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Typo: A Monthly Newspaper and Literary Review, Volume 4

[trade dispatches]

This is a somewhat grim item: « There is an increasing demand in England for human skin leather, and it is becoming quite common for poor people to make ante mortem sales of their hides to certain well known tanners. The skins of beer drinkers are said to be in highest demand as being softer and more pliable than those of spirit drinkers. » The value of a water-drinker's skin is not stated, and is probably unknown, as such « hides » are not in the market. It is only the craving for a « skinful » that can induce a man to mortgage his skin.

The Mataura Ensign writes:—In connexion with the Early History Court at the Exhibition, Dr Hocken of Dunedin furnished many interesting particulars. We have only space to pick out a couple of items of local interest. We learn in the first place that Mr Culling, of the Mataura Paper Mills, was engaged on the staff of the Lyttelton Times shortly after the paper was started. Few people in the district were hitherto aware of the fact that our neighbor, whose enterprise we admire, was a printer, and a very old hand at that. Also we see among the curiosities, is a copy of the Nokomai Herald of June 1, 1872. The heading and the imprint of this was the only portion that was not laborously penned. « Yet, » says the reviewer, « the Herald must have had a good circulation among the mining population of the place, for there are numerous advertisements, principally of hotels and accommodation houses. » It is a singular fact that the other copy of a manuscript journal comes from Melbourne, whence, to quote the reviewer once more, « mighty journals are now issued, » whilst « there is no paper in Nokomai. » We fear that the Ensign must be held responsible for this latter fact.

We are glad to see that Messrs Stone have been successful in their action to recover the £10 of which they had been plundered by the Customs Department. Every importer in the colony is being robbed in like manner, and in most cases the amount involved not being very great on any one invoice, the wrong is submitted to in all meekness, and the tradesman at the dictation of an officer makes out a false post entry— « stationery n.o.e. 15% should have been stationery manufactured, 25%, » and pays the difference. He does this to save trouble. But he is thenceforth blacklisted as a fraudulent importer. The resistance to the latest form of Customs robbery should not be left to private firms, but should be organized. It is a fact that though respectable houses have had whole consignments confiscated and sold at the instance of the « expert, » not one single case of fraud on the part of an importer has been proved. The Government have pilfered on a petty scale in the name of duty, and have plundered on a large; but they have not yet ventured to take a single case into the courts. Where the importers have plucked up courage to do so, they have been successful.

An action for libel of a most vexatious and unusual character has been brought against the Wanganui Herald. In a civil action pending in the Supreme Court, Wanganui, Corrie v. Thompson, it published the statement of claim in full. It seems that by some antiquated usage of the Court a plaintiff's statement is a private document (!), and the newspaper, on being threatened with an action for libel, apologized; notwithstanding which Mr John Maitland Thompson, of Auckland, has brought the action, laying a claim for damages. There is a rule of Court that a case must be tried at the Court nearest the defendant's place of residence, by which, in the ordinary course, the action would come off in Wanganui. But it seems that nothing is easier than to evade a Supreme Court rule. On the pretext that copies of the Wanganui Herald had been circulated in Auckland, the Supreme Court has accepted the fiction that Auckland was the place of publication, and the trial is fixed for Auckland, to the extreme disadvantage of the newspaper concerned. Even if the paltry action is dismissed with costs, the Wanganui Herald will have been put to great loss and inconvenience. We shall look with great interest for the result of the action.

Concerning the Wairarapa libel « Puff » writes in the Press:— « There was sport in the Supreme Court yesterday, but all the game fell to the lawyers. The Star pays a farthing damages and Heaven knows how much in costs! And Chamberlains the millers receive the farthing and also empty their hoppers into the devil's brigade coffers, and now its all over both parties wonder how they could be so foolish as to start it! Well the lesson may be worth the money to both parties! » —On a still more recent case, the same writer comments as follows: « That's a queer business, that libel action against the Reefton Guardian by the R.M. Bird! That's a case which the Minister of Justice should inquire into. Don't do for a man in his position to throw up the sponge. Certainly not, when he's gone in for a criminal prosecution. What could be the reason of his dropping it? Well, you see that the prevailing impression is that he conceived a dislike for the process of cross-examination! Plenty people don't like that! No doubt, but then plenty people may do as they please but an R. M. is a public official who can't do quite what he likes, and who is responsible to the Department of Justice. The Reefton Guardian seems to have spoken out pretty plainly! And apparently has discharged a public duty; at any rate the Minister of Justice ought to demand an explanation! These R.M. Courts, especially in the more out of the way districts, need careful watching. And the Minister ought to exercise the greatest care in the selection of Resident Magistrates. »