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“I am not yet so bald that you can see my brains. ” —Longfellow.

(From Ashburton Herald , July 24 .)

Like the man I am, loyal to my conscience and my pledged word, I rolled up at the Council Chambers on election day and voted. Being a free and independent elector, having no rent to pay, and no bill of sale hanging over my property, I do not require the machinery of the ballot to protect mo in the wise exercise of the franchise ; and as I wear no paper collars I can speak my mind as forcibly or as mildly as I chose without danger to the back button-hole if I should become excited. In these circumstances I care not if I tell you how I voted—that I gave Tom one and the auctioneer another. Neither of them can now come and tell me I didn’t vote for him. But as I was going down to the polling booth I passed a knot of burgesses. There were six of them, and together they totted sixteen votes. They seemed to be perfectly indifferent as to which candidate won, having apparently an equal opinion of both. After they had discussed the question very languidly of which they should support, they decided to go “ a shilling in and the winner shout ” —the winner also to decide which candidate should get all the votes. The game went round, and jolly little Fred (you know who) won. I would give his name in full, but I am afraid to, for reasons best known to myself, and Fred’s stick. Fred’s conscience would not allow him to dispose, according to his own wisdom, of sixteen votes for a Borough Councillor. He tossed up a penny. “Tails for Tom, heads the other.” Heads came trumps, and Mr. Alfred Harrison won the “ hazard of the die.”

When I saw that yarn about John Carter’s very wise horse in your paper, I felt that you had been taken in. I made inquiries as to the truth of the story, and Councillor Robinson only stuck his tongue in his cheek, grinned in that dry Scotch way of his, and said, “Wo, man, wo, you don’t fetch me, you know. ” I could get no verification out of him, and its a difficult job to “steer ” a See tollman when he has made up his mind to anchor, so I gave him best. But a fellow-Councillor of Mr. Robinson’s told me he had seen a flash bay horse come down a hill with a full head of steam on, and clear a four-rail fence at the bottom, taking a one-ton spring dray after him, and landing on the other side—horse, dray, and man—as sound as a bell, and with no abatement of speed on the career he kept up. Another friend came up from Kyle this morning, full of the Carter yarn. It had been canvassed round pretty extensively in the Seafield district; some held it to be apocryphal, others to be gospel. My friend believed it, and his reason for so doing is that only a fortnight ago his brother had a similar experience, only the horse was not minus a driver—his brother being the Jehu. Dobbin went off as if for a wager, cleared a sod bank with a surmounting fence of of four wires, landed ‘ ‘ right ” on the other side, and held on. But this story varies & little from the other two, as the driver, when the buggy got “ elevated,” rose an involuntary five feet, and came down plump in his seat again without losing hold of the reins. John Carter, you have much to be accountable for, if these hair-breadth yarns keep increasing.

In these hard times it is not an uncommon thing to find a man doing a bit of “ cadge.” I do it myself when the last copper has evaporated, but when a man’ cadges he ought to do it fairly, and say “ old man, I am stumped, kindly give me a fill ” —for it is mostly in the ’bacca line the cadging is done. A persistent cadger was “had” a few days ago. He had reached the last thread of cut-up in his pouch, and of course got on the scent for somebody else’s. He bailed up a Town Councillor and sued for a “ fill.” It was given at once, with a remark that it was the great Dunedin firm’s tobacco —always got it direct and smoked nothing else. Cadger filled away with a pleasant smile on his jovial face. Lighting up he drew two or three deep gusts of smoke, and then launched forth in praise of the great Dunedin firm, and in terrible condemnation of the vile trash sold in local shops. He had never got a good sample of tobacco since he came to the township, hut this Dunedin thing was divine—“and, you know, old man, I can tell good stuff whenever I get it in my mouth. Cadger has not yet been told that I saw that Town Councillor purchase from Mrs. Thompson that identical sixpennorth that drew forth Cadgers praises of the German firm in Dunedin.

Mr. John Sheehan says the basis of a true Liberal policy is the payment of members. Does Mr. Sheehan mean that the more a man can get out of the country in the shape of parliamentary wages the more Liberal he will be, and that the higher the screw the more advanced will be the statesman’s political creed 1 Bravo, John Sheehan. If your doctrine is a sound one, the glorious cause of Liberalism ought to flourish, and the party of which you are a distinguished member has only got to increase the honorarium to say LI,OOO a-year, and the best minds of the colony will rally to the standard. Pay a good screw, and all the intellect of the colony will be at your feet, even the humble talents will be at your command of yours truly. Chispa.

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Bibliographic details

CHISPA’S LETTER., Ashburton Guardian, Volume 1, Issue 131, 27 July 1880

Word Count

CHISPA’S LETTER. Ashburton Guardian, Volume 1, Issue 131, 27 July 1880

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