The more things change ...
THEY were squabbling about public funds a long time ago. A court report comes this way from The Mercury of December 1858, headed: "State Prosecution for Slander."
"In the Supreme Court of Natal The Queen versus John Moreland, a member of the Legislative Council, before the Hon Justice Phillips.
"This trial excited an unusual degree of interest in the community being a prosecution instituted by Government in behalf of one of its officers against a member of the Legislative Council who has been one of the most uncompromising opponents of the Government.
"The following is the indictment (Abstract):
· That John Moreland, Government Surveyor, is guilty of the crime of maliciously committing an injury by writing, to the character of a public officer, Phillip Allen, Colonial Treasurer ... to insinuate that the said Phillip Allen had robbed the Treasury chest on 29th October 1853 (of some £800).
· (Generally) of speaking to the same slanderous effect.
"Mr Moreland was acquitted on the first charge. On the second, the point was reserved whether spoken slander could be prosecuted criminally and not civilly for damages.
"A majority of the Judges subsequently decided that the action was legally brought, and sentenced Mr Moreland to pay a fine of 20 shillings and to enter into his own recognances to keep the peace towards Mr Allen for twelve months."
We're not told what happened to the peace between Messrs Moreland and Allen when the 12 months was up.
The court report comes from the "Annals of old Natal" section of a special supplement to The Mercury of May 31, 1924, commemorating a century of colonial settlement. It is supplied by reader Reg Style, of Durban North, and is a mine of information about the early days.
The style of court reporting has changed since those times. But when you consider some of the e-mails that are doing the rounds today, alleging financial impropriety in public office, not that much has changed.
All the news
MORE from the Annals of old Natal:
· "Revival of the Town Council" (November 1858) - "The Town Council, after a long season of suspended animation, revived last evening."
· "Filibusters" (November 1858) - "Two Natal farmers are in prison at Ladysmith for having led an armed force of Amaswazis in an affray against the Zulus."
· "Legislative Squabbles" (December 1858) "On several occasions, this evening, the angry feeling developed among members rose to an alarming height. These unfortunate squabbles are now of nightly occurrence, and the Council threatens to become a repetition of the American Senate."
It was all happening, then as now. Today's Legislature gets pretty disputatious as well. I recall an army officer being prosecuted in the 1970s for serving as a mercenary with one of the factions at Msinga.
But should they really have revived the Durban Council in 1858, or allowed it to slumber on? It could have saved a lot of trouble.
Algebra to English
READER Eric Hodgson sends in a limerick with a difference. Written by Jon Saxton, an author of maths textbooks, it is first expressed algebraically:
((12 + 144 + 20 + (3 × 4 (1÷2))) ÷ 7) + (5 × 11) = 9² + 0
Then it's translated into English:
A dozen, a gross and a score
Plus three times the square root of four,
Divided by seven
Plus five times eleven
Equals nine squared and not a bit more.
This is fiendishly clever.
VAN DER MERWE has become addicted to brake fluid. But he says it's no real problem he can stop any time.
MORE useful statistics: six out of seven dwarves are not Happy.
AN ENGLISHMAN, an Irishman a Scotsman, a Welshman, a Latvian, a Turk, an Australian, a German, an American, an Egyptian, a Japanese, a Mexican, a Spaniard, a Russian, a Pole, a Lithuanian, a Swede, a Finn, an Israeli, a Romanian, a Bulgarian, a Serb, a Swiss, a Greek, a Singaporean, an Italian, a Norwegian and a South African go to a night club.
The doorman says: "Sorry, I can't let you in without a Thai."
Correct me if I'm wrong, but hasn't the fine line between sanity and madness gotten finer?