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T-OVVN TALK. BT OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT. Our readers wiU understand that we do not hold, owrsclves report' sible,for our able Correspondent's opinions. -+-- THERE is just a faint murmur of talk stirring now -amurmuf which will get stronger daily, in all probability, about the coming contest in America for the Presidential chair. It will soon become the chief topic, and naturally so for the issues hidden in that election are important enough to engross the attention of the whole of Europe, and especially of this, the greatest commercial city in the world. Of the three candidates—President Lincoln, General Fremont, the representative of the extreme republican party, and General M'Clellan, who is to be put forward by the demo- cratic section-I hear, from a private letter, that the present President is the favourite; "not," says my correspondent, that he is most popular, but because he is the most powerful—necessarily, in the present disorganised state of things, having the game, to a certain extent, in his own hands. Hence, lovers of constitutionalism fear that the President is resolved, should events render such a course requisite, to risk his all upon the hazard of the die, even if it be to throw a coup d'état upon the political table. At all events it is certain that a tremendous crisis is at hand and it behoves England to "pray that the olive branch may be found in its result, and that some settle- ment of the present dreadful fratricidal struggle may be arrived at." A week or so since I hinted that the Prince and Princess of Wales ^intended to extend their northern tour to St. Petersburg. Well, during the past week I have heard it asserted by certain political pundits that his Royal Highness is charged with a diplomatic mission to the Court of the great Bear of the North that the Prince, in fact, beneath the shadow of his illustrious rank, is to feel the way" for a stricter and closer alliance with Russia, so that in the event (wildly stated as probable) of a loosening of the bonds of friendship between England and France we shall still remain on terms of the closest amity with at least one mighty Power.' Of course, I do not believe one word of this. Odd, isn't it, that our good Prince and Princess, albeit travelling incognito as Baron and Baroness Renfrew, cannot visit their Royal relatives and friends, by way of a mere autumnal holiday, without having its object imputed to cl diplomacy ? The one chief and exciting topic just now is, of course, the capture of Muller. His name is on every tongue, and public opinion as to his guilt runs in one current. If innocent, he is the most unfortunate of living men if guilty, he is a psychological study, for surely such cold-blooded villany was never before allied to such utter im- becility. At present, however, it would be wise, and more according to our English notions of fair play, and the legal maxim that every man is presumed to be innocent until he is found guilty, if people would suspend their judgment till the time of trial. I have heard working men talking earnestly and nervously, too, lately, respecting the com- parative safety of the different Provident Societies, and with reason, for that there is a screw loose in the system which Mr. Tidd Pratt is presumed to direct, recent proceedings at the Lambeth and Thames Police-courts sufficiently testify. At the first a man sixty years of age, and a subscriber since 1849, was compelled to apply to get himself replaced on the rolls of a society, from which he had been most arbitrarily removed when sick and in want. The magistrate's decision was very pro- perly against the directors of the society, whom he ordered to reinstate the applicant, or in default to pay him E7 10s. The case at the Thames police-court was of a similar kind, the only dif- ference being that it was a society composed of females. Now the excuse in both cases was tantamount to a want of funds surely, then, the societies should have been wound up, for want of confidence in these institutions must be a great drawback to the growth of provident habits. Into the real cause, however, of the insolvency of many of them, I think we may get an insight by a glance at the police courts, during even the past week. The fact that, in that short period, no less than four officials of provident or friendly societies have been either sentenced to imprisonment or com- mitted for trial for defalcations, is sufficient to prove that there is something radically wrong in their system. Has Mr. Tidd Pratt no power to interfere in the behalf of provident working men? I'll tell you what, sir," said a carpenter to me the other day, these societies—and mind, you I say nothing agin the Foresters and Odd Fellows- may be all very well when the managers are honest, but of that you have to take your chance; but the Post-office Savings Banks, and Gladstone's Assurance for the Working Men, are, to say nothing of not having to go to a public to pay your subscription and spend your money, a deal better; for if so be the clerks employed take the money, it'll come out of the Government's pocket and not from poor men like me, who pinch them- selves above a bit to save a litrle for sickness, old age, or, may be, for the missus and children." A few probably well-meaning people are en- deavouring to raise by small subscriptions the sum of Y-2,400, for a monument to the memory of Shakespeare. Why not a monument to the memory of Homer ? It is quite as necessary for those who can forget him, or the truth that the real monuments of such men are to be found in their works, which will last with the world. Why will not these gentlemen of the committee, like other reasonable people, learn by experience ? Do they forget that it is but a few months since the people of England practically testified that to raise a monument of mere plastic art to the world's poet was but to paint the lily and to gild refined gold." If their memories are so short, let me remind them that the audit of the accounts of the great Shakespearean festival shows a positive deficit of £ 3,308 8s. 3d. Surely, this statement should be sufficient to make enthusiasts^ suppress their hopes of ever having their humble 1 names carved upon the base of any such monu- ment. Apropos of monuments, Mr. Weeks' bust of Sir G. Cornewall Lewis, which has just been placed in Westminster Abbey, is a work that is likely to enhance that sculptor's reputation. The price paid for the work was 215 guineas, and at the sum no person complams; but people will ask why the Dean and Chapter should have demanded and taken such heavy fees for their permission to give a place to the memoria of a man who, like Sir George, shed so'much lustre on the literature, philosophy, and practical statesmanship of his country. Assaults in railway carriages are still in vogue, nor are they likely to be decreased by such stipendiary Solons as Mr. Woolrych, who, the other day, fined a "gentleman" 40s. for grossly—most grossly—insulting a lady on the Greenwich line. Such a decision is a grim farce, illustrative of the fact that, at least in police- courts, there is one law for the rich and another for the poor. For instance, bad this fellow been a labourer he would have suffered the alternative of not paying the fine—namely, one month's im- prisonment, his wife and family at the same time, in all probability, suffering starvation. Obviously, while nothing but fines are imposed in any case of such assaults, no respectable female will be safe in a railway carriage, if unattended by a male friend. Apropos of railway carriages, I am told by en- gineers that a Mr. Booth's patent plan of com- munication along a train while travelling is likely to be accepted speedily. It consists simply of a narrow platform and a breast-high hand-rail on the side of the carriages. Such a plan, if prac- ticable, will certainly be a preventive measure against the dangers at present so disagreeably notorious. While on the subject of improvements in railway travelling, we may say that the ex- periment of the Pneumatic Railway at the Crystal Palace, the other day, was a success, and it is believed by engineers that propulsion and suction by air will be ultimately adopted—in short, that we shall be literally puffed from station to station the advantage being that passengers will r, 4:1 have fresh air, less noise, no dampness from dis- charge of steam, no chance of fire, no collisions, no running off the rails, nor the possibility of being dragged off a. bridge by an exploding loco- motive. Verily, the millennium of railway travel- ling is at hand. Well, schemes that at one time were apparently impossible have come to pass, so why not this ? Among medical friends, both civil and military, I hear much rejoicing. Being of the genus irritable in all that concerns their profession, they are pleased at the new order from the Horse Guards, under which it is no longer necessary for them to be present at the branding of a deserter, or other misbehaving soldier. This duty has long been regarded by the Medicoes of the army as infra dig.-little less so, indeed, than that of shaving the men, which they were at one time compelled to do. It is not, however, generally known that, by the new order, army surgeons are no longer required to attend their (regimental patients in uniform; and this they regard as a great boon, inasmuch as they can perform their, in many instances, arduous duties far better in mufti" than in military buckram. Of metropolitan improvements-changes, per- haps, would be the better term-I may record that that time-honoured but never-paying place of amusement and instruction, the Colosseum, in Regent's-park, is about to give place to a hand- some crescent; and that next season a new Rotten-row" will be at the service of eques- trians desirous of change, or who find the "Row" in Hyde-park insufficient for their pur- pose. The new ride and drive will extend from Storey's-gate to Buckingham Palace-i.e., the whole length of Birdcage-walk. At the clubs, it is affectedly stated to be intended for the exclusive use of the aristocracy, which, by the way, I take to mean people who keep horses for pleasure, and know how to behave themselves. Z.


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