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t TOWN" TALK. .r 0 BY OTTB WBCSAIi OOJtRESPONIXBNT. --+-- Our readers will mdsrstand that vie do not hold owrseUm røpon. siblefor our obis Correspondent's opinions. THERE is, just now, a singular stillness in home politics, or, in the words of a once great comedian, nothing moving but stagnation." Nevertheless, the few M.P's. sprinkled about the clubs will speculate upon the comparatively distant general election. Thus, I hear that Mr. Goschen will be opposed in the City, the Conservatives intend- ing to contest one seat, and a section of the Liberals being anxious to secure one member who is not pledged to the interests of the Plutocracy. Alderman Rose, too, I hear, will have to look well after his seat for Southampton, for it will be contested by Mr. Mackay, of the Black Ball line of packet ships and if it be true, as I hear, that this gentleman is to be supported by the Peninsular and Oriental and Royal Mail companies, the alderman will have but little chance of re-election. By the way, is it not high time that the local political influence of these companies should be inquired into ? and that they do possess great influence either for good or for bad I am well aware, for, but a very few years since, I heard a certain Royal Mail contractor declare-and with truth, too-that, by his own interest, he could return the two members for his borough. This same gentleman's political in- fluence, by the way, afterwards became the subject of a Parliamentary inquiry, and the cause of no little scandal to the Conservative party. As a make-weight to the dearth of home political gossip, we have had important news from the Colonies. The federation of the various British American provinces-the virtual founda- tion, in fact, of another Anglo-Saxon empire-is looked forward to hopefully by all who believe that the Colonies are now big enough and old enough to walk alone, and independently to support their own Government. True, the scheme, which is being now actively discussed at Quebec, does not receive the unanimous approbation of the Canadians, but it was natural to expect some opposition; that opposition, however, is too feeble to alter the general belief that the federation will be effected. In such an eventuality, Irish emi- grants, like those who are now streaming by thousands into the American armies to serve as food for powder, may find it better to alter the course of their migration. Apropos of our government across the seas, alarmists, who have long been jealously regarding the growing power of Russia in the East, have been startled by a paragraph brought by the last Indian mail to the effect that an embassy is on its way to Calcutta, from the independent kingdom of Khokand, with the view of procuring British advice and assistance in resisting the aggressions of Russia upon Khokand. For, say the ambas- sadors, the purpose of Russia in making these aggressions is to be in readiness to attack British India in the event of a war. Now all who are well informed in Eastern matters readily admit that, if any real struggle takes place between England and Russia, it will, be on Indian soil. Let us hope, however, that Sir Charles Wood will not precipitate any such, struggle by lending the arms or rpurees of an Indian Government to this mighty Asiatic potentate, of whose kingdom perhaps not twelve men in England have ever heard for one cannot forget that we have drifted into great wars even through as trivial causes as this, in India especially. The most notable metropolitan event of the week has, without doubt, been the inauguration of the Industrial Exhibition at the Agricultural-hall, Islington. Many have been the interesting exhibitions in this noble building, but surely none have possessed either the immediate interest or promised future benefits to so large a number as the one which was opened on Monday last with so much eclat. Of the inauguration—which, by the way, was not inappropriately ushered in by the voices of our first vocalists, who gave selections from that grand work, the Messiah-I will say nothing. My province is to record, to my best ability, the general effect of the scene upon myself simply as one of the public. Well, then, with a full remembrance of those two Great Exhibitions of 1851 and 1862-in which were exhibited the intellectual and mechanical wealth of the world, and not forgetting also the sneers levelled at British ingenuity when compared with that of foreigners—I felt myself an inch taller in my pride at being able to call the producers of the .marvellous works around, my fellow-countrymen for, whether the products of the brain and hands of amateur or professional, they were equally surprising. But I must give you a "taste of the quality" of this Exhibition. From among some sixteen hundred separate articles exhibited by eight hundred and sixty-seven exhibitors, I will choose, first, a gallery of about fifty paintings, that would do no discredit to a public gallery, executed by a pork-butcher — who, by the way, also exhibits some admirable carvings, wrought simply with a common pen- knife. Secondly, two paintings in oil by a young man, a wood-carver, one of the subjects being the" Death of William Rufus:" they are stated to be the first attempts of a self-taught man; but even so, in colouring, chiaro-oscuro, and clean drawing, they would put to the blush the efforts of many an experienced hand. Then we have a cabinet made by a working man, the key of which is shown; but at the same time the artisan defies any person, unless shown the secret, to discover the key hole. The most marvellous piece of ingenuity, how- ever, is, perhaps, a clock, which, when set, not only strikes the hour a person wishes to rise in the morning, but lights a lucifer, which again lights the wick of a spirit-lamp and boils the water in the teakettle, a feat announced by the strokes of an alarum. But it is impossible to do more than indicate some of the most brilliant of these samples of British ingenuity, constructive power, and industry. They must be seen to be under- stood. I will, therefore, only say that they consist of inventions, of novel contrivances, mechanical models, architectural, marine, and ornamental models, artistic objects; and also that, not only working men, but working women. • are well by the labour of their hands and brains. Such an exhibition will assuredly form an epoch in the history of the working classes, and do more than any mere political agitation to gain for them that extension [ of the franchise for which the London trade societies are just now uniting and holding public meetings to attain. Apropos of these trade societies, I hear that the great meeting which is to take place next month in the St. Martin's-hall, under the presidency of Mr. Bright, M.P., will be attended and supported by more than one man of mark among the members of the Liberal party. I have heard much speculative talk lately as to the liability of the insurance societies to repair the damage done by the late great gunpowder explosion at Erith. Now there is much to be said on both sides but perhaps most in favour of the societies, inasmuch that, in issuing their policies, they never contemplated a disaster that, as is proved by the inquest, must have arisen from gross carelessness, and thus did not charge an increased premium, as is their custom in case of extra risk. Unfortu- nately, no amount of experience, however disas- trous, seems to tell with some traders; for instance, during the past week a carrier has been sum- moned before a magistrate for having a large and unlawful amount of gunpowder stored next to a public hospital. In this instance, at least, the authorities are deserving of credit for seeing that the door was locked before the horse was stolen. Apropos of these dangerous commodities, it is satisfactory to know that the twenty years allowed by the Building Act of 1844, for manufacturers to conform to the statute regarding the carrying on of dangerous businesses within certain limits of buildings, expired on the 9th of August, 1864; still more satisfactory is it that the Board of Works have recently notified their intention of putting the Act strictly in force. The provisions of this Act require that, in the case of such businesses, a clear space should be preserved around the premises of fifty feet from any buildings, and forty feet from any road or vacant ground in other occupation, the penalty being J650 per day for infrineiner the. law. The demolition of old Blackfriars-bridge is pro- ceeding with marvellous rapidity; indeed, from the interest that the passing million take in its gradual disappearance, it seems to be esteemed one of the sights of London; and in truth the removal of the first key-stone the other day, in the pre- sence of so many scientific men, by means of Cap- tain Saunders' safety chain spring, which lifted the huge mass as easily and gracefully as if it had been but an infant, was a sight worth seeing. By the way, the peculiarity of this spring is, that by a series of india-rubber rings alternating with rings of iron, the strain upon the chain is di- minished, and that tendency to snap by a jerk, which ha.s often made the stoutest iron give way, is prevented. Anent the neighbourhood of Blackfriars, people will be glad to learn that the viaduct over Ludgate- hill-at least, the space between the permanent way and the floor-is to be carefully filled in with a substance like tan, so as to silence all sound of the passing trains. Again, persons whose eyes and taste have been offended by the present unfinished and assuredly ugly appearance of the viaduct, will be glad to hear that it is to be externally decorated and ornamented at a cost of £ 2,500—a proof suffi- cient that the directors are not unwilling to sacri- fice to the Graces; while we hear that the iron bridge itself, that is, the inner or more useful portion, will cost only £900, I think it is only rea- sonable, however, to ask the directors to devise some scheme whereby the rain-water shall not fall upon the heads of persons passing underneath it. Speaking of viaducts, the structure which is to cross Holbom-valley will be speedily commenced, for already have the owners of houses on and near the intended site received notice to quit. While on the subject of metropolitan improve- ments, I may mention that the embankment: of the Thames is progressing rapidly. Between Waterloo-bridge and Temple-gardens, a length of 120 feet of the dam is completed, and made water- tight. Among distinguished visitors to London I hear one named, who will, in all probability, be the lion of the next season-namely, a real live gorilla, which charming creature is to be introduoed by M. du Chaillu. Z.








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