The Ashburton Guardian. Magna est Veritas et Prævalebit. SATURDAY, APRIL 27, 1889. ROWDY VOLUNTEERS.
To say that among the volunteers are to be found a few who are always ready, If occasion offer," to disgrace the force by rowdy conduct and idiotic practical jokes, is only to say that in uniform there exists a like proportion cf fools to that which is to be found any day in mufti. Given several hundreds of men assembled together at any time and anywhere, and among them there is bound to be a percentage, more or less large according to circumstances, of ruffianly idiots and it is therefore not surprising that as at the several Easter encampments last week there were some thousands of all arms of the service gathered together, instances are forthcoming of conduct on the patr of a few such as is greatly deplored by the majority. There are some sneerers who speak of such things as if they were peculiar to volunteers, but those who have any acquaintance with garrison towns do not need to be told that the regular forces have also their blaok sheep, and that rowdy scenes are every now and then witnessed in which the wearers of the Queen's uniform play a pro- , minent part. It cannot but be then that when large numbers of volunteers i"are gathered together, there will now and then be oomething to complain of, but it is due to themselves and to the high character of the service generally that those in command should deal severely with those offenders who, as at Auokland the other day, were guilty of conduct disgraceful to themselves and to their uniform. A Mr Porter, the licensee of the Railway Hotel at Mercer intends, it is said, to apply to the Defence Minister for compensation for damage done to his property, as he al leges, by several of the volunteers who j he has written to the press complaining that when the train to Hamilton with the volunteers reached Mercer a number of the men entered tbe dining-room of the hotel, and, turning out the person who was in charge, cut and slashed at everything on tbe table, and carried away several articles* Some went into the bar, and ajar of brandy and some bottles of stout were taken, whilst other rooms were looted , glasses smashed, and further damage done. The railway officials also complain that tho windows and fittings in the train conveying tho volunteers to Hamilton were broken. A -^r disgraceful episode, referred to !l! tl "\_ J" "* ?u our telegrams, is dethe other day . ~-4 D ondent, who tailed by a Hamilton cm.- # writes :— " What might have prov °. a serious fracas occurred on Sunday between a number of volunteers aud some Maoris, who were attending the Salvation Army services in Hood street. The Maoris had come from their settlement in a waggon, from which the horses had been taken and in which an old woman had been left sitting. Some volunteers having been marched into town from church got round the waggon and ran it away, upsetting the old woman out of it. The old Maori woman seized a tomahawk, and in her mad fury attacked the volunteers, who drew their side arms and kept her off literally at the point of tbe bayonet. A Maori on horseback with an axe in his hand came to her as sistance, and was kept off also with sticks and anything that came to hand till their fury had somewhat abated." All these complaints should be fully enquired into, and the offenders punished not only by dismissal from the force, but by the imposition, if possible of substantial fines, and wo shall be much surprised if Mr Fergus does not see to it that this is the case. But meantime it may not unnaturally be asked what is the reason that this sort of things occurs more frequently at Auckland than in other Volunteer districts. We have heard no complaints in connection with the encampment in Canterbury, on the West Coast, at Nelson or in North Otago — why this unenviable exception in the case of Auckland where, it will bo remembered, very much the same sort of thing occurred not very long ago on the occasion of the opening of the Calliope (Jock. Is there a laxity of discipline on the part of the Auckland staff we wonder? That is a point which should be looked into,for it may bo that there is some fault at head-quarters as well as among the rank and file. ■ -«
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