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TOPICS OF THE DAY.

[From Our Special Correspondent.]

/ _ London, August G. The Diamond Jubilee Year will be memorable amongst other things for its fine bank holidays, all four of the dates sacred to the feast of St. Lubbock having been blessed with splendid weather. Monday last was the hottest day of this gorgeous summer, and in consequence record crowds of dry and dewy not to say perspiring trippers thronged every seaside resort within four hours’ journey of the metropolis. Walking through the West End squares in the cool of that evening I met scarcely a soul. - The blinds were down in the great houses and the streets deserted. For quite half a mile the only signs of life were a forlorn cab, with the driver drunk, inside, and an immoral cat blinking along via walls and areas towards some unholy orgie on the tiles. And yet the people had not all gone out of town. A few of them (GO,OOO odd) passed the turnstiles at the Earlscourt Exhibition, 30,000 were at the Oval, 45,000 at Hurst Park races, and 50,000 odd on Hampstead Heath. The Crystal Palace had one of the worst bank holidays it has ever known, and the caterers lost heavily. The average attendance at Sydenham on such occasions is 60,000, and as many as SO,OOO have been known to turn up. Oa Monday the numbers fell to 44,772. On the other hand, the rush to Epping Forest totalled 127,776. AT lIAWARDEN FLOWER SHOW. The annual flower show -at Hawarden, held in Mr Gladstone’s park on the August Bank Holiday, is a great event in Lancashire and Cheshire, and invariably attracts a huge concourse of tourists and trippers. These, needless to say, are not drawn so much by a desire to witness the display of flowers and fruit as by the hope of seeing the Grand Old Man and hearing him speak. Last Monday the venerable statesman was in great form. He appeared on the scene soon after four, wearing a white hat and carrying a green umbrella, and soon showed he was quite his extraordinarily vivacious and energetic self. Mrs Gladstone gave away the prizes, little Miss Dorothy Drew winning one of those reserved for children. Then Mr Gladstone got up with the alert movement once so familiar to the Home of Commons, and talked delightfully for twenty minutes on fruit, flowers, and eggs. Some years back, at this very gathering, he had, he reminded us, recommended the pursuit of the culture of fruits aud flowers and butter and eggs to the farmers as a cure for the bad times. The suggestion (he might have added) excited much derision at the monlent, Mr Gladstone’s “jam speech” affording mockers plenty of food for amusing “ copy.” Nevertheless some farmers took the G.O.M.’s hint seriously. On Monday Mr Gladstone read t le following from an agriculturist at Wisbech :

Dear air,—Some years ago, in a speech made at Hawarden, you suggested that under certain conditions farmers should devote a part of their hud to the culture of fruit ami flowers. I arn pleased to say that I took your advice, especially with regard to flowers, and that for the past three years, although I have largely increased my growth, I have received more orders than I have been aide to supply. You will, lam sure, he pleased to hear that 1 send c.ut Mowers to dwellers in our large towns at a cost to them of something like 50 percent. under what they formerly had to give, als i that I am able to pay my workpeople 20 per cent, higher wages than they used to receive when the land was worked for purely agricultural purposes. In addition to this I put by a very substantial profit for myself.

Mr Gladstone said he considered this a very satisfactory letter, and went on to urge further efforts in the same direction. Everybody, he said, knew him for a stalwart Freetrader. It was his wish tijat the products of the whole world should find their way to the tables of laboring people of this country without let or hindrance. He then continues :

But though I hope that no delusions and no quackery will-ever.induce the Legislature of this country to go back on the happy experience it has witnessed, yet if any of those products can he better raised at home I delight in it. If they can be raised better and cheaper here I rejoice in it and sometimes when I find that 1,200,01:0,000 eggs are laid all over Europe in order to be imported into England, I cannot help thinking it would be a very good thing if five or six hundred millions of those eggs were laid at home, because you may depend on this: that the nearer the egg is laid to the place where it is consumed the better it will be. 1 do not believe that the cgg-producing in this country is half exhausted, ur, in point of fact, is exercised, and therefore whiie I rejoice that the foreigner is allowed to supply the English! man, yet I say the more the Englishman can grow that cheap food at home-that cheap food ami the accessories of food, such as are the objects of this horticultural meeting to promote-the better am I pleased. -MURDER>D OX .IUBILRE XIGIIT. The arrival from Bombay of Mrs Averst, widow of the luckless young lieutenant who was murdered whilst returning from Lord Sandhurst’s reception at Poona on Jubilee night, and of Surgeon-captain Beveridge and his wife, who were with them on the fatal occasion, throws some light on what has been up to now a dark mystery. The trouble, it is evident, arose out of the drastic measures Dr Beveridge had to adopt to stem the terrible plague which has been ravaging India in general and Bombay in particular. These were bitterly resented by the Natives and denounced by the reptile native Press which urged vengeance in the clearest terms. The assassination of Lieutenant Ayerat was, however, without doubt a mistake. The man aimed at was Dr Beveridge, and he only escaped through the murderer’s blundering. On his arrival at Plymouth on Saturday the doctor gave Reuter’s man. the following account of the tragedies of Jubilee night:— Even in the light of subsequent events, many of the incidents of the Jubilee night in Poona are still shrouded in mystery. That there was a deeplaid plot against certain Europeans no one (even among prominent Natives) doubts. What was its precise scope we do not now know. Whether it was resentment at sanitary measures, or was timed to take place on Jubilee Day for political reasons, it is difficult to say; but that the mysterious movement was directly instigated by certain prominent Natives and by the Native Press of Poona. I, for one, feel certain. Lord Sandhurst’s official reception commenced at a quarter to ten. It was held in Government House at Ganesh Khind, about three miles out of the city, and reached by a dark and lonely road, with here and there a few empty bungalows. Everybody in Poona was at the reception. In addition to the officials and their wives there was a large gathering of prominent Natives. It was specially noticed by those driving to the reception that there was an immense number of Natives along the road. Seeing that there was a Jubilee illumination in Poona itself this was a matter of comment, and people going to the reception expressed their surprise and wonder what could be the reason. Nothing of a specially noteworthy character happened at the reception, which was a brilliant success. About midnight Lieutenant Owen Lewis, who assisted me in the work of segregation, Mr Band,, Lieutenant Ayerst, and' myself were chatting in the supper room, and a few minutes afterwards my wife and I left. I noticed that in the porch of Government House and along the sides of the carriage drive leading to the main road there were even at this late hour a great many Natives. It is necessary here to say that it is absolutely certain that Lieutenant Ayerst’s murder was the result of a mistake. He was never in any way connected with the plague measures, nor could he have been a source of irritation to the Natives, as he was employed in the Commissariat Department in the discharge of purely military duties. Mr Rand, however, as chairman of the Plague Committee, was constantly the object of insult by the Native Press, and according to subsequent Native report the plot was directed against Sir Rand and a doctor. Others said that in addition to Sir Rand Lieutenant Owen Lewis was in danger If my life was threatened my escape was purely the result of an accident. Instead of driving off from the porch of Government House, my wife and myself, finding that our carriage had already left walked a short distance and picked it up some way from the house. Our carriage, which was a closed oue, reached Poona without incident. Mr Rand left the reception some little time after I did. Ho drove alone, and was immediately followed by Lieutenant and Mrs Ayerst. As I was in the habit of driving just after Mr Rand when on our plague work, and as Mrs Ayerst, both in height and dress, bore considerable resemblance to my wife, the inference is clear. At this point continued Dr Beveridge, I cannot do better th-ii tell you the story of the -murders as narrated to me by Mrs Ayerst.

•Air Rand, my husband, and myself,” she said loft Government House together. Mr Rand entered his victoria, which had the hood up and drove off alone, just in front of us. We followed in a victoria, but kept the hood down, as wo wanted to see tho fireworks. Lieutenant Owen Lewis and Lieutenant Sargent were ahead of Mr Rand. An incident which probably had some significance occurred as we left Lord Sandhurst’s The number'of our carriage was 54, but on its arrival we found that the number, as called by the driver, had been altered to 22. Wo knew however, by. the things we had left in the carriage that it was ours. On reaching the lodge sates mv husband pointed out to me a tonga, or native cab drawn up at the roadside, with a Brahmin as’ecp .inside. A number of Natives were standingabout in groups. We drove for about a quarter of a mile down the road, when we heard a shot just in front of us. In the darkness we saw a short and stout Native climbin’ 3 down from the back of Mr Rand’s carriage 0 which was only a few yards off, and then run away towards the right. I said to my husband • * What a shame it is for those Natives to let off

crackers like that, and frighten the horses ’ At that instant a similar report was heard just be- . hind, and my husband fell forward. On raising him up I saw a great wound in his forehead, from which blood was flowing in torrents. I immediately tried to arrest the bleeding, aud shouted to the driver to stop. He, however, drove on, and, passing Mr Rand’s carriage, came up to that containing Lieutenant Lewis. The latter, in response to my calls, jumped out and stopped the carriage. Looking hastily at my husband, he thought he was merely wounded, and, putting me in his own carriage, shouted for a doctor. At that moment Mr Rand’s carriage came up, and Lieutenant Lewis stopped it, thinking it might contain a medical man. As the occupant appeared to be asleep, he touched him and said: ‘Are you a doctor?’ The man, in reply, only groaned, and to his horror Lieutenant Lewis saw that it was Mr Rand, and that he too had been shot.” Resuming his own narrative, Dr Beveridge said:—“ The first news of the murders reached me while I was at supper at the Connaught Hotel in Poona. Just before this Major Seton, of the Royal Irish Rifles, who -was supping with us, and who had been greatly delayed on Uis return from the reception, said that one of the horses of his carriage suddenly broke down a short way from Gunesh Khiud, and on examination it appeared that the animal had been drugged. Major Seton and Ids wife and another lady who was with them changed over into a tonga, which they were surprised to see at the roadside. As they were resuming their drive two Brahmins emerged from the darkness, peered under the hood and then dropped back. The news of the murder caused the greatest consternation, and at the earliest moment I ran across to the hospital, where Mr Rand and Lieutenant Ayerst had been conveyed. 1 found tint Lieutenant Ayerst had died instantaneously, and that Mrlßand was dangerously wounded and unconscious. On inspection it was seen that Lieutenant Ayerst’s carriage was drenched with blood, and that there was a hole in the hood bearing evidence that the shot w'as tired at close quarters. The shot had passed right through Lieutenant Ayerst’s head, and some traces were found on the opposite seat of the carriage. In the case of Mr Rand the murderer had lifted up the hood and fired underneath it." . THE KINO OF SIAM AT HARROW, King Chalaloukorn, of Siam, ia a merry little monarch of much intelligence and many moods. The said moods appear rather disconcerting to his English entourage, who never seem quite certain where they have him. Thus, on Friday, at Portsmouth, His Majesty was throughout buoyant and gay as a grig, all smiles and affability. But on Saturday, at Harrow, on the contrary, he was dull and bored, yawning openly in Dr Welldon’s face, and displaying none of that rampart interest in education alleged to be his special Jorle. If, however, this pocket potentate failed somewhat to live up to his reputation at Harrow, he at least gave the head-master and his pupils plenty to talk about. The primary object of the visit to the school was, of course, to see his youn<* son, Prince Puraehatra, who is being educated there. The meeting proved delightful to witness. Alighting from the carriage in haste the King fairly rushed into the boy’s arms and kissed him on both cheeks. Then the lad saluted his elder brothers, who accompanied Hia Majesty, with “ Hullo, how are you ? ” The Rev. J. E. C. Welldon stood by waiting his turn, not (the ‘ Daily News ’ thinks) to be kissed, but to have his presence acknowledged. “Head-master—eh? head-master?” queried His Majesty, jerking hia thumb in Mr Welldon’a direction and addressing the young Prince. The lad returned an affirmative nod, and then—it is only just to recordthe King gave the head-master’s hand a very human grip. Mr Welldon was for inviting his visitors within, so that they might enjoy a moment’s repose after their journey, but before reaching the staircase the King turned back. lu front of the house, on either side of the roadway, was a guard of honor formed by the volunteer corps that is composed of Harrow hoys. Standing on the kerb the King addressed them in this wise ; “ You may march past Ime here—oh ! yes, if you like. I’m readv.”

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Permanent link to this item

https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/ESD18970927.2.56

Bibliographic details

TOPICS OF THE DAY., Issue 10430, 27 September 1897

Word Count
2,551

TOPICS OF THE DAY. Issue 10430, 27 September 1897

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