“ I am not yet so bald that you can see my brains," —Longfellow. I reckon the members of the Borough Council buy their honors cheaply— some of them, at least. Of course I make exceptions of those whoso places are seldom or never empty when a meeting is on, whether of the whole Council or of a standing or sub-committee. But there arc those who just put in appearances enough to save their bacon—that is, to save being kicked out. This means that the willing horse gets all the pulling to do, and the real work of the Borough is done by only a few. It was plucky of the fiery little Councillor Harrison to say what he thought of the skulkers, at the special meeting on Monday last, which collapsed for want of a quorum ; and men like the Mayor and Mr St. Hill, who are, so to speak, the shatters of the team, could back him up with a good grace. 1 notice that a full turn out can always be had when there is a champagne shout—and even a less generous liquor than “ cham. ” would do as a draw. Suppose the members take the duty of shouting in turn ! If that were done, and every member made to take his turn in paying, whether present or not to partake, there would never be a lack of a quorum, I’ll go bail.
I was down South last week—down to Dunedin, in fact. They are a very jealous lot, those Southerners, and they are always finding out some new aggression on the part of Canterbury. A newsvendor whom I have seen in Port Chalmers off and on for sixteen years was doing his best to dispose of the current Dunedin literature of the day, and I invested in a penn’orth of each sort — Star, Herald, and Times. “Could you give me a Canterbury paper 1 ” said I. “Na ;we dinna sell them.” “How’s that?” I asked. “ Naobody reads Canterbury papers here,” he said. “ Don’t you sell the Lyttelton Times or the Press?" “Na. There’s only three comes doon here, and they’re for reg’lar subscribers —auld Canterbury fowk.” “Do you sell the Ashburton papers, then ?’’ “Na ; I never saw them. though I’ve heard o’ them. Ye see, we dinna care to sell outside papers—we gi’e oor ain fish guts to oor ain gew maws, and lat itlier fowk dae the same.” No wonder the outside papers have a down on Otago, when even the paper-sellers are so clannish as not to try a shot with an “ outsider. ”
If the Scotchmen in Otago are clannish in their own way for their own beloved New Zealand Scotland, and go in for that sort of conservatism which recognises Otago and Otagan things as being all New Zealand, they have not forgotten their especially Scotch concerns. They have instituted a Gaelic society, so that the terrible language of the hills may now be heard in all its fierceness ; and when you mention a Caledonian Society meeting to them they rush to the meeting place at once. It is different here. Scottie comes in to his concert and to his sports meeting. But he is not on for the business meetings of the society that gets these up for him. Last night, the whole work was done by a miserable attendance of seven, and those seven did the business of election, Ac., as best they could. There were two candidates put up for the presidency. They got three votes each, and the chairman declined to use his casting vote. They were a jolly lot, however, those seven Scotchmen, and they were equal to the occasion. Up -went a shilling in the air, and the “tail ” that turned up put in the man.
Let me address a word of warning to the old man who is so fond of prowling about bade kitchen yards, and peering in at back kitchen windows. He knows what I mean—he will know that my warning is not blank cartridge when he finds himself soused with a bucketful of savoury slops. The bucket stands handy and a fair throwing distance has been marked oft' by the buxom housemaid he chooses to annoy. Look out, old rogue. I have now to make my how, and say farewell. I have written my last line, and done my last trot down to the Guardian office. “ The whirligig of time brings about its changes,” as Murray the watchmaker says. So it has brought me to the end of my tether. Let me, before I go, ask forgiveness of any whom my writings in this column have offended. 1 do not like to part unfriendly with any one, so I tender my apologies to all whose sore places I may have blunderingly rubbed against. I hope they will pardon me, now that I am about to Fold my tent like the Arabs, And silently steal away. Ciiispa.
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Ashburton Guardian, Ashburton Guardian, Volume 2, Issue 285, 5 March 1881
CHISPA’S LETTER. Ashburton Guardian, Volume 2, Issue 285, 5 March 1881
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