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f LONDON CORRESPONDENCE. ] • } THE opening of Parliament is the most im- portaat political event of the week. Ever since it was announced that the session would begin earlier than usual, much anxiety has been felt throughout the country to learn what the in- tentions of her Majesty's Ministers actually are, and the interest has also extended to the other countries of Europe. The latest occurrenaea at the seat of war make it evident that Parliament could not have been tummoned to rneeb at a more opportune tine. The catalogue of recent disasters to Turkey—the entry of the Russians into Sophia and of the Servians into Nisch, the capture of the Shipka Pass army, and the surrender of Antivari to the Montenegrins- has brought the end within view if no armed intervention takes place by any other Power. The period when proposals for an armistice have been made is just the one when Parliament em, be most usefully employed in counselling and aiding the Government. The policy of neu- ity has now approached its most critical stage, •and everybody must feel what dangers wouli lie in taking a single false step. If the Cabinet Councils, held day aftor day, |K had cot sufficed to awaken onr legislators to a due sense of the critical nature ot the situation, they would have been con- strained to fix their attention closely upon the state of public affairs by the multitudinous meetings which have taken place all over the country, within the last; three or four weeks, evidently for the purpose of in- fluencing the decisions of Parliament. The number of the!e meetings was also augmented by the circumstance that members of the House of Commons, who are not in the habit of shirking their Duties, generally take an opportune: df addressing their consti- tuencies immediately before the opening of a new session. No later than the evening of Saturday last Birmingham was addressed by its three re- presentative a- Mr. Bright, Mr. Muntz, and Mr. Chamberlain—who all agreed in the continued maintenance of a strict neutrality at the present crisis. When the big constituencies and the little have alike let their voices be heard, in resolu- tions and otherwise, Parliament can have less difficulty in deoiding what ought to be done or left undone. The cold frosty weather we experienced at the end of last week enabled us to sym- pathise more with the poor shivering sol- diers who were enduring the rigours of a Bulgarian winter, and who had to bivouac on the snow, often without being able to draw even momentary comfort from the gleam of a wood fire. At one time last week there seemed just a possibility that the lovers of skating- genuine skating that has nothing whatever to do with covered rinks—might soon have a chance of disporting themselves on the frozen waters of the parks; but, alas! there was a change of weather before ice could be formed into a solid floor, and the present winter promises, so far as outdoor amusements go, to be as unsatisfactory as the last. If we had been favoured with bearing ice it would have helped to settle the question whether the use of roller skates affects to some extent the easy resumption of the ordinary steel-shod skate". With reference to skating-rinks they may almost now, so far as the metropolis is concerned, be regarded as effete institutions, an4 the proprietors of several of them, after laying out a good deal of money in making them attractive, have reason to feel irate at the fickleness of fashion. The two tragical suicides which occurred last week in the City — the one at Ludgate Railway Station and the other in St. Paul's- caused more sensation, probably from the loca- lities where they took place, than events of the kind usuilly do in the metropolis, where violent deaths are of such frequent occur- renoe that people seem to hear of them with com- parative indifference. The terrible leap from the Whispering Gallery in the Cathedral, however, imparted a more than ordinary tragic aspect to one of the suicidal acts whieh, in the case of the viotim, was attended with shocking circumstances of mutilation. There are some persons who, when they approach the edge of a precipice or look from an altitude like that of the Whispering Gailery in St. Paul's, feel a strange Inclination to cast themselves down but the unfortunate man who hurled himself to destruction in the sacred edifice last week is believed to have been labouring under religious mania. As it is said to be thirty years siaoe a similar tragic occurrence happened in St. Paul's, there is not much fearofita beco aiing as notorious for shocking events of the kind as Notre Dame in Paris. An artist, in order to point out how much better they manage these things in France," has contrasted the dilatorines9 shown in con- structing Northumberland-avenue in London wita the rapidity that has characterised the buiHing of the Avenue de 1' Opera in Paris. With respect to this last he states that, at the same period on the previous year, the old streets were standing, and that it was only in the early summer the work of de uolition begun. Bat now there is a stately street, longer than oar Portland-place, already finished, the homes of six, seven, and eight storeys being solidly con- structed o? stone. It is also mentioned that the street contains three hotels, which are to open in April, and that it is brilliantly lighted along its whole extent with gas. Perhaps the expected opentngof the Exhibition at the beginning of the coming summer has something to do with this expedition in street construction, as Paris will then desire to put her best foot fore- most;" but it must be admitted that Sterne's trite saying holds good in this matter, and that our Board of Works go about their building undertakings in a remarkably leisurely way. Northumberland-avenue, to which reference has been made, is a good case in point. The unoc- cupied building sites still continue an eyesore in the very heart of the metropolis, and it is diffi- cult to conjeoture what length of time may elapse before a stately street fills up the present unsightly vacuum. The artist, who has called upon the Metropolitan Board of Works to take Paris for an example, wonders greatly how long they would take to build a street of palaces to endurefor centuries fromCharing-cross to Oxford- street. By the way, there is a hitoh about the con- struction of this projeoced street, though it is greatly needed in these days of ever-increasing traffic. ° One of the largest of the Channel tugs left Millwall last week for Ferrol to bring the Cleo- patra to the Thames, and we may therefore ex- pect the speedy revival of the controversy as to the most eligible site for the celebrated Needle. Besides a powerful vessel there has also been a picked crew sent out, and every precaution will be taken to bring the vessel safely up the Channel and up the river to the spot where the obelisk is to be landed. The vessel, containing the vanerable relic, is to be lifted bodily out of the water and laid on her side by means of hydraulic cranes, and there is a confident expectation that the engineering skill employed will be sufficient to prevent any mishap at the disembarkation. The Anglia and Cleopatra will have the benefit of long moonlight coming up the Channel, SJ that there will be a redaction of the risk of coming into collision with other vessels—a risk which re- cent fatalities prove to be a very serious one at this time of the year. D.G.



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