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CHAPTER LI: SIGNS OF RENEWED VIGOUR.
PUT into a few words, the year of the Queen's Jubilee, 1887, was one of comparative sunshine after the storm, though, it is true, the 29th of January saw the loss of the mail steamer, Brighton, off the coast of Guernsey, and on May 12th occurred the death of Judge Gibaut, the immediate predecessor of Judge Vaudin as Magistrate of the Police Court. The preparations for and the actual celebration of Her Majesty's Jubilee, on June 27th, however, added a brightness to its whole surroundings.
Never, perhaps, has St. Helier been more en fete or displayed her loyalty to greater visible effect than on that occasion, when the whole Island seemed, as with one accord, to join in the rejoicings ; the town of St. Helier at night, especially in the neighbourhood of the Weighbridge, presenting a spectacle of magnificent display in the matter of illuminations and pyrotechnic achievements ; whilst one lasting memorial of the event is to be found in the laying of the foundation stone of the Victoria Landing Stage at St. Helier's harbour.
Added to this, during the following month Jersey was visited by the Comte de Paris, and on September 3rd the Grown Princess Stephanie of Austria arrived on the Island for a somewhat lengthened sojourn, choosing for her domicile the residence of Viscount Gervaise Le Gros, situated at Millbrook and equidistant between St. Aubin and St. Helier.
October 30th, 1887, saw the opening of St. Thomas's Roman Catholic pro-Cathedral, and November 1st the swearing in of Lieut.-General Charles Brisbane Ewart as Lieut.-Governor.
Then, coming to the year 1888, with trade once more reviving, we find evidences of vitality in other matters. The Ballot Bill was first introduced (again the work of the worthy Constable of St. Helier) on January 9th that year, though it was rejected by the conservative spirit of the States on the 12th. On the 16th an Ordinance was passed for the issue of a copper coinage to a value not exceeding £2,000, and on that day a Bill was passed to provide accommodation for the stabling of cattle for the purposes of the public markets, plans for the same being adopted, and the Harbour Committee given instructions to £4,000; the outcome of the whole matter being the really excellent abattoirs situated near to and facing St. Helier's harbour. Then the question of the Paid Police absorbed the attention of the States on February 2nd, on which date it was decided to repeal the existing law, and introduce in its stead a regulation to the effect that the number of that body, acting under the Constable of St. Helier, should be increased from. ten to thirteen, thus allowing three of the number to devote their energies to special work connected with the harbours : the Constable by the same Act, too, was empowered to appoint a responsible sergeant under whom the whole body should work.
The existing bronze statue of Queen Victoria, in the Weighbridge Gardens, erected in commemoration of Her Majesty's Jubilee, was decided upon by the States in February, 1888, and on the 20th of the same month the same energy which had newly sprung into life was directed to another result, viz., the passing of a Bill to enforce the farmers and others of the Island to fill up, under penalty, the schedules concerning its agricultural returns. Likewise, on the same date the farmers' interests were well studied in the passing of the present Margarine Act, with its resultant very heavy fines in case of fraudulent proceedings.
On February 28th, 1888, an event occurred of more than local, if also sad interest, in the death of the Rev. W. C. Le Breton, Dean of Jersey, and father of the celebrated Mrs. Langtry.
The last day of February saw the formation of the Jersey Poultry and Ornithological Society, and March 2nd the founding of the present Jersey Dog Club each now celebrated with a more than local fame, and each alike the offspring of the parent Jersey Dog and Poultry Society, established a few years previously; whilst the Jersey Dog Club, it may be added, held its first annual show on the 22nd of the month that saw its institution.
Another thing continually agitated the same year, and though no actual results accrued, still noteworthy as showing signs of renewed vigour on the part of the inhabitants, was the better lighting of St. Helier, a matter first brought prominently to the fore on March 21st. Sanitary arrangements, too, at that time, attracted more than usual attention, consequent, no doubt, upon an outbreak of swine fever in Valley-des-Vaux on May 2nd, though that was fortunately overcome with comparatively little loss.
Then came, so far as matters ecclesiastical are concerned, the result of the greatest mistake of the year, or, for that matter, of any given period. On March 29th the Rev. P. Pipon Braithwaite, Incumbent of St. Luke's, had been nominated Dean Elect of Jersey. On May 14th the appointment was cancelled, not because he was not pre-eminently fitted for the sacred and exalted dignity, but because it was subsequently discovered that he was not Jersey born, and was therefore disqualified for the office, a position, it must be added, which was afterwards well bestowed upon the present Dean, the Reverend George Orange .Balleine, who was sworn in on the 14th of July following.
On August 27th, 1888, the States found it advisable to renew the Acts of the previous March and April prohibiting the importation of French cattle, sheep, swine, &c., in consequence of a letter addressed to them by the Lieut.-Governor, and an Act of the Harbour Committee, thus throwing the Island for some little time afterwards chiefly upon Spanish sources for its meat supplies.
Between this event and September 12th, when the new Jersey Ladies' College was opened, little of any importance seems to have occurred. On the 26th of that month, the Kolapore Rifle Club was founded, and on October 9th the first move was made in Jersey towards Early Closing, to be followed on the 23rd inst. by the establishment of the now flourishing Jersey Commercial Association, having for its objects the amusement and edification not only of those particularly connected with business matters, but also of the residents of and visitors to the Island generally. The year 1888, however, seems to have closed, like the preceding one, amidst very heavy weather, no less than twelve vessels being weather-bound in St. Helier's harbour on November 29th, a date also noteworthy as seeing the primary outcome of the "Early Closing Movement" in the first advance being made towards it by the boot and shoe establishments.