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Though the atmospheric conditions on Christmas Day, or rather m the after noon, were unpropitious for picnics or outdoor sports, we have had on the whole magnificent weather for the Christmas holidays — grander days than Boxing-day and yesterday it would be impossible to imagine. And as to the rain, instead ot being grumbled at, it should bo regarded as literally and m verity a Godsend, for the splendid showcrß which we have had during the past few days mufit have been an inestimable Hoon to farmers, particularly those having light and shingly lands. They were exactly what was required to fill the heads of the grain which is now bursting out into ear, and will make an immense difference to the yield, indeed, they are worth many thousands of pounds to the district. V l£ similar weather continue, viz., fine warm days with occasional copious and refreshing showers, the harvest of the coming season should be an unusually good one, , and with a certainty of good prices, , farmers have before them a very pleasant prospect.

Talking of the weather and the holidays naturally brings to mind the Tradesmen's Bace Meeting of yesterday. Toe glorious day and the large fields of horses entered should have attracted a much larger attendance of the public, but the fact that the gathering of spectators was smaller , than had been anticipated may doubtless bo attributed to the numerous counter-attractions elsewhere, to say nothing of the large number of private picnic parties and pleasure outings. The racing, take it altogether, was very good, but the frequency of protests marred the success of an otherwise successful meeting. In j the words of Shakspere, hundreds j were disposed to grumble that the owners of horses did " protest too much," and some of them, rather unfairly, seemed inclined to blame the Stewards. But those officials are rather to be condoled with than blamed, for the protests being lodged they were bound to consider them, and m every case took, we think, the right course. The protest against Zealot was on the ground that the mare had run at Rakaia, a meeting not under C.J.C. rules, and the ruleß distinctly provide that horses running at Buch meetings shall be disqualified for running at meetings held under C.J.C. rules. It was alleged that the Rakaia meeting was only a sports gathering, and that the raceß | were a mere incident ; that last year the programme was sent to the C.J.C, and that that body stated that the meeting wbb merely to be regarded as a sports gathering, and that for this reason the programme was not sent up this year. Per contra it is said that a totalisator was used this year at Rakaia, that there were entries and acceptances (at any rate for one event), and that therefore it must be held to have been a race meeting. Under these circumstances it is clearly for the 0. J.C. to decide whether the rule applies. The protest against Sir Julius m the next race was necessarily upheld, because, being a claimant for the Ladies' Bracelet, he should have carried the same penalty as if he had been the declared winner. As to the protest m the Ashburton Plate, the cross was proved on the evidence of the Club's own Starter, and while it appears to have been an unfortunate accident, there was nothing for it but to award the stakes to Quibble. It was, however, a very unfortunate succession of contretemps, and undoubtedly the public would have been better satisfied had no protests been lodged at all.

Recently there has been some correspondence through our own columns and the columns of our contemporaries as to the reasons why so large a proportion of the population of our cities and towns are notf-church-goers, The causes assigned are various, some writers throwing the blame upon the pulpit and some upon the pew. The former represent that ministers aro behind the times — that they do not know how to awaken and keep up the interest of their hearers —that they travel always m the same old rut, oblivious of the fact that m the words of a modern bard the world is tlways

•• Spinning down the grooves of ohange,' •—that they are not only deficient m oratory but even m ordinary elocutionary power, and that they deliver their sermons m a sing-song monotonous fashion that would cause any platform speaker to be howled down, and so on, and so on ; while the latter contend that the fault is with the hearers rather than the preachers— that a spirit of scepticism renders them only too eager, to find excuses for disbelief — that a spirit of pride and conceit induceß them to regard themselves as too wise to be taught— < and that an Athenian-like craving for novelty dissatisfies them with the creeds aud religious exercises with which their forefathers were* content, and m which they found comfort and spiritual I strength. Probably there is truth on both sides, and no doubt there are I shortcomings both m tho pulpit and m tho pew, and it will be well if tbe hearers remove the mote that is m their own eyes before they seek to cast out the beam m the eyes of the preachers. But has it ever occurred to anybody that there is yet another and very simple, cause for the disinclination of some at least to attend regularly at public worship — we mean tho physical discomfort, not to say danger, to which they are not infrequently exposed m churches and chapels. In winter time our places of worship are often as cold as the vaults of a cemetery, and m summer, no matter whether it blow hot or blow cold with all tho keenness of a bitter southeaster, windows and doors are as often left recklessly open, placing tho congregation m a thorough draught, and laying the foundation of colds which are tbe very foundation of all diseases. People can't be expected to derive much good from listening to a sermon when they are all tbe while fidgetting under the apprehension of impending neuralgia, and we verily believe that a comfortable church is the first requisite to a good congregation. This is a little matter which Churchwardens and Doacons of chapels might very well take into consideration, and for attention to which they would earn the gratitude of many a church and chapel-goor.

The scandalous swindling which goes on m connection with tbo Army supplies has often been exposed, and jet it would appear that it is going on still. Half tho sufferings of the British troops during he Crimean war were caused, by v be

supply of indifferent or worse tlmn indifferent provisions, shoddy clothing which speedily wore into mere rags, and paper-soled boots which quickly exposed the feet of the men to frostbite. The same sort of thing occurred with regard to provender for tho horses, and if not m the Crimea, certainly elsewhere, and since, bad powder and worse weapons have been furnished to the men who were defending the Queen's flag with their lives. And now comes news that on the occasion of the recent fight outside Suakitn it was discovered that the weapons, especially the swords of the Hussars, were defective, and that this has given rise to the fear that the quality of the weapons supplied to the cavalry generally may be inferior. It is only too probable, we think, that this may bo tho case, especially m view of the fact that not so long ago it was j discovered that the bayonets supplied to some of the infantry were so soft as to double up like hoop-iron. 'A ho War Office wo are told is to hold a " searching inquiry," and it is to bo hoped that it will bo so searching as to thoroughly expose those who have been thus atrooiously swindling the country, and worse still, traitorously paving the way for great national disasters. And, the culprits detected, swift and severe punishment should follow ; indeed, if the law as at present framed is not adequate to the case, then it should be amended so as to make offenders of this stamp punishable criminally, as traitors to the Crown and commonwealth.

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Bibliographic details

NOTES., Ashburton Guardian, Volume VII, Issue 2024, 29 December 1888

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NOTES. Ashburton Guardian, Volume VII, Issue 2024, 29 December 1888

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