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::OUR LONDON LETTER.

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OUR LONDON LETTER. ââ ââ [From Our S-)ecial CorrespondcrJ.] There have been longer &iâ¬gcs than that of Kut-el-Amara. even in the twentieth cen- tury, though the fill of fortress after ress in the present war, in Belgium nrtd Poland, after only a few â days' attack, makes the story of a resista-nce of 143 da's read like a cha-ptfr- of ancient history. Lady- smith held out for 159 days, while the gi, lant garrison of Mafeking were I'('!i,'Y{'d after 217 days. But there were no i i i c, -eiege guns in those days, and the German and Austrian friends of the Turks were evi- dently unable to lend their Allies any of these weapons for use against Townshend and his band of heroes at Eut. Ladysmith and Mafeking, however, were much better oS than Eut In the way of supplies, and were also much better ntted t<' sustain a siege. The l\Iesopotamian town is really little more than a mud village, and it is splendid testimony to the determination and bravery of General Townshend and his men that they were able to hold out so long. There are circumstances in connection with the march on Bagdad and the whole Mesopo- tamian affair which will have to be investi- gated later on, but there are, at any rate, important items to be placed on the credit aide of the ledger. The British forces in Mesopotamia have kept employed large forces of Turks who would otherwise have been used against us elsewhereâperhaps in an attack on Egypt. There is, as might have been expected, a disposition in some quarters to lay the blame for General Townsheud's capitulation on the shoulders of the Government, but probably we shall have to wait some time before we know enough about the matter to be able to apportion the blame. There is nothing startling in this year's Academy. It is on the whole a pleasant and soothing place of retreat from war worries. The authorities of the Academy have' never looked with kindly eyes upon in- novators and revolutionaries in art, and so nobody visiting Burlington House need be apprehensive of seeing on the walls any Cubist productions or anything of that sort. That, at any rate, is something to be thank- ful for. This year's Academy, it may be said at once, is very much better than that of last year, and is, indeed, more interesting in many respects than for several years past- Favourite exhibitors are well represented. Mr. Sargent, who never sends portraits nowadays, has two ceiling decorations, Mr Charles Sims has a characteristic canvas, Mr. Orpen, Mr. Sharmon, and Mr. Lavery have some nne portraits, and Mr. Clausen's and Mr. Napier Henry's contributions will please their admirers. There are, of course, a good many pictures with a war interest. One of the most notable is "The Return to the Front: Victoria Railway Station, 1916," painted by Mr. Richard Jack. It bids fair to be the most popular picture in the Academy. A few days ago in the late afternoon I happened to be in a village on the Ports- mouth Road not far from London. As a matter of curiosity I counted the number of motor-cars and motor-cycles that passed during a certain space of time, and I fourtd that the average worked out at between four and five a minute. No do:ibt earlier in the day they would have been much more numerous. I wondered how many of the occupants had seen the huge posters issued by the National War Savings Committee. "Do not use a motor-car for pleasure I should not care to say that all the motorists I saw on the Portsmouth Road were on pleasure bent, but I should imagine from their appearance that something like ninc- teen-twentieths of them were. If they had seeTi the poster they had evidently decided that it did not mean anything. The Com- mittee has issued another poster now. It asks the reader a question: "Are you help- ing the Germans?" and proceeds with the information that using a motor-car for plea- sure is one way of helping the Germans. There are other ways-buying extravagant clothes, employing more servants than are needed, waiting coal, electric light, or gas, eating and drinking more than is neces- sary to health and emciency. No doubt many people do heed these appeals, but, so far as motoring is concerned, half an hour on any of the great roads out of London on any nne day will furnish abundant evi- dence that there is a vast number who do not. I have noticed that Londoners are much more keenly interested in the cuckoo than countrymen. Residents in Bethnal Green and Stepney, where there may have been cuckoos a century or two ago, but where there certainly are none now, like to learn from the newspapers that the cuckoo was heard for the nrst time in Bucks or some- where else on April 21. whereas the local residents do not get the least bit excited over the matter. It is said that a Bethnal Green man who heard the cuckoo for tba nrst time lai-;t year was not at all improved, and remarked that he bad a canary at home that could knock spots off the cuckoo Tts a, songster. It will perhaps be news to some of my friends in the country to learn that one may hear the cuckoo in London Ftself. I heard him .shouting- in the woods at Dulwifh on Sunday morning before break- fast-that is, before my breakfast. That particular cuckoo was not more than six tniles from Gearing-cross. There is no mo e interesting theatre in London t'-6a, the Royal Victoria Hall, whirh has been playing its part in the Shake- speare Tercentenary. It may Indeed be said to have played the chief part, for its celebra- cion lasted a fortnight, during which time tiotable performances of many Shakespeare plays have been given by an admirable com- pany. Not that the Victoria Hall manage- ment has waited until the Tercentenary tc. ,Yive performances of Shakespeare. Not a &it of it. There has been a fortnight's festival, but for some years, under the management of Miss Lilian Baylis, the patrons of the Victoria Hall have been enabled to witness excellent performances of Shakespeare's plays at prices ranging from twopence. A shilling entitles you to a seat in the stalls. For the past eight monthe 3hakespeare and grand opera have been given alternately to crowded houses. Al- though more noise may be made in the world by the occasional Shakespeare produc- tions in West-End houses, the Royal Vic- toria Hall is the true successor to the G'obe ind the Bankside Theatres of Shakespear'" I lay. A. E. M. =

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