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WEEKLY NOTES. The French nation are already beginning to perceive that the diversion of British passenger traffic from France may have disadvantages. For some time past passengers from Britain^to the East have had the option of travelling via Marseilles, or Brindisi, but the railway charges of the Italian Companies made the latter route the more expensive with the result that con- siderable profit occurred to Marseilles. Now the Italian Government have brought their in- fluence to bear upon the railway companies, with the result that the two fares are assimila- ted, and the press and the people of Marseilles are in a state of some trepidation concerning the possible diversion of British passenger traffic by the P and 0 steamers. Nor can it be said that there is no ground for the appre- hension, and when the Queen has paid her ex- pected visit to Italy, the French nation will probably have some further opportunities of realising that the policy of irritating the British people, or permitting them to be irri- tated by a degraded press, is rather an expen- sive one. While there is time, our neighbours would do well to defer to the opinion of their compatriots who know us, and in this connec- tion reference may !be made to the address which was recently forwarded to the Queen by the National Society of French Professors in England, and courteously acknowledged by Her Majesty. -0- The Prince of Wales truly remarked last week that in opening the English Education Exhibition, he was assisting a cause which had been suppojted particularly by his father. The Prince Consort always manifested the greatest interest in matters relating to national educa- tion and he would have been the more pleased to assist this effort, because it was preliminary to a further exhibition at Paris in the course Of the present year. It was in fact owing to a resolution of the Royal Commission for the Paris Exhibition that the display at the Im- perial Institute was arranged, a decision being come to at the same time to hold Rimilar ex- hibitions at Edinburgh and Pardiff. As the Prince of Wales remarked, this^is the first time that an education exhibition on such a scale has been held in this country, but the result was eminently satisfactory, and the only diffi. culty will be to select from the collections at the Imperial Institute, the much smaller num- ber of exhibits which can be accommodated at Paris. —o— The fact has been exemplified very frequently of late that there are many people who suppose that the Queen is in a position to set tight everything which is wrong. Among those who thus regard Her Majesty as the people's tribune appears to be that excellent organisation, the Church Society for the Promotion of Kindness to Animals-who recently begged the Queen to propose to the Powers some measure of relief fco the sufferings of horses wounded in battle. The petition testified to the humanity of its promoters and we may be sure that it met the personal sympathy of Her Majesty, who did not however see her way to exercise any per- sonal interference in the matter. The idea of the Association is, that the case may be met by an extension of the terms of the Geneva Convention. In offering this suggestion, they are ahead of the times, but it does not follow that they are not right or that their suggestion will not ultimately be adopted. —o- A telegram from Rensburg tells how a squa- dron of the Inniskilling Dragoons charged a greatly superior force of the enemy, and cut their way through. This is not the first time that this gallant regiment has performed a similar feat. In the charge of the Heavy Bri gade at Balaklava, they went with the Scots Greys, right at the centre of It he Russian cavalry who appeared to be numbering enough to an- nihilate them. As lightning flashes through a cloud,' says Sir W. H. Russell, so they pierced through the dark masses of Russians and came out on the other side. In comparison with the number of the enemy, they were a mere hand- ful, and they might all have been killed but for the promptitude of the 4th and 5th Dragoon Guards, who rushed at the enemy, and put them to rout. -0- The Peace Conference would probably have accomplished quite as much as it did, if it had resolved itself into a convention for determin.ng more precisely the rights of belligerents in the direction of searching vessels supposed to con- tain contraband of war. It is intolerable that Britain should have to contend against such breaches ot neutrality as she has experienced in this war, but perhaps a still graver question is the constant menace to the peace of Europe which is provided by attempts to introduce arms, ammunition, and men, into South Africa, for the assistance of the Dutch republics. -0- The departure of a battalion of West Kent Militia served to recall the fact that this is by no means the first occasion upon which the force has served abroad. During the Peninsu- lar war, the Militia ■ >-1-} ;td a. large csnota of men to fight agf • it recor I corded that from tti >-5, ro fewer than 100,000 men, or tv of the ■ 1Himber raised, joined tbe aTmy if*. :Mtia. >■ During the long pec-" whhh J bat tie of Waterloo, t' c was mcit- th;.11 a paper one, but in lr" it tB revived in tan to assist the Pruif e. v d ir tbe 4>ire?a. lb contributed & iatge. k of ofews J. 30,000 men to the line, and by occupying the Mediterranean Garrisons, was the means of setting free several battalions for service in the Crimea. -0- There is a statute which has never been re- pealed that renders every man between the ages of 18 and 30 liable for ballot for the Militia. It provides that the Secretary of State is to declare the number of Militia-men required, and in the event of the volunteers being inadequate a ballot is to be taken, the names drawn being twice as many as are re- quired to supply the deficiency. The liability of these men to serve, and their physical quali- fications are then to be determined, and the quota is to be completed by taking the names in the order in which they are numbered. Any balloted men may however provide a qualified substitute, the option of paying 110 being no longer in force. —o— It would appear from the Parliamentary paper, published a few days ago, that the next great naval war in which Britain in concerned will, in several respects, be conducted upon lines which have never yet entered into such a conflict. Britain has a satisfactory prepon- derance of strength in the matter of battleships and cruisers, but there would seem to be a very systematic attempt on the part of Continental Powers to piepare to blow these ships to pieces with torpedoes. If the return is complete, Britain has a smaller number of torpedo boats than either France or Germany, whilst on the other hand we have built, or in course of con- struction, 108 torpedo boat destroyers, which exceeds the aggregate of France, Russia, Ger- many, and Italy. It would appear therefore that our Admiralty attach less importance to torpedo boats-than do our Continental neigh- bours. -0- It is rather remarkable that the disaster of Friday, last week, was not the first occasion upon which the Jersey mail boat Ibex had struch the rocks. She met a similar mishap in April, 1897, but was saved by the promptitude and skill of the master, who succeeded in beaching the vessel. An attempt was made on Friday to adopt a similar course, but, unhap- pily, without success. On both occasions the passengers were safely landed, and one can readily understand that they were loud in their praises of master and crew. -0- In the course of the present year, there will be an opportunity of witnessing an eclipse of two-thirds of the sun's surface, visible at Greenwich. The date is the afternoon of May 28th, and the greatest phase of the ecupse will be at five minutes to 4 at Greenwich, 3.45 at Edinburgh, and 3.22 at Dublin. —o— Reports from all parts of the country tend to show that a very severe epidemic of influenza is now visiting our shores. The mortality from this cause has in many places been exceedingly high, owing probably to the fact that people had come to think lightly of this mysterious ailment, and have ventured out when they ought to be in bed, which is the safest and best place for an influenza patient. -0- If there is anybody who doubts that our rule in India is a boon of priceless value to the natives, he would do well to study the figures included in the Viceroy's telegram on the sub- ject of the scarcity of food in that dependency. The number of natives for whom relief is pro- vided reaches the enormous total of two and three quarter millions, and it is indubitable that. but for the assistance thus rendered, hundreds of thousands would die of starvation. Happily, each recurring famine finds the officials better able to deal with the emergency, but the extent of the need which occasionally arises may be gatheied from the fact that in 1876-8, the Government spent no less a sum than eleven millions sterling in coping with a famine. Despite the stupendous efforts which were put forward on that occasion, the number of deaths abnormally caused by starvation and disease is estimated to have been more than five millions. Such a mortality is terrible to contemplate, and enables us faintly to imagine what the effect would have been if the Government had no responsibility for India.