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CHISPA’S LETTER., Ashburton Guardian, Volume 2, Issue 197, 20 November 1880
' I am not yet so bald that you can see my brains." —Longi'Ul-LOW.
Of course I went to the show and the races; the most prominent feature about the show was the tremendous array of ploughs and such like structures. I was asked to describe some of these tools, but got mixed as to the merits of double furrows and potatoe diggers. All 1 can say about them is that someone must have taken a lot of trouble to polish the iron workup. The judging was not satisfactory to a lot of the competitors, more especially to those who failed to get Ist prizes. I saw one man who had entered a horse, and ■ had been awarded a second class ticket, careering round the ground and giving vent to profane language as to the knowledge the judges possessed of horse flesh in general and his own crock in particular ; and another one who had been exhibiting beef, stating that the judges could not have had noses on them, otherwise they would have detected an aroma about the joint they selected as best which would not justify their decision. And I oven heard a judge, a portly old gentleman of the old school, wdio by some means gained admission to the Secretary’s room, address one of the best known-reporters in Canterbury as follows —“Look here, old man, when you report this, tell ’em they have had the worst show in Canterbury, the beer sold is made from tobacco, and I will send the culls from my flock next year to take the prizes in merinos,” and then he said, “Come on, Chispa and try and get a bottle of English ale” and w r e succeeded. I’m not an authority on shows, but I have no doubt there is room for improvement in some things, and as we cannot expect to arrive at perfection at once, we had better shake bands with one another and agree that the show was a great success.
As to the races, the “General ” was of course the most conspicuous official on the ground. His red roat and old Albatross could not be mistaken, and I could take an affidavit of the identity, of both man and horse had they been a mile away. The “ General” was a trifle more demonstrative than usual, as vagrant dogs and trespassers in general found to their cost. Those abominations, Wheel of Fortune men ct hoc omvc ijenus were more plentiful than ever, and it is a pity the Club would not take forcible measures to keep these nuisances in their proper places. Surely the Club could afford among its members one or two muscular Christians to check the evil. I saw the secretary take a practical way of solving the difficulty by capsizing some of their swindling apparatus ; but he, poor man, seemed to be a sort of Johnny-all-sorts, who was looked to as being the arbiter of all matters in dispute on the ground. Anyhow, he does not appear to have lost much flesh over the business.
Of all assemblages calculated to show out the innate - selfishness and base cowardice and meanness that appear to lurk deep down in the natures of some men, commend me to the race meetings. The hook-nosed, bull-necked, greasylooking, and oil-stinking ones comes to these meetings in full force, and from every imaginable corner of the colony. The question very naturally arises, how do they live throughout the year, when no races are being run, and when respectable folks arc following their ordinary avocations. I fancy those of the New Zealand citizens who attend races, and who know anything of phrenology, very carefully button up their pockets as they move through the crowd of men who have “rogue” written on every line of their features. It is this scum of whom I am writing that bring out the selfishness., cowardice, and meanness to which I referred at starting, and show us what like some of the men amongst us are who claim to be respectable. The race meeting parasite and the rogue of the fair flaunt in the eyes of the public apparent chances of “of winning ” a pound or two. Men pretending to be honest jump at these ehances. Their self conceit leads them to a high opinion of their own smartness, their cupidity is tickled by the offer made; they find when they try their hand and are led on till they get, bitten badly that they have played at' “sharps” with sharper men—and then, oh, don’t they yell out for the police to take the men in charge who have “ robbed ” them of their money. I think if I were a law-maker and a Magistrate, and a thimble-rigger were brought before me charged with fleecing a citizen, I’d punish both, the fleecer and the fleeced, for the one is nearly as bad at heart as the other. I stood and saw a fellow play away a live- '
pound note in the delusive belief that he was going to win L 25. He know that he was breaking the law, for in the course of the play he was quite willing to dodge the police along with the rogue he was playing with. But as soon as he saw he had lost his money—didn’t he clamor for the men in blue ! The professional rogue is only a rogue—his dupe is just as often as not both rogue and fool, and a very largo part of both.
Leaving the races let me just look for a moment at the churches. It think it was Dean Bam say who .chose the text for a charity sermon, “Whoso giveth to the poor lendeth to the Lord,” and added his complele sermon in these words —“ If you believe in the security, down with the dust.’’ It is not with the slang meaning of the word “ dust ” I am now about to deal but with the real and actual meaning. I will not point to any particular temple in this fair city as wanting the application of a duster more than any other, but when I sec fair ladies trotting out their cambrics and wiping down their pews before they take their seats, I begin to think that Saturday evenings ought to afford a charwoman or two a job. I will not say where it was that I stood at the door one Sunday as the people left the Sanctuary, and as they passed out I observed that every person clad in black had a grey line of dust across his shoulders, and a dust patch on each arm from the elbow down. Visions' of Ash Wednesday and blackened foreheads rose up before me .as each dust stained individual passed out. “ Cleanliness is next to godliness ” says some authority or other, and when the duster is more used I’ll be more regular in my attendance and more ready with my bob. Don’t ask m.e to sit for forty minutes in dust deep enough to take the impression of my ample nether man, listen to a recounting of my evil deeds the while, and pay a bob too. Oh, no, if you will have me go to church, do wipe down the pew.
My old friend Joseph Hunt shines out always on occasions like those of the past week. The A. and P. Association sadly ill-use that old man,. He appears to be indispensable f and gets jammed into all sorts of committees where there is work to do. If they can’t put him on a committee, its for the very good reason that he is already on more than he can attend to. so they put on someone else, and get the old man to promise to bear a hand when he can with the work. Wheii the pinch comes, the poor old chap is left alone, and has to work like a horse, to do work that ought to have been done by men who had been appointed to perforin the duties. Ho is an honor to the Society, and well deserves the vote of thanks passed to him, but is it fair to put all the work on the willing horso 'i '
“ Assume a virtue if you have it not.” So says Hamlet. One virtue I assume, and t think have, is the industry with which I daily read the Guardian through, and I always pay special attention to the Borough Council reports. If your records of their deliberations are correct, the local body is not at present impecunious j in fact, as times go, they are disgustingly rich, quite bloated capitalists in factWhy then I why these rocks in Bast street, which play up with the springs and axles of buggies, ruin horse’s feet and legs, and trip up pedestrians. Last night I tumbled over a pebble about the size of a railway waggon, and wasn’t very much inebriated either.’ Your Worship, you have much to answer for. All honor td you for spoiling the Egyptians (i. c. the Road Boards and Government) in getting the funds. Pray show a little consideration for our poor feet, and yours truly on the part of the public will owe you a still further debt of gratitude. Chispa.
CHISPA’S LETTER., Ashburton Guardian, Volume 2, Issue 197, 20 November 1880
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