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CHAPTER LIX.: THE EARLIER MONTHS OF 1894.
THE first day of January, 1894, saw a renewed effort for supremacy made amongst more than one of the Island's newspaper proprietors. The Jersey Express, up to that date a tri-weekly paper, came out then for the first time as a halfpenny evening daily, and from the Jersey Times and British Press office there appeared for the first time in the Channel Islands a daily morning paper, the Morning Post, at the same price; its short life, however, of but a week's duration, gave evident proof that at the time Jersey had not reached the stage when such an undertaking could be looked upon as likely to prove a commercial success. Otherwise, the first week of the year in question was remarkable for the intensely cold weather which prevailed, a very heavy fall of snow occurring on the 2nd of the month, the thermometer falling as low as 20 deg. Fahr. (actually -20C approx.) below freezing point on the early morning of the 4th instant, and skating being again indulged in during the few following days.
On the 15th of the month, much to the surprise of many interested in the constitutional welfare of the Island, a Bill once more introduced for the increased representation of St. Helier, was placed by the States " at the bottom of the list, " though signs were not wanting amongst many members of that body to show that in other respects they were willing to accede to what might beautify the town. In this spirit, though amidst great opposition, some ridicule, and not a little misunderstanding, it was wisely decided to plant trees on the four sides of the Royal Square, such work being resolved upon by the Defence Committee on January 19th
Following upon this, on the 20th of the month came the actual birth of a new enterprise in the registration of the West End Bathing Company, Limited, and one which has certainly supplied a long-felt want, whilst the 25th saw the final adoption of the Compulsory Education Act.
After this a difficulty arose in connection with the expatriation of a pauper resident, which had in it a sentimental aspect, and which stands out as almost an isolated example of the kind. A man, John Pike, a native of Ireland having been employed as a labourer on the Island for sixty two years, had grown too old to work, and thus had become chargeable to the authorities; under these circumstance; it was decided by the Royal Court to send him back to his mother country. Against this a considerable amount of creditable public opposition was set up, and it is a satisfaction to be able to record that the decree of expatriation concerning him passed by the Royal Court on January 27th was withdrawn on the 9th of February following.
In the meantime (February 1st), the motion for planting the Royal Square with trees was first brought before the States. And on the following day the Island had a novel experience in the form of a slight, though decided shock of earthquake, happily unattended with any serious effects.
By this time the first "Ballot Bill" had run the three years provisionally allowed it by the law of Jersey, and its good effects having been evident on all hands, it was re-adopted by the States on February 11th, 1894, by a majority of twenty-one votes to twelve, the only other matter occurring during this same month worthy of permanent record being a dastardly and deliberate attempt on the part of some undiscovered culprit, and for reasons never fathomed, to derail one of the Jersey Railways Company's trains at Millbrook, an affair which took place on February 22nd, and happily proved a futile one.
March 1st, 1894, brought the Island into closer (legal) relationship with the Argentine Republic, by the confirmation by an Order in Council of an act extending the provisions of the Extradition Acts of previous years to the Treaty of May 22nd, 1889, concluded between Her Majesty and the President of that State, and stipulating that reciprocity should be observed in connection with all crimes related in the said treaty—a like extension, by the way, was on March 31st, 1894, given to provisions of the same act to the King of Portugal and the President of Liberia (one of the only independent States in the world, be it remembered, where a white man is not allowed by law to be possessed of any property, or to hold any civil right).
Then, essentially connected with home affairs, and intimately affecting grocers and small shopkeepers on the Island, came, on March 17th, a new Law concerning the sale of wines and spirits—passed by the States on the 11th of the preceding January, and receiving confirmation on March 3rd—prohibiting all unlicensed persons from keeping open their shops or establishments, or selling any alcoholic liquor after the hours when ordinary licensed houses closed—in other words, having the salutary effect of closing all places (other than private clubs) where spirits, wine, beer, cider and the like were sold at 10 p.m. on week days, and entirely on Sundays, Good Friday, and Christmas Day.
On March 27th this same year, the " Societe Jersiaise " opened new premises in Pier Road, the munificent gift of Jurat J. Falle; and on the 31st of that month Dr. Thorold, Bishop of Winchester, arrived in the Island, for the last occasion hut one prior to his lamented death. At this period, viewed from a financial point, Jersey once more could not boast of being in a very flourishing condition
In fact, the Budget introduced about that period showed deficit of some £10,000 on the whole financial year, though it is true that against this was to be set some £3,000 to the good in the accounts of the Harbours Committee, and few hundred pounds sterling in favour of the Market; Still it was a position that needed rectifying, and which for a lengthened subsequent period exercised somewhat sorely the minds of the legislative body.
To return, however, to the penultimate visit of Dr Thorold, we find good evidence of his Lordship's work and energy in the Confirmations then held by him at St. Helier and St. Peter, on April 3rd, 1894, the Consecration of St. Aubin's church and of the extension of St. Brelade parish churchyard on the 4th, together with the laying of the corner-stone of St. James' vicarage—the gift of the Hon. Sophie Romilly (who was then living) to the memory of her brother-in-law, Sir Lothian Nicholson, Bart., late Governor of Jersey—on the 5th.
On April 12th, after several important discussions, a Bill was passed by the States for the purpose of fixing the time of polling at public elections, curtailing the-time for nomination of candidates, that is to say, from thirty to twenty minutes, and empowering the Returning Officer to close the poll ten minutes after he had publicly inquired whether any other elector desired to vote.
Another Bill to introduce the English language into the States was rejected by twenty-one votes to twelve on April 9th, and coming to May 3rd, 1894, we find one Louis Boisvert sentenced to three months' hard labour and five years' banishment for incendiarism and attempting to defraud " La Confiance " Fire Insurance Co. of Paris, of .£100, though this was not by any means the most serious offence of that class that had happened during the year.
On May 11th, 1894, we find discovered on the Island, in its way a parallel case to the celebrated "Pigott forgeries", which cost the Times some odd thousands of pounds a few years previously. In brief the Jersey Express, in all good faith, unwisely published a threatening letter purporting to be signed by a potato merchant of the town, which letter afterwards proved to be a forgery, and for the publication of which the proprietor of the newspaper in question was condemned to the payment of £20 damages together with costs in favour of the libelled personage.
May, 1894, too, is noteworthy as having witnessed the opening out of the " Pirate's Cave " situated at the Corbiere; the public inauguration of which semi-historical and romantic cavern took place on the 25th.