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? I EPITOME OF NEWS. Seven rats knotted together by their tails and forming what is vulgarly called the King of Rats* were found at Courtalain in France last November, ihis curious occurrence is known to science, but it rarely found. How and why the rats tie themselver together in this way is a mystery; but they are usually nourished by the others. At Altenburg, one of 27 rats is preserved, and others have been found at Bonn, Selinepfenthal, Erfurtb, Frankfort, Lindenau, &c., in Germany. ACCORDING to Mr. R. H. Thurston in Science if the cast portions of the engines for torpedo-boats, motor cars, and fiving machines were made of magnesium- their weights would be halved. Aluminium has already been employed in making light portable dynamos, but magnesium is lighter still, and has greater tenacity. Its cost would fall if there was an increasing demand for it. THE Gardener's Magazine recently bad a photo- graph of the remarkable yews of Bedfont, a quaint village about 13 miles from London on the road betw een Hounslow and Staines. They are cut into the form of peacocks, and according to a tradition, represent two proud ladies who rejected the hand of a local magnate. The yew at Buckland, about a mile from Dover, is mentioned in Doomsday Book, and is over 1000 years old. BONE caves have been discovered at the "Bains Romains," a few miles from Algierg. They contain bones of the rhinoceros, hippopotamus, and flint implements of the mousterian," or leaf-like type of th Qmtternary epoch. The Algerian coast was then very different from what it is now. ^„1T is a peculiar fact that Lord Kitchener gained his first experience as a soldier under the French flag. At the outbreak of the war of 1870 he offered himself aa a volunteer to General Chanzy, com- mander of the army of the Loire. On returning to England, after the fall of Paris, he obtained a com- mission in the Royal Engineers. AT Wavertree, Liverpool, just beyond the tram terminus, there is a curious inscription cut in the wall, Qui non dat quod habet, dtemon infra ridet, 1414," which, ireely translated, means that if a man does not give when he can, the demon below smiles. It appearn (says the Liverpool Daily Post) that at one time this Atone stood above a well, and that all who stooped to drink were admonished not to leave the spot without having given an alms. If they carelessly omitted to do so, a devil, who was chained at the bottom of the well, burst into laughter. THE juice of the green and growing pineapple is accredited in Java, the Philippines, and throughout the Far East generally with being a blood poison of a most deadly nature. It is said to be the substance with which the Malays poison their kreeses and daggers, and also the "finger-nail" poison formerly in use among aboriginal Javanese women almost universally. These women, says Science Siftings, cultivated a nail on each hand, to a long sharp point, and the least scratch from one of these was certain death. THOUGH the comprehensive scheme which is under- stood to be under consideration at Simla for strength- ening the transport available for the use of the army in India is not yet through, a good deal is being done in a quiet way to keep what exists up to at leatit full strength. The last step taken in this desirable direc- tion has been the reengagement by the Government of India of 1500 hired camels, which had accumulated in the Punjaub command in excess of immediate re- quirements. IT is interesting to note at the present moment, when rumours of Sir Richard Conch's retirement are rife, that he was president of the Commission that was appointed to inquire into the charges of gross misgovernment made against the Gaekwar of Baroda, the predecessor of the ruler who is at pre- sent a visitor to our shores. Sir Richard occupied some high positions on the Indian Judicial Bench, and several of his judgments have recently been severely criticised. A reticent man, not given to many words, he was never popular; but his patient and painstaking methods earned him great respect and confidence. TIIE Earl of Ellesmere has again arranged a three days' cricket match to be played in August on the ground of the Worsley Cricket Club, which is but a short distance from his Lancashire seat. His lord- ship's team will include seven or eight well-known county men, and will, as usual, be opposed by Mr. Stanning's eleven or twelve. On Lord Ellesmere's side Lord Brackley, the Hon. Wilfrid Egerton, and Mr. G. Kemp, M.P., who generally assist, will pro- bably be missing, as all three are still engaged in the Transvaal War. BELIEVING that railway carriages are greatly re- sponsible for the spread of consumption, the German Health Department has resolved on making a reform, which is equally needed and would be just as useful in this country. The ceilings of the carriages are to be varnished, and all corners likely to harbour dust are to be abolished. The tapestry is to be of plain material and devoid of embroidery, the favourite haunt of dust and microbes. The cushions will be movable so that they can easily be changed from carriage to carriage, which will enable the floor to be properly kept clean. Sleeping carriages will be dis- infected after each iournev. A CANINE constable has been added to the police force of Dewsbury borough in the shape of a rough- coated Airedale terrier, who nightly goes the rounds with the men. He formerly belonged to a Mr. Williams, but displayed such a predilection for the police force that the owner turned him over to the chief constable, who obtained a collar identifying the animal with the constabulary. He goes abont town all night with the men, visiting them imparti- ally, and recognises none but members of the force in uniform. He recently followed the men to church. IT has been estimated that the usual trade horse costs about 3d. an inch each week for food-that in, it costs as many shillings a week as it stands hands high. The trade horses of London alone are valued at £ 1,500.000, and their food costs almost £ 1,000,000 yearly. The Pickford Company possess the greater number, keeping some 4000 in the stables, while the South-Eastern Railway Company have only 500. The usual price given for a railway horse, when buy- ing, is E60, but the company rarely receives more than £ 10 or R12 for one at their sale of five-year workers. AN ingenious address was recently placed on a letter forwarded to this country from Pietermaritz- burg by a private in the East Surrey Regirflent. The letter bore on the envelope the presentment of a wheel followed by the letter R. Then the picture of a cottage. Beneath was a roughly-drawn bridge to which led a road flanked by trees. Finally, there was the head of a young woman. The postman took the letter rightly to Mr. Wheeler, of Elder Cottage, Bridge-road, Maidenhead. DURING the past year we consumed over 81,000,0001b. of tobacco, or very nearly 21b. per headr and the amount of tobacco introduced into the country was very nearly 9,000,0001b. more than the year before. Sixty years ago we only smoked about 13oz. per head of the population, or some 23,000,0001b. in all, so that the consumption has very nearly quadrupled in the Queen's reign. It is satis- factory to know that English tobacco is absolutely pure, and that the only samples which were adul- terated were smuggled tobacco. THE remains of a widow named Margaret Marsh have just been interred at Workington. She was in her 90th year she had a sister (the mother of the present Vicar of Ennerdale) who lived to be 99 years of age, and another who Jreached 97. Mrs. Marsh was a distant relation of the Australian millionaire Tyson. She was a letter-carrier at Workington for over a quarter of a century. THERE are in France 45,000,000 hens, which, at an average price of two francs 50 centimes per head, represent a value of 112,500,000 francs. One-fifth of the stock is annually consumed as food, and is sold for about 22,500,000 francs, or £ 937,500. THE German Empress is an exceptionally skilful amateur photographer, and she "has a most interest- ing collection of pictures. The Empress takes snap-shots at the Court festivities, and she has secured a photograph of the Crown Prince when he appeared for the first time on parade as a full officer of the, Guards. IT is stated that the object of King Leopold of the Belgians' visit to Gastein is to see the Countess Lonyay (nee Princess Stephanie of Belgium), Ititt daughter, with whom his Majesty's relations are at present very strained. MR. LACEY, secretary of the M.C.C., thinks that to improve fielding—-in which English cricket is palpably inferior to Australian—in this country it ought to be taught at the schools, and that for this purpose there should be more scratch matches and less net practice. THE medical officer for Limehouse says that poverty is responsible, for the low marriage rate of the district last year, which was 14'5 per 1001). spinet 18,4 fer all Lonccm.


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