OUR AUSTRALIAN LETTER.
a [From Our Melbourne Correspondent.] Thursday, October 10. POLITICAL. The Victorian Parliament has agreed upon an address to the Queen praying for an increase in the number of members of the Federal Council from ten to twenty-three. In bringing the matter before the Assembly, the Premier (Mr Gillies) explained that the basis of representation would be two members for every colony of not less than 100,000 inhabitants, four for every colony between 100,000 and 300,000, five for every colony between 300,000 and 700,000, and six for every colony of more than 700,000 people. He explained that the six representatives which Victoria would get by the new arrangement would enable gentlemen occupying high positions in the community to be selected apartfromthe Government, and this would be an advantage, as hitherto the two members of the Cabinet who had acted had not sufficient time at their disposal to devote much attention to federal affairs. Ho afterwards went on to deplore the want of the 'association of New South Wales in the Federal Council, and to express a hope that the new constitution would have the effect of breaking down the obstinacy of Sir Henry Parkes and his followers, and that the oldest colony of Australasia would join the Council, giving a weight to its deliberations which could not be hoped for under present circumstances. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr Munro) seconded the motion for the address, and, with other members of the Opposition, joined in airing their aspirations for unity of feeling among the colonies. After the tariff debateE, in which the Government succumbed to the cry for protection against the other colonies, the views expressed fell on the ear a little airangely. The Government, however, are nothing if not inconsistent, and it is something to be thankful for that federal considerations have not been altogether swept away from the minds of our politicians in the headlong ru3h to prevent a natural interchange of commodities between the colonies. The spirit in which the intercolonial protective duties have been carried was rightly described in the Legislative Council by Mr James Service, in speaking on the Customs Bill, as mean and unmanly. As he pointed out, the cheap labor of Europe might very reasonably be guarded against; but it was a totally different matter when the neighboring colonies had to be considered, for the same conditions in regard to production and manufaotore prevailed in the one as in the other. Mr Service on the subject of Federation is always satisfactory; but on the general question of Freetrade vtram Protection he seems to have fallen away from grace by forsaking to some extent hi 3 old Freetrade principles. Mr Service has been severely taken to task, and it is worth while giving exactly what he had to say on the matter. *' For himself," remarked Mr Service, " he had always recognised for a good many years back that the protective system presented itself in two distinct phases. The first was the political economist's point of view, and the second that of a social point of view. Everyone knew that he had been a Freetrader, and theoretically, after thinking out the problem, he had never been able to come to the conclusion that the polioy of Freetrade was not the best means of increasing the wealth of the community as a whole. In endeavoring to think the matter out logically he had been unable to convince himself that, as a whole, the principles of Kichard Cobden had proved themselves to be more than had been contended for them, namely, that they had created an amount of wealth in England that would not have been created under the old protective system. But, looking at the question in the social point of view—and he quite admitted that
this was the higher point of view—if it could be shown that the protective duties had the effect of move fairly distributing the wealth of the community, the argument was one which could not be ignored. He would go further than that* and say that suppose it to bo the case that under Freetrade England were increasing her wealthj by L 300,000,000 per annum, ftnd that amount of money went into the pockets of a lirqi&ia class, it would be better for the whole couatry if she only increased her uational wealth by one-half the tmount if it were more equally distributed. _ That was the conclusion ho toad been comma to for a series of years, and accounted for the feelinß that he had in respect to the protective duties in t>ur own colony. With him. Ihe statement that he would be no party to the sweeping away of duties Which had created manufactures eo fcs to interfere with vested rights had been no parrot cry. Whatever opinions might be held about protective duties, theoretically or practically, it must be admitted that for many ycar3 there had been more prosperity under Protection in the colony than previously. That was a fact which could not be ignored. As to whether all coi-.ltl come to the same conclusion a3 to the causes of the prosperity was another thing." The reply which has been made to Mr Service ift the Tress is, that if, under a Freetrade policy wealth, goes into the pockxsts oi particular individuals that process is intensified with Protection, ttte experience of America has been peifcted to as an evidence of the fact. A Bill has been passed in the Ta3manian Legislative Assembly making it an indictable o[fence, punishable with a fine of LSO or six months, against bank agents in country district!) who agaiust orders give extended accommodation to customers, and then falsify their periodical acceitefcb to conceal such transactions from t'.i'e head office until the customer"'* account is again iu funds. This is Bald to be a common practice, although involving no fraudulent intent. A STOCKBROKING SENSATION. The latest excitement in Melbourne has been caused by an attempt tr " boom " the stock market in regard to shares In the Round Hill Silver Mining Company. This company has a mine on the Barrier Ranges, New South Wales, in which fairly good prospects have been obtained, but there ha 3 been nothing to justify any great advance iu the price of shares. After the Exchange cfc'ced last Friday, however, Mr W. F. Dix, a broker, ran the price up in a most extravagant manner, taking the shares at whatever price ho could get them, st? that iu the space of an hour rates expanded from Lll a share to Ll5O. Mr Dix, after disappearing for a few days, has turned up, and states that he was acting on behalf of a syndicate, who wished to create a " corner" in the market, as double the number of shares in the company that exist have been sold in one way or another, and a number of wealthy men had made sales without having the scrip to carry outtheircontracts. According to Mr Dix, the scheme has failed owing to the syndicate getting frightened at the prices he offered for the shares, and "leaving him in the lurch." Mr Dix has represented that Mr Fitzgerald Moore, a leading broker, was acting on behalf of tho syndicate, but this Mr Moore denies. The result of Mr Dix's action has been to place a large number of brokers in difficulties, as he cannot pay for the stock which he bought, and it has been raised by those who sold to him at ruinous prices. A DOMESTIC TRAGEDY. A terrible domestic tragedy happened at North Melbourne last week, John Wellsford, a middle-aged man, being stabbed to death by a man named White. It appears that White left Melbourne last Decembsr for tho United States for the purpose of obtaining work, and while he was away hi 3 wife kept a grocery store at North Melbourne-. vVellsford, the victim of the tragedy, had become very familiar with Mrs White by the time her husband returned from America, and in consequence White removed vith his wife from the neighborhood. G'imiug home one afternoon White
found Wollsford talking to his wife, ami on orcicring him to kavc the premises Wellsford refused. Dssirous of presenting a quarrel, White led his wife into the house, aud \Vells>ford thereupon attempted to force his way in. In a struggle that ensued White picked up a carving knife that was lvin* ou the table and buried it in Wellsford's body, inflicting a fatal wound. White has been found guilty of manslaughter by a coroner's jury. A RASCALLY CLEKtiYMAN. Exceedingly unpleasant revelations have been made concerning the conduct of the Rev. G. R. F. Nobbs, an Anglican clergyman who was the incumbent at a Brisbane suburban church. He left the colony two months ago, ostensibly for the benefit of his health, but it has sinco been discovered that he has carried out a number of barefaced swindles. Having a penchant for mining speculation without the necessary funds for carrying on operations, he not only borrowed money from such of his flock as could be induced to lend it, but in several cases succeeded in getting ignorant persons to trust him without knowing what they were doing. In one case property was transferred worth nearly L 2,000; and in another case, where the victim is a woman, the property was worth over LSOO. These cases have been placed in legal hands, but it is doubtful whether the persons victimised have any remedy, as the tranfers, though made ignorautly, were quite regular, and have been properly registered, and Mr Nobbs raised considerable sums on the property before leaving. A DROUGIIT PROPHESIED. Mr Charles Egeson, the associate of the Government astronomer of New South Wales, and a well-known meteorological authority, predicts that Australia will be visited with a recurrence of the great drought of 1827-29. Basing his observa j tions on the well tested assumption that important climatic changes are regulated by cycles of thirty-three years, and the fact of the conditions of the past four months having been very similar to those which ushered in the great drought of 1827-29, Mr Egeson is convinced that Australia is on the eve of another disastrous drought. He predicts that Australia will have increasing rains until December, and then a severe drought, which may be expected to extend from the middle of 1890 to the middle of 1893. GENERAL. A grand national baby show was held last week in the Exhibition Building in Melbourne. No fewer than 2,600 babies were offered for exhibition by their fond parents, but on account of the limited accommodation only 700 were accepted—namely, 350 girls and 350 boys. There were twenty - six entries of twins, and one entry of triplets. The show was conducted by Mr Alfred Dampier, the tragedian, and proved an immense success. On Saturday last a young girl named Annie Wise was killed by a flash of lightning while walking with a young man at Ballarat. The latter, whose name is Otto Lang, was also much injured, and has not yet recovered. He was found wandering about the town in a dazed condition. A sad boating accident occurred in Sydney harbor on Monday. A small 22ft halfdecked sailing boat called the Irene lsft Woolloomooloo Bay with a party of twentyone young people, including several girls. The boat was in charge of a young man named Herbert Croft, who thoroughly understood how to sail the craft. When off Bradley Head an exceptionally strong gust of wind caught the boat, and before the sail could be eased off she capsized. Croft says that the accident was caused through the main-sheet becoming entangled among the legs of those in the boat, and thus being prevented from running free to ease off sail. Theaccident was witnessed by soveral parties afloat in other craft, who soon bore down to rescue the party, and succeeded in picking up sixteen of those who had been in the capsized boat. Of the five others nothing more was seen, and at present they are recorded as missing. One of those picked up—Nellie Thompson, a young girl about fifteen—succumbed to the shock, all efforts to restore animation proving futile. The names of the others drowned are Pollie Fahey, Pollie Stewart, Ada Gilbert, Kate Thompson, and Horace Kippax. All the females were girls of from sixteen to eighteen ; Kippax being about twenty years old. The annual report of the Education Department of Victoria shows that the number
of localities provided with school at the close of last yt-ar was 2,077, &«<? th'o total number of children enrolled faring the year 2&2,046, the avorige attendance being 128,055 Tho returns from private schools show the taumber of children carolled in these institutions to be £7,013. The total expenditure for the financial year ending the 30th of .Tune was L 787.560, including grants in aid of technical schools, exhibitions, and scholarships. The expenditure on primary education alone was L 743.690. The expenditure shows a net increase on the previous year of L 66,53&. Of this amount, L 21.107 represents the increase in payments to toachera in salaries and results, The cost of instruction for each child, in teachers' salaries and results, books and requisites, cleaning, fuel, exhibitions, and scholarships was, for night and day sehttC'la combined, L 4 6sC£d. A cabmaft named James Crawford made a determined attempt to murder his wife at Adelaide last week. Crawford and his wife were married three years ago, but the marriage had been an unhappy one, and Mrs Crawford soon loft her husband, going to live with a femalo friend. Mrs Crawford was well-known on the streets of Adelaide before her marriage, and after leaving her husband she resumed her old life. This so incensed Crawford that he went to the house his wife was staying in and fired four shots at her, three ballets taking effect in the back of the woman's head, and one penetrating her lung. The victim is not expected to recover. KSCAVK FrOM TIIK GEELONG GAOL. The Geelong correspondent of the' Argus' gives the following account of. an escape of two notorious criminals from Geelong Gaol on Ti'.ffday last: —" Great excitement was caused to-day when it became known that two criminals of a moat dangerous character had succeeded by a desporate effort in escaping from Geelong Gaol, where they were undergoing lengthy sentences. This morning whilst the chief warder, Dobbyn, was going on his rounds of inspection he noticed that Warder Cane, whose duty it
was ti patrol the corridor between the cells ou the ground floor of the eastern division of the prison during the night until relieved at seven o'clock in the morning, was missing. He at once suspected that something was wrong, as the absent warder, who has fulfilled duty at the Geelong Gaol for a great number of years, was a very trustworthy officer. After a little search Cane Was discovered gagged and bound in the cooking room, having been securely lashed to a large table. As soon a3 he was released Cane related the circumstances which had led to his being placed in the position in which he had been found. As stated, ho was on duty during the night iu the corridor, in the cells adjoining which were confined some of the most ruffianly inmates of the prison. He commenced at twelve o'clock, and it appeared as if the six hours' watch which he had to complete would pass without any incident of note. About a quarter to two o'clock he heard one of the prisoners knock at the door of his cell, and on going to ascertain what was wanted found that the noise proceeded from the cell of a man named Alexander Clarke, who asked to be supplied with a drink of water. The warder, not thinking for a moment that by this act he was going to facilitate the accomplishment of a most daring scheme, complied with the prisoner's request. He procured the water and handed it to Clarke through the small opening in the cell door. Unsuspecting any danger, he did not observe that whilst passingthedrinktoClarkethedoor of the cell on the opposite side of the corridor had been opened, and that a prisoner named Christopher Farrell was stealthily approaching him from behind. Suddenly the alarmed xviirder was seized by the throat in a vicelike grasp, and to bis dismay ho saw the door of the cell occupied by Clarke open and it 3 occupant emerge to assist in overpowering him. He was unable to call out or make the least alarm, as he was_ gasping through the great pressure which his assailants kept on his throat. Farrell, alarmed le3t the sonfiling might be overheard, lifted up a large stone which he had secured in some mysterious manner, and in a suppressed
tone said : "It is a case of life or death to up. If you speak another word wo will dash your brains out." The warder says that when ho made the threat Fan-ell appeared livid with ruge and excitement, and he is convinced that the ruffian was in such a desperate mood that he would not have scrupled at murder in order to succeed in his preconceived plan of escape. A large piece of cloth was stuffed into the mouth of the now defenceless warder, and his hands and feet were tied. After the operation had been completed, silently and effectively, they quietly deprived him of his boots aud conveyed him to the cooking house, where ho was tied to a table with a pices of stout cord. Before leaving this part of the prison establishment, the two prisoners provided themselves with two dangerous weapons in a pair of sharp carving knives. After disposing of the warder, the desperadoes proceeded through the open door of the gaol into the front yard, and commenced to operate on the Chubb lock which fastened a side door leading into an outer enclosure. A brick wall has recently been erected around this enclosure, and the builders are still at work on the ground, the scaffolding not having yet been removed. The fastening of the dividing door pppeared to have been negotiated with comparative ease, as the Chubb lock was found with a clean break. The prisoners, having got over this difficulty, found the remaining part of their hazardous venture plain sailing. They mounted the walls by means of the scaffolding, and dropped over into the street beyond, and as they had many hours before daylight, made good their escape. The prisoners must, it is thought, have had an outside accomplice to aid them, as it would be impossible for them to get free in prison garb without being discovered. The only conjecture made as to the direction in which the escaped men have made off is that they would probably make for the forest country near Birregurra. The whole plan was well arranged beforehand, as the criminals had in some unaccountable manner provided themselves with skeleton keys to unbolt their celllocks, and the strategy by which the warder was entrapped was evidently preconceived. As soon as the discovery was made in the morning Mr Pinninger, the governor of the gaol, was made acquainted with the fact, and he instantly set out, well mounted and armed, to scour the country for the fugitives. He did not discover any trace of them, however, ,and returned to acquaint the police authorities with the circumstances. The mounted police searched the most probable localities where the prison-breakers would be likely to be in hiding, but without any success. Both prisoners had bad records, Farrell, it will be remembered, being the man who some time since attempted to take the life of Detectivesergeant Nixon by shooting at him with a revolver. It U for this offence that he is serving a sentence of twelve years' penal servitude, in addition to another sentence of two years for having housebreaking implements in his possession. He is about sixty years of age, and commenced his criminal career as far back as 1852, when he was sentenced to twelve years on the roads, three years of the sentence having been spent in irons. Alexander Clarke is about the same age as his fellow-criminal, and his career dates back to 1853, when he was sentenced to ten years' imprisonment. He was received into the Geelong Gaol with Farrell towards the latter end of last year on a sentence of fourteen yeara incurred on two charges of receiving. Their cells were situated directly opposite each other, and they must have arranged through some system of signalling the details of the scheme which they carried out so effectually. Householders are somewhat apprehensive at the fact of such desperate villains being at largo, particularly so as Farrell is known to be of such a disposition that he would stop at nothing in order to retain his liberty. It appears that the practice of sending long-sentenced prisoners to the Geelong Gaol is contrary to rule, as criminals of this character are generally confined in Pentridge. Warder Cane has been confined to his bed since the morning, owing to the shock to the system and some injuries he sustained when attacked."
EXTENSIVE BABY FARMING. At Sydney the other day some shocking circumstances were brought to light at the inquest on the body of an infant that had been adopted by an alleged baby farmer, a Mrs Bait, living at Woollaura. The police
reported that during the last twelve months Mrs Batt had had charge of twelve infants, ten of whom had died, including Ethel May Archibald, the subject of this inquest, and one haddied after the inquest was opened. On the jury proceeding to view the bodies, they found one body lying on a pillow and looking little more than a shadow, another body equally emaciated was lying in a coffin, and a third infant on a bed in a corner of the room, although still breathing, looked as if on the point of death. Another ohild, eighteen months old, robust and hearty, was playing about the room, and this infant, whose condition was such a striking contrast to that of the others, proved to be Mrs Batt's own child. Mrs Batt stated at the inquest that the infant named Archibald was brought to her in July by a M rs Milford, who stated that she was the child's grandmother, and that shehad adopted itonpaymentof LlO. The other child, Amy Bressett, who had just died, was about a month old, and when brought to her a fortnight ago was weak and deformed. The mother of the latter infant had p.-id her 10s per week. The medical evidence showed that the infant Archibald was ill nourished, the intestines being almost empty. Tho organs were healthy, and there was nothing to show the cause of death. The inquests were adjourned, •-
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OUR AUSTRALIAN LETTER., Evening Star, Issue 8038, 15 October 1889