idea as to how much any aero of land in the County is worth as a spec. At the same time I can’t sec how Fairfield land is going to give a grand return at the prices it was sold at. A purchaser of, say an acre block has to pay say L3s—and a lot of them paid that figure, or gave paper as an equivalent —then he has to fence it, another LlO ; and he can’t live on it without water, which in that locality means L3O for a well; so that without any provision for a house h'a acre costs him L 75, and after obtaining it what will he do with it'? I have ashed myself the question several times since that sale, and 1 have not as yet solved the problem. The land won’t grow cabbages. One acre isn’t much account as a sheep run, and dairy farming is out of the question. One advantage in connection with the acre lots is their continguity to the cemetery ; and as a consecpience burial expenses will be reduced to a minimum. But it is to be hoped the occupants of these acre lots will not attempt to defraud the Cemetery Beard by digging their own graves on their own sections ; for, if they do, they will on some of the sections have a long job before them to excavate a grave deep enough to bury all the anathemas they will utter as to the nature of their purchases.
I beg to offer a hint, in Connection with the above sale, to the Ashburton Borough Council, and I give the advise gratis. Let our City Fathers hire John Matson to blow about our rising township and its prospects. Hoist a few Union Jacks once a week ; send Bullock’s cart and hell and another Union Jack around, and get John on the spout, and lie would he cheap at a thousand a year, and my very dear friend, Mr. Thomas, could do the business in such small villages as Leeston, Rangiora, or Christchurch, in the interests of the firm. “ There’s no mistake about it, gentlemen” (a favorite expression of J.M.’s). This auctioneer can wheedle bids out of folks who attend auction sales just to watch and see who are going to make fools of themselves, and who arc going to buy things they don’t want. At the wind-up of the sale these watchers have to dive into the lowest depths of their own tr s pockets to pay up for listening to John Matson. I always reckoned him a smart man, but his sale of Fairfield surpasses all his previous efforts.
Duck shooting is the most fashionable form of diversion now a days, but from my experience of the business I think the more correct way of stating the case would bo “shooting at ducks.” St. George’s Day is a holiday served to all patriots, and it was resolved by a party of gunnists to slaughter ducks in honor of the patron Saint of our beloved fatherland. Six dogs, six guns, six sportsmen, and one unfortunate horse, with a trap containing the before mentioned, went out to battle against anything with wings, and the result was a complete success, from a sportsman’s point of view—that is, all hands got wet through. After wading in the river for some nine hours, the six sportsmen, each with a gun, a dog,’a flask, and other impedimenta, succeeded iu bringing home—item, one grey duck ; item, four swamp hens, one being in an advanced state of decomposition ; item, one rat, very ancient, and intended for presentation to Dr. Haast for the Museum ; item, six shocking bad colds, with the corresponding consequences of rum hot and butter on arrival at home. This is what my acquaintances describe as a “grand day out, my boy;” but I always notice they start with a promise to bring me home a present of a couple of paradise ducks, and return with a glowing account of the long shots they tried, and the way they made the feathers fly and how very hard the ducks were to kill—and, all sorts of excuses, except ducks. The only bag I have heard of in this 'neighbourhood was made one day by an amateur who tried the Wakanui creek near Hay Smith’s. Ho made a very decent record, not only of ducks, but pigeons as well. Hay Smith’s poultry didn’t muster very well that night; and as he is afraid that the new chum will, on his next visit, mistake the southdown rams for red-deer, he has let the bull dog loose in anticipation and laid torjiedoes about the farm ; that is what Hay Smith told me, but I don’t want the new chum to believe it.
When I first thought of leaving the roast beef of Old England to attack the like dish of this colony, I was given to understand that I should find on my arrival that every man was an amateur at the profession he followed. My very dear friend Fitzroy, as he wiped a tear of farewell from his squinting left eye, told me that not a single man from the Premier of the Colony down to the most ordinary loafer had been bred to the avocation lie made the business of his life. New Zealand people, said Fitz., were not particular as to how their work was done, nor as to who did it, so long as
they were able to get along with it “ some- , bow.” Julius Yogel was an old nows- | paper man, and as hard up as editors usually are, and Fitz., with a wink slylyintroduced between his weeps, gently hinted that editors in public matters were a failure, away from the gonial if somewhat narcotic atmosphere of their sanctums. Fitz. assured me it was a fact lie had found undergraduates of Cambridge tending sheep, chopping wood, digging gold, working as carpenters, doing house painting, and all sorts of things by turns —one down, ’tother come on—just as necessity demanded. An old college chum he knew had taken to house painting, and ho was such a don at° it that he could cover more space in a day than the best painter that ever wielded a brush, but then this chum of his brought common sense to his aid, and as he worked by contract, and not by the day, he used a whitedwash brush instead of the trilling thing commonly slung about by our local artists, Chapman and Savage. If a man had cheek enough and gab enough he cmld shine as a lecturer ; if he had drunk whisky with a member of Parliament he could become a Resident Magistrate ; if was not afraid of poisoning anybody he would succeed as a doctor —a few good strong smelling things being all that was wanted for his pharrnacopia ; if he possessed more assurance and a bettor muscle than the Magistrate he could no in and win as a lawyer. I fancied Fitz was pitching me a yarn, but as I knew that squint eye of his had winked in many lands, I was constrained to take in the statements of my much travelled friend, and believe that I had found Utopia at list. When I had been a fortnight in the colony I found out my mistake. They didn’t paint with whitewash brushes, and every man didn’t do his own horse-shoeing. There were men to be sure bolding x JoS itions * or which. their only qualification was the fact that they had got the job, and there were merchants who had got liehind the counter by some inscrutable means, and if they did not make money they made a very respectable “smash,'’ and never required to tackle hard work again. I fancied I could find a certain moiety of truth, to be sure, in old Fitz s yarn, but iu the main he was certainly wrong. True, every second man you meet, has “ been a journalist myself, you know, and know all about it, you know.” We have an aristocracy of lawyers, Government officials, bank clerks, editors, auctioneers, commission agent, and others who live on the finger-lickings that are to be had, as the Irishman says, between “ getting and giving.” As soon as one chap makes headway at one thing he finds he has a rival or two to fight, and so the list of tweed-coat-men is increased, yet all seem to get along somehow, and to do well and prosper. The only profession that won’t brook amateur professors of it is the bar. I should say we had plenty of legal men in the colony without introducing amateius, hut everybody doesn’t seem to think so, and as a consequence we are to have a great ado over the poaching of a firm of commission agents on the preserves of the legal profession. I’ll bet you two hats the amateurs beat the professionals in this struggle. Chispa.
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