The Ashburton Guardian, COUNTY AGRICULTURAL & SPORTING RECORDER. THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 1,1880.
An intoxicated man is always a nuisance—whether he roll in the gutter of the street or on a bench in the chamber of the Honorable House of Representatives. When he takes to the gutter the constable saves him from being drowned by the slush by lugging him off to the cells. Possibly, before the intoxicated one reached the gutter state he had been staggering along the street interfering with no one, or with everyone, according to the “spirit” that was moving him. We do not expect to find gutter “ drunks” in parliament. The atmosphere of that august assembly ought to lie too rave for the very highly graduated Bacchanal who fears not to bow his respects to the jolly god in the public street, and to prostrate himself in the dirt of the causeway. It is a terrible disgrace to a* man to be found in the gutter, and the constable’s attention to him will culminate in showing him that it is also a crime. But the criminality of drunkenness only begins when the obfuscated one requires the constable’s aid, and when that functionary happens to be at hand to render it. Within the sacred precincts of Parliament House there is no gutter, and it is not on record that any of our august senators have ever bent so low in their obeisance to Bacchus as to miss their hold of the safe side of the line that divides drunkenness respectable from drunkenness criminal, and to fall into the hands of the sergeant of police—for we presume it would be the higher class of officer that would be called upon to take charge of a Legislative “drunk and disorderly,” and not a common fellow like a constable. But it is on record that men sent to Parliament as the people’s representatives have appeared in the House, to use Sir George Grey’s gilded and polite phrase, “ not in a fit state.” It is on record, too, that Sir Wm. Fox has seen somuch of this “unfitness” amongst members of the colonial Commons as to express an anxiety to see the sale of intoxicating liquors prohibited on the Parliamentary premises. And from the utterances of the two knights in this connection, and from echoes of the House equally distinct, we conclude that it is no uncommon thing for speeches to be delivered in Parliament with a somewhat thick utterance, and for the eyes of the speakers to be bright with a brightness lent by a spirit which causes more stars to sparkle before those eyes than the
“ three stars ” that devote the brand of the “spirit” itself. Sir George Grey is a gifted orator. He can clothe or conceal his thoughts in splendid language, and can make himself plain or enigmatical at will. But he used no ambiguous language when he said on Saturday morning that one of his fellow-legis-lators was “ not in a fit state.’ 4 He simply meant, that that one was drunk, and from the events that followed, and the scene that was enacted with Mr. Vincent Pyke in the title role, we have no difficulty in finding out who “ that one ” was. The report of the scene sent to us by the Press Association has doubtless been read by every man in the colony ere now, and we shall not recapitulate its details. Just as every man who gets drunk has not the misfortune to land helpless in the gutter and expiate his excess before the Magistrate, so every drunk Legislator does not cause a scene in the House, and require the attention of the Sergeant-at-Arms ; but excesses are frequent enough for all that. Sir William Fox is perhaps a rabid old teetotaller, and a small fire may said to kindle a great matter in his mind on the subject of alcoholic stimulants. But Sir William Fox is a gentleman, and will not deliberately insult his fellow-legislators to their face. He would not ask for the abolition of Bellamy’s unless he saw actual necessity for it, and he must have seen many of his fellow members of the House under the influence of liquor, and in that state trying to deal with matters affecting the best interests of the colony, before he suggested the closing of Bellamy’s. For years New Zealand laid claim to enjoying the services of a Parliament of high character, and it was not seldom pointed to as a model for the less particular Legislatures of neighboring colonies. But the session just closed has ruined our claim to this distinction, and shown to us how little the personal character of a candidate weighs with some constituencies, and how rashly they will trust the disposal of the colony’s funds to the hands of men whose self-control is so slight as to lead them into the enactment of scenes such as that of Saturday last —of which the member for Dunstan was the hero, but, we are sorry to add, not the only actor similarly qualified. When a House closes its session as ours has this year done, with the influence of 44 three star” so powerfully felt, it is no wonder that our legislation should be slipshod, the public time squandered, and the beer duty lessened by half the Government’s proposal. Truly, the Pyke escapade has a lesson for the electors.