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NOTES.

At the Thames Police Court, quite recently, a Mrs Selina Williams was „ Justices’ charged before Messrs Haselden Just ice Again. and ft. T . Douglas, J.P.s, with assaulting an orphan who had been boarded out with her. The complainant, who was twelve years of age, was licensed out in April last from the local orphanage to defendant for a period of a little over a year, and she had not been long in the woman’s employment before she was subjected to a course of ill-treatment that, as far as the girl’s story could be corroborated, was brutal in the extreme. The child, in giving her evidence, declared that she had been beaten on the arms and body, and even scratched on the neck with a knife; and at last, finding the treatment unendurable, she had “ bolted,” and placed herself under the protection of the nearest policeman, who found her in a condition that necessitated her removal to the hospital. As between the parties, it was a question of oath against oath. Mrs Williams giving the I girl a bad character for disobedience and neglect, and denying point blank that ehe had punished her unduly. But she made a few admissions that did not help her story. She impressed the Bench that the girl would neither answer nor do anything she was told, wherefore her temper had been much tried, and she had found it necessary to exert a little wholesome correction, but (bless their M orships I) the chastisement was mildness itself t “ She merely chastised the girl as she would one of her own 1” But Dr Williams, the hospital surgeon, testified to a state of things that completely negatived the woman’s assertions. When brought to him “ the child’s back was literally covered with bruises. Her left atm was badly braised, as was the right arm, while her neck was scratched as with a sharp instrument. There were also blue marks on the front part of her body, and above the groin was a mark that had apparently been caused by a kick or blow.” The Bench are reported in the local paper to have said that “ the girl was a troublesome child. At first sight the punishment might appear severe, but some children required more punishment than 9 others. There was no evidence to show that the bruises were inflicted by Mrs Williams. The case would therefore be dismissed } and the defendant left the Court without a stain on bet_ character.” A more extraordinary decision we do not remember to have read for a very long time, and we are not surprised to hoar that it has evoked a strong feeling of indignation among the resident* of the district. The child swore positively, and her testimony was not shaken, that the state of her body was due to the punishment she received at the bands of the defendant, and the medical evidence showed that that punishment was unduly severe. But these sapient Justices have affirmed that that kind of chastisement is not more severe than some children—orphans, of course—ought to get when they are contumacious. The circumstances have been brought under the notice of the Minister of Justice, who at once commissioned Mr Northcroft, R.M., to inquire into them. If they be as alleged, Messrs Haselden and Douglas ought not to be allowed another opportunity of giving a judgment that is as much opposed to humanity as it seems to have been contrary to the proved facts.

In the course of the somewhat contradictory speech that His Worship the ef Hospital Ma y? r delivered at the special Management, meeting of the City Council on Thursday night last, when the new Hospitals and Charitable Aid Bill was under discussion, he committed himself to the statement that the Dunedin Hospital was much more efficiently and economically managed under the provincial -mjha« than under existing arrangements. As a rule, wheu Mr Oourley uses figures, he speaks by the card ; but on this occasion he seems to have given rein* to his fancy, because wo have failed completely, though wo have made careful search, to verify his figures. Wo report His Worship as having said that " in the old days the Dunedin Hospital, with considerably over 100 patients,required only about thirty-two of a staff, whilst to-day, with a lessened number of patients, the staff was between seventy and eighty all told.” Now, turning to the records, we find that during the last days of the provincial riqime, the close of the year 1876, the salary list of the hospital footed to a trifle over L2OB a month, to which had to be added the salaries of what may be termed outside bands - viz,, gardener, assistant night attendant, assistant laundress, and dispenser's assistant; and with these "extras” the salary list came to about L 240 a month. To-day the nominal salary list is much reduced. For May last, the last return available, it stood at L 173. There is no necessity to enter into many details, but for the sake of comparison we will give the cost of "establishment," i,'„ those who drew salaries at the dates we have mentioned

£238 U 0 £173 1 8 Under Dr Hulme’s regime the entire staff comprised 20 persons, including himself, a resident surgeon, and a dispenser (with an occasional assistant); while the nurses were—males 9 and females 3, besides the matron and midwife. This year the paid staff totals 32, as follows Surgeons, 2; secretary, 1j dispenser, 1; matron, 1; female nurses, 9; male do, 7 ; domestics, 5; cooks, 3; porters, 2 j gardener, 1. Of course the hospital, having of late years been thrown open to the medical profession, there is now a large honorary staff, and we imagine that His Worship inadvertently included them and the medical students in his computation. In 1876 the daily average number of resident patients was 167; in ISB6 the daily average was 122; last year it fell to 107, and now it is between 80 and 90, The causes of this steady decrease are twofold—the removal of chronic cases to the Benevolent Institution, and the rigid supervision to which all claims for admission are now subjected. We think we have shown that the Mayor’s statement is not supported by facts, but His Worship will to-morrow night have an opportunity of giving the public the calculations on which it was based.

A GRAND institution is a Royal Commission, and when one has been appointed About Royal to inquire into any trumpery Commissions, matter it is forthwith invested

with exceeding importance in the eyes of the public, fiat, really, a simple inquiry at half the expense, and divested of all importance supposed to belong to a Royal Commission, would be more beneficial, and certainly more economical. Perhaps Sir Robert Stout would call our view “parsimonious,” but however this may be we still think that the people are paying too much for the whistle of Royal Commissions. Here are a few samples of the cost of these luxuries:—A Commission to inquire into irregularities at the Dunedin Gaol from 1877 to 1883 cost the country L 70 0; to inquire into charges made against Dr Neill, as superintendent of the Seacliff Asylum, cost L 225 ; to inquire into the condition of Seacliff Asylum building cost L 743. So much for our end of the colony. What will the taxpayers say of the next items: “ To inquire into the condition of the unemployed at Christchurch, L 250”; “to inquire into the circumstances connected with the purchase of land from Robert Stark at the North Shore, Auckland, L 586 ”; “ to inquire into applications for the removal of restrictions on the alienation of Native lands, LI ,658.” Surely this last matter was a Ministerial duty, yet it was delegated to Mr George Eliott Barton at the above-mentioned cost. Then there is Sir William Fox; the total cost of a Commission conducted by him under the West Coast Settlement Act of 1880 being stated at L 20.439 ja Id, Mark the odd penny, which betokens the accuracy of the charges. The inquiry into Old Soldiers’ and Volunteers' Land Claims cost L 550, and the Commissioners who met in June, 1887, to partition out the colony into electoral districts under the new Act took L 685 17s 4d for their expenses]) They met at Wellington, some of them being Government officers in full receipt of salary, and others well paid pensioners. Colonel

Saultaln, Dr Hislop, and Mr Dobson took L 165 each for their services, and Messrs Sperrey (Property Tax Commissioner) and M'Kerrow (Surveyor-General) L7B 16s each. For what were these permanent officials paid ? They were all in receipt of pay, and one fails to understand why each or either of them should have been treated to an additional bonne ioucAe for performing such a simple duty.

In the now Representation Bill provision is made' for the allocation of A Crowning members to divisions of the Absurdity, proposed electoral districts. The clause reads thus: “ After providing for the division of each- district in a manner exactly similar to the divisions now existent, the election officer shall declare which of the elected candidates has had the largest number of votes counted for him out of the rotes cast in the said division;” and if the member so "allocated” dies or resigns, an election will he held for his division only, As we understand the Hare system, its object and Intention are to delocalise the representation and to get rid of parochial feeling. But this peculiar provision absolutely intensifies the existing evil ; and how such an error crept into the Bill is a matter of wonderment,

The general anticipation that the Parliamentary session would prove Parliament " ,a & far * ro ® small sign of suffering a pleasant disappointment. Fortunately, what is lacking in excitement is likely to hs compensated tor in brevity; and as brevity Is the soul of wit, so it may be taken to be the best apology for dulness. Apparently before the Address-in-Reply bad been voted, honorable members began to talk of breaking-up day. They know that the amount oi the honorarium does not depend upon the quantity of work done, or the number of words uttered. Far be it from us to venture the awful suggestion that such a system of representative remuneration should be established. Heaven forbid !. If members were to be paid by time or piecework Parliament would be sitting ail the year round, and all our stern retrenchment would be nullified, On tho whole, we are inclined to think that the opposite plan would proye the most beneficial—viz , that one pound sterling should be deducted from a member’s honorarium for, say, each speech delivered by him which extended over a quarter of an hour. “ Stonewalling ” wonld become a thing of the happy past; Parliamentary orating to constituents would be known of its place no more. But it would really seem as though this session no necessity exists for putting on the gag. The Premier has joyfully stated that the proposed imposition of the dreaded cloture may possibly be foregone in consideration of the Paradisaical harmony at present obtaining. The first member tending to alter this state of matters should certainly receive the unpleasant punishment designed by Sir Robert Stout for utterers of that hated word beginning (like Mr Kimbell’s syndicate peroration) with D.

Our representatives are even sufficiently wise and subdued to display a Ftshv. laudable disinclination to bother themselves about the unutterable Fisher ruction. The prevailing desire is evidently that the two chief pugilists of the House should fight the battle out by themselves, and, moreover, get it settled as soon as possible. In the New South Wales Legislature a “ finish ” would probably have been arrived at long before this by New South Wales methods. In Now Zealand we have an antiquated prejudice against the introduction of "manual” persuasion into political disputes; otherwise, no fitter question could be selected for settlement by the “ ring ” than the Fisher question, and no fitter champions conld be found than the erstwhile Major and the erstwhile Honorable George, Most of the points involved are altogether too petty and " fishy ” to merit serious mental discussion.

The present state of Parliamentary equanimity is well exemplified in Hr Fyke-** Mr Fyke, Daring reoent ‘XunoDlmUfli.’ sessions the member for the Dunstan bos been, Parliamentarily speaking, a troubled spirit, seeking rest and finding none. His misery, it appears, has not been caused by the mere natural disappointment at the frustration of his patriotic anxiety in regard to the Otago Central Railway ; he has been haunted by an inward and spiritual intimation. It baa been made known to him (perhaps "in thoughts from the visions of the night, when deep sleep falleth upon men ”) that be must not expect to put on immortality until he can carry with him to the other world (“ which ? ”) a “ passport,” in the shape of a solemn assnrance that the Otago Central is in a fair way to completion. Such knowledge was surely enough to render the naturally genial Vincent fretful and uncomfortable. For there were times, not so very long ago, when the prospects of the Otago Central looked decidedly gloomy, with the result that the Pykian prospects of the spirit-world must have looked sadly dubious. The legend of the Wandering, or rather Everlasting, Jew Ernst have pictured itself to Mr Fyke’s mind in unpleasantly realistio hues. Was he destined to live on as an everlasting Gentile among Sir George Grey’s unborn millions—to go in and out among people with no memories of the golden days—perchance to verify Sir Julius Vogel’s predictions re * Anno Domini 2,000 ’ ? Snob a possibility of “ sad experience ” would have shattered a less inherently buoyant temperament. Small wonder that Mr Pyke has labored unremittingly for the accomplishment of a work upon which such portentous issues depended. And now to him, as to the Ancient Mariner, relief has come.

Tbs albatross fell off and sank tike lead Into the sea. Mr Pyke sees the end fairly in view, and is prepared, in joyous thanksgiving, to raise the strains of his 'Nunc Dlmittis.’ We heartily congratulate him upon the lifting of the curse, but at the same time express the hope that it may yet be long before be really goes to the land once more open to his expectation,

It appears that the indefatigable members of the Dunedin sweating ComcmuititifF ttittee have failed to direct ‘ their attention to one branch

of occupation where the iniquitous system has long ruled rampant. In the current number of the ‘Otago High School Magazine ’—a bright and creditable production, but with too much football in it—we find the following Our special reporter interviewed some of the boys of the Otago High School to get their opinions of the sweating system at present carried on at the school.” The evidence of one victim is worth quoting : D. M'N—b deposed that he was Riven too many lessons. He spent his time thus: As soon as ever school was out he hied himself homewards, arriving there at 4.3 J. He immediately started his German ex., and finished it somewhere about 9.30 p.m, Although he took five hours at that ex. (no time for tea), he invariably did it all wrong. Allowed himself five minutes to get all the German clean out of his head before applying himself to the problem paper, which he finished at 11.55 p.m. Allowed him elf ten minutes to blow his nose—he always blew a good ten minutes, as he could not stop in his English exercise. Finished the English exeioiaeat4.l3a.m. "Lookedover”ffisEnglish grammar, history, geography, French accidence, French verbs, German verbs, German accidence, Euclid (Book 1., Props. 1—48), latintianslation and chemistry till 4.20 a. m. (a good record for five minutes). Next gave himself forty-five minutes to get all the above out of his head. At 5.5 0.m,, bed 1 At 5-6, asleep ! At 57, snoring ! At 9.7, snoring still I At 9.8, awake! At 99, dressed! At 9.10, breikfast! At 9.11, off! Till 9 45, on the way to school! At 9.46, school ! At 9.47, "This is the seventh time you have been late, MW—b.” At 9.48, O-a-r-r-d!!!

"C-a-r-r d” being a detention card. We commend the above to the Rev. Mr Waddell, Doubtless another public meeting will be called, and if Mr Waddell is bold enough to mention the Rector by name as the head and front of the offending, we herewith undertake to publish his words in full, and take the risk of a libel action.

1870 18S9. £ 8 d. £ 8. d. Medical sk; (f (6) 117 fl 8 83 1 8 Doorkeepers and gardener 13 6 8 14 10 8 Male warders (0) . •• ns is 8 44 3 4 Cooks (3).. 15 10 8 17 8 4 Matron _ 0 13 4 S 0 0 Female nurses (3) 11 5 0 24 1 8 Midwife .. . .» 4 0 8 Laundresses, etc. 14 3 4 16 0 0 Secretary 18 15 0

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Permanent link to this item

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Bibliographic details

NOTES., Evening Star, Issue 7954, 9 July 1889

Word Count
2,828

NOTES. Evening Star, Issue 7954, 9 July 1889

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