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CURRENT TOPICS.

A lady in London recently went to a fashion-

able hairdresser's shop for the inflammable purpose of having her hair hair -wash, washed. The wash used was a

preparation of petroleum, and during the operation an explosion took place, the lady's hair took fire and she was burned so severely that she 'died. The circumstances were such as to attract much notice, and no leas a person ihau Lord' Kelvin addressed a letter to The Times on the subject. The eminent scientist pointed out that tne accident was probnb'.y due to the ignition of the inflammable yapour from the wash by. an elec'.rio spark generated 'by the rubbing of the hair with the hairdresser's hand. Lord Kelvin says :—: — " In the recent inquest it was stated that the mer.t of the hair-wash was- that it dried so readily. The hairdresser said he felt the hair warm in his hand, and immediately after that all was enveloped in flames. The fact that the hair seemed warm to the hand was due, not to the beginning of some kind of spontaneous combustion, &8 must, I believe, have been imagined by many readers of the report. J(t showed merely that the part of the hair touched had quickly become dry. Very slight fiiction cf the hand on the ; dry hair would suffice to produce an electric spark, and the explosive atmosphere of air mixed with combustible vapour from the portions of the hair not yet dry was there. The conclusion of the inquest shows that no gas was burning in the neighbourhood, atd that no lucifer matches were lying about on the floor which could have been ignited by being trodden on. A gas flame within a yard or two of the ■ place would cerlaiuly have been dangerous but tar less apt to produce the disaster than an electric spark from the hair in the very place of greatest liability to the presence of an explosive mixture."

Bub little public notice was taken of the death

of the Right Hon. A J. Munthe late me della at the end .of July. And MUNDELLA. yet the deceased gentleman hsyi no inconsiderable share in public affairs until his connection .with several companies necessitated his practical retirement from public life. Mr.Mundelta was a self-made man, and, like other self-made men, he was not aohamed of it. At a circuit dinner at Maidstone Mr Mundella once narrated an incident that proved the turning point of his career. He was speaking to the late Mr Justice Denman, then the Hon. Gtorge Denman, Q.C., and M P. for Tiverton. He said :— " Mr Denman, you little know how much I am indebted to your late father, the Chief Justice, for my rise in life and for my attainment of a stat in this House. When I was a poor boy I was employed in a house of business in the town of , and it was my duty to sleep on the premises One night a party of burglars broke into the house, and the noise of their proceedings awoke me. I got up at once and, concealing myself as well as I could, I watched them at their work and then followed them for a while from room to room, running considerable risk thereby, with a view to the identification of the robbers I then made my way out of the house, and* was able very quickly to evoke the assistance of the police. This led to the speedy capture of the gang, who were placed on their trial at the following couuty assizes, the .Chief Justice, jour father, presiding. They were all found guilty, I being the principal witness against them. When sentence had been pronounced and the trial over, the Chief Justice summoned me b»ck into the witness box. aud in the kindest and most enthusiastic terms he pronounced 'a warm eulogium on the part I played, complimenting me on my courage and discreetness. This eulogium was ever before me, and from that moment I was stimulated to prove myself through life worthy of the praises bestowed on me by your eminent father."

The quiet little watering place of Dunoon, on the Clyde, was the scene on a scotch /ecent Sunday of an occurrence sabbath which briogs into eharp contrast breakers, the advanced spirit of the age

and the conservatism of the ancient Scotch element. The Burgh Commissioners had resolved to prevent the landing of excursionists from Glasgow by the Sunday pleasure steamer Victoria, popul»rly known as the Suoday breaker, and with that intention had ck sed, the pier gates. There were upwards of 1000 passengers on board, and the intention to call at Dunoon and land passengers had been extensively advertised. The commissioners had a large body of po'ica present, and great crowds were present to see the fun. As the Victoria touched the pier deafening cheers were raised and handkerchiefs and hats were wildly waved ashore. The passengers, who were mostly men, landed, headed by G setne Hunter, who is known as the "boss union smasher." and advanced towards the new gates erected at the head of the pier. Outside the gates a strong force of Argyleshire constabulary were formed in line. Hunter advanced, and in a lond voice warned the police officer in command to withstand at his peril the landing of the passengers. The 'police officer reolied

that he would keep the peace at all hazards, and refused to open the gates. Hunter, who ia a powerful man, then rushed at the barricade with all his force, backed by the male passengers in &. solid, phalanx. The gate resisted the first assault. The crowd outside then attacked the police, and a conflict ensued, there being a great number of individual wrestling bouts. The police were badly hustled and swept aside by the mob, who immediately attacked the gates, pulling at them, while the passengers inside pushed and battered with feet and shoulders. R&iuforcements were sent for, but ere they could arrive the gates were reduced to fragments, and the crowd poured along the pier. No arrests were made and no serious injuries .were inflicted. The victory of the Sabbath breakers was celebrated by a popular demonstration, and it was decided to present a testimonial to the manager of the Sunday Steamer Company for his success " in securing what is looked upon by a majority of the Wast of Scotland residents and Eagluh tourists as the most important improvement in the steamer service to the Clyde watering plarea." Sunday excursions •• doon the watter " will no doubt bs regarded, as one more step on the downward path.

For upwards of 20 years ths disappearance

from the gallery ot Messrs the stolen Aguew, London, of Gainuduchess. bocough'd famous picture of

Geortmin, Duchess of Devonshire, has bean veiled ia myntery. The picture was neatly cub from it* frame, and though 'large rewards were offered for its restoration its whereabouts bare ever naea been unknown. It is now stated by the New York Herald that the picture was stolen by a man named Adam Worth, a notorious thiet and robber, who will shortly be released from a B-ilgian gaol. According to the description Worth has been uuiformly unfaithful to all his confederates, and it is stated that one of his most dishonest acts was to defraud a mate nttmed Powell out of his share of ths value of the picture. He told Powell that he had sold it for a mere bagatelle sum, and made him accept £50 for hie part, when at the same time tbis painting had nevec passed out of his ovrn hand?, and is to this day under his control. The robbery of the picture was committed in the following manner: — " Worth got up on the shoulders of Powell, and by the aid of awning stays got up to the second storey window, hiding himself behind a large signboard when the ' fl*tty-cop ' went by, and when the coast waß clear all he had to do was to undo the window catch with an instrument ' made for that purpoae, life the window, pass into the picture gallery, cub the painting nicely from its frame, roll it up and let it down into Jack's hands, following after in person after having closed down the window again a< it was before." This is the whole mystery of which the newspaper* of that time wrote so much, and upon which Scotland Yard exhausted its energies.

For some time a British Royal Commission has

bsen taking evidence on the

the danger attending' the use of petroleum low flash American oils in the commission. United Kingdom. It; -is Bt»ted s that these oils are supplied principally by the Standard Oil Trust, of which the head is Ml* John D. Rockefeller, the American "oil king." A pamphlet has recenbly been published under the title of " The Deadly 73deg : A Buiinesa Tragedy in Two Hemispheres." It coutends that the large increase in' the number of fatal, lamp,, .accidents is due to the lowering of the flash point from 100 to 73 degrees for oil , in general con-sumption,-though the flash point adoptfcd for the Government lighthouses and for the Liverpool docks is 120 degrees, and for other Government institutions from 105 to 120 degrees. The Standard Oil Trust has a. grip of ths trade, and floods other countries with refuse oils largely charged with naphtha, aud not permitted to be sold in America. Meanwhile holocausts of victims are injured., while the Standard Oil Trust pays dividends of 30 pec cant. on» capitalisation of £18,000,000. Just ai the mail leltan inquest was held on one of the latest victims, and the deput.y-coroner for Central Lo'nuon made some very strong "remarks about the scandal of permitting these cheap and' 'dangerousoils to be imporied while the British' oils are good, with a high flashing pomt — to high that it is possible to throw a lighted match into some of the liquid without causing an explosion. ;'; '

The London press have just been discussing tho

propriety of continuing to permit tbce right the metropolis to bo the asylum ov for all th>s miscreants who choose asylum. to plan outrages against life and

property abroad, while at the same time the authorities will grant the extradition of a poor wretch who has robbed his master's till. The Bcitish cling tenaciously to the rule that political offenders abroad may rind an aoylum in the Kiogdom, and this has no doubt come down from the flight of so many French aristocrats to Britain during the Reign of Terror. Now, how&ver, it is. thought tbac the Continental Powers are about to expel the Anarchists, and people are beginning to ask whether their reception is quite fair. So tender, indeed, is British law to the freidmn of opinion that, after the murder of Senor Cauovas," permission was granted to certain Sp»ni-h agitators to hold a meeting in Tr*f *lg*r square. Of course the meeting might Jiave been called for the purpose of protesting against the foul murder of the Spanish Premier, but Seeing that Spanish exile*, English Anarchists, and Louise Michel were to take part in it, this was nob very probable. Jt is even suggested that the murder was planned in London, seeing that Golli w*s seen there in company with refugees from Spanish justice. On the Suoday following the murder an Anarchist meeting was held in Paris, and the most violent speaker was a Cuban, against whona the French authorities issued a warrant of expulsion. He is reported to have said that he would speak at the meeting at Trafalgar square, where under a monarchical government ' he would have greater freedom of utterance than in Francs. There might be something in the recent Spanish suggestion that there should be established an international prison for the detention of these enemies to society.

Pe»ry, the American Polar explorer, has intimated that be intends to make another another attempt to reach the expedition North Pole, and promises that to the he will return with a story fully north pole, as rem»rk*ble as Nanaen's. He will first visit the tribe of Esquimaux with whom- he spent several years, and select from them a party of 'hunters and thejr wives. These be will form into- a movable village. The women will be of use in making and mending clothing, ia cooking, and looking after the camp generally, while the hunters procure food, and transport the provisions. Above all, the ' women will prevent the men fvpm" falling into that borne sickness to which , Eeauimaux are specially

liable, and which renders them after s -time useless.. .Having selected his .party h« wjll return .and, secure * ship and sail to Whale Sound Colony, where his Esquimaux will be waiting. ,J3e will then try, to reach Sherard Osborne Fjord, and there establish a permanent camp. This point can ba reached by a relief ship every year. From this base he will push forward by easy stages 'of 20 miles, and at every halb the Esquimaux will build a village of snow, which they can easily accomplish in a few hours, and as each i» comple'ed the women and supplies will be moved up. Enough provisions fo* a stage will ba left in each village, an 3 thus a chain of communication will be open from the base to the last point of land, which he expecta to; find some 300 miles from the Pole. From that point the explorer with three or four Esquimaux will make a final dash for the Pole in sledges. P<:ary claims that hia plan is entirely new, and is only possible because ha has now the confidence of the Esquimaux by having previously conferred benefits upon them by supplying them with wood and shaft. poles for their harpoons. These articles enabled them to obtain plentiful supplies of food,' and from being better nourished their number began to increase. This journey, if undertaken, makes Peary's fifth expedition north* wards.

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CURRENT TOPICS. Otago Witness, Issue 2275, 7 October 1897

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