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In politics the natural quiet of the recess continues. Parliament will not reassemble   until May or June next, and up to the present the Cabinet has not regularly entered upon the work of preparing the programme to be sub-   mitted in the ensuing session. This work will probably be deferred for a few weeks longer, until Mr. Gillies, the Minister of Railways,   and Mr. Kerferd, the Attorney-General, who are about to pay a short visit to New Zealand, will have returned to the colony. All that is definitely known at present regarding the business in contemplation for next session is that amongst it will be included a bill to con- firm the resolutions passed by the Federal Convention held in Sydney in December last, a Railway Construction Bill, and a Land Bill.

Ministers find themselves with spare time on their hands, which they are spending by making trips into the country, some for plea- sure purely, and others to gain information, which ought to prove of great value to them hereafter, regarding various public matters. One of the most useful of these trips was that undertaken by Mr. Deakin, the Minister of Public Works, who, at the end of last month, spent nearly a week in inspecting the works carried out and proposed to be under taken by the Swan Hill Water Trust. He went through the whole of the northern dis- trict from Gunbower to Swan Hill, and at a ban- quet given in his honor at Kerang, just before he started on his return to town, he acknowledged that the trip had been of great educational value to him, because he had learned by per- sonal observation how successful had been the operations of the trust in storing water, and how great were the natural local facilities for water conservation, as well as for irrigation. He was surprised to see the splendid lakes now existing whose beds had been dry for years, until by the simple process of stretch-   ing dams across the rivers and creeks the flood waters had been diverted and con- served instead of being allowed to flow to   waste. Mr. Deakin predicts a very prosperous future for the extensive agricultural area known as the northern plains, which, indeed, is a certain result if the trust should succeed as well in its future works as it has done in those, already carried out by it, and if the farmers in the territory should show them-   selves to be possessed of sufficient self helpful- ness to take advantage of the liberal provisions

to promote irrigation contained in the Amend ing Water Conservation Act passed last session. Soon after his return to Melbourne   Mr. Deakin went away again on a visit to the Fort Campbell district in company with several members of Parliament, for the purpose of inquiring into a proposal for the construction of a line from Camperdown to the Port. On the 4th instant a new State school at Mordialloc was opened, and the occasion was celebrated by a banquet, at which speeches were delivered by Mr. Berry, Chief Secretary, and Mr. Gillies, Minister of Railways. On the following day a Ministerial banquet was held at Beechworth, at which Mr. Kerferd,   Attorney-General, Mr. Langridge, Commis- sioner of Customs, and Mr. Gillies were pre- sent. Mr. James Goodall Francis, who during the past 25 years has been one of the most pro-   minent statesmen in the colony, died at Queenscliff on the 25th January. Mr. Francis, who was born in London in 1819, emigrated at   the age of 15 to Tasmania, where he subse- quently engaged in commercial enterprise, and in 1853, shortly after the discovery of gold in Victoria, he established a branch of his business in Melbourne, where he has ever since resided. From 1863 to 1868 he held office in the M'Culloch Government, and was again a member of the Cabinet in 1870. In 1872 he took the position of Premier, which he continued to occupy until 1874, when, owing to ill-health, he was forced to resign and proceeded on a visit to England. From 1850 up to this time he had continuously repre- sented Richmond in the Legislative Assembly. In 1878, after his return to the colony, he was elected for Warrnambool, which district he continued to represent up to the time of his death. One of the chief characteristics of the deceased gentleman was his thorough, honest straightforwardness, which gained for him the respect and esteem of all classes in the com- munity. Mr. Francis was upon more than one   occasion offered the distinction of knighthood, which, however, he always declined to accept.

More detailed reference to the public career of this gentleman, a portrait of whom will be found amongst our illustrations, is made in another part of this number.     The election of a member to represent Warr- nambool in the Legislative Assembly, in the place of the late Mr. J. G. Francis, took place on the 15th instant. There were originally six candidates nominated, all local residents, but the election was eventually narrowed down to a contest between Mr. John Murray, who stood in the Liberal interest, and Mr. O. A. Cramer, the town clerk of Warrnambool, who stood as the representative of the Conser- vative section of the community. The result was a decided victory for the Liberal candi- date, who obtained 708 votes, against 445 recorded in favor of his opponent. The members of the Public Service Board and the Railways Management Commission, are now devoting themselves assiduously to   the preliminary work in connection with their different functions. The Public Service     Board is at present engaged in procuring in- formation which will enable it to perform the important and difficult work of classifying the whole of the officers in the public service ex- cept State school teachers, who will be dealt with by a special board of classifiers, and rail-

way employés, who of course come under the Railways Commissioners. The Railways Commission was made com- plete by the arrival on the 10th inst. of the chairman, Mr. Richard Speight, who came from England by the Orient steamship Lusi- tania. The remaining members of the board, Messrs. A. J. Agg and Mr. R. Ford, took for- mal charge of the railways on the 1st inst.,   but until the arrival of Mr. Speight they re- frained from dealing with matters of import- ance. Mr. Speight, on landing, was met by Mr. Gillies, the Minister of Railways, as well as by his two colleagues on the commission and the senior officers of the department. On the 18th the Railways Commissioners were enter- tained at dinner at Scott's Hotel by the Minis- ter of Railways. A definite arrangement has been made for assimilating the rates of postage on letters from New South Wales to Europe by the P. and O. and Orient steamers. Under the new agreement, Victoria, will receive from New South Wales 15s. per lb. on letters sent by the P. and O. line, instead of 25s. as at present ; and Victoria is to pay the Orient Company, through the Government of New South Wales, 12s. per lb. on letters sent from Melbourne by their vessels. A corresponding reduction will, be made in the amount to be paid by Victoria on account of letters forwarded by way of San Francisco. The Victorian postal authorities are only bound to send letters by the Orient   vessels which are specially marked for those steamers. New South Wales enjoys a similar   privilege with regard to the P. and O. vessels. An agitation has been existing for some   time with the view of inducing the Govern- ment to provide additional accommodation for tho transaction of the telegraphic business in Melbourne. Various proposals have   been made to this end, and at   one time the Government, admitting   the inadequacy of the present Telegraph office for the rapidly increasing business, entered into negotiations for the purchase of the ex- tensive premises in Collins-street formerly oc-.

cupied by Messrs. Briscoe and Co., iron- mongers, which, it was intended, should be devoted to the purposes of a telegraph office. The negotiations failed, however, on the ques- tion of terms, and then Mr. Berry, the Post master-General, manifested a disposition to give favorable consideration to a proposal that the Telegraph office should be removed to the   building at present used as the police court, in Swanston-street, adjoining the Town Hall.   This proposal, however, met with a good deal of opposition from the merchants in the wes- tern part of the city, and the vexed question has now been fairly settled by the deter-     mination, which has received the sanction of the Cabinet, to add another story to the pre- sent Post Office, and devote the additional   space thus gained to the use of the Telegraph office. The plans in connection with the proposed alterations have already been pre- pared, and it is expected that the work will be completed within two years. The addi-   tional story will have the effect of greatly improving the appearance of the Post Office buildings.   On the 9th inst. a marriage took place   between the Hon. lvo Bligh, second son of the Earl of Darnley, of Cobham Hall, Gravesend, Kent, England, and Miss Florence Rose Morphy, daughter of the   late John S. Morphy, formerly police magis-   trate at Beechworth. The Hon. Ivo Bligh  

visited this colony about twelve months ago as the captain of the last team of English cricketers, and recently returned in order to be married. The ceremony was performed at   Rupertswood, the residence of Sir W. J.     Clarke, by the Rev. W. C. Ford, incumbent of St. Mary's Church, Sunbury, assisted by the Rev. H. N. Wollaston, of Trinity Church, East Melbourne. During the past month the Marchioness of Normanby, whose health has been in a very unsatisfactory state for a considerable time past, suffered a serious relapse. For some days the condition of her ladyship occasioned much anxiety to her friends, but she is now reported' to be somewhat better. Though 'the misunderstanding which arose between the building committee 'of the new Anglican Cathedral and the English archi tect, 'Mr.' Butterfield, has been -amicably settled, as' was stated in our last number^ after a - total oe'ssation of the works -for- a period' of ??'. five ; months, .a further'- vexatious delay must be endured, it appears, before the building can be proceeded with. The ? working plans, it is stated, have long been com pleted by Mr. Butterfield; but for some unao ' countable reason, the architect -will-only- send them out in sectional instalments, and the work, having been carried on up to the point

reached by the plans so far received, the com mittee have to. write home to Mr. Butterfield' and obtain the plans for another section of the building before another stone can be laid. A large number of gentlemen interested in Riverina properties met at Scott's Hotel, Mel bourne, on 30th ' January, .' to consider the .question of severance from New' South Wales. Mr. R. H. Woodward occupied the chair, and Mr. Lockhart Morton, the acting secretary, addressed the meeting at considerable length. He said that he had heen asked in Wilcannia to convene a meeting in Melbourne. Messrs. F. R. Godfrey, ; Angus Robertson, F. O. Goyder and other gentlemen also spoke, and after a lengthy 'discussion- the following motion was carried, on the motion of Mr. Morton, seconded ? by Mr. M'Farland :— ' That this meeting nominate a committee to take the necessary .steps to inaugurate a separation league,. and to -draw up petitions to the Queen, and the Eng lish Government praying for separation from , New South Wales, giving in fulL detail the reasons for claiming autonomy, and expressing; a determination : to lead the way towards Australian federation by a federal union with all neighbors immediately upon gaining separa tion.1' ; A committee, consisting of Messrs. F. R. Godfrey, Whitley, M. M'Callum, R. M'Far land and W. L. Morton, was subsequently ap pointed, and the proceedings, terminated with a vote of thanks to the chairman. Mr.Tucker, the Minister of Lands, has re~ ceived a report from Inspector Black, giving the result of a recent conference held at Went worth, ? between inspectors representing the .colonies of Victoria, New South Wales and South Australia; for the purpose of considering the best means of 'dealing with : the rabbit nuisance. Mr. Black says that he found that many of the persons holding - mallee lands along the Murray were, already doing good work in '? the way of rabbit extirpa tion. He estimated that the annual outlay in -New South Wales in this direction was fully £100,000..- The bonuses paid for' the '

scalps was in some instances as high as 2s. 6d. ? per head, the general figure being from 8d. to ' Is. - After fully considering the matter the., conference recoinmendedthat uniform , legisla- tion should be undertaken by; the- three, colonies, and that a rabbit tax should'' be im /posed on the value of the land instead of on 'the assessment of the stock. ' The methods of destruction recommended were trapping, hunt ing by dogs, the UBe of bisulphide of carbon, erection of poison yards' and the destruction, of fences. . The maximum price to bo paid for the scalps should- not,, it was thought, exceed 3d. per head,- but in Victoria it was anticipated the work could be done at a -cheaper rate. -? An election, to fill the Vacancy in the Mel bourne Harbor Trust, caused ' by the death of Mr. A. 33. Aitken, who represented ,the Port of Melbourne,' was held on the 8th inst.- ' There were 'four candidates — namely, Captain M'Petrie, Or.. Williams, Captain H. Hall and' Mr. G. Dean. The first named was declared elected. ? ' '. ' The sittings of the Wesleyan Methodist Con ference, to which reference was made in our '. last number, were concluded on the 24th January.. ^Before separating. the conference , discussed the question of the union of the various Ibranches of the Methodist Churoh in tho colonies, and it was decided that the next general conference should be ' requested to consider a scheme of union prepared by a I

.committee representing the different Metho . dlst churches. --It was Bhown by the annual * report of church membership that the: total - number of full members in Victoria an'd Tas ,'? mania was ? 14,338, 'or an increase of 487 over 'the preceding year. _. ' ~ V' '/? , . * * Mr. J. W.- Templeton, who, prior .to' his appointment' to the. position of a member of the Public Service Board,' 'held the office of actuary to the National Mutal- Life Associ ation of- Australasia, was on the 14th instant entertained at dinner by the aBsooiation, as a mark of the appreciation in which the services he had ~ rendered were held. About 60 . gentlemen were present, ' and the chair was occupied by Mr. E. Langton, chairman of the association ; the Mayor of Melbourne, Mr. O. Smith, M.L.A., .being amongst the guests. The chairman, in ?proposing the health of Mr. Templeton, paid a' high compliment to that, gentleman- for the zeal, tact and singular intelligence which he hud manifested in the performance of his arduous duties in connection with the associa tion. The Minister of Education some time ago re quested the various school inspectors' to resume a oustom which 'prevailed in- former years of holding an annual conference for the considera tion of many matters of ? importance. A list of questions was submitted by the department for the consideration of the' conference, special

reference being made to the . advisa bility of introducing lessons on morals and manners, history, mental arithmetic and bookkeeping into the compulsory course of -free instruction. They were also asked to consider the . question' of the effect of the prohibition- of corporal punishment of girls upon the general discipline of schools. After sitting ? for several days, the conference drew _ up 120 resolutions embracing a wide range of subjects, and including the question' of reli gious instruction in State'schools. When the District Grand Mastership of Masonic lodges in Victoria under the . English constitution became vacant some months ago, the Prince of Walts, as Grand Master of Eng land, tendered the position to Sir William Clarke, who accepted it subject to the approval of the Duke of Abercorn, Grand Master of Ireland, from, whom he held a patent as Provincial Grand Master of Victoria. That permission has been accorded, and as the Earl of Kellie and Mar, Grand Master Mason of Scotland, has conferred a similar honor upon Sir William, he is now chief of the Masons in Victoria' under 'the three British constitutions. It is anticipated that Sir William, will .be installed at the quarterly communication to be held ' on Wednesday, 5th March; A mysterious murder took place at Pettavol, about 10 miles from Geelong, on the morning of the 22nd January, when Mr. Francis Beech, sheep .and cattle ' dealer and butcher, was shot and killed while in bed with his wife. Accord ing to the evidence of Frank Howorth, a ser vant of deceased; he was awakened by aery of help; and on rushing in to; Mr. Beech's room he found him lying on the floor covered with blood which 'flowed from several - bullet wounds in his body, from the effeots.of which he expired in a few minutes. In the garden fronting the house the /police .found the foot prints of a man who had walked across the flower beds'and trampled on some of the shrubs

in approaching the bedroom window or Mr. ?and Mrs. Beech. Marks 'were also found on ?the window. Bill and in the bedroom, which are believed to be the footprints of the murderer. The services of the black trackers were called into requisition, but owing to , the heavy rain that fell they were unableto do any good,' and : the affair still remains shrouded in mystery. ... Hardly had the circumstances attending the mysterious murder of .Franois Beech, at Gee long, ceased to occupy a prominent place in the daily papers, when, the public were astonished to hear of another' cold-blooded murder, the victim this , time being ah old man whose name is not known. The scene of the murder was an old hut on-Mr. Thompson's Pierrepoint estate; near Hamilton, in the Western1 dis trict. News was. received at Hamilton, early on the 18th inst., that the' body of a man was lying at the hut in question, and on examina tion it was found that the deceased had been shot. The body* was that of an ap parently healthy man, about 6 0 years of age. An old man named M'Sweeney was found in the hut .with the body, -and ? was at once arrested. He stated that during the night ho heard someone Bay, ' I have gotyou at-last,' and then heard ? a pistol report.' Singular to say he did not get up to see what was tho matter, but waited until morning. ' He denies all knowledge of the murdered man, who ap

peara to have been- a stranger in the district. A black traoker was at onoe sent up from Mel bourne, and every effort is being made to un ravel the mystery.. ' ? A case that has greatly oxoitqd public indig nation oocurred at Ballarat a fortnight ago, when a young girl named Lizzie Murphy,, who-, had been' seduced'iby her employejr^com tnitted suicide by drowning, rather than face the con sequences . of ''???her indisoretiori. -In a letter she left behind she accused hor employer, a man named Pritchard, of having, outraged, her. / A public meeting of married men was held in . Ballarat on the 11th inst., the'; 'mayor ; ocoupying . the ', chair. Dr. Thornton. Bishop of Ballarat, the mayors of Ballarat East and West, the members of Parliament for the district; a 'number . of' clergymen and several leading; citizens were on the platform, and a number of stirring speeches were delivered. The following resb- : lution was carried, on. the motion of the bishop, and an influential committee was'.,d'p- ' pointed to carry it out. The resolution read : — ' That this preliminary meeting of heads of _ families ', in Ballarat records its pity, grief and indignation at the wrongs of. the late -unhappy ' Elizabeth -Murphy, and is Btrongly of ..opinion! that steps- should promptly be taken to clear this community from all allowance of and responsibility, for the same, and also to secure if possible the amendment of the law, with a view to repress the detestable practice of. se duction.?' Pritchard, who acknowledged hav ing been ; intimate with the girl, has since left Ballarat. - A shocking calamity occurred at Denili quin, NewSouth Wales, on Thursday,' the 14th inst.,' by which four lives were lost. In the early morning a fire broke out at the Commercial; Hotel, kept by. Mrs. Kearney,, who, with her daughter, Mrs. Elliott and the two' children of the latter, Mr. and Mrs. Marum and child and a servant girl, -were the', occupants; of the hotel. The fife started in a bedroom upstairs,' and shortly after the alarm wa's/.given 'Mrs.,' Kearney and Mrs. Elliott woro seen at the bathroom window, 20 feet from the ground. It was evident that their escape by tho staircase was cut off. Mrs. Elliott, fin; heir fright, sprang ; to . the ground, and hadj'tp be taken to the hospital suffering, from conclusion of ' the brain.!, .The servant girl and,; Mrs. Elliott's two children escaped ' unhurt, but after the local fire brigade had got. the flames under control, Mrs. Kearney was found dead in the ..bathroom, . having.. been suffocated by the :. dense smbk.e.4-:Further in spection Bhowed ,tha$ Mr. and'Mts; Marum and their child had met their, death in the same way, having escaped from their bedroom. only ft6 be ,, suffocated in one of the passagesi ^Tlie_darnage done to1 the. property was about, £2O0p^:^ylhich, was covered by insurance. 'Much sympathy^Bj1. felt in the neighborhood for Mrs. Elliott,iwhb, it is feared, will not recover. ~':-\'. .:,?'?.?! ?..'$£'?' Things theatrical have been _ very? rquiet during the month. At the Theatre Royal. the pantomime, after a very successful season;-.. was withrawn, and in its place. No Mercy has been put on, with Alfred Dampier as Gerald Eyton. Byron's .comedy of Our Lives holds possession at the Bijou ; and at the others no changes of importance have taken- place. ? \ The revenue of the Customs, department for the! past .month shows a satisfactory in crease lover : that averaged by, the :. previous months of the financial year. It was estimated; that tho revenue of the month would. amount to £1 66J26?,;kut the' actual , amount received was £169,805, or £4694 in excess of the estimate; The first portion . of the present, finanoial year up -to- December -was somewhat disappointing' .to. the ' department, and the. revenue for' that period did not'come up to the' sum estimated by about £80,000. As, however, the period7' between January and: June _is; generally productive of the' largest amount of, revenue to the department^ it is anticipated that the deficiency so far-will be morer than compensated for before the expiry of the year. . -'v'/ ? : ? ' :-' , ; '7\:':}'.i-'':i;''' '.'?'.' ?' During the lost session Parliament voted £100,000 to tie divided as a gift amongst the various. water trusts of the colony, nnd'the Min ister of ,'Piib'lio Works on the 18th Fob. approved of a list for the distribution of £80,000 of this amount,;; whidh ;wiil be handed over to -the; respective trusts as soon loV- they return the mortgages duly oompleted for' the money that has already .been lont to them. The £80,0pO;,has* been dividod on a pro rate \ basis, as recommended by tho- conference of ' water trusts held in Melbourne . some months since— that ib, those who applied for the most money on loon receive the largost amounts out o£ the grant, It has, however, boon dis

covered that -some of the trusts asked in the first instance for ? smaller sums . than- they really required, and are now negoitating for further loans, and the balance of £20,000 will eventually be. divided amongst these, so that they, .will be placed in as good a position as the trusts who. borrowed as much, or in some cases more, money, than was requisite for' the completion of the works. they. undertook. ? .The ,;temporary bridge over the Yarra,. which is to accommodate, the traffic whilst the proposed,newbridge,in the line (of S wanston- street is being constructed, was opened on Men - day, ,11th Feb.,' and traffic over the old Prince's-; bridge7 has now ceased. The new. temporary 'bridge' , is about, -1Q. feet wider- than the old Prince's-JDridge, and the additional room thus provided will tend to reduce, if not to altogether prevent,/ the ? blocks which have in the past so frequently occurred on. the old structure. 'The i yell icle way is ,28 feet wide, and on each Bide there is a footway- 5. feet wide. When the necessary staging has been erected, which it is expected;-;, will -: .''.bo'- in about six weeks time,- the demolition of Prince's-bridge will be commenced. .uTne.bluestone, of which the bridge is constructed; will be stacked . on the vacant ground near the Immigrants' Home, ? and the stones forming; the arch will be num bered consecutively so as to facilitate the re erection of the bridge on another site should any! municipalities desire; to undertake .the Work. ?-.--'? -;.-'??'.. '.:...'.''..';':'??..':. -.' ' - ; Sir W. J. Clarke presented another mag nificent gift to .Trinity .College on ; the. 4th inst. f Hearing that £3000. was still .needed ' to;clear, the Clarke building from ; debt^ he 'generouslyj ,, 'volunteered too*- contribute .'the whole of that , amount. ' ... '? r ':-:-: -]:,'. -: :'.':-''l-: Jt'---'r.^ ?;?';!; ': Arrangements have been made . for the establishment, of a direct steam service' be tween Tasmania and England. , Tho contract is fora direct steam service to England for a subsidy of £12,000— viz., one steamer monthly from London to Hobart, and eight -steamers .during the, year from; Hobart to. London,' h to be despatched on' suoht. dates as- thev.'Govern-: ment approve. ' '? '.'-,'.?[. .-;-, - ,-;'.;.; :'?. .-'r.-l]'r: ? '??? . ' The fifth annual report pf. the proceedings of the Government statist in connection with the friendly societies / of . Victoria has' 'just been issued. A 'large iinass. of very valuable informa tion is included in the document, and as a guideor reference to ]the, 'doings of any particu lar.sooitity;it will be particularly useful. ... The report, treats . of ,the several friendly societies, ' which had beun valued during _ the; , year' 1882, the in' ernal economy and discipline of the various Dooietiesj;' particular reference being; made to contributions, benefits and sick unions,1; and a digest of .the- report'' of .the royal.dom-. mission on , friendly, 'societies . in :,Ne w ^South Wale?, .October, 1881. . The statistics of J;he ^registered ? friendly ' societies ' of ,. Victoria j are added, and contain, much ..yaluable informa tion as to the financial condition of the' orders. Following on the report are the usual statis tics, both financial and otherwise. . A number of blacks, representing the various olans of ; the Gippsland tribes, recently as sembled on their old ancestral meeting ground at the back of Seaoombe, on M'Lellan's StraitB,- for the purpose of . carrying out one of their. ceremonies of initiating young men. into manhood. '-' The ceremonies extended over five days. Mr. A. W. Howitt, P.M., who. is engaged in collecting material for the publica- - tion of a work:bn the subject, was present at the.demonstration, and also at a Bimilar cere mony held a few months ago. by the coast tribes of Bega.New South Wales. He is said to be the only white man. who has ever been permitted to witness the proceedings. v . ; At a. special meeting of the Melbourne Har-, bor Trust on : 6th Feb., for the' purpose of electing a secretary in the place of Mr. R. Ford, .Mr.- Mouritz, treasurer of the Harbor 'Trust, was declared duly elected. There.wero 50 applications for the appointment. At a meeting of the managing committee of the Melbourne Hospital held on 12th Feb., a ?report on the quality of the liquors issued to the' hospital patients ' -waa presented, and showed that, th e whole of the spirits were unfit for .consumption. The report recom mended the disposal of all remaining wines arid other liquors, and that tho tenders com mittee should be authorised to make fresh arrangements for a more suitable supply. The ohairman, Mr. J. Henty, announced that an analysis of three of the samples had been made, and ..that the results were far from satisfactory. A long discussion ensued upon the report, which was eventually adopted. ?'?.'?. ? Anagitation has commenced on the gold fields to put down working in the mines on Sunday. Being desirous of educating the rising gene ration to a high standard of excellence . in architecture, tho Viotorian Institute of Architects has for some time past offered prizes, to bo competed for by pupils only of members of tho institute, for the bost designs submitted by them on any given subject. The responses to tho last prizes offered must be

very gratifying to the members of the institute, an well as to others taking an interest in archi tecture, as no less than eighteen sets of draw ings were sent in. The prinoipal prize, valued at 10 guineas, and presented for a design of a mixed school, was appropriated by Mr. W. H. Piper, of Ballarat, Mr. N'. J.' Fitzgerald, of Kensington, gaining the second prize, valued at .5 guineas. A prize of 5 guineas, presented by the president, Mr. ' Chas. Webb, for street 'architecture was gained by Mr. F. A. Fitts of Melbourne. ' Another. prize of 2 guineas, the gift of Mr. P. Matthews, the lion. sec. of the . institute, for free hand drawing from the cast, was awarded to Mr. P. D. Wyburn of this city. ? Messrs; ? W-: Sal way, C.' Webb and NV Billing officiated as judges. The designs, of which there is a 'very interesting display, have been on vidw at Messrs. W. H; Glen and Co.'s, Collins-street. A meeting of gentlemen appointed by the Protestant churches and: temperance organisa tions to urge upon Parliament the adoption of an Amended Licensing Act was held .on the 8 th Feb. - at the Temperance Hall, Russell street, under the presidency of Mr. Jas. Mirama. The Chief Secretary's written com munication of 12th September, pledging the Government to a careful consideration of the wholesubject duringthe recess, was read. It was resolved that Mr. Berry should be communi .cated with, and ,urged to take prompt action, at the same time promising tho active co operation of all the churches and temperance bodies in scouring the reforms required. 'The half yearly meeting of the shareholders in the Bank of Victoria was' held at noon on the 5th 'February, at. the bank premises, Mr. H. Miller presiding. The report stated that the balance of undivided profits on the 30th of June last was'£12,490 Is. 4d., whilst the net 'profits' for' the past half _ year amounted to £27,023 12s. 5d., ; out of -which the . directors recbrnmerfded ^the^paymept of a' dividend at the' rate of .lO per cent.''' per annum, which would absorb'^25,000,1 thus leaving a balance ?'6f:£l;4,!r-13;:13s. Od. to be carried forward. The re^ort^'and balance sheet were unanimoualy adopted;1' /?''?, . The half yearly meeting of the Commercial Bank of Australia Limited was held on 1st inst., at the company's office, Collins-street west. Alderman Moubray, the chairman of !th.e board ,,of directors, j)resided. The report andVi' statement of accounts, which' were of a niglily.';satisfaotory nature, showed the available proB.t'-in hand to be £44,221 19s., but' of wliich.it^was proposed to declare .a dividend at .'the' rate of 10. per cent, per' annum. The report and statement were unani mously adopted. ?'?'' ?:'???' The half yearly meeting of the Trustees, Executors and Agency Company 'was held at 28 Queen-street on 4th Feb. ; Mr. J. Benn pre siding. The report and; balance sheet were' unanimously .adopted, 'on. the' motion of; the^ chairman, -, seconded by Mr. S. J. Payne. The profit 'and loss account showed that the 'amount available for, distribution on the pre 'sent occasion was. £2450 Cs;5d., of whioh £1348 will- be absorbed in the payment of a dividend at the rate, of '8 per cent, per annum, thus leaving a balance' of £.1102 6s. 5d. to be carried forward. - ? .A party'of prospectors have been at work in the Heytesbury forest for some weeks past in search of coal, gold and other mineral pro ducts. At the depth of about 10 feet from the surface they re'centlyacame across a seam of some black fooking deposit resembling coal. This proved to be inflammable when a light was applied to it. Tlie .seam was about 4 inches in width. In. the same locality- the prospectors came across other seams, ,all of which trended apparently in the same direc tion '? ? ' ' The Moorabbin shire council received a very, welcome communication recently in the shape :6£ a batik ^droft for JE447 14s. 10d., under somewhat peculiar circumstances. About ;14' years ago' the 'secretary of the Moorabbin shire council, a Mr.4' Joseph Astler, ? disappeared, 'and it was ascertained that he had taken moneys of the . council to a large amount. Nothing further was heard of him till recently, when a'; letter, was received con taining the above draft, being the balance of the moneys he had abstracted. The clerk was instructed to send a letter of acknowledgment to Mr. Astler. --?'???? ?' A distinct shock of an earthquake was felt by the crew and passengers of _ the barque Sussex while on her ; voyage liither from ' London. It occurred on the £-th of December, at half-past seven p.m., in 1.35 north and 27.50, west, nnd caused, tho vessel to tremble as though she was travelling over a beach of shingle. Mr. \V'm. King, a relation of Admiral King, recently arrived in Sydney, after twelve days' journey in a boat from New Zealand. The crew consisted of himself,' wife and two daughters. The boat is 18 feet in length, with mast stepped far forward, and standing big sail only. Mr. King is one of the best known yachtsmen in Australia, having oruised in every part of Australia in every kind of boat, and has'i himself spent: upwards of £17,000 in boats and 'other small craft '?'. for cruising pur poses. - Captain H. C. Hay ward, o£ the schooner Kate M'Gregor, .who arrived at Auckland on the 15th Jan., gives an acoount of dreadful icencB enacted on ono of the islands of the Gilbert Group. It appears that the Julia, a ?vessel of Honolulu, landed on the island of Nanouti from 20 to ,30 returned people of Apiang and Tarawa, two -islands north of tho equator, but in tho samo group. Those

are well known to be in a constant state of civil warfare, and are people who are well accustomed to the use of firearms.. Theso men were armed with Winchester repeating rifles (sixteen shooters). They have no claim to anything on the island, and wero landed amongst a people who, althn%l: regardless of law and order, are still comparatively harm less, their only weapons of offence or defence being clubs and knives. These Apiang and Tarawa men were constantly causing trouble, both at Honolulu and on board ship, but on their first arrival on the island they did behave themselves' for a little while. Their ambition, however, became awakened, and, knowing their power, they showed themselves in their true colors. Ten young girls of very tender years were publicly ravished, ' and when two old men went' to expostulate with the ravishers they were shot down. Then followed a scene of butchery of the most revolting kind — men, women and children sharing the same fate. ' Mothers cast their children from them, and with their hus bands took to small canoes, preferring to trust to the mercy of the elements, in these frail vessels rather than to the pitilessness of these fiends' of their own race. During Earl Hosebery's stay in Sydney ho wrote a letter to Dr. Badlinm, Dean of tho Faculty of Arts at the Sydney University, covering a cheque for 50 guineas to provide two prizes for English essays, one to bo com peted for by graduates, and the other by under graduates, of the University; the subject of tho graduates' essay to be The Future of the Aus tralian Colonies, and of the undergraduates' essay The Growth of the Australian Colonies and their Present Relations to the Mother Country.

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