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" I am not yet so bald that you can see my brains. ** —Longfellow.

In rny wanderings in this “ loveliest village of the plain,” “ where health and plenty cheer the laboring swain” (who has anything to labor at, and can get a bob an hour for his labor), I have marked the energy with which some of the village bylaws are enforced, and how carefully cases of infringement of others are allowed to pass unheeded. It is a long time now since the Borough Council first began to breathe “threatening and slaughter” against the careless owners of unoccupied sections who allowed said sections to lie overgrown with the “ yellow-haired tussock.” So soon as the municipal fulminations went forth, the less cheeky of our landed proprietors at once set about grubbing up their superfluous tussock, and the smoke of the burning vegetable aborigines of the township rose in snaky wreaths every quiet evening, and hung above us till dark. Gradually, the bulk of the tussocks disappeared. But not all. I do not know why some of it was saved. Possibly there are botanists in the Borough Council who wish to preserve a specimen or two of the tussock, so that its memory may not be altogether lost. Anyhow there are a few sections yet, to the roots of whose tussock stocks the destroying spade of the clearer has not been applied. One of these sections is that on which the Library stands, and there are many others I could guide the Council’s Inspector to. I was a fool to go and slash down and burn my tussocks so soon, I might have saved a man’s week’s wages if I hadn’t been such a loyal individual. Perhaps the Library means to preserve a specimen of the tussock, and is only giving their field of tussock plants a chance, by the survival of the fittest, to show which is the sturdiest. There are other offenders besides the Library, and don’t you think that during this dry weather there should be a poking up done by some one in authority. I do.

A letter written in a pretty female hand, and signed “ A constant admirer of Chispa ” reached me this week. She heads her letter “ Something serious (not fun and farce),” and proceeds to tell mo she does not wish to try me beyond my strength, but. would like my opinion on why the Bible is retained in the church service, and in the swearing ceremony of the Courts of law, when high Protestant authorities have pronounced the greater portions of the two testaments to be nothing leas than old women’s stories and inventions of the monks. Well, I am not much of a theologian, very little theology is needed to fight one’s way through this world and into a better, and if my lady friend will just content herself as I do with the Old Book, and be abundantly satisfied with its teaching till these great authorities supply the world with something that will fill the Bible’s place, she will find that her Bible will last her a long long time yet. He must be a smart critic and endowed with great creative power that can bowl down the old temples and erect new ones that are better. For that work, a new set of builders are wanted, and they haven’t completed their apprenticeship, and won’t yet awhile.

Another letter—this time from our great local man, philosopher, and social reformer, Mr. George Cates. His letter, were I to print it, would bring down about my ears all the shillelaghs in Ashburton, for what the able and eloquent George says about Ireland’s leaders in the agitation now going on. But Mr. Cates wants a testimonial got up for the Hon. W. E. Gladstone. I admire Mr. Gladstone very much. He is, doubtless, the greatest man the world ever saw, since ho draws forth the admiration of all classes of philosophers, from the humble “ Chispa” up to the great Cates ; but I don’t think Mr. Gladstone wants any testimonials of greater financial value from us than the homage to his name we are all ready to pay;

The Reviewers sat yesterday. They didn’t have a great amount to do ; nobody seemed to care a rap about whether their objections to the Property Tax valuation were sustained or not, and the hardest worked man was the herald of the Court, who, for a solid hour or more, had to trot from the inside door to the outer staircase, call out the names of the nonappearing non-contents, and then trot back again and repeat the stereotyped formula—“No appearance, your Honors.” This herald was immensely got up in a pair of neat knickerbockers, that showed off his shapely legs and comfortable stockings, and his stately march, while doing the flat, stale, and unprofitable “ sentrygo,” gave ample evidence—as the trembling wood resounded his tread —that the Civil Service can raise a decent thing in muscular Christianity. What a terrible thing that the police force could not raise a constable, nor the Court-house a bailiff, to cry the cases, and so relieve a man in aristocratic “knickers” from the weary duty. Why,. I thought a Prince of the blood had come down to Ashburton to see how we got along here, and I was afraid he’d make a complaint to his Royal Mother —God save her !—of how we could dare treat great men.

The hot weather has had such a telling effect upon the dairies of this district that the cream won’t rise to the top of the milk for fear of being transformed into oil. One dear old dame, who has often supplied me with butter, came to me this week, asking who was the best man to make butter tins, as she meant selling her butter by the pint instead of by the pound. I don’t know if she has gone in for the new system of retail, but she took the addresses of the three tinsmiths in the

town, and started away in the direction of Joe Dolman’s to begin with. She had five bottles of butter in her basket, and she said the heat made everything so lazy and slow that her cows were infected with the slothful disease, and were too lazy to give milk. Chispa.

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Bibliographic details

CHISPA’S LETTER., Ashburton Guardian, Volume 2, Issue 273, 19 February 1881

Word Count

CHISPA’S LETTER. Ashburton Guardian, Volume 2, Issue 273, 19 February 1881

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