The Ashburton Guardian. Magna est Veritas et Prevalebit. FRIDAY, JULY 29, 1881. Morality Enforced by Law.
TOWN EDITION. [,lssued at 4.10 p. wi. j
It is no wonder that we are considered by the people of most other countries as a nation of hypocrites of the type which Dickens has so happily depicted in his Pecksniff, Chadbands, and Stiggenses. We are constantly trying nowadays to make people moral by Act of Parliament, and singularly fail; for one, if for no other good reason, that we are so utterly inconsistent, and, like the Pharisees of old, strain out gnats, and swallow camels. “ I hate the most respectable men of a district,” said the great Chinese philosopher, Confucius, “ because they always mimic virtue.” And yet, if the truth
were known, our legislative follies and absurdities arise not so much from our being hypocrites and humbugs as from our being illogical in thought, and cowardly in action, whenever Mrs ‘Grundy puts in her claim to be obliged.
One of the most recent illustrations of our respectable follies has been the New Zealand Gaming and Lotteries Bill. It is ostensibly designed to put down gambling, a matter which is utterly incapable of accomplishing until it finds some means to put a stop to all purchase of land in speculation, or, indeed, all trade in goods of any kind, except for immediate resale. The Bill makes no provision whatever against this particular form of crime or vice for the very obvious reason that the land speculators and vendors are far too strong to allow any restrictions to be placed on their own peculiar sins. But the Bill comes out very strong against sinners who cannot fight their own battles very well. The persons who use the totalisator on racecourses —an invention, specially designed to supersede the swindling adopted by the bookmakers—are told in effect by the Legislature that their occupation must be banished, and that the practises of the bookmakers, however shady in appearance, are somehow thoroughly respectable. Even Mrs Grundy indulges sub rosa in transactions with the bookmakers, and, as they truly boast, horse racing could not be kept up without them. So again, raffles atTancy bazaars, got up for charitable or religious objects, are henceforth to be put down, because a few foolish people call them gambling and swindling. To apply those terms in such cases is really a very gross absurdity. The evil of gambing lies mainly in the fact that it enables people by mere chance, and without any labor on their part to acquire money, or the equivalent of money. Now, what man ever goes into a fancy bazaar and embarks his shilling or half a crown, or, it may be, his ten shillings, for any such preposterous purpose ? A man who should attend fancy bazaars with the view of making a living by investing in the raffles would be one of the most remarkable persons ever yet known out of the lunatic asylums. People are not really swindled at all at fancy bazaars, for they know perfectly well before they enter the room that they are not going to get the worth of their money, and if they are only sufficiently impenetrable to the charms of the fair sex, may quit the fond scene without having embarked any more capital than the shilling entrance fee ; even not that in some cases, where the doors are flung open to the public, and with a sublime faith, charity, and religion, rely on the lovely toilettes and personal charms of the presiding matrons and damsels. One thing, however, is tolerably certain, and that is that this part of the Act will be a dead letter, and that the ladies will set it at defiance. In Victoria some years back Mr George Higinbotham determined to be severely virtuous and to enforce the law against raffling in fancy bazaars, and about a dozen ladies of good social standing and position were summoned to attend the Melbourne Police Court, and did so. Not one of them was vulgar enough to follow the example of Ingoldsby’s holy sacristan, —
As for the holy sacristan he expressed not a doubt, ’ But he put thumb unto his nose, and he spread his fingers out. But each one comforted herself so as •to present a lady-like equivalent for that remarkable conduct. Of course all the cases broke down on some legal technicality, and the virtuous proprietor of the Bill got so unmercifully chaffed for his pains, that the law was thenceforth allowed to remain a dead letter.
But the greatest absurdity of all in the New Zealand Gaming and Lotteries Act is that it makes no provision whatever against the grand emporiums of gambling and betting—the race courses. Every one knows, and any race horse owner will at once admit it, that racing would come to an end if it were not for thebetting and gambling connected with it. Nor is this all. From a variety of circumstances, every evil that could be associated with the worse kind of gambling is found here. The horsey man is notoriously a person of the most shady character. The jockeys and stable boys, from whom the experts in horse racing derive the larger part of their information, are of all rogues and blackguards the most utterly roguish and blackguardly, and their blasphemy, obscenity, and dishonesty on the course are entirely unparalleled in any civilised country. On these places of rendezvous the evils of loafing and excessive drinking can better be seen exemplified than anywhere else ; and it may very fairly be said that nowhere can so good a senior wrangler’s degree for the gaol competition be so well acquired as on the race course. Even the race horse owners themselves
—sometimes very respectable men—take no interest whatever in the races for the sake of what is said to be their real object—the improvement of the breed of horses ; but if you listen to their conversation, they will dwell with eloquence and unction on “ the amount of money to be run for.” The jockeys bear this in mind too, and, as their masters know to their cost, often avail themselves of it to pull their horses, or arrange with other young blackguards to be allowed to win. Very often this happens when the uninitiated, seeing one horse win by a neck on the post, exclaim, “ What a splendid race !” Is it possible then that there are no stringent penalties imposed on horse racing, betting on horse racing, or even on bookmakers, who attend to ply their nefarious trade? There is nothing whatever. The horse racing interest is strong, and Mr Whitaker knows that he dare not attack it. Why then make such an illogical and cowardly attempt to coerce and punish the small offenders and those who are no offenders at all, while the great sinners come off scot tree? “Datveniam cotvis, vexat censura columbas .” Well might a French onlooker at any of our racemeetings, if he has ever read our Gaming and Lotteries Act, exclaim, “ What a set of Pharisees and humbugs these Britishers are!”
Crowded Out. —Our Sydney letter and correspondence is unavoidably held over. Risking. —This seasonable recreation can be indulged in to-morrow afternoon by those fond of such like amusement, and an announcement elsewhere states that the fair sex will have an excellent opportunity for learning the art of linking.
Phrenology.— Professor Simon gave a Phonological entertainment in the Town Hall, Rakaia, last night. The weather was fine and consequently the Hall was well filled. After a few introductory remarks, the Professor requested one of the audience to blindfold him. after which he invited any ladies or gentlemen to fill the chairs on the platform, and twelve wellknown townspeople, four ladies being amongst them, readily accepted his invitation. The acute manner in which the Professor hit off their characters, created great astonishment. The Professor kept his audience in a good humour throughout, and was well applauded for the ability he displayed. The Professor will be in Quill’s upstairs Commercial Room, all day to-morrow, and will give his entertainment in the Town Hall in the evening. Acknowledgment. Wo have to acknowledge the receipt of a copy of the revised edition of the New Testament from Mr Andrewes, stationer, of this town.
Proposed Co-operative Company.—A meeting of gentlemen interested in the formation of a co-operative company in Ashburton was held at Quill’s Commercial Hotel last night. The following resolutions were submitted to the meeting and passed : —(1) That, in the opinion of this meeting, it is desirable to form a joint stock co-partnery for the establishment of a co-operative store in the County of Ashburton, having its headquarters in Ashburton. (2) That the capital of the proposed company be L 1,500, in 1,500 shares of 20s each ; 5s to be paid on application, 5s on allotment, and calls of 2s fid per share at not less intervals than one month. (3) That a Committee, consisting of those now present, with power to add to their number, be appointed to draft a prospectus under which the proposed company would be floated, and to submit the same to an adjourned meeting, to be held at an early date. (4) That the adjourned meeting be held at Quill’s Commercial Hotel, on Friday evening next, at eight o’clock, to appoint a provisional directory, banker, solicitor, and secretary for the proposed company, and that the same be convened by advertisement in the local papers. The meeting then terminated. To Heads of Families. —An announcement from Mr O. Digby, in another column, relative to the price of meat, should be read by heads of families. Co-operative Store. —A icportofthe meeting held last night appears elsewhere, also an advertisement setting forth the business to be transacted at the next meeting, which takes place on Friday next.
Tenders. —ln our advertising columns it will be seen that the South Rakaia Road Board are inviting tenders for a quantity of road forming, <fec. ; and the Wakanui Road Board also require about 30 chains of re-formation of part of the Wakanui road. Tenders are also invited by Messrs L. and E. Coster, at Somerton, for a quantity of ploughing. New Business. —Notification appears elsewhere that Mr R. S. Bean (late of Montgomery and Co., limited) has taken over the coal and firewood business of Mr Joseph Clark at Tinwald. Wo wish him every success in his new venture.