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Our Sydney Letter.
(FROM OUR OWN CORRESPONDENT.]
AMONG the passengers from England for Sydney by the Torres Straits mail is Sir William Jervois, the military engineer who is to devise a system of defence for the Australian colonies. Sir William
is welcome. In the present aspect of continental affairs he is just the man we want—unless, in deed, his coming here is not a case of locking the stable door when the horse is stolen, for there is now no Baying when we may not be awakened from our peaceful slumbeis with the cry that the "Rooshans" are down upon us. But better late than never is a comforting motto, and we can apply it to our present circumstances with double-barreled force. We don't so much object to having our brains blown out in a fair stand-up fight as to being slaughtered like sheep, without a chance of retaliating upon the slaughterers; therefore we must regard the ar rival of Sir William Jervois as rather oppor tune—just in the nick of time. In all seriousness, though, the telegrams from Europe are big with import, and we almost fancy that we can smell powder already and hear the roar of Muscovite and Ottoman cannon. That was a fine Btroke of policy on the part of Russia to sign the protocol; but she played her cards well from the com mencement—felt the pulse of the Sick Man all along, and knew exactly how to prescribe for him, while she deftly managed to elbow the other doctors out of the consulting-room. Having rejected the mild aperients of the other Powers, Turkey will now be compelled to swallow the Russian pills without sugar-coating, and if these do not cure they will inevitably kill Altogether, things look bad for Turkey. She will probably be wiped out of the map of Europe altogether as a nation, and make way for a more civilised and industrious people. The past fortnight has been one of a continual round of pleasure with Sydney people, and they are joined in their carnival by hundreds—aye. thousands—of their country and intercolonial cousins. We always hold our Intercolonial Ex hibition during the Easter festival, and that great annual show is the loadstone of attraction for the people. It is there they go in thousands to mix in friendly intercourse, to compare notes, and to learn the useful lessons taught by the fruits of industry, enterprise, and inventive genius. This ye»r the attractions in the ex hibition are unusually large. No one who has seen previous intercolonial exhibitions in "New South Wales can attend the present show with out being struck with the enormous stride that has been taken within the past twelve months in all channels of enterprise. The sister colonies of Victoria, Queensland, and Tasmania have recognised the importance of sending samples of theirproductionsfor theinspection of the people of New South Wales; while from more distant parts of the world—Canada, America, Fiji, and Hawaii, come innumerable specimens of human skill and ingenuity and the fruits of the soil, indicating the desire of the people of those countries—to whom we have hitherto been comparative strangers—to trade with us; and strengthen our social and commercial relations. And the pleasure this display of wealth affords to those who Seek pleasure from such quarters is not the least gratifying feature in these inter colonial exhibitions. People must have amuse ment as well as instruction, and here, just now, they have plenty of both. Henri L'Estrange, the Australian Blondin, performed his wonderful feat of walking across Sydney Harbor on a tight rope on Saturday, 14th instant, in presence of an immense number of spectators, estimated at between eight and ten thousand. It was a great triumph for the plucky little fellow after having been prevented by the weather from accomplishing the feat at the originally advertised time, and he is now the hero of the day. He engaged twenty-one steamers to convey those who desired to Bee him perform. All these were crowded, and about a dozen others, besides scores of sailing boats and yachts, and the sight these presented, with the crowds of people on the shore, was one to be remem bered. Glowing and graphic descriptions of the performance have appeared in the Sydney papers. It is satisfactory to know that the affair was pecuniarily successful, and that L'Estrange will be recouped for the great ex pense he has incurred in making his arrange ments ; but the majority of those who saw him perform were, to him, " dead-heads," who saw the show free. The authorities have taken from him the right of performing in the Domain, which place they consider he has occupied long enough' free of charge, and I think so too, with all admiration for this ropewalking genius. The Domain is a public reserve, and it is rather a stretch of generosity to shut out the public from any por tion of it for two or three months at a time. L'Estrange is ambitious to cross Niagara, and he says he will do it; but the novelty of the thing has worn off, and he will have to invent some new sensation ere he wins the fame that attached to the Chevalier's feats. Besides, there appears to be quite a crop of Blondins springing up just now, and they promise to become as plentiful as blackberries. There is a Canadian Blondin .walk ing in the footsteps of the original, and the other day I Baw a paragraph in a country paper stating that a second Australian Blondin was in the field —or rather in the air—and that he intends to put all previous feats of the kind in the shade by crossing Sydney Heads on piano wire. I will believe this when I see it done. Till then, the announcement can be taken cum grano salit. L'Estrange performs in Brisbane shortly.
Bailey and Cooper'e wild beast show was allowed to parade some of the streets of Sydney on Monday moruiag laat. When the company was here before the authorities would not allow the parade to take place, partly because it would seriously impede the ordinary traffic, and partly because of the possible danger of some of the animals breaking loobo in the streets. But as the procession was permitted in Melbourne, and wa« attended with neituor inconvenience nor
danger, it mi allowed to pass in Sydney on the return of the company, out not through the main streets. It was a grotesque affair, and that is about all that can be said of it The spectacle of monkeys and dogs riding nones, elephants dressed in dirty gauze drawing vans containing wild beasts, men and women mounted on horse back and attired in shabby theatrical trappings, and some subdued " lords of the forest" perched upon caravans in charge of their trainers and keepers, with a dreadful accompaniment of wild unearthly music from an instrument of torture humorously described as _ a "steam piano," was just the sort of thing to excite ridioule, except perhaps in the minds of women and children, and these formed nine-tenths of the rabble that followed this " monster procession of wild beasts" through the streets. I was disappointed with the affair, for I had read the seductive advertisement, and expected to see a Bight that would " fetch" me. I will -never put any faith in a showman's ad vertisement again. But the circus performance of these people is a clever one. I freely give Messrs. Bailey and Cooper the palm for the best show of the kind I have ever seen in the colo nies. One item on the programme alone is worth going miles to see—the champion Robinson's great honeriding feat, in which he as far excels all his rivals as Dampier'a Hamlet does a Punch and Judy show. There is nothing objectionable or ouM in this circus, which is more than can be said of Wilson's, with its professional boxers in their exposition of the "noble art." This show (Wilson's) has moved northwards to New castle, where it is sure to take well) for the coal miners there are great hero worshippers, espe cially if the hero be of the ring. Mace will be lionised at Newcastle for a certainty. Mr. Moreton Tavares and Miss Surtees opened at the Theatre Royal on the 13th instant, in the comedy of "London Assur ance," and from the commencement of their short season to the present time have had splendid houses. I like Mr. Tavares' acting—it is natural and refined, and he only wants (what he can never have) a good, round, resonant voice to make him a great actor. That is the secret of Dampier's success. Without this gift no man need ever hope to win enduring fame on the Thespian boards. Miss Surtees is a charm ing young actress and a great favorite here. The Tavares-Surtees engagement has been a godsend to the management of the Royal, which had been playing at a loss for weeks with a stock company. "Othello," the "School for Scandal," the "Two Roses," and " School" are among the pieces produced during this engagement—Dampier is in his tenth week at the Victoria. He has been a treat success, but his lustre is not perennial, and his audiences »re beginning to drop off.—Levy, the prince of cornet soloists, has returned to Sydney, and plays every night at the exhibition concerts to crowded audiences.—Mrs. Rosenberg, • recent arrival, gave her first public concert in Sydney on Monday evening, under vice-regal patronage, to a moderate audience. She has a beautiful soprano voice, and knows how to use it—Walker, the trance medium, has cleared out and gone to New Zealand. He has netted a fine sum by his lec ture* here. John Bennett, of the Victoria Theatre, wanted to run him for a short season in the country districts, but they could not come to terms. Walker wanted £25 a night to propagate the truths of spiritualism, but Bennett couldn't see a margin of profit, and dropped the negotia tions. If I were a shareholder in any of the Sydney .fire insurance companies, I fancy I should not be inclined to sell out just at the present time, for our city has enjoyed a singular immunity from fires for many months past; the fire-bells have got rusty for want of use, and the firemen's occupation has been almost a sinecure; but they are ever ready, these firemen of ours—never caught napping, and all honor to them. The other night, just about the "witching hour," the rusty bells rang out the alarum, and in an incredibly short space of time four or five engines were atthe scene of aotion—Mountcastle's, the hatter, in George-street, and incalculable damage must have been done to property and human life but for this promptness on the part of the firemen. As it was, a lady who was on a visit to the Mountcastles nearly lost her life by jumping out of a top-story window, and the family, which included, among others, six young girls, barely escaped with their lives. Old Mr. Mount castle himself, and three or four of the daughters, were burnt, but not seriously, and four or five hundred pounds' worth of property was de stroyed. The Chinese question in Queensland is at tracting some attention in New South Wales. The evening papers in Sydney to-day have each leading articles on the subject, in which the consequences of an inundation of the labor market by " Chinese cheap labor "is discussed. John Chinaman is industrious, but dirty ; he is ad mittedly clever, but undeniably mean; un offending, but notoriously dishonest and immo ral. Taking him all in all, he is anything but a desirable colonist, and is not wanted here in Australia. We could do very well without him, even without his vices, and his uncleanness; but he is not to be denied access to our territory, it seems, and what can't be cured must be endured. If, as B©ema likely, there is danger of Queensland being Bwamped by Celestials, there is only one course open, and that is to shut your doors in their faces by a prohibitory tax. April 21. Tuesday next, April 24, is the day upon which Parliament reassembles for the despatch of business (?) under the new rigime. Mr. Parkes and his colleagues have taken a very short recess for their re-elections, and have evinced a rather remarkable inclination to get to business, and show the country what stuff they axe made of. Those who pretend to be able to read the immediate future say the Parkes- Piddington combination cannot last long—that the number of the disaffected (which being translated means disappointed) ones in the ranks of those who were but a few weeks ago clamoring for the removal of Mr. Robertson is too great for the new team to last long. This is suggestive of place-hunting, on the face of it; but then it mußt bo admitted that Mr. Parkes has made a mess of it in constructing his present cabinet It ia impossible, though, to
foreshadow the variations of our political thermometer with anything like certainty, or to tell what magical changes may not be worked by Ministerial influence. Besides, there is an enduring principle in the hearts of every community of Britons to give every man a fair chance, which may save the new-comers from being knocked on the head in their infancy ; add to which, the country does not care the toss of a halfpenny what men are in office or left out, so long as they can ad minister its affairs and do not give us bad legis lation. I hear that one of the first moves on the part of the Opposition will be an effort to abolish the office of Minister for Mines. This portfolio is looked upon as unnecessary, now that the gold fever has subsided and the affairs in connection with mines and mining have been put into some thing like working order. I believe the aboli tionists will be able to make out a good case, though the strong point against them will be that the work will fall upon the shoulders of the Minister for Works, who has already more than he can attend to, and thin would be like the last straw that breaks the camel's back. The Great Western line of railway now runs to Orange, 191 miles from Sydney. Orange is a fertile district, with a soil suitable for wheat and oats growing and possessing some mineral wealth. The extension from the last terminus (Blaney, twenty miles) was opened last Thursday with a great flourish of Ministerial trumpets, banqueting, speechifying, picnicking, and I know not what. Ministers invited about a hundred of their friends to the opening cere mony, and having been present on the auspicious ocoatdon, I can say that the guests were enter tained right royally so far as the Ministerial part of the programme was concerned —Mr. Lloyd, the Minister for Mines, acting as grubber-general to the party. But, candidly speaking, I don't like Orange. Having had one squeeze there, I don't care to try a second. It produces dust and bad colonial ale. in too great abundance for one saturated with metropolitanism like this deponent; and they are sadly behind the age in that triumph of civilisation—a modern ban quet. Viands tough and ill-cooked, and wines —ugh! I " pawed." But the Premier made a good speech, notwithstanding that he was suffering from indisposition—and this was not to be wondered at, unless he had the stomach of an ostrich, for he is a healthy eater, and hu appetite, like that of most of us, was doubtless sharpened by the mountain air. The Orange men—or, to put it in more unmis takable terms, the men of Orange—tried hard to draw from the hon. gentleman an intimation as to which route the line should go to Wellington — vid Ironbarks or Molong—for this is the great question up there just now ; but the wily Pre mier was not to be drawn out, and put them off with this assuranoA that the Government would not have met the Assembly forty-eight'hours before their decision would be made known to Parliament. It is well known, though, what that decision will be, for the less discreet Trea surer and Minister for Justice more than hinted at their nominations that Ironbarks had it. This, too, seemed tc be understood by the Orangeites, who accordingly lionised the Minis ters to their hearts' content As to the policy of the Government, Mr. Parkes only spoke in general terms of the questions that would engage the early attention of Parliament, taking good care to make no promises.
TpE quarantine system in Queensland has (s»ys This S. M. Herald) been subjected to an unexpected teat When any commonplace pas sengers were concerned they were secluded wholesale. But it so happens that the new Governor and his suite have not only come down from an infected port, but in an infected ship. Smallpox is such a common thing in China that the Governor of an Anglo-Chinese settlement thinks little of it, and it would seem that Sir Arthur Kennedy by no means appreciated the necessity of being put in quarantine. The Government, however, had no option but either to enforce the law strictly, irrespective of per sons, or at once to give up making a fuss about other passengers. Everything that Ministerial ingenuity could devise was done to make the con finement on board the Kate as little irk-ome as possible ; and the period of quarantine was transmuted into a prolonged but compulsory picnic. But when the required detention had expired, up cropped another little difficulty. It has been customary for the Health Officer, before finally giving pratique, to inspect per sonally everyone on board, and see that there is no rign of an eruption on the chest. To this the two ladies belonging to the Governor's party objected. Could the objection have been fore seen, and a little arrangement made for an evening reception, with a request that the ladies would wear their most fashionable ball-dresses, the doctor would probably have had all the facilities he required for observation. Whether this sort of examination insisted on is really necessary is a matter for the faculty to diqcuss. The smallpox poison will lie perdu in the Byßtem for several days. But when it has reached the point at which any eruption on the chest is visible, signs of it are unmistakably to be seen elsewhere. In fact, the eruption usually commences on the forehead and face. But supposing that the examination as requested was really necessary, it is less than any lady would have to undergo if she wished to insure her life, in which case it would be Hecessary for the examining medical officer to make a stethoßCopic examination as to the soundness of the lungs. What would be required and submitted to to protect the funds of a commercial company, may surely be as fairly required to protect the health of a whole community. The many friends throughout Australia of the late Hon. Edward Cohen, sometime Commis sioner of Trade and Customs in Victoria, will learn with regret that the honorable gentleman died at Melbourne on the 13th instant, after a long and painful illness. The deceased gentle man had contemplated a voyage to Europe for the benefit of his seriously-impaired health, when his final illness overtook him. Mr. Cohen, we learn from The Dally Telegraph, was in his fifty-fourth year when he died. He came out to Melbourne in 1847, and entered into business, in which he was very successful. He first camo
prominently before the public as councillor for the Lonadale Ward in 1854, and passed through all the degrees of municipal honor* possible fora citizen. He was Mayor of the city in 1862, and died one of its aldermen, having occupied a seat for a longer term of years than any member of the City Council, with the exception of Mr. John Thomas Smith. At the time of his death, he was chairman of the board of directors of the Colonial Bank, and was also at one time a director of the Australasian Company. In 1861 he was returned to Parliament for East Mel bourne, and ever since he has been returned for that electorate against all opponents. In IBW he joined the Maopherson Government as Com missioner of Trade and Customs, and retired from office with his colleagues in April, 1870. When the Francis Ministry was in course of formation in 1872, Mr. Cohen was offered the same position he had held under Mr. Mac* pherson, which he accepted and retained until the Kerferd Government' retired in July, 1874. In Parliament he was not a frequent speaker, but when occasion arose he was an effective one. Ho always spoke earnestly, and sometimes eloquently, especially if he rose to expose some abuse or answer a speaker who had misrepresented a case. It is almost superfluous to add anything respect ing the position which Mr. Cohen occupied among his own people. He was esteemed so highly by them that he passed through all the offices of trust and honor which the Jewish faith can confer on a lay member, and when he died he was trustee of the Melbourne Hebrew Con gregation of Bourke-street West. What has been written is but an outline of what might be recorded of Mr. Cohen in his capacity as a public man, but there is much more which might be told of him as a private citizen and a friend. He was a man who will be missed by those with whom he was associated, either as a coadjutor in politics, in philanthropy, or the varied relations of personal friendship. No man could have played such a prominent part as he has done for more than a quarter of a century without sub jecting himself to opposing opinions and hostile criticism ; but now that he has passed away from the scene of his public services and labors of charity, there will be but one feeling pervading the publio mind—that of appreciation of his life and sorrow for his death. The Sydney Morning Herald comments on the three reports on American railway systems which have been laid before the public by Messrs. Higinbotham, Mackay, and Mr. Augustus Morris, the Executive Commissioner for New South Wales at the Philadelphia Exhibition. Concluding its remarks, The Herald says:— "It would seem that much of the information gathered by Mr. Morris in America on rail way questions came from engineers engaged in the construction or working of the lines, and the fact that many of these engineers are English, taken in connection with the extent of the American railway system,.and the exigencies arising from the conditions under which it is worked, establishes a valid claim for considera tion in behalf of the new methods and appli ances for which he has expressed a preference. Mr. Morris has at least made out a case for sub mitting the cliief of these preferences to the test of actual experiment. With an immense expansion of our railway system in a not very distant future before us, the expenditure of a reasonable sum in experiments would be a wise expenditure. It is one thing to test a mere theory, it is another and a very different thing to ascertain by actual trial, whether that whioh a large experience has approved in America is adapted to Australian conditions." " Atticub," in The Leader, says :—Various signs in the political horizon portend an early termination of the system of payment of mem bers. It commenced on the 25th of April, 1871, and after six years' experience, politicians on both sides of the House are testifying to its utter failure. Even Sir C. G. Duffy, who was in reality the Parliamentary sponsor of the Reim bursement of Members Act, freely admits that the measure which he took so much trouble to initiate has by no means answered his expecta tions. It is a noteworthy fact that only one member of the Assembly (Mr. Higinbotham) declined to draw the money. In the Council, Mr. Bear has not received any since the renewal of the Act in 1874, nor Sir Charles Sladen since his election in August last. Messrs. M'Bain and Spensley took care to pocket their screwß during their leaves of absence from the colony, and Messrs. Michie, Graham, and Fraser, of the Council, did not forget to do likewise. The only members of Parliament who disdained to bill the Treasury for back pay whilst away are Mr. Bear, a present, and Mr. M'Kellar, an ex member of the Legislative Council. There is a good round sum accruing to the hon. N. Fitz gerald, who has just returned from his Euro pean starring excursion, but whether he intends figuring as a " claimant" this deponent knoweth not. Certain reports in circulation (writeß the Melbourne Age) indicate a very unhealthy state of affairs as regards the gas companies in this city. It is rumored that one of them paid the last divi dend by drawing on the reserve fund. It ifl charged against the South Melbourne Company that they have invited an amalgamation of the three companies ; but it will be found, we think, that it was the Collingwood that in the first instance sought amalgamation with the Melbourne. At present there are private indi cations of an alliance between the Melbourne and South Melbourne, but no doubt a day or two will see the outcome of negotiations. The friends of Captain Mating will be pleased with the following piece of news from a New Zealand exchange :—" A couple of months ago we were glad to have to congratulate Captain Maling, A.D.C., on his promotion from a lieu tenancy in the 35th Regiment to a captaincy, unattached, on half pay. By yesterday's mail he received further proof of the favorable considera tion of H.R.H. the Commander-in-Chief, in the form of an intimation that his name was removed from the unattached list on hiß being restored to full pay and poßtod to a company of the 23rd Regiment Royal Welsh Fusiliers—a crack regiment. Everyone who knows Captain Maling will, we are sure, be glad to learn not only of his good fortune in the service, but aho that his promotion is not likely to interfere with the performance of his duties here as A.P.Q. to his Excellency Lord Normauby.