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LOCAL AND GENERAL.

The body of G. W. Robinson, seoond mate of ih'e banjue Kinolune who was drowned on the 27th illt , has been found floating m the Timaru harbor. Twenty lively happy belles of J3ajitimore \ have just Btarted m a body " to do " Europe #n<j the Paris Exhibition. The ages of the twenty range from eighjieeji to twenty-three, and they hay« not ope phamcyonp among tyem. 1 ""**« an a»«aticl m Loodop ftboyt \\% ood el Juw ,

The Ashburton Rifles will hold a social on Friday evening. The previous gatherings of this nature held by the company have been great Buooesses, and as speoial efforts have been put forth to make that to be held on Friday evening attractive, there is no doubt it will be as popular as its predecessors. As an instanoe ot the capabilities of this district m regard to potato-oulture we may mention that Mr John Jaokson, of Ashburton, has shown us a magnificent sample of eleven potatoes whioh turn tne scales at lllbs. They are of the " Button's Snowball " varitty and are part of a second crop on the same ground this Beason, the seed having been put m (after a orop of Early Rose) only nine weeks ago. The potatoes m question are of splendid quality and would be hard to beat or even equal anywhere. A new gunpowder, the invention of Mr Hengst, has reoently been tested, and the results point to it as a promistng substitute for blaok powder for military and sporting purposes. The new powder is prepared from straw, whioh is pulverised, ohemically treated and fiDished m granular form for use. It ib claimed that it is smokeless, iflameless, practically non-fouling and non-heating, and that both the reooil and the report are less than those of blaok powder, with superior penetrative power. The population of the United Kingdom is 36,000,000 ; pauper percentage, 2-90. The population of France is 37,000,000 ; pauper percentage, 35. The population of Germany is 46,000,000. We have no figures oonoerning the pauper percentage ; but the expenditure is known to be high m Prussia. The population of Belgium is 6,000,000 ; pauper percentage over 8 per oent. The population of Switzerland is 3,000,000 nearly ; pauper percentage, 5. The population of the United Biatflß of Amerioa is 6,702,000; pauper percentage, 5 per cent, The "New Zealand Times" (Wellington) says that flax ownerß are getting very handBorne royalties just now. Rumor says the Oroua EBtate reoeives £2800 a year royalty on a weed that they have spent muoh money trying to eradioate. Another big West Coast estate is getting over £1000 a year m royalties. The favorf te form of flax royalty is a rent of £14 per c ripper per month for a day of ten hours, whether the mill be working or idle. Some landlords charge a royalty of 7s 6d to 10s per ton of green flax, and even higher prices are mentioned. It is reported that the Mexican Government have offered to sell the peninsula of Lower California to the State for a sum of twenty million dollars. The offer, if the report be true, is considered a most important one whioh should be acoepted without delay, as not only a vast tract of fertile country, rioh m all the produots of the cropios would be thus acquired, but the outlet of the great river Colorado would become exclusively Amerioan; The position of the peninsula, moreover, is such bb to mark it out as intended by nature for annextion to the United States. The Swarrow Islands, whioh have just been annexed by Great Britain, constitute a group four m number, situated about midway between the Samoan and Sooiety Islands m latitude lSdeg 6min to 13deg 15min 'am longitude 163deg 23min to 168deg 81min They were discovered by a Russian warship of the same name m September, 1814 and are uninhabited. These islands do not appear to be of any value for settlement ; but from their position they offer considerable strategic advantages, and regarded as a ooaling depot on the Panama route their acquisition by Great Britain is highly satisfactory. The opening meeting for the season of the Tinwald Gospel Temperance Sooiety and Band of Hope was held m the Churoh on Wednesday evening last. The ohair was ooonpied by Mr W. G. Wallace m the abscenoe of the President, the Rev A. Blake, M.A., who is away at present on a well' merited furlough. There wbb a good attendanoe of members and after an opening address by the ohairman, the young people oame heartily forward with recitations and hymns. Altogether, a pleasant and profitable evening was Bpent, and bespeaks a suooesßful season for the sooiety. Miss Blake ably presided at the harmonium. Mrs Polhill, wife of Mr F. Polhill, formerly of Lake Heron station, and now of Loburn station, Rangiora.commitled suioide on Satur. day morning by BhootiDg herself with a fowling pieoe. About two years ago the deoeased lady lost her grown up daughter Buddonly, and she had never fully recovered the Bhook, and had been subjeot to fits of melanoholy. Lately she had been more depressed than usual, and at a quarter to 8 o'plo k on Saturday morning she loaded a breechloader, and placing it on the table with the muzzle to her breast, leaned over and pulled the trigge r The shot passed right through her body. She lived for four hours suffering dreadful agony. Dr Clayton, who was summoned, was unable to do anything to save her. There was a great time at the Rink de Paris on Saturday night last. The floor was oovered with skaters, half of whom must have been only learners for the attitudes they assumed were very suggestive of a Marionette Show m whioh the armß and legß of the meohanioal figures are made to work up and down by the aid of wirea. To oomplete the fun of the evening's amusement the manager put the rinker's' through the Grand Maroh whioh necessitates the skaters turning m every direotion. This they gallantly attempted but the result was a floor filled with prostrate forms bearing some little resemblance to a battle field. The rinkers then indulged m another half hpur of all round skating after whioh the bell rang for dosing, abd brought a very enjoyable evening's entertainment to an end. The Rink will be open tonight as ÜBuai. On Saturday last two members of the police foroe were despatched to Roxburgh Station, near Alford Forest, to take charge of the family of a small farmer named Rogers, reports having been received that the children were living like savages. The eldest boy, aged eleven, saw the police coming and cleared out, and although the constables •oarqhed for a ooople of hours they failed to find him. Three other children of ages ranging from nine to five were caught m the house and taken to Ashb'urton, Rogers had on the previous day left home with the intention , of staying awty for a fortnight, and the only thing m the shape of food the police found m the house was a lump of hard bread and a bunoh of raw oarrots. There were no blankets, no table, no chairs, the floor was earthen and the interior m a very filthy state. Eaoh child had a few foul rags to serve the purpose of olothes and bow these tatters hung together is a mystery. On the coldest night experienced this season the children slept out under a hedge w|th no oovering save one' piece of blanket ; m tjie morning their breakfast oonßisted of raw turnips, They all look chubby and healthy and appear to be fairly intelligent, but their ha£"* &*« those of savaged. They were taken to the »6!!<se" station and will be looked after until their obbb can oomfl before the magistrate.' The father has the freehold of the farm he oooupies and is said to be fairly well off. His wife has been dead about two years. Ab will be seen by our Polioe Oourt report the unfortunate little things were brought before two of the looal Justices to-day and remanded, as the matter is one whioh must be dealt with by ' a Itosident Magistrate or Judge. ■ ,

Mrs Leonara M. Barry, the female organiser of the Knights of Labour, givea rather a melanoholy aooount of the state of affairs m Georgia, where she has been making a tour ,of ioqairy. Child labour, she finds, is largely employed m the ootton mills. In some m Btanoea a woman by running eight looms is able to make Idol 50 oents. a day ; but as this involves the labour of two weavers, there are few whose strength is sufficient to maintain it for any length of time. The efforts of the Knights of Labour have suooeeded m shortening the hours from 12 to 10 a day, but so dispirited are the poor creatures that they do not seem to hope that much more oan be done for them. The wages a first-olasß oarpenter oan earn are from Idol 26 oents. to Idol 75 oents a day. Mrs Barry oalls on the Knights to bestir themselves m the matter, and indeed she seems to have good reason to do 80. A marriage ceremony (says the " Melbourne Telegraph") was very quiokly performed under novel circumstances the other day. A young oouple, hailing from the Ooodah district, were anxious to be UDited m the bonds of holy wedlook by the Yen Arohdeaoon Cooper, but oould not oome to Hamilton before Wednesday by the mid-day train. On that day also the rev gentleman had to leave on a olerioal visit to Sydney, so it was arranged he should meet the happy oouple at the station, tie the nuptial knot, and depart by the train whioh had brought them to Hamilton. Aooording to promise Mr Oooper was there, and so were the bride and bridegroom. Mr Ladbury oheerfully placed one of his rooms at their disposal ; the oeremony was gone through; and preßtoJ the archdeacon had taken his seat, and was on his way to Melbourne. The train, not having been delayed by this oonversion of two into one, was at the station for something lees than a quarter of an hour. Spiritualists may be interested m the 11 fact" that there are several "haunted houses" m Napier. At one (says the Hawke'a Bay Herald " the persistent spirit takes the form of a lady m white, with a tendenoy to loaf about the lawn m front of the house, and the darker the night the more the white-robed lady loves to do her lawn, pacing-— or gliding. In another instance th ghost is that of a man dressed m evening attire, the out of his swallow-tail and the gloss of his shirt-front being quite striking. He likes to waylay servant girls m the passage, m this aoting like some men whose brains are not out. At other times he delights to stamp up and down the passage while remaining invisible, and also opening doors. In another oaae the haunting sprites apparenty live between the lining and weather-boarding of a wall, and to pass their time m beating upon tin oans. It is supposed that m the latter ease the spirits of Salvationists are at work Joking apart, these oases of haunted houßeß are quite seriously talked about, and it would not be a bad idea to import a medium to look 1 into the mystery, to " lay the chostß.

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LOCAL AND GENERAL. Ashburton Guardian, Volume VII, Issue 2139, 20 May 1889

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