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The Sydney Morning Herald.



Speaking in the House of Commons upon the   motion for the adoption of the Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne, Sir William Har- court said he hoped that the Government would consider the demands of Ireland with regard to


He stated that in England the direct and in- direct taxation were about equal, while in Ireland the indirect taxation was equal to three-fourths of the total amount paid.

Sir William also stated that the treaty between England and America for a permanent tribunal of arbitration would place the goodwill of America on a permanent footing.

Mr. A. J. Balfour said he was sanguine   that the Powers would secure the reforms needed

in Turkey.

The debate was tame. The amendments of the Irish members with regard to the taxation of Ire-

land were withdrawn.

In the House of Lords the Address in Reply was adopted.

Mr. John Dillon, M.P., has been re-elected

leader of the Irish party, Mr. Timothy Healy, M.P., protesting.      

The force which is to leave the Niger coast, West Africa, early in February to occupy Benin, the scene of the recent massacre of a British ex- pedition, has been increased from 500 to 1400 men, with Captain Lawson in command.

With regard to the recent statement that the Czar of Russia was about to be subjected to an operation, it is officially announced that his Majesty is in the best of health.

Advices from Italy state that at Agordat, in the Soudan, 6500 Italians and natives are con- fronted by 12,000 Dervishes.

The Spanish gunboat Relampago, which was operating against the rebels in Cuba, has been blown up by torpedoes. Six of her crew perished, and many others were wounded. The survivors   were rescued by another Spanish gunboat.  

Thirty-five meetings antagonistic to Mr. Cecil   Rhodes have been held in various parts of Cape  


The first series of the London wool sales opened on Tuesday. The market was flat, and there was     an average decline in prices of 5 per cent.

By the capsize of a ferry boat in Monmouth- shire, England, 10 persons have, been drowned.  

Phillips, the young man charged with the   murder of Mr. Brady, accountant to Messrs.  

Cooper and Sons, Melbourne, has made a confes- sion of his guilt.

In it he states that while in the employ of the

same firm the deceased led him into vicious courses, which told upon his health, rendering him sub- ject to fits of depression, and then to sudden out- bursts of passion. He was tempted on several

occasions to rob the firm's till.

He left their employ in November, but re-   mained on the best of terms with the deceased. He bought a revolver for his brother, who was out prospecting, and carried it about with him.   Accused met the deceased the night previous  

to the murder.

They spoke about the shortage in the cash, and Brady said that the matter would have to be   settled some way or other, and it was arranged that they should meet the next night.

They did so, Phillips still carrying the revolver in his pocket. He stated that Brady became very   caustic and sneering, and told him hotly that if he did not get £20 he (Brady) would place the matter  

in the hands of the police.

His sneers drove Phillips to madness, and   drawing the revolver from his pocket he shot Brady through the head. Fears of detection

caused him to complete the crime by shooting his   victim the second time, and then cutting his


Mr. Holder, Acting-Premier of South Australia,   has stated that the terms of the Federal Enabling   Act precluded any trial of the Hare-Spence voting       system in connection with the Federal Convention


The Union Steamship Company of New Zea-

land has definitely refused to accede to the   demands of the Seamen's Union for higher wages. Other shipowners state that they are prepared to     follow the example of the Union Company. The necessary papers are being prepared requesting the mediation of the Arbitration and Conciliation Board of New Zealand.

The Stockton and other municipal councils in   the Newcastle district have decided to co-operate with the City Council in the formation of an asso-  

ciation to promote the Federal movement. Con-     siderable interest is being taken in the approach-   ing Convention elections.

In connection with the disappearance of the     miner Dresser from Gundagai, it has been ascer-

tained that on the 17th March last he drew £200 from the bank, and was then lost sight of. The     portrait of Butler has been identified as that of a  

man who was in the district at the time.

Business in investments in the Sydney Stock and     Share market yesterday was characterised by little of moment. Prices generally were maintained. A transaction in New South Wales Funded Stock   was effected at an advance of 2 ; and 5 per cent. debentures of the colony also brought ¾ over the last price paid.

In the Import market yesterday buoyancy was   confined to breadstuffs, and in the absence of transactions in other departments it is impossible   to report any change in prices.

At Darling Harbour yesterday 1162 bales of     wool were manifested ; 111 bales arrived coast- wise ; and 141 were received by rail at New-   castle on Tuesday.

In the Mining market yesterday Broken Hill     silver stocks, with the exception of the Proprie-   tary, showed a weaker tendency. Some local gold stocks wero better, but there was not such a good tone for Western Australian ventures.  

The Customs revenue received yesterday

amounted to £3070.

The Minister for Education, it is an- nounced, has approved of the proposal to   open the additions to the National Art   Gallery with an exhibition of loan pictures.   This is the most fitting way that could   be chosen to celebrate an occasion in-

teresting in itself and likely to have a considerable influence in the future on the artistic taste of this community. In detail, the proposal is to invite the fortunate owners of pictures in this and the other colonies, as well as of such other art treasures as may be in private possession in this part of the world, to lend them to the National Gallery for the occasion so that they may be placed on exhibition to the public. By this means it may be hoped that many examples of art which at present are reserved for the cultured delectation of the few may be     enjoyed for a time by all who take an interest in such things. There are   many men and women in these colonies   whose good taste, working in a quiet and unobtrusive way, has placed them in possession of good pictures, marbles, and other art objects. Some have been collected by the owners during their travels in other parts of the world, while some have been in the possession of families for many years. In the earlier days of the colony the public heard more of these collections, probably because there was no such thing as a national collection at that period. It is to the munificence of a collector in the person of Sir CHARLES NICHOLSON that our Uni- versity owes the beginning and indeed the greater part of its present Egyptological   and mediæval collections ; and here and   there were to be found at the houses of the well-to-do, pictures which the public might inspect on certain fixed days. The invitation of the Trustees of the National   Gallery offers an opportunity to those who may be in the mood to do so to imitate these examples, with the difference that objects intended for exhibition are to be entrusted to the care of the gallery, no doubt under proper guarantees for their safe keeping and due return.

At the present time a fair sprinkling of the pictures and other exhibits in our National Gallery have either been lent or

presented by private citizens, so that the trustees are making no startling innovation in inviting the public to take an active part as well as interest in the exhi-

bition which it is proposed to open in April next. The only thing in the nature of innovation is the very happy

inspiration to extend the invitation to all the colonies, so that wherever people may happen to live they may, if they choose, testify their sense of the catholicity of art by placing their treasures   at the service of the public. As to the event which is made the   occasion for this proposed exhibition, it is one which may properly be com- memorated, and in this way. It has been the noble ambition of this colony to make its Art Gallery the best of its kind in Aus- tralasia, and in the pictures and marbles it has brought together it has done something, it will be conceded, to make good that aspiration. The advances from the establishment in 1871 of the first nucleus of an Art Gallery in the old Academy of Art have been gradual, but they have progressed for the most part on the right lines. Our first International Exhibition in 1879 gave the next great impetus, and when   it closed opportunity was taken to con- stitute the National Art Gallery on its present basis. The subsequent step was the removal to the present brick building, and the next will be the opening of the handsome additions which, so far as they have gone, have completely metamor-

phosed one side of the original barn-like     main structure. The imposing freestone front now visible is something more worthy   of our national Temple of Art than any-

thing we have yet been able to boast of,   and it is therefore quite fitting that the occasion of its opening should be cele- brated in the way of which the Minister of Education has now approved.

The time has fortunately gone by when it is necessary to apologise for the ex- istence of a National Art Gallery in the mother city of the Australian colonies. There was a time, no doubt, when such a defence was desirable, and even in a mea- sure necessary. As we have pointed out in this connection before, the first duty of a pioneer community is not to cultívate a taste for the fine arts, but to cultivate the soil. People have to make the   country habitable before they think of the graces of life. Its necessaries and its comforts may fairly come first.

But when that stage is passed there comes   a period of leisure when the popula-

tion has time to devote its attention to other things. Our population is numerous enough now, and the social conditions of life in the Australasian colonies have solidified themselves suffi-

ciently to justify us in expending our

wealth and our leisure in the cultivation of those tastes of civilised life without which existence is, after all, but a barren sort of thing at the best. The graces of colour and form, the magic of music, the   pleasures of literature, and the charm of association between the thoughts and emotions of the daily lives we lead and   the expression they find through the medium of these things, are part of the realities of life no less than its more prac- ticcl and everyday concerns. Yet it is one   of the conditions of our existence in this far-removed part of the world, that we  

should be out of touch with

the effort the genius of humanity has been putting forth through   all the ages to express itself in art. The great European gallories are so far away that only a fraction of our population can ever hope to see them, and the atmo-     sphere produced by the sympathetic tastes and pursuits of men who for generations have followed Art for its own sake is something foreign to our Aus-

tralian air. These influences have to be

transplanted, and it is by opening such buildings as the one in the Sydney Do-

main that we enable this to be done and at the same time contribute our aid to

the process. We already possess a gallery of which many older cities might be proud, and as time goes on we may hope

to see the result of its influence on the

community, silently but powerfully exerting       its educational effect and inspiring a worthy     spirit of emulation. This part of the work may be left to time and the natural course of things, acting on that Australian tem-   perament in which observant critics have

not been slow to detect marked artistic

proclivities. For the rest, the experiment now to be tried, of inviting people in all the colonies to place their art   treasures at the disposal of the   public for inspection, may be ex-   pected to encourage an appreciation of art     and a more active desire to become pos-   sessed of examples. Such a result would have a beneficial effect on the local pic-   ture market, and in this way turn in- directly to the encouragement of the band of art workers now pursuing their hopeful   studies amongst us.

Last year the Imperial Government proposed a large programme of naval construction ; during the coming session it proposes to devote some money to a matter that is of no less importance—the establishment of coaling stations. There can hardly be any doubt that the English people are at last awake to the necessity of maintaining a powerful navy. If they cannot hold their own upon the sea, the conditions of their existence will be wholly changed. As this fact has been brought home to the minds of the people, it has occasionally led to propositions that can best be described as hysterical. Thus one news-

paper suggested that England should at   once spend fifty millions of money in building new ships, in order to show the French that with the military burdens they have to bear they could not possibly compete with her. It is not, however, a question of competition in expenditure. The issue of a war is not likely to depend merely on the fatness of   the national purse, or even upon the num- bers that can be pressed into the field ; it will be decided in the main by the relative efficiency of the forces. There must, of course, be expenditure, and there must be numbers ; but the main point is that the money should be well spent, that the men should be well disciplined, and that every precaution should be taken in the time of peace for the contingency of war. This is the rule that has dictated the utterances of the experts on naval matters, and their suggestions may roughly be put into four

sentences. They demand that the Eng- lish navy should at least be superior to the combined navies of any two other Powers ; that provision should be made for manning every vessel with a trained crew ; that such improvements should be made at Gibraltar and other stations as would enable ships to refit ; and that there should be coaling stations at all the prin- cipal strategic points. The first of these

demands has been answered by the

great increase in construction. To the second it is replied that there has never yet been any scarcity of men, and that there are reserves from    

which to draw. The Government now

proposes to take up the fourth question

and look after the coaling stations.

It hardly requires any argument to show how essential are coaling stations in naval warfare, or how much they add to the efficiency of the navy. The axiom amongst sailors is that the fleet, if its work

is to be effective, must take the offensive. A navy is an extremely mobile force which really defends its country by attacking the enemy. It cannot be laid up in harbours,

like the unfortunate Russian fleet in the Crimean war, or restrained to one part of the coast line. The battle of Trafalgar, as everyone is aware, was fought exactly in the right place for the defence of Great Britain, and in this regard history may repeat itself. But in these days steamers require special supplies in order that they may be able to keep the sea. And if the theory of naval tactics is to hold true, the sup- plies must be prepared for them. An army does not march far beyond its basis ; the wider work of the navy re- quires that there should be several bases. One illustration is enough. In

the event of war the Australian squadron, believing that any hostile cruiser which escaped them would be utterly unable to attack our fortified ports, might go to the far north or the far west   of Australia, or might be drawn down to the islands. It is obvious that the ships would be ill fitted to make a general attack at such distances, if they had to send to Sydney for coal ; obviously there ought to be supplies at what are considered to be the strategic points. Otherwise the num- ber of ships and the bravery of the men   might be of little avail.

It has been customary to assume that the English are always behind with their armaments. In the progress of the con- tinental nations, however, who have been vieing against each other to increase the number of their armies, the question arises whether they are not sacrificing that quality which tends most largely to the winning of battles. The case has been stated by the French Minister of War. It is said that under the present system a large propor-  

tion of the French soldiers serve no more   in reality than one year with the colours.   If this be the case it follows that many men in the army have less training and less experience than are possessed by

the forces of New South Wales. There are complaints, moreover, that the   discipline is by no means strict. Then it is alleged that the generals act quite in- dependently, as if they were the satraps   of different provinces and not simply the

servants of the State. These state-

ments have probably been exag- gerated for the sake of impressing the public mind and bringing about a reform. But assuming that there is some ground for them, the mere number of inefficient troops would be a hindrance   rather than a power. It has been pointed out also that the modern German army has not yet been seen in circum- stances of difficulty and disaster. Its last

war was a series of victories. The world

has yet to see what staying power the army and the country have when the tide sets against them. In Italy, if we are to judge from the recent Abyssinian cam- paign, the army system has not produced efficiency. A smaller and more   motley force that was properly equipped and led by British officers succeeded easily      

were the Italians had failed. And taking all these things into account is it not clear that the first thing required in our defence forces, whether by land or sea, is efficiency ? This means that officers and men should be well trained, that there   should be a proper system of discipline,   that every arrangement should be made for furnishing the forces with supplies, to be ready for any sudden outbreak of war. Money spent on these objects can never

be wasted.

The point raised by "Taxpayer" in a late issue, is one that affects almost every one of the shareholders in public com- panies in the colony. All those who hold shares bought prior to the 1st January, 1896, amounting to millions sterling, when they come to sell them will, if the Com-   missioners' decision be as alleged, have to pay a tax on the difference between the price paid and the price received in payment when sold. For instance, if through good management and the accretion of reserves, shares during the past thirty years have increased in value from £100 to £400, then it is said   the Commissioner claims to tax £300 on

their sale at the higher price. On the other hand it is declared that he will exempt from taxation a like amount in cases where the shares were bought prior   to the passing of the Act at £400, and sold afterwards at £100. "Taxpayer" contends that most, if not all of this profit, having accrued during a long course of years prior to the passing of the Income Tax Act, ought not to be

taxed, because it would be a retrospective   impost. He maintains that the utmost measure of the tax should be on the profit accruing after the 1st January, 1896, when the Act came into operation. Obviously, there is much to be said in favour of that view of the case. Indeed, the question will occur to many   whether any taxation of shares bought prior to the date named is not of a retro- spective character. It may be considered that the whole transaction—the buying as well as the selling of the shares, is the basis of the tax ; and therefore if the

buying was effected before the time when     the law came into force no impost can be levied on the proceeds of the sale received afterwards. Whether, however, this view of the case can or cannot be entertained, there is no doubt   very good ground for the common opinion that it would be wrong for the Govern- ment to seek to impose a tax on profits earned before the law was passed authorising the taxation. It  

will be well for the Commissioners to consider the question in its broadest aspects, and to decide whether it will not be in the interest of the Government as   well of the public to confine the taxation to all share transactions begun and ended after the 1st January, 1896, when the law came into force. They will then probably be on safe ground in any such treatment of the taxpayers.

By a statement published elsewhere in this issue it will be seen that upwards of two-thirds of the contributories to the Civil Service Superannuation Fund have seized the opportunity offered them by a recent notification and withdrawn from the scheme. Of about 9200 persons in the Public Service, 6325 have ceased to contribute. This is a grave censure on the Fund, and at the same time it must be accepted as marking the complete break- down of the original scheme established to provide an insurance for the Public Service as a whole. Some little while ago the Board informed us that the Fund was hopelessly insolvent. Making allow- ances for probable withdrawals, and after reducing the gratuities payable under the scheme by fifteen per cent., it still re- mained necessary to ask the Government to contribute largely to the Fund to enable it to pay its way. With a debit balance that ran into millions it was only a question of time before the scheme would have to break faith with its contri- butories, and under the circumstances we can hardly wonder that two-thirds of their number have ceased to have any- thing more to do with it. The whole melancholy story affords a memorable example of the necessity, before the Legislature undertakes to deal with a

question so intricate as that involved in this proposal, of both legislators and those who draw up such schemes having a reasonable idea of what they are talk- ing about. As matters stand, a stage of confusion has been reached out of which the only real outlet will be provided by the utter collapse of the scheme, which must come sooner or later. As to what is likely to be substituted for it to fulfil something like its intended function as regards Public Servants, we have no infor- mation before us to enable us to form an   opinion. Perhaps we shall have to turn

our backs on this experiment in State Socialism, and have recourse in the ordinary way to the insurance societies conducted by private enterprise, which pay their way and do not break down. Meanwhile, those contributories who have   withdrawn have the reflection before them that, compelled in the first instance to contribute to the Fund whether they cared to do so or not, they must be con- tent to wait for the repayment of what they have paid in until they retire from the Service, or until their relatives collect it after their decease.

DATES OF PAYMENT OF LAND TAX.—The Taxa-   tion Commissioners explain, with reference to the published statements regarding the different due dates of payment of land tax, that the variation   of such dates of payment from the original period has been made solely in the interests of the tax- payers to meet cases of possible over assessments. It is their special desire to afford every reasonable opportunity to the taxpayer to pay on a fair valuation, and to delay payment until ob- jections to the original assessments shall have been duly reported upon and considered. In the majority of the cases in which the Commissioners have communicated their decisions on the objec-   tions the decisions have proved acceptable to the taxpayers. Already nearly 2000 acceptances and withdrawals of the objections have been received, and others are daily coming to hand. Similar consideration will be given to owners with regard to the date of payment, with the one view     of promoting a fair and equitable settlement in

each case. All notices issued after the 21st in- stant will convey an intimation that the tax must be paid within 30 days of the dates of such notices, but in those cases where objections have been lodged payment may be deferred until a   period of 14 days from the date of notification of

the Commissioners' decision.

SNAGGING THE DARLING.—The Minister for   Works has received a report from Mr. John Por- tus, Superintendent of Dredges, who was sent up to report on the vessels which were offered to the Government for snagging operations on the Darling. As the result of this officer's report,   the Minister for Works (Mr. J. H. Young) has authorised the acceptance of the steamer Success on terms which Mr. Young regards as very rea- sonable. The owner is to find a crew of 10 men, find all stores and victualling, and keep the steamer in proper condition for the sum of £145 a month of 30 days. As the owner has to pay the wages of 10 men out of this sum, the Minister regards the terms as very moderate. The Government will   have to equip the vessel with a more powerful

winch than it is now fitted with ; but this will

not be a costly matter. Owing to the urgent need   for pushing on the work of snagging the Darling,     Mr. Young has given instructions for the steamer   to be put into commission as speedily as possible.

THE FACTORIES ACT.—It is not unlikely that the Factories Act will come into operation in the Metropolitan district on the 1st February, but this   will depend on the proclamation applying the Act to the Metropolitan district being dealt with at the next meeting of the Executive. The De-

partment of Labour and Industry is already receiving a number of applications under section 40 of the Factories Act, which provides that no occupier shall employ a male person under 16 years of age or a female person under 18 years, either   in a factory or in the business of, but outside the factory, between the hours of 7 o'clock in the evening and 6 o'clock in the morning. But power is given to the Minister, where it is proved to him that the exigencies of trade make it desir- able that this restriction should be relaxed, to grant permission to occupiers of factories to work young people beyond the hours stated. At present during the summer season there is a large amount of jam and pickle making and fruit preserving going     on. A large number of factories are employed in this way, and in view of the special circumstances of the trade a number of applications have come in for the Ministerial exemption. However, until a district is proclaimed under the Act no such permission is needed, but as soon as the Act comes into force in any district occupiers of factories desiring exemption will have to apply for it to the department.

THE PUBLIC SERVICE BOARD AND THE ABATTOIRS.   —Some time ago a deputation was received by     the Colonial Secretary on behalf of the Premier, at which certain statements were made in regard to the management of the abattoirs. As the officers of the abattoirs come under the control of the Public Service Board, an inquiry into the statements made is now being held by the board at the request of the Government. The inquiry is being made under section 19 of the Public Service Act which gives the board the powers of a Royal

Commission in such cases.

THE SUPERANNUATION FUND.—Figures in pos-    

session of the Public Service Board show that no less than 6325 members of the Public Service have given the requisite notice of their intention     to withdraw from contributing to the superannua-   tion fund. As there are somewhere about 9200

public servants this means that about two-thirds

of the contributors have withdrawn. As the time has now expired for giving notice of with- drawal the board is in a position to make a   thorough investigation of the position of the fund and the liabilities, and this is now being done. It is understood that the board, in recommending that a 15 per cent reduction should be made in the pensions and that the Government should

come to the assistance of the fund to a similar extent, had in view the fact of this large number of withdrawals from the fund. The withdrawals     are under section 62 of the Public Service Act.  

MEMBERS AND THEIR RAILWAY PASSES.—The     statement is made that a member of Parliament  

has paid a sum to the Railway Department to cover the value of journeys made by him by rail while on private business.

THE SYDNEY AND MELBOURNE TRAIN SERVICE.—   It is understood that negotiations are taking place   for a meeting between the Railway Commissioners     of New South Wales and the Victorian Commis- sioner (Mr. Mathieson), chiefly to consider the sub- ject of running the express between Sydney and     Melbourne on six days a week instead of five, and increasing the speed so as to enable the train to leave Sydney at a later hour in the evening.

THE ELECTRIC TRAMS.—With the work of con-   structing the George-street electric tram good progress is being made, and the arrangements for

the conversion of the steam trams to the electric

system are also proceeding. The rails for the George-street line are expected to arrive next month. It is understood that the City Council has arrived at an agreement with the Railway Commissioners to obtain the electricity required for electric light and power in the city from the generating station to be erected for the supply of electricity for running the trams. It is expected that considerable economy will result from this arrangement.

REFUGEES IN SYDNEY.—Interest in the suffer-  

ings and sorrows of Armenia was revived by the publication in the Herald yesterday of the statement that 21 refugees from that country had come to seek an asylum in Sydney. Yesterday it was found that these people had taken up their habitat with their fellow Easterners in the Syrian   quarter of the town. A glance at the refugees sug- gests what is actually the caso, that they are not pure Armenians. They come from the Lebanon dis- trict, on the borders of Syria and Armenia. They have had no actual experience of the horrors meted out to the dwellers in the latter country beyond living in immediate proximity to the persecuted districts. Their presence in Sydney at the present time is, however, the

direct result of the atrocities in Armenia. It is a little singular that these fugitives should have chosen the antipodes as a home of refuge, seeing that none of their neighbours have yet

done so. The Armenians, as has been announced by cable, have fled in hundreds to the compara- tively near shelter of England and America. The Lebanians declare that they came to Australia because they had heard of its freedom and good


THE BUBONIC PLAGUE.—In view of the serious   extension of the bubonic plague in India, instruc- tions have been issued by the Board of Health to the health officers at Newcastle and at Watson's Bay to exercise the utmost care in investigating the history of all vessels arriving in New South Wales from India. Dr. Ashburton Thompson, president of the board, points out that in a com- paratively clean community there is very small

risk of the plague spreading to any extent, filthy surroundings being a necessary condition to enable it to become dangerous to the community. In this respect it differs from smallpox, which, if no precautions were taken, would easily spread through the colony. Still, though there is no cause for alarm amongst people who live under   reasonably good sanitary conditions, it is thought   to be advisable to exercise every precaution against the introduction of the disease. Some weeks ago a cablegram appeared from London   stating that a case of bubonic plague had occurred in that city. Dr. Thompson says the medical journals received by last mail state that a bacillus corresponding to the bacillus of the plague was found, but there was no absolute certainty, and the matter was being further investigated. Two other cases were exceedingly doubtful.

THE EXTRADITION OF BUTLER.—In reference to   the cablegram about the extradition of Butler, we are informed that immediately after the departure of Detective Roche a cablegram was sent home to the Crown autho- rities, who at once sent over to Washington, demanding the conditional arrest of Butler.

Detective Roche took with him all the evidence   taken at the magisterial inquiry held in Sydney during the adjournment of the inquest, and on these papers, which are being forwarded to Washington, the English authorities have re- quested Butler's extradition. In order that extra-     dition may be granted it is necessary that a prima   facie case should be made out, that is to say, such

a case as would justify a magistrate in committing

the accused to take his trial.

MAILS AND MAIL STEAMERS.—The English   mails to the 18th of December by the R.M.S. Cuzco will be due here to-morrow in time for de-   livery at about 2 p.m. The Cuzco yesterday left the Semaphore at 1.10 p.m. for Melbourne, and the   Oroya left there at 1.45 p.m. for London.    

THE CHINA'S RUN TO ALBANY.—To cover that   stretch of ocean which lies between Colombo and King George's Sound in nine days is seldom accomplished. The distance is about 3400 miles, and taken all weathers, means a speed of not much short of 16 knots. It is not a record break that the P. and O. Company's new steamer China has put up on this her maiden voyage, but there seems to be a prospect of the English mails by her being here next Tues-   day instead of at the end of the week, and had Sunday not intervened involving a stoppage in the railway arrangements, the correspondence for Sydney would have been here on next Monday. As it is the new steamer has done very well indeed. The China is the ship that attained a speed of over 19 knots on     her trial. She is reputed to be a higher- powered steamer than any that has yet been in Australian waters, and closely approaches the Atlantic greyhounds. She was launched by Messrs. Harland and Wolff in June last year, is 500ft. in length by 54ft. beam, and   has a gross tonnage of about 8500 tons. The ac- commodation for passengers is described as being     finer than anything yet seen here on even a P. and

O. liner. She will be in Port Jackson some day  

next week.

THE SUNKEN STEAMER MERKSWORTH.—Very       good work has been done at the sunken Merks- worth. Some 300 tons of coal have been re-

covered from the ship's holds, divers sending up   the coal from the after part, grab buckets being used for the fore hold. Yesterday the contractors     for lifting the steamer had three slings under her, and to-day Captains Banks and Colonna will   make an inspection of the arrangements. It will   be remembered that the Merksworth was sunk after collision with the steamer Manly on the 18th of last month, finally going down off Cremorne  


THE TRAINING SHIP SOBRAON.—The yearly   school inspection in connection with the training-   ship Sobraon was completed last Friday by Mr. Inspector Willis, of the Public Instruction Department, whose report is satisfactory. Out of     a possible 10 marks the average obtained for all subjects was 7·7 or over 75 per cent. The dis-   cipline, demeanor, and general conduct of the   pupils is classed as excellent. Mr. Willis sum- marises as follows :—"Regarded generally, this     school is skilfully managed and zealously and     effectively taught. The pupils enter heartily into their work, and most of them are making satisfactory progress.

A SERIOUS AFFRAY AT CIRCULAR QUAY.—Last   night a disturbance took place at Circular Quay   during which a man was so seriously injured that his recovery is thought improbable. About a quarter past 11 Constable Bambach, who was on   duty at the intersection of George and Globe streets, heard some shouting which proceeded from a crowd assembled at the gates forming the entrance to the German wharf. The

constable proceeded to the locality, and found a man named Henry Paul Gruhl lying upon his back near the gates. A crowd of people had congregated around him. Gruhl was unconscious, and blood was flowing from his mouth and nose. Several bystanders stated that     some sailors had knocked the man down and jumped upon him. The assailants afterwards   made their escape. Constable Bamback secured   a cab and conveyed the injured man to the Sydney Hospital. From papers found upon Gruhl       it appears that his residence is in Kent-street.   By trade he is a tinsmith, but it is undertood that he has recently been employed upon the

German wharf.

LARRIKINISM AT MORTLAKE.—The petition which  

was presented to the Inspector-General of Police     (Mr. Fosbery) some time ago praying for addi- tional police protection for Mortlake during holidays has already received attention. Special   supervision is to be made of the locality where aggression is alleged to have taken place. It is asserted that neither at Correy's Gardens nor at Mortlake proper does the ruffianism complained of take place. The road connecting those two localities is a circuitous one, and the ruffianism is alleged to take place, when " pushes" want to

take a short " cut" in order to obtain liquor. At   the same time some of the police state that the complaint made by the petitioners is exaggerated. In regard to the request of the subscribers to the petition that they should be allowed to use fire- arms to protect themselves against larrikin law- lessness, it is pointed out that the law at the pre- sent time does not prevent any person from carry- ing a firearm ; but the discreet employment of the weapon is a matter for which the person who

carries it is entirely responsible.

AN OXFORD STREET BURGLARY.—About 4 o'clock     on Tuesday morning a burglary was committed at the shop of Mr. Roberts, grocer, in Oxford-streer.   Night-watchman McHale, who was on duty in the   street, saw several men standing in front of the establishment, his attention having been attracted by a noise which he concluded was produced by a door being forced. Two men went into the shop, whilst a third walked a short distance away

and stood under a lamppost. McHale walked along the street and discharged a revolver, with   the object of causing some police to come to his

assistance. Two constables made their appear-

ance, and found that the door of the shop had been prized open, and two men were caught in

the act of ransacking the premises.

POISONED BY LAUDANUM.—A man named Albert McGuigan, 28, who resides at 30 King-street, was   taken to the Sydney Hospital yesterday, he having swallowed the contents of two bottles which con- tained laudanum. Dr. Harris applied the stomach     pump with successful results.

THE FIRE AT THE EAGLE TOBACCO FACTORY.—   Three firemen were kept at work yesterday at the premises of the Eagle Tobacco Com- pany, attending to the smouldering ruins and preventing a further outbreak. It is estimated that there are 97½ tons of tobacco in the building. Some cigarettes re- covered yesterday had suffered no damage. Some of the machinery was oiled and found to be in working order, but this is only a small quantity. The five men who were on duty in the fire station yesterday morning corroborate the statement made

in yesterday's Herald, that the first intelligible  

alarm reached them about 7.55 a.m.    

We are glad to see that in addition to the reward  

of £10 offered by the trustees of Hyde Park for the discovery of the person who broke part of the Frazer memorial fountain a further reward of £25 is offered by the trustees of the estate of the late Hon. John

Frazer for the conviction of the perpetrators.

Mr. E. M. Paul (Consul for Russia), Mr. W. J. Macgeorge (Consul for Peru), Mr. W. Coker, and Mr. Roberto Cambidge were among those who attended the funeral of the kate Captain Eldred.

The Premier of Queensland, Sir Hugh and Lady Nelson, together with Miss Jessie Nelson and Mr.

H. Dutton (secretary to the Premier), left Sydney for Hobart by the s.s. Oonah yesterday afternoon.    

In the supplement to the Government Gazette

issued yesterday there appear the particulars of lands

in the Central Division set apart for settlement leases. Also announcements relating to the sale of special leases and occupation licenses.  

The Fresh Food and Ice Company, Limited, an-

nounces in our advertising columns the establishment   of a new Central Agency at 108 Pitt-street.

A general military parade, for the purpose of

imparting instruction in outpost duty, will take place

on Saturday afternoon.      

We have received the calendar for 1897 of the City

Mutual Fire Insurance Company.    

The Eastern Telegraph Company send us their 1897 map, which shows the main line of its cable

route throughout the world. The map has been prepared with great care, and gives a capital idea of

the company's splendid service.

A social reunion in connection with the milk de- partment of the Metropolitan Ice and Farmers'

Direct Supply Milk Company was held at the Free-   Masons' Hotel, York-street, on Tuesday evening.   Between 60 and 70 sat to dinner, with Mr. J. Ander-   son, manager, presiding, and Mr. W. J. Rodd as vice-chairman. After a number of toasts had been   drunk, Mr. J. Sainsbury, on behalf of the employees,   handed Mr. Rodd a silver cigar case, upon which was an inscription which testifies to the esteem of the


At the half-yearly meeting of the Perseverance Lodge, No. 46, I.O.O.F., held at Royal Exchange         Hotel, Marrickville, R.W.D.M. Bro. Barnett, assisted by Bros. Frazer and Newton, installed the following officers :—N.G., Bro. T. Hodgson ; V.G.,       Bro. E. Willson ; Secretary, Bro. W. McLean ; treasurer, Bro. H. K. Ellis ; conductor, Bro. G. E. Frazer ; warden, Bro. W. Boulton ; R.S.N.G., Bro.       R. Critchley ; L.S.N.G., Bro. A. W. Jenkins ; R.S.V.G., Bro. J. Muir ; L.S.V.G., Bro. C. Young ;               O.G., Bro. P. Brennan ; I.G., Bro. A. Slade.      

The junior corps of the Salvation Army had a picnic at Correy's Gardens, Cabarita, yesterday. There were about 1200 persons present.

Last night Detectives Goulder and Hoskisson pro- ceeded to arrest two youths upon charges of rob-   bery. Hoskisson took one of them to the station, but the second youth made off when the other officer was about to arrest him. Detective Goulder gave   chase to the young fellow, who ran along Kent-       street. Whilst the detective was running a man standing on the footpath hurled a stone which struck   him on the left leg and caused the detective to fall.    

The fugitive was thus enabled to escape. Detective   Goulder lost the use of his leg for some time.

Mrs. Lydia Jane Turner, of Talfourd-street, Glebe, died suddenly at her residence yesterday at


The funeral of the late Sergeant Barnett, of No. 2 division of the metropolitan police force, took place   yesterday in the Church of England Cemetery,   Gordon. The remains were accorded an official funecral, and fully 80 members of the metropolitan police attended. The band of the police, under the   conductorship of Bandmaster Hutchinson, was also in attendance.

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