Many thousands in the colonies have expressed admiration for the spurious courage of Ned Kelly. If there be any such admirers amongst the readers of this journal we would introduce to them William Tozer, aged nine years, and less than three feet high in his boots. On the 27th September last, William Tozer, our hero, and Joseph Tozer, his brother, aged eleven years, were charged before the R.M. at Timaru with the high crime and misdemeanor of “ doing wilful damage to and upon a certain can.” They were convicted and sentenced to five years in the Industrial School at Burnham. Tie record says the parents are of indifferent character —the father a drunkard, and the mother of weak mind; and the latter fact is remarkable, as the mothers of great men are invariably of superior intellect. William Tozer and his brother can neither read nor write. Indeed, they do not know the alphabet, nor that there, is a God, nor do they know right from wrong, except what instinct would teach them. The elder Tozer has inherited his mother’s infirmity, and is of weak mind. On the 28th September they arrived at the Industrial school. Mr. Maddison, the master, gave them the best of everything, so as to make a good impression on their minds through their stomachs, and herein he agrees with Napoleon the Great, who con-
sidered that down the throat was the true road to the human heart. However, after the lapse of three days, the Masters Tozer disappeared, and they were captured at the Rakaia and brought back to the Industrial School. On the following night they broke through a window, then into the storeroom, and helped themselves to a suit of clothes each. They then proceeded to perform a delicate surgical operation on fifty ram lambs, the property of a neighboring farmer, who caught them in the act and brought them back to Burnham again. William Tozer was now in such a helpless state from his falls and the scratches of the “ Irishmen ” that he had to be carried about by his schoolfellows. But notwithstanding the disadvantages to locomotion, William and his brother disappeared the same night. They were captured and brought up before Mr. Guinness and committed to Burnham School again. The gigantic Constable Smart, who is eminently suited for the grenadier company of the Faugh-a-Ballagh boys took them in the train. The writer had the honor of travelling in the same train with the heroic William Tozer. Three miles this side of Dunsandel, William was observed to give the wink to his brother, and they stole out on the platform, and sat one on each side of the train. Mr. Smart was just putting his hand on one of them to bring him in, when they both jumped off, and after describing several very clever somersaults, arrived on term firma. There was no means of communicating with the guard, and, consequently, the train went on. The two “ mites,” or “ nuts” as Smart called them, were observed standing together laughing at the train, and the last we saw of them was, that they were evidently holding a council of war on thtir position. Certainly, no blame could be attached to the constable —for who would dream of those children leaping off a train at full speed. Reader, next time you travel, see what you would think of it. Smart left the train at the next station, and went after the “nuts.” On our return journey from Christchurch, we saw William Tozer at the Rakaia, the centre of a wondering crowd; but he sat with all the stolid indifference of an Indian. It appeared that the result of their council of war was that they should go in for reprisals on the enemy, and accordingly they placed a wheelbarrow (which they for the occasion), and some ■stones, dn the line. William was asked why he did this. He replied, because the constable was in the train. He apparently had come to the conclusion that every train carried Constable Smart. “ Were you hurt when you jumped off the train ?” some one inquired. “ Not I,” said William Tozer. Considering the way in which this little mite has been dragged up, we think his mode of making war on constables should create more wonder than anger; but the Railway Department are very angry and are prosecuting William Tozer. He was remanded this morning for eight days. It appears to the writer that New Zealand is too small for William Tozer. Could he not be sent Home, and brought up for the army or navy. When he displays such readiness of resource and undaunted courage at nine years of age, it is pretty evident that, with opportunity, he might one day
Read his history in a nation’s eyes. William is evidently bent on war, and if he were put in the way of exercising his eminent talent legally in the Imarmy or navy it would probably save the “ Britain of the South ” from a “ Tozer gang ” in the future. Besides, when we do repudiate we might have an opportunity of “setting off” the great General or Admiral Tozer against the few miserable millions the English make such a fuss about, and which we have had the honor of borrowing from them at a high rate of interest, and the devil’s our commission, etc.
Another advantage, and not the least, would be that William Tozer would be 16,000 miles away from free, compulsory, and secular education.
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Ashburton Guardian, Ashburton Guardian, Volume 2, Issue 179, 29 October 1880
William Tozer. Ashburton Guardian, Volume 2, Issue 179, 29 October 1880
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