“I am not yet so bald that you can see my brains. ” —Longfei.low.
(From Ashburton Herald, June 5. )
This Property Assessment business is not a popular measure in the colony. Some describe it as inquisitorial and worthy of the Star Chamber of Charles the Second’s time ; others get profane over it, and the mildest of the protestors wants to know how the blank he knows how many rings and ch s his wife is in possession of. It is not pleasant in these times for anyone to stare the naked truth in the face, and I know of a good many who would sooner swim along in happy ignorance of their financial condition than summon up courage and baldly go into figures to find out how they really stand. “ How they really stand V Who can say, among the owners of land and houses here, what they are worth in the market ? Those who have nest-eggs, and can afford to stick to their fancy lots, still hold on m the sure and certain prospect of a rise ; but those who have bought on bills, and can’t meet them, are in a dreadful fix over this assessment affair ; and, of course, the interests of the half of the population in laud will be returned NIL. Ohispa’s will, any how ; because, you see, debts have to be deducted, so the old man has been preparing a “ contrairy account ” with the property assessor with a view to fetching his belongings below the exemption figure, and the items therein contained are of a varied and promiscuous character. Chispa don’t mind at once candidly acknowledging that Host Quill figured in the schedule for Bs. Gd. for sundry pints ; but as a matter of common decency he prdtests against his private affairs being inspected by any Government official. The document supplied wants all particulars of debts due by or to Chispa, of his chairs, his pictures, his- bed-clothes, his crockery, his live stock, (small and large). And Chispa is liable to a fine bigger than his whole belongings if he “ wilfully or negligently makes a false return.” How in the name of the genius of Anglo-Saxon language can a man make a “ negligently false return ?” And why should any of us pararde before the eyes of a Commissioner the value of our household belongings and cherished presents I Away with such a monstrosity of legislation, I say. It is reverting to the dark ages of civilisation when window taxes and hearth money were part of the British revenue. The unusual spectacle of a justice of the peace, a sergeant of | police, and a newspaper reporter attempting to break into the Resident Magistrate’s' Court might have been witnessed this morning by any persons who were in that interesting locality about eleven o’clock. The Resident Magistrate and his clerk had gone to Longbeach to attend the Assessment Court, taking along with them the keys of the building where justice is usually dispensed, and without any further notice to the public than a scrap of paper pasted on the door notifying the cause of their absence. There were two or three cases to dispose of, and the defendant in a criminal action yesterday was in ati endance with his sureties to obtain the bail necessary to liberation from durance vile. One witness had come from Christchurch by the express, to be in attendance in an action against a man for being drunk in a railway carriage ; and taking all things into consideration, there was no alternative but to gain admission to the building by foul if not by fair means. Each window was tried in turn to ascertain the likelihood of it being raised sufficiently to allow the diminutive form of the newspaper reporter to glide through, but after various expedients had, in vain, been resorted to for the purpose of prising the windows open, Sergeant Felton authorised Constable Warring, who came up at the time, to put his colossal frame against the door and burst it open, a command which he put into execution with the greatest of ease. Surely such an instance of housebreaking in broad daylight, was never undertaken by such a trio. The difficulties of the administration of justice in Ashburton are surely on the increase. It is amusing sometimes to read accounts of public events, and note the different yarns told by the different narrators. Last Saturday—Race Day—l attended Black-Eyed Susan’s turn out in the evening in the Town Hall. Next day I read in one report that the audience were very orderly, “ considering in another that they were very rowdy. Well, I don’t know about the orderly part of them, but the disorderly portion of them contributed to my discomfort to the extent of one orange. lam not averse to oranges in the main. But I like to have the peeling of them myself, and the disposal of those peelings. This orange that fell to my share didn’t have any inside at all. It was all peel, and it came against my ear with a bang, the donor being some unknown one in the crowd of larrikins standing by the pillars. Then it is not a very orderly proceeding to encourage fifteen year old larrikins to pass remarks on the performers loud enough to be heard all over the hall, nor is it very orderly to make peas go showering about to the annoyance of one’s neighbors. Prominent amongst the orange-peel-throwers and noisy ones was a great big fellow, standing nearly six feet high, with a carrotty head and a mouth like a post office slit. I thus take notice of him just to show that when a man makes himself conspicuous in a public assembly, and wishes to be taken notice of, the most prominent features of his performance cannot fail to catch the eye. If he does not like the critique, he had better change his hall of entertainment Chispa.
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