Wk* Ifefafomje §tmmx.
Wednesday, May 10, 18T«.
The Navigation Laws used to be called thc magna chinta of British commerce. Originally imposed by tho great Protector in order to ruin Dutch commerce, they perpetuated the game of beggar-my ncighbor until they were shattered by the victories of free-trade. Thirty years ago tile British mercantile marine was by no means in a flourishing condition. It had been freed from thc old protective system, and to that extent it had gained,
but tlio standard of education aud of morals amongst British' sidling masters and mates was miserably low. They were often very, ignorant,' and they were generally great .drunkards. They were not fitted, therefore, to. do the work which was required of them by the British merchant. Tile old school. who had lived under thc Navigation Laws sneered, no doubt, at thc new-fangled notions of modem days, and Mr. Lindsay has lately told us a story of a shipmaster of thoso times who refused to have an
educated man in command of any of his vessels, because education, as ho said, only taught him to furnish false accounts. But the competition with tho better educated foreigner which tho re- peal of the Navigation ? Laws sanc- tioned, rendered it necessary that tho British seaman should be at aiiyrate as
well qualified as thc foreigner, and this he now is, thanks to thc Board of Trade and to the efficient tests required as to his fitness for the responsibilities of his pro- fession. A vast improvement has been effected in this respect during thc last quarter of a century. Still there is plenty of room for improvement, as lias been amply proved by Mr. Plimsoll, and two of tho most important measures which aro this session being discussed by tlie House of Commons are those connected with merchant shipping. Already a good deal has been done in the way of exposing to public obloquy thc persistent way in which a certain class of shipowners sent unseaworthy ships to sea. They thus endangered, and often sacrificed, the lives of seamen and passengers to gratify their own cupidity, aud to reap the profits arising out of over-insurance. lu conse- quence, however, of the publicity given to these tricks of the trade, there has'been a marked improvement in the ship register. A good many of the rotten old tubs have found their wa)' into the hands of the ship knackers, and have been broken up in the ordinary way. To such an extent has this been done that the moro respect- able shipowners were desirous that the question of marino insurance should bc
left as a matter of honor with the insurer?
satisfied that the shipowner and tho insurance offices could best arrange their own affairs to their own satisfaction. But
the question is not ono merely of value as affecting property. There arc third par- ties concerned?tho passengers and thc crew. Their lives, and the values attached to them, have to bo considered, and there- fore it has been decided to bring in a bill defining the responsibilities of the ship-
It is now proposed to make the ship- owner responsible not only for tho goods but for thc lives of the passengers, in. the samo way that a railway company is responsible for damages to goods or pas- sengers in respect of all accidents caused by the fault or the negligence of its ser- vants. The clause defining this liability
runs thus :?
lu every contract made after the commence- ment of this Act for tho carriage of goods or persons by sea there shall, by virtue of this Act, ba implied a warranty by the shipowner, char- terer, or other person contracting, that the ship is seaworthy nt the commencement of the voyage to bo performed under the contract. Any con- tract or part or term of a contract made after thu commencement of this Act contrary to or incon- sistent with that warranty ahull, as far as it is so contrary or inconsistent, be void to all
Moreover tho now legislation seeks to provide against the evils of over-insurance in tlie following way :?
Where in an action on a contract of insurance
on ship or freight mado after tlie'commence- ment of this Act by a valued policy, it appcara to the Court at any stage of the n'etion, whether application in thia behalf is rondo by the defen- dant or not, that there is ground to believe that tho valuation is'unreasonably in excess of tho real value of tho subject-matter of insurance, tho Court may, if it thinks fit, direct an enquiry before referees on such terms and conditions respecting costs and othor matters as to tho Court seem just, to .ascertain what would liavo been tho value of theintorcst pf the insured if tho policy had been au opou one. If, on the report of the referees, it appears to tho Court that the valuation is unreasonably in excess of tho real value of the subject-matter of insurance, then the insured shall not be entitled to recover in tho action more than tho vnlue as ascertained by tho referees.
So that if the Court has reason to sup- pose that tho valuation policy has been abused, then it sets it aside and throws tho insurance policy into the natural position of an open policj'. Also as to tho insurance of the freight, the earnings of tho ship, the following provision is proposed:?
Where there is nn insurance on freight effected after tho commencement of this Act, tho insured shall not bo entitled to recover in re-
spect of any freight lost without allowing for tho proportion of expenses remaining at the tinio of the loss to be incurred iii earning such freight.
Thei amount to bo so allowed shall be ascertained, or estimated ns tho Court iii any action on the
contract directs. ¦ " >
It has been assorted that, if thc law eventually take this shape, litigation will be increased, but on the other hand it appears that tho, bill would only put marine assurance- on tho same, footing ns fire and lifo insurance, in which legal cases very seldom arise out of valuation. .Theso are ¦ the. leading, features of the
Maritime Contract Bill.
, As.to the other, the Merchant Shipping !Bill, thc Government do not propose'to deal with the whole question. They have not attempted the consolidation of, thc 'Merchant Shipping Acts. They have merely drafted an Amendment Bill dealing with tho following points :?First of all, itho' owner or master of a ship is to be isubjectto'a" prosecution foi- misdemeanor' if ho take a ship'to. sea in an unsea- worthy condition. Tho bill proposes also to give the seaman a .civii,-remedy for injury received in consequence of unseaworthiness. It also confirms the load-lino clause of last year, and it authorises tho appointment of three Wreck Commissioners, who are, with the least possible delay, to enquire into the particulars of each wreck. These clauses arc penal and precautionary; but not less important than these ore two clauses which refer to the establishment of training ships for boys at all tho prin- cipal ports. What education has done for tho masters and mates of tho British mercantile marino, raising them as it lias done through thc requirements of tlie Board of Trade from thc lowest to. the highest rank bf seaniauship,. that edur cation must do for the men. Among them there is still a great mixture of ignorance and lawlessness, which may go far towards making a seaworthy ship unseaworthy in cases of difficulty/ The mercantile marine of Great Britain is estimated to represent a value of £100,000,000, and if only the sailors employed in this carrying trade could be raised to a standard of fitness equivalent to that which has of late years been reached in tho higher grades of the pro- fession, the success attending upon such a result would be more marked than any which can arise out of legislation. Sir CiiAULiiS Adderley, when he dwelt upon this part of his bill, and expressed a hope that thc House would consent to graiits in-aid for the establishment of training ships ¦ in all parts of the kingdom, no doubt touched tho root of tlie whole matter?tho training of tho future sailor, the preservation of his health, and the inducements offered to him to lead a less
reckless life, than that which now too often characterises him. These considera- tions aro notof less importance than the responsibility of the shipowner.
Another dismal death from thirst, caused by taking tho "wrong track," is described by our Tambo correspondent in this issue, and servos to remind us that some years ago The Dalby'Herald, writing concerning the difficulties and dangers of travelling ii) the bush, especi- ally in seasons of drought, made a very humane and sensible suggestion. It was, that where roads in the thinly-settled dis- tricts diverged there should bo erected on posts, or affixed to trees, a brief, simple intimation to travellers which would pre- vent their straying on to the wrong track. Tho suggestion was reproduced at tho time, and favorably noticed by ourselves and other journals, but like many other suggestions of a useful diameter which emanate from the Press, failed to , receive that attention from thc " powers that be " which its merits deserved. We are glad to perceive, however, that in the Wide Bay district directions have. been given that pieces of tin, painted black with white lettering, shall bc nailed on trees whore roads diverge, so that travellers shall have their route plainly indicated. These signs, tho Chronicle states, arc now being painted; so we presume that, at least in the district under Mr. Bragg's super- vision, this very desirable work will be carried out at once. It is to be hoped that it is but tho commencement of a system which will be extended throughout the colony, and which Ave feel satisfied will not only bc a great public conveni- ence but actually bo the means of pre- venting tho loss of many lives. We think it possible that these marked places might, in bad seasons, be further utilised if travellers in thc bush could bc induced to
leave at such places a brief word of advice or warning to others as to the state of the road they had traversed, the distance at which water would be found, or other hints of a like nature. Many of course would be too selfish or stupid to take the trouble to do this, but wc hope that there are not a fow who would bo only too glad of such an opportunity of assisting way- farers like themselves in thus beaconing the road through the wilderness. By-and-by
it would become so usual to do that that
it would bo regarded as much a matter of duty as it is by seamen to note aud publish the existence of a sunken rock or dangerous reef until then unmarked on the recognised ocean charts.?Queens-
'Tim Annual Ploughing Match of tho East Moreton Agricultural and Horticultural Associa- tion will take place nt tho Rocky Waterholes to- day.
Owners of horses nominated for the Queens land Turf Club Handicap and Brisbane Cup aro reminded, that acceptances must be forwarded to the secretary by four o'clock p.m. this diiy.
Tue licensing meeting appointed for yester- day at twelvo o'clock was adjourned till tlie samo hour this morning, as the AYater Felice Court wassitting.
The tkeatro was fairly attended laBt night.
Tho programme included tho ".Momentous, Question," Nntator's .performances, and. some low comedy business, nil of which will bo re- produced this evening.
The attention of persons interested is again directed to tho Commanding Officer's Parado of Nos. 1 niul 3 Companies Queensland Volunteor Hiilea, which is to take place at half-past seven o'clock this evening. Tho Volunteer Engineer Company will drill to-morrow evening, at tho
. Jill. G. T. Rieck, who has lately returned to : Brisbane from Byerstown, informs usthatheisso well satisfied with tho general aspect of affairs and ¦ tho value of the reefs on the Hodgkinson Uiver, that ho has resolved to proceed to Melbourne for the 'purpose- of obtaining tho necessary quartz-crushing machinery, in order to
have tho value of the district duly tested. Ho; informs us there can bo no possible doubt as to the correctness of Mr. Mulligan's report. The Hodgkinson is of no value hs an alluvial ground, but for those who can afford to wait there is a prosperous future in reserve.
At a meeting of the newly-formed football
club at Petrie-terrace, held yesterday evening, it was decided to call the club the "Bonnet Rouge Football Club;" the uniform to be a red cap, of any shape whatever. The Rugby Union Foot- ball Rules were finally adopted, as it was under- stood that these had been decided upon by other
Brisbane clubs.- Five practice captains and six new members, were elected. This club is evi- dently determined to make its way in the world, as the members intend to turn out next Saturday a la Engineering Corps and improve the ground near the Orphanage, where they intend to prac- tise and win many a match in the future; but,
so far from having any feelings of exclusiveness, the club almost expect the assistance of members of other clubs in their work.
Fixe weather is still being experienced in Brisbane, nud, with one or two exceptions, tho same appears to be truo of every other part of the colony as far as tho telegraph-wire reaches. The principal exceptions are,Toowoomba and Stanthorpe, nt each of which places there was a slight rainfall during tho twenty-four hours ending nine a.m. yesterday. Several other sta- tions to tho southward report an overcast sky. Our Charleville correspondent states that be- tween tho mornings of Thursday and Monday last two inches of rain were registered at that place. Tho grass, ho says, is looking well, and the rain has extended down the Warrego as far
as Cunnamulla. Tho weather is now fine iii that district, with cold nights. At Tambo tho rainfall sinco Thursday last was 1'4 inch, but the weather is now '¦ cold 'mid clear. No rain, however, has fallen.ou the Bulloo Uiver below Ardorc. (?) ' " ', , '.".
Oun Nanango correspondent writes :?"Last week tho telegraph party finished putting up tho' poles this far, and tho wiro is expected to bo stretched in about three weeks' time. It is
understood that a 'temporary" office" is to boori gaged at tho Star Hotel until tho telegraph oflico .?for which tenders have been called?is erected, and so telegraphic communication with tho outer world will bo completed. Crushing operations nt the Nanango Quartz Reefing Company's mill have been suspended for tho present, principally for waut of water. At a meeting of the share-" holders, held some short time ago, at tho Star Hotel, it was decided to make a further call of £2 and sink to the west of present workings for 200 feet, in the hope of finding a larger supply of payable stone. Two large mobs of cattl» from the Logan passed through yesterday and to-day, travelling north. Grass and water plentifu, ¦ throughout the district."