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OUR AUSTRALIAN LETTER., Issue 8044, 22 October 1889
OUR AUSTRALIAN LETTER.
[Fkom Our Melbocbne Correspondent.]
Tuesday, October 15.
VOLITICAL, The New South Wales Parliament was on Thursday last prorogued until November 5, but will probably remain in recess until the first week in December. The session has thus closed with little else than a new Land Act being passed. This measure, a# described by the Governor in his speech, is calculated to establish improved relations between the different classes engaged in tie pastoral and agricultural industries, fester and maintain confidence in the investment of capital, and increase the demand for labor in connection with country pursuits. The acquisition of freehold homesteads for cultivation and farming purposes is rendered more easy and certain. Special provision is made for bringing inferior and scrub lands under profitable occupation. A lengthened and more secure tenure is given to several classes of Crown leaseholders, with the right tc purchase in certain cases, and grounds of serious anxiety are removed from the minds of the holders of conditional leases terminable at theeloseofthecurrentyear. Encouragement is given to private enterprise in making permanent improvements which will benefit the tenant during his term of occupation, and necessarily result in enhancing the value of the public estate. It was promised in the speech that during the recess active steps will be taken to establish a system of technical education, as well as a department of agriculture, and to frame a measure of local self-government. The estimates have been practically disposed of in the Victorian Assembly, and it having been found impossible to bring forward the Railway Bill this session, members are anxious to have the session closed in time to allow such ps desire to attend the Dunedin Exhibition. There is a prospect of a large number taking a trip to your City. Among the private business disposed of during the week was the passing of the second reading of Mr Shiels's Divorce BUI, which will now have a chance of receiving the concurrence of the Council next session. The fact that the second reading of the Bill was agreed to by twenty-eight votes to three shows that there is a g-owiDg feeling in Victoria in favor of liberalising the law relating to the marriage tie. In the Legislative Council most attention has been given to the question of the reading of Scripture lessons in the State school. The proposal has been already rejected in the Lower House, but the subject is one in which political disputants like to engage, apart from the probability of aDy innovation in the educational system being agreed to. While the cause of the religious bodies is championed by Mr Balfour, the secular side has a sturdy supporter in Mr Service.
THE ESCAPE FROM THE GEELONG GAOL,
The latest excitement in Melbourne has been created by the escape of Parrell arid Clarke, two old and hardened criminals, from the Geelong Gaol. I forwarded you some particulars of the affair last week, but some further information has since been obtained. It appears that the locks on the doors of the cells in the Geelong prison are on the outside, placed rather low down, and they cannot be manipulated from within. At some distance above the locks are trap openings about Sin square. The traps close with a spring from the outside, and are always made fast at night. On ibe night of the escape all the cell doors were locked, both on the ground floor and on the floor above, and Warder Cane was the only warder about. Had there been a second warder the plot of the escaped prisoners could not have been carried out. The little traps alluded to may, with a blow from the inside, be opened, and a prisoner possessed of a key has only to put his arm through the hole and open the cell door from outside. This is undoubtedly what Farrell did. The key which opens the cell is of a very simple construction, and not unlike a railway porter's. Ci. ike, who is a blacksmith, evidently made the key which was used by Farrell. Everything had been well arranged. Clarke, whose cell was oppoaite Farrell's—though not immediately opposite—tapped at his door for the warder. He wanted a drink of water. The warder answered the call, and went to get the water. Whilst away it is supposed Farrell must have slipped out, having his door already unlocked, and unlocked the door of his comrade. Farrell, being barefooted, returned quietly to his cell, and the warder brought the water directly. As soon as he opened the trapdoor to give the water to Clarke, Farrell rushed out from his cell, seized Cane by the neck, and forced him into Clarke's cell, where he was threatened to be murdered if he called out, and, as before described, was gagged, carried off to the kitchen, and made fast to the table. The iron gate leading to the kitchen was opened by the key which the prisoners took from the warder's pocket, and the lock of the second wire gate, which had to be encountered before reaching the outside wall, was forced open with a pick. The prisoners not only fastened Cane to the kitchen table, but they took care to lock the gate after them, and apparently carried out their plot in the most cool and deUberate manner. They had provided themselves with ropes, and found no difficulty in surmounting the gaol walls. They climbed up to the sentry's tower by means of some brick walls now being built inside the yard, and having fixed their ropes to one of the posts about the tower let themselves down very easily.
Various rumors have been circulated since theescapeoftbeprisonersastotheirrecapture, but they have proved incorrect, and notwithstanding the vigilance of a large body of police, who are specially engaged in hunting the men down, they have not as yet been successful. THE STOCK EXCHANGE SEKSATION. A formal complaint has been made to the Stock Exchange of Melbourne by Mr W. F. Dix against Mr Fitzgerald Moore, on account of the refusal of the latter to recognise the purchases made by the former in Round Hill shares. As explained in my last letter, an attempt was made to " boom" the market, as shares in the Round Hill silver mine were greatly over sold. As alleged by Mr Dix, he was instructed by Mr Moore to buy up shares on behalf of a syndicate, and to run up the price; but after shares had been bought at prices ranging as high as Ll5O, Mr Moore denied having anything to do with the transaction, and Mr Dix was therefore unable to pay for the shares which he had bought. Both Mr Dix and Mr Moore were called upon to give explanations before the Exchange, and they made sworn declarations, in which they flatly contradicted one another. A rule of the Exchange provides that when a dispute arises between members in their dealings with each other the matter shall be investigated by the Committee, upon whom the responsibility is now cast of ascertaining who is stating the truth. The prevailing opinion is that Mr Dix tells a very probable story, and he has the sympathy of the public in the matter. THE CAULFIELD RACES. The spring meeting of the Victoria Amateur Turf Club was commenced at the Caulfield racecourse on Saturday last, and proved a worthy introduction to the racing season proper of this colony. ComiD£ between the great meetings of the Australian Jockey Club at Randwick and of the Victorian Racing Club at Flemington, the spring gathering at Caulfield attracts the best horses in Australia, and it has a special
interest for racing men. The weather of Saat Saturday was lovely, tho attondanco was unusually large, and there was as good a collection of horses as could be well wished for. Tho Committee of tho V.A.T.C. have been indefatigable in doing everything to make their meetings attractive, and the races held under their auspices are growing ia importance every year. Various improvements have been made on the course, which is now thoroughly well equipped. An innovation which has not mot with favor, however, is the institution of o, betting ring, which is intended to keep the bookmakers in one locality and p.lso to afford protection to the public against " welching," the occupants of tho ring having to be members of recognised sporting clubs or duly registered bookmakers. The experiment madv on Saturday did not work well v.* far as the general puMie are consented, unci it was strongly condemned by the bitting men. In all probability some fresh arrangement will be made.
ihk iUNtiwoon MUBur.B. Tho Executive Council of Victoria have already considered the case of the man Landells, who has been condemned to death for the murder of a surveyor named Sherlock at Eingwood, deciding that the execution should take place; but active steps are still being taken to prevent, if possihle, the death sentence being carriotl out. Yesterday a deputation, beaded by Mr Townscud Macdermott, tho well-known barrister, with whom Dunedin is not unfamiliar, waited on the Acting-Governor, and presented a petition in the convict's favor signed by 10,000 pjople. It i 3 urged on behalf of landells that thero is cot sufficient Droof that the murder of which he has been found guilty waa ft premeditated and cold-blooded one, and that after all there might have been aa Mcideat, as suggested by Landells himself. There is no doubt that Landolls was wretchedly defended by his counsel, Mr Furlong, and that the runiming up of Mr Justice Hodges was all against him; but it is unlikely that the benefit of a small doubt which exists will be given to tho man whoso case was brought before Parliament last week by Captain Taylor, the member for Hawthorne, without eliciting much sympathy.
MUSICAL, AND THEATRICA!.. A subject has been the cause of a good deal of discussion and feeling among Melbourne musicians 13 the establishment of the Society of Musicians of Australasia. The objects of the society arc to protect and give a better status to musicians, and are worthy enough; but exception has been taken to the way in which the society was started, undthemusiciansoithetownarodividcrl—one section against another. The society was organised at the instance of Messrs A. Plumptonand Juliu3 Hcrz ata meeting which only a few musicians were invited to attend, and whilo these two gentlemen selected themselves to occupy tho two leading positions in connection with the society, they also constituted themselves life-governors, and clothed themselves with power to reject anyone who applied to become a member. Those who were Itft out in the cold naturally objected to tho constitution of the society in such a manner, and at a mectmg declared that they would decline to recognise the organisation. The subject has been discussed in the columns of the local newspapers to some extent, and considerable interest has been taken in it. It lias given rise to much bitterness of feeling between certain musicians, aud it is alleged that the dispute has caused Mr JPlumptoii, who is musical critic of the ' Age,' to write most unfair reports upon tho performances of those who are not allied with him. After the Philharmonic Society's last concert a scathing notice appeared in the ' Age' regarding it, and the conductor of the society (Mr George Veake), with others, waited on the proprietor of the newspaper to remonstrate, but they got no satisfaction. The objectionable features of the society arc concisely put by Mr C. W. Russell in a letter which appears in the ' Argus' this morning. They are as follow*:—"(!) Any candidate for admission must apply to the three directors, who decide as to bis qualification?, not by examinations, but by ballot, hi which one black ball condemns him. Practically, then, his reputation is in the hands of each director, individually. (2) Tho public are to believe that a rejected candidate is an incapable musician, although they have no guarantee that he is not the victim of jealousy or animosity. (M) Members only are to be recognised as professional musicians, therefore it may be considered compulsory that every musician shall join, or bo reckoned amongst tho incapables. (4) The decision as to qualifications may be simply the opinion of one director sitting in on a hated rival, but it is to bo held by the public as the verdict of a society comprising tho entire musical profession, when it is nothing of tho kind. The other members have had nothing to do with the decision or with the appointment of the judge and officers of the society." The theatrical managers of Melbourne are taking steps to obtain legislation which shall abolish tho divided authority which exists in regard to theatre regulation?. Under existing circumstances they have to comply with the behests of the Central Board of Health, the Local Board of Health, and the police, and they are put to considerable annoyance aud inconvenience. Melbourne 13 well provided with amusements at the present time, the principal ones being the concerts of the Victorian Orchestra ; ' Pygmalion and Galatea ' atjjthc Princess's Theatre, in which Mr Charriugton and Miss Achurch take part; ' A Fool's Revenge,' by Mr G. Miln's Shakespearian Company, at the Opera-house ; ' Human Nature,' by Messrs Williamson, Garner, and Musgrove's London Dramatic Company, at the Royal; ' The Beggar Students' at tho Alexandra, by the Solomon Opera Company ; the Silbon-Stirk combination at the Exhibition Building; and the American Midgets at the Athena;urn Hall, GESEBAI.. There seems a prospect of the journalists of Australia establishing an organisation for themselves which will have some influence. A representative gathering of Sydney pressmen was held on Saturday evening, wheu the firat steps were taken to form a national association of journalists on the lines of the British National Association of Journalists. An electrical tramway—the first in Australia—was opened at Box Hill, near Melbourne, yesterday. The lino runs from Box Hill to Doncaster, a distance of two and aquarter miles. Midway an engine house has been erected, containing a powerful dynamo, which supplies an electrical current to an overhead wire, with which a movable arm on the tramcar communicates, so that the electricity is conveyed to a motor between the wheel axles of the car. Tho track is over undulating country, but in spite of steep gradients the special car put on yesterday ran smoothly at au average speed of B;ven miles an hour.
The report of Mr Egeson as to a three years' drought created a stir in Sydney, and to allay the alarm of solicitous people the Minister of Public Instruction called on the Government Astronomer for a report. JUr Russell, in replying, states that Mr E#cson, who is fourth assistant at the observatory, made the alarming prophecies without either his knowledge or his approval, lie considers Mr Egcson's predictions unreliable, and calculated to do injury to the colony. In his opinion it is impossible to predict what will happeu even (luring the noxt few months, and he is now preparing a detailed statement with a view of allaying any alarm caused by Mr Egeson's prophecy. The Minister has prohibited the publication of any further weather prognostications of this Character until they have been examined and 8 motioned by the Government Astronomer. A telegram which has been received from Brisbane gives an idea of the difficulties Sir Wm. Macgregor has to labor under in the government of New Guinea. It appears that on the Ist inst. Sir William landed at Demara and Maria with twenty-three men to search for the murderers of " Fcenchy " aid "Jim the Larrikin. The party found the places deserted, but on the 3rd inst. they were attacked by 250 Natives, who fled when they were tired upon. Four Natives were killed and eleven wounded. The Governor burnt the villages and palisades. The head of "Frencby" was found completely smashed, and the place where the murder was committed was discovered, but the murderers could not bo found.
OUR AUSTRALIAN LETTER., Issue 8044, 22 October 1889
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