Evening Post. WEDNESDAY. DECEMBER 14. 1881. "SWEEPS" AND FAN TAN.
Onlt a few short weeks ago the Parliament, the Government, and the Police, were seized with a holy zeal against the heinous offence of appealing to the Goddesß of Chance in any Bhape or form. Accordingly that Draconian, but ludicrously inconsistent measure, the Gaming and Lotteries Bill, was brought in by the Ministry, passed in hot haste by the Legislature, and immediately after it became law the police, with the activity which always distinguishes them, proceed to enforce its highly penal, if not olearly understood provisions. It so happened that in Taranaki-street thare was a house, where abandoned Chinese marketgardeners were wont to congregate and play the nefarious game of "fan-tan" — a pastime so fraught with peril and with extravagance, that, to use the words of the Scotchman in the familiar anecdote, it is almost impossible" to play it for twenty-four honrs or so, before " bang gaes saxpence." Here, clearly, was a case of wild excess nnder the Act, which must be put down at all hazards. The infamous den was accordingly surrounded in the dead of night by a cordon of police, the wicked Chinese were pounced upon, clapped into irons and inarched off to ' the police station, -anfcJKe~.atu£§ridouß stftrf of MS 16s; ¦com4>ri«isgr all. that was fonnd in the "bank" and the pockets of the dozen or so Chinese playing and looking on at the game, was promptly impounded. The depraved, but UDhappy Celestials, having been lodged in durance vile, were kept there for three days before their trial. It was urged, of oon**e, that the game wasn't of such a very desperate character after all, and that the Act had been passed so short a time that even Europeans were not acquainted with its provisions, and the Chinese might therefore reasonably be supposed to be ignorant of them. Justice on this occasion was severe and unflinching. The Legislature, althon^h not knowing exactly what it was, had decided that to play fan-tan was a crime of no light character, and the Magistrate indicated his approval of this view, by fining one of the delinquents J3lO and costs, and four oth°rs .£5 each and costs, or in default one month and 14 days' imprisonment respectively. The majesty of the law having thus been vindicated, the police looked for ftesh worlds to conquer, in order to demonstrate its impartiality. The Hutt Races, on the 30th November, seemed to afford a favourable opportunity. Accordingly on the morning of that day, a strong body of constables in uniform and deteotives in plain clothes went out to the course, breathing fire and slaughter against all and sundry bringing themselves within the four corners of that fearful and wonderful measure, whioh Parliament in its wisdom had passed the previous session. Above all, the pnblic were e< pecially given to understand that the police would be more particularly vigilant in the suppression of "sweeps," and the punishment of those misguided persons taking part in them. Totalisators were in full swing on the course, it is true, and the public were merrily speculating their pounds, sometimes getting them back with interest, and sometimes losing them altogether. This, however, the Legislature had decided to be perfectly moral and proper, and so, of course, the vigilant policemen could only look blandly on, unless, indeed, they felt disposed to venture a sovereign or so themselves. Still their vigilance was not to be exerted in vain. Some hardened miscreant, lost to every sense of propriety and personal safety, in a rash hour dared to get up a half-orown "'sweep," other hardened and lost creatures joined him, and they were soon detected in their nefarious proceedings by the police. Of course the terrors of the law were at once launched on their devoted heads. They were not handcuffed, it is true; and they were not even taken off to the police-station, but their names were recorded in that book of fate whioh the active and intelligent policeman invariably carries in his breastpocket, Manifestly it wouldn't do to take the same liberties with a free-born Briton as you might with a Chinese market-gardener. We believe that one detective had the temerity to look over the shoulder of a gentleman supposed to be engaged in a "sweep," but tkis was so energetically resented on the part of the supposed "criminal" that the officer never approached within a radius of six yards of the offender afterwards However, the detective went on busily making up his "' little book." That volume, it soon appeared, was destined to contain names more distinguished than probably the police authorities ever bargained for. No less a personage than the Speaker of the Legislative Council had the audacity to declare his disbelief that it was ever intended to enforce such a tyrannical interference with the liberty of the snbjecb, and in order to test the question, Sir William Fitzherbert, for the first time in his life, went in for a " sweep," and it is oredibly reported won .£2O. In this proceeding, he was joined by aaother equally public-spirited and equally indignant member of the Upper House Ihese gentlemen, of course, knew what tho provisions of the Act were, being members of the Legislature which passed them. Judging from the amount involved, the '" sweep " seems to have been even more nefarious than the now celebrated game of fan-tan, seeing that the winner carried off more than was found in the possession of all the Chinese arrested on that memorable occasion. However, the Legislative Councillors were not handcuffed, $nd were not marched off to prison. And ©•hat is more, nothing has been heaid of the matter from that day to this, except a rumour that the prosecution is to be dropped. The police, it is fair to E*y, appear to have done their part, but the qnestion, we are told, has been referred to the Crown Law Officer. Of course, those learned officials were not referred to when the Chinese were pounced down npon. And yet the law in the one case seems every bit as clear aa in the other. The Act declares fan-tan to be illegal. It also saya sweeps are illegal. Clause 19 provides that "' every scheme of the nature commonly known as a sweepstake shall be deemed to be a lottery within the meaning of this Act," " and claua3 13 provides that any person who shall " establish, commence, or be a partner in any lott'iy," '' or have any interest in such lottery," shall for every suoh oyeuce forfeit and pay any sum not exceeding £200. Why a|l this coolness and coyness on the pait of the authorities, tdfar bo
much energy and rigour was showa in the case of the unfortunate Ccinase? The "offenders" themselves, we believe, are willing, and even anxious that the matter should be fought out. It is commonly stated that so active were the detectives on the race-day, that they actually took the names of some ladies of high social position, because there was reason to suspect thvt they too had fallen from their high estate, and were engaged in the forbidden pastime Why weren't their names also submitted to the Crown Law officers, so as to make the farce complate? Was it because the police thought there was a pitch of absurdity beyond which it was not advisable to go in the case of this precious Gaming and Lotteries Act? Let the play go on; let ua have all " offenders " proceeded against with the'utmost rigour of the law ; and let all the ludicrous absnrdities and inconsistencies of this ridiculous piece of legislation be thoroughly exposed, so that Parliament shall be forced, | out of very shame, to make the amendment of this Act one of the first items of business it undertakes on reassembling for next session. As the matter rests at present, we certainly lie under the reproach of haviDg one law for the rich and influential and another for the poor and unprotected ; to say nothing of the stigma cf having on our statute-books one of the crudest piec«3 of legislative folly ever passed by any Parliament in its most haphazard moments.
It will be seen by oar telegrams that the San Francisco mail arrived in Auckland at 6.15 thiß morning. Ihe Hawea leaves Onehunga this afternoon with the Southern portion, but as she calls at Taranaki, Nelson, and Picton, on the way down, it will not reach here before Friday next, about noon. A deputation, consisting of tho Hon. P. A. Buckley, M.L.C., Mr Mason, M.H.R., Mr. Speedy, Chairman of the Hutfc County Council, Messr3. Wm. Fitzherbert, Jones, Orr, Seager, Jackson, and Booth (Wairarapa), waited upon the Premier to-day with reference to the recent alterations in the railway timetable. The Hutt portion of the deputation urged upon the Minister the necessity of reverting as nearly aa possible to the previous time-table, is the present arrangements were inconvenient. Mr. Booth, on behalf of the Wairarapa people, pointed out that the hour at which the late train for the Wairarapa started did not satisfy the rpsidents in the district, wherea3 the former starting hour suited admirably. The Hon. P. Buckley pointed out the advisableness of obtaining for the Lower Hutfc traflio tram cars and engines, similar to those in use in the city. He understood from thosa competent to judge — and indeed Mr. Ashcroft was of the opinion— that suitable railway Btock could be constructed at the sheds for .£7OO. This would be a more satisfactory way of carrying on the ordinary traffic, leaving the heavier stock, of course, for heavy freights and traffic. The Premier said the change had been made en the score of economy. Mr. Buckley replied that owing to the alterations of the time-table there was a great deal more traffic along the Hutt road, and the toll showed an increase of JEIOO this year over the receipts of last year. Mr. Seager (of Silver stream) said several busrgies had recently been purchased by residents in this district owing to the changes made in the time-table, whioh had caused great inconvenience. The Premier promised to consider the matter, and the deputation withdrew. Mr. Maxwell was present at the interview. The steamer Wanaka, whioh arrives from the South this afternoon, brings up the Rotomahana'a Australian mails. A private meeting of the forpshore owners and the City Council took place yesterday, with a view of settling the claims of tho former for compensation in connection with the Te Aro Reclamation. We understand that the Council proposed that the foreshore owners, by way of compensation, should receive sectiqns on the reclamation, themselves paying part of the cost of reclaiming the land. With this view,-. the Corporation proposed to lay off a road on the reclamation, so as to give the foreshore owners frontages thereon, with an average depth of about 50 feat to their present frontages. Towards the cost of reclaiming, they proposed that the owners should pay sums varying according to the positions of their sections, varying from £12 to £20 per foot frontage on the new road. There was a long di-'cussion on this proposal and considerabe difference of opinion expressed. Eventually the owners were left by the Council to discuss the matter among themselves, and we understand that a number of them representing 800 feet of frontage, out of those interested to the extent of 1890 feet, agreed to accept the terms of the Council providing the latter would reduce the amount to be paid by the foro=hore-ewners by 30 per cent. There are other proprietors of foreshore, not present at the meeting, who, it is believed, will also consent to this arrangement, making up a majority of the foreshore-owners interested. The matter it is understood, will again come before the Council on Thursday night, when the proposals of the foreshore-owners will be definitely submitted. The Returning Officer for Wairarapa South aaadn his official return on Monday, when the total figures were as follows :—: — Buchanan, 436 ; Bunny, 370 ; Boys, 133. Majority for Mr. Buchanan, 66. Mr. Buchanan . thanked the electors for the honour thny had conferred upon him, and trusted that his actions would give them no cause to regret the trnst they had reposed in him Mr Bunny, who was recived with cheers, stated that he stood before them second on the poll. Fe had represented them for the last 15 year?, and had sat in five Parliaments, contesting his feat on each occasion, and had never before been beaten. He had always done his best for the district, and he believed had he been allowed to fight out the battle with Mr. Buchanan alone he would have again been victorious. However, if he could promote tho interests of the district., or assist hi« late constituents in any way, he would still be found ready and wiflin? to do so. He ooncluded by thanking all those who had voted for him. (Cheers.) Mr. Boys also returned thanks to those electors who supported him. Another old settler, Mr. Wil iatn H. Jones, has just passed away, at the ripe age of 86. He arrived in the colony by the William Alford, in 1848, as Barrack-Sereeant, having served 29 years in the British Array, under George 111., George IV., and William IV. He died in Wellington this morning. The ordinary weekly meeting of the committee of the Benevolent Institution was held yesterday afternoon, when there were present — Messrs. Hoidswarfch, the Revs. W. Kirk, Redstone, Van Staveren, and Kerrigan, Mr J. E. Smith, and the Relieving Officer The case of Mrs. Barrett, referred to in another column, was brought before the committee by Mr. Johnson, and several applications for aid were dealt with, but thete was nothing further of special interest. The receipt of £1Q from an anonymous donor signing only the initials "L.M.," was gratefnlly acknowledged, as was also a donation of £5 from Bishop Redwood. This was all the business, and the committee adjourned. At the Resident Magistrate's Court this morning before Mr. E. Hardoa?tle, a younsr man named Geo. Thos. Skinner was brought up on three charges, viz., forging a cheque on the Bank of New Zealand for £1 ss ; uttering the same knowing it to be forged : and stealing a horse and saddle, the pro perty of Father Yardin. In each caso prisoner was reminded till Friday, bail being allowed, accused in JG2OO and two sureties of .£IOO each. At the Theatre Royal last night the play, " It's Never Too Late to Mend," was agam repeated, and wi'l bo once more performed this evening. A meeting of the creditors of Thomas Lowes, late hotelkeeper at Masterton, was held at the Supreme Court Buildings yesterday. The liabilities were stated at J5753, and assets .£315. Mr. W. Sellar, of Masterton, was appointed trustee. A little child, the son of Mr. Liardet, fishmonger, of l.ambton Quay, met with a painful accident on Monday, from the effects of which it died yesterday. It appears that the child caught hold of a pot of boiling fruit which was on the fire.and spilled the contents over itself. The parents at once took tho little sufferer to Dr. Diver, who dressed the burns, and attended it assiduously till ita death. An amusing lii-tle incident occurred in connection with the recent elections in this city. A man want into one of the polling booths and asked for a paper. The Returning Officer asked his name, in order, of course, to see if he was oh the roll, but the would-be voter told the officer to mind his own business. " I must know your name," •aid the X.0., "before you can vote." "What bnsiness is it of yonrs to ask my name ?" angrily retorted the other. '.' That's what you call the Becreoy of the ballot, I suppose ?' ' The Returning Officer explained that it was necessary to know the name of eaoh voter to see if his name was on the roll, but again the irate gentleman told him it was like his impertinence to ask such a question, and he bounced out of the booth, Eaying he'd be hanged if he would vote at all, And he didn't. A very kind offer hag been made by the artillery Band, through their bandmaster, Mr. G. J. Gray, to play every alternate Satnrday in the grounds of the Lunatic Asylum, for the pleasure and amusement of the patients. Dr. King, the medical superintendent of the institution, has gratefully accepted the boon, and arrangements are being made to carry ont the proposal forthwith. We have no doubt that the performances will not only give infinite pleasure to the untortun&te inmates of the Asylum, but will be the means of attracting other visitors on the days that they are appointed to take place. Could not the other bands with advantage follow so excellent and charitable an example ?
Mr. Milk has received a telegram announcing the arrival of his yacht Xariffa at Akaroa yesterday afternoon. On account of the death of Seaman Ellson, referred to in another column, there will be no parade of the Wellington Naval Brigade this evening. Membera are notified to this effect in our advertising columns. The receipt of some copies of the Home News, sent from Government House for tha use of the patients, and a quantity of linen from Mrs. Cooper, i 3 acknowledged by tha Hospital Steward. Another entertainment was given by the young ladies of St. Mary's High School last evening, and was even more successful than that on the previous night. The play performed was '* Tyborne, and who went there in the days of Queen Elizabeth '' The acting was admirable, and the scenery elicited the warmest praise. The following young ladiea took characters in the drama :—Misßea Reevea, Scully, M. Grace, Worthington, Grace, Redwood, M'Donald, Mary .Redwood, M'Donald, J. Worthington, A. Worthington, Hamerton, Gardner, Haaell, A. Hasell, A. Saunders, O. Redwood, N. Redword, and M. Brown. A German recitation was given by Miss Scully, and some admirable muEic was contributed during the evening by the Misses. Gardner, Hamerton, Chavannes, boully, Hare, Reeves, and other young ladies. 1 he breaking up for the Christmas holidays of the lady pupils at the Terrace School will be celebrated by them by a seriea of entertainments consisting of charadas and vocal and instrumental music. The firat performance takes place to-morrow. Measrs. Dwan & Co. will sell to-morrow, tea, clothing, crookeryware, &c. The travelling public and othera should note the -ile to-morrow, at 2.30 p m., by Messrs. T. ii. .:uedy Macdonald and Co., of trunks, portmanteaux, and travelling bajrs, of all descriptions. From the catalogue issued, it will be seen that there are several novelties in that line of goods.
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Evening Post. WEDNESDAY. DECEMBER 14. 1881. "SWEEPS" AND FAN TAN., Evening Post, Volume XXII, Issue 140, 14 December 1881
Evening Post. WEDNESDAY. DECEMBER 14. 1881. "SWEEPS" AND FAN TAN. Evening Post, Volume XXII, Issue 140, 14 December 1881
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