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LON IK>N LETTEI». LONDON, Monday Night. Two or three weeks since I informed wo ffi 11 your readers that although not officially announced, it was exceedingly improbable that the Queen would open Parliament, and after the announcement made from Osborne to-day, it may be taken as certain that this prognostication will prove coriect. Hei Majesty has not completely recovered from the fall she sustained a good while since, i and not only is she not able to stand for more than a few minutes at a time, but unusual exertion in any other form speedily tires her. You may, therefore, ex- pect in a few days the official announce- ment that owing to continued indisposition the Queen will not open the session. Even when her Majesty's health has been fairly good she has shrunk of late years from taking part in a State ceremonial of some length, and which necessitates a long carriage drive in the opening days of one of the bleakest of months, and therefore it is little to be wondered at that now, in her weakened state, she declines to face the cold winds of February on her way from Buckingham Palace to the Houses of Parlia- ment. The fact that Mr Gladstone was enabled to-day to defer his return to London from Hawarden until to-morrow is regarded in some circles here as indicating that the state of affairs is a little less tense than it was a few days since. The Premier will, however, be in town sufficiently early to preside at the Cabinet Council which will decide to- morrow afternoon some details of foreign policy, as well as of home business. General Gordon will soon be in the Soudan, but by himself he will be able to do little. He will have to be backed up energetically or his mission must end in failure. The Cabinet to-morrow will resolve upon what measures to take in this direction, and the result of their deliberations is anxiously awaited. The announcement of the intended with- drawal of Mr William Holms from the repre- sentation of Paisley has not surprised those who know anything of the condition of the hon. member's health. Last session he did his best, in the face of manifest weakness to discharge his Parliamentary duties, and had, as he stated in his retiring address, hoped to have by this time regained his strength, so as to have attended to his engagements in the session which opens to- morrow fortnight. But as this seems impos- sible, and as the next session will be un- usually heavy and important, he deems it only justice to his constituents to enable them to be fairly and fully represented in the stirring times that are before us. Should Mr Lalor carry out his intention of retiring from the representation of Queen's County, there will be five writs to be moved for on the first night of the session through the same cause—namely, Meath, Cork City, Queen's County, West Somerset, and Paisley. The Patriotic Association, the political weight of which may be gauged by the fact that Mr Ashmead-Bartlett is its guiding spirit, is calling upon the Lord Mayor to forthwith summon a meeting at the Guild- hall to protest against evacuating the Soudan. As Mr Fowler was chosen for the mayoralty simply on the ground that he would obey the Conservative behests, it is not impossible that this particular one, though commanded by such a very minor Tory light as Mr Bartlett, will be agreed to. But city "jingoes will not have quite the chance of distinguishing themselves over the Soudan as they had over the Eastern question in j the glorious days when Sir T. Owden was Lord Mayor, and it was regarded as "good form to break up all metropolitan Liberal meetings by violence. Business men within the city are willing just now to wait before definitely pronouncing upon such a com- plicated question as the future of the Soudan. The results of General Gordon's mission cannot yet be predicted, and it is too early to raise any party cry on one side or the other with regard to the matter. There is some hope at last of an improve- ment in the art of colour printing, which for a long time seems to have been almost at a standstill. Messrs Goupil have just pro- duced, by the photogravure process, a fac simile of a water-colour drawing by M. E. Detaille, representing a company of French troopers, and a piece by M. Adam, entitled "May and December," with a skill that surpasses any previous work of the kind. Every detail has been adhered to with pre- cison, and the transparency of effect which is so rare and almost impossible in chromo- hthography has been faithfully imitated. The photogravure process in black and white, which originated with Messrs Goupil, con- tinues to be a great success. Many of Sir Frederick Leighton's choicest pictures have been reproduced in such a manner as to give perfect satisfaction to the painter himself, as well as to admirers of his works. The next subject to be taken in hand is The Sum- mer Moon," one of his earlier paintings, and the property of Mr Alfred Morrison. ■ A water-colour painter of very great ability has just died very suddenly. Mr Bnttain Willia was a well-known member of j the Water-Colour Society, and in old days a constant contributor to its exhibitions. His cattle pieces, in which the shaggy-coated animals of Scotland were the favourite models, have always been held at high values in private collections, and a calamity which happened some years ago has added to their worth. No one suffered more severely than Mr Willis in the fire which destroyed so much property stored at the Pantechnicon. There had been deposited a number of the painter's drawings and studies, and it is only an artist who can appreciate how great was the loss to their owner. His death was from congestion of the lungs. It must have been very sudden. I saw him at the private view of the Grosvener, wander- ing amongst the Sir Joshua's, and enjoying them with a true artist's pleasure. 0 The difficulties which a paper like Vanity ■tair has to contend with lies in the exhaus- tion of the catalogue of great men. At first the hard thing was to choose, now it is to end out. The caricatures that bear the monogram Spy are the work of Mr Leslie wF wilV3 a son of the late E. M. Ward, I^A., and who succeeded the original illustrator of Vanity Fair, Pele- grini. Pclegrini's work was the best. The caricature is happier and the likenesses better, too. I am glad to hear that arrange- ments have been made for the old signature Ape once more to appear occasionally on the margin of the cartoons. A curious fact is stated to be the case about the diocese of Bath and Wells. The map of the county is the map of the dio- cese, or very nearly so. As a rule English bishoprics are quite independent of English counties. The geography book is an unsafe guide. I suppose everyone has heard how the two sees, now going to be severed, came to be united. A dignitary in King James s time was asked which see he would prefer. Both were vacant. He said he thought Bath best. Scotch pronunciation made this sound like baith—and he got baith. There are epidemics of crime in London, just as there are epidemics of disease. We are apparently entering on one that is very grave. Scarcely a day passes but reports are made at the police offices of robberies in the streets by gangs of ruffians. There have been plenty of letters in the papers, but I am told these do not represent a tithe of the actual cases. The wayfarer who wisely runs away or makes terms with his assailants, the timorous man who prudently delivers the moment he is desired to stand is not likely to address the editor of the Times on the subject of his grievance. The gravest view of the matter is the extent over which this terrorism is spread. A year ago we heard about the Thames Embankment, but it was always possible for the wayfarer to avoid that resort of thieves, or for the police to garrison it. But now at every police office the same story is told. Hamp- stead, Seven Dials, Kensington, Newington. The new whistles for the police have been ordered, but have not yet arrived. It has been suggested that doctors, actors, and persons who must necessarily be about the streets by night should be supplied with them. There was just such an epidemic in Paris four years ago, only there the thieves were more systematic. They knew that a certain actor was sure to pass along a given street every evening just about midnight, and he was watched till a favour- able opportunity came, and robbed in a systematic and well-considered way. LONDON, Tuesday Night. The statement circulated a few days ago to the effect that telegraphic communication between Khartoum and Cairo had been de- stroyed proves to have been unfounded, and .it, Cabinet, Onnp^il flm .iFt.ovnooii Minis- ters were enabled to consider communica- tions of very late date from Colonel Coetlo- gon, received through Sir Evelyn Baring. It is understood that these were of not quite so despondent a character as might have been expected a few days since, and although it is too early to have ascertained what effect the news of General Gordon's mission was likely to have upon the popula- tion around Khartoum, as well as within the town itself, it is thought that' when once the whole of its probable consequences are realised, Colonel Coet- logon's difficulties will be somewhat bright- ened. It is further believed that, with the most recent information in their hands, Ministers have come to the conclusion that an immediate evacuation of Khartoum is not to be expected. Further than that nothing definite can yet be said. After disposing of foreign affairs at to- day's meeting, the Cabinet commenced their detailed discussion of the principal measures to be laid before Parliament upon its re- assembling. The City Guilds Bill, which will be introduced into the House of Lords, and the London Municipal Reform Bill, which will first see the light in the Commons, have practically taken the shape in which the world will see them, and will not require much further debate on the part of the Cabinet. Mr Chamberlain's measure with reference to merchant shipping is not so far advauced by a stage, and will not improbably require further revision at the hands of its author before it is sub- mitted to the inner council of Ministers, and, therefore, it is really the Reform Bill which is now occupying attention, and will continue to do so for more than one of the series of councils to be held between this time and the opening of Parliament. The forty shilling freeholder" is one of the minor points of difficulty waiting to be settled. The main lines of the measure have already been agreed upon. A great amount of sympathy has been ex- pressed here to-day with the Duke of West- minster in the loss of his |eldest son, Earl Grosvenor. The noble earl was not as well known to the general public as he would have been had he followed in the footsteps of his father, and taken a strong interest in politics but although he never endeavoured to enter the House .of Commons, and ap- peared quite content to await his ascending to the hereditary chamber before taking any part in the government of his country, there were many here who felt much interest in him as the prospective landlord of a very large portion of Western London. Like the Duke of Sutherland, the late Earl Gros, enor was an expert engine driver, and in the sporting world he was not altogether un- known. The world, however, moves on heedless of the loss of those who have been taken from it, and there could not have been a more active illustration of this than the fast which came under my notice this afternoon. The contents bills of the evening papers contained as their largest line Death of Earl Grosvenor"; but this did not at all interfere with the assembling of a full meet- ing at the Kensington Vestry-hall, at half- past four, to learn an account of the work of the local branch of the Charity Organi- zation Society. The Hon. Robert Grosvenor, eldest son of Lord Ebury, a.nd second cousin of the young nobleman now lying dead at Saighton Towers, is the chairman of the Kensington branch of this society, and as such it had been arranged that he should deliver an address on the operations of the branch. He did so to the extent of about three- quarters of an hour. I doubt, however, if it was the prospect of Captain Grosvenor's speech which drew together such a con- siderable number of ladies. The attraction was the Marquis of Lorne, who since his return from Canada has been much sought after at such interesting gatherings as these. There also was the Vicar of Kensington, the Hon. and Rev. E. Carr-Glyn, who, a little while ago, was married to Lord Lome's sister, and contributed a practical little speech to the business of the day. In connection with Sir Charles Dilke's presence at the annual meeting of the Chel- sea Liberal Association, at Kensington Town- hall to-night, I must tell you a story which last week came within my own knowledge. Sir Charles was down for two engagements one night, and a reporter from a morning paper went to him to know which he meant to attend. He was not aware that he was promised for either, but elected to go to the dinner of the tricyclists at the Holborn Res- taurant, and sent his secretary with the reporter back to the office to ascer- tain-the precise whereabouts of the other engagement, so as to telegraph to say he could not come. This arises out of a well- meant effort to perform the impossible in a vast constituency like Chelsea, having a population of 380,000, with over 30,000 electors. The visit of the Barnum elephant has been attended with one quite strange and unex- pected result. Of course the public have gone, not in crowds, but in mobs to see him. They have assembled in their thousands round his house, and if the directors of the Zoo have charged nothing for board or resi- dence, their hospitality has been most judi- cious. The public will gape at anything that has cost a great deal and been well advertised, but the class who are most practically interested in Toung are the London skin doctors. Perhaps it is a nasty idea, but the divinity of this elephant and his value in the eyes of the judicious Barnum is due to his suffering from skin disease. It was expected he would be a kind of Albino, a sort of white blackbird, a freak of nature, and in that sense an object of worship. But it seems that his proper place is not so much in an Indian shrine as in a London hospital. He is a leuco- dermatous patient, and I am told Barnum's agent was perfectly horror- stricken at the proposal of an en- thusiastic medical student to cure him in a month. It was something like the offer of a traveller in fancy soaps to take the stain of Rizzio's murder out of the boards of that little dreary room. inHolyrood Palace. But I am told Barnum need be under no alarm. All anxieties for the elephant are unfounded. He's quite in- curable. I hear that one abuse of long standing is likely soon to be remedied. The Home Circuit was intelligible enough in the days of coaches and post chaises. The judge went through the country with all the dignity and importance of the sovereign, and, indeed, a justice in eyre—which is simply in itinere or on circuit—took the same rank as a lord- lieutenant in Ireland, and would have pre- cedence of the Prince of Wales and of" every subject in the land. So it is still, but then the Home Circuit has beenabsorbed,1into the south-eastern. Kingston on Thames is, however, still an assize town. It is only twelve miles from London it is almost practically London, and it has been allowed a provincial importance to which it has no claim. It is an absurdity to have the judges and the bar visiting this suburb, to which a dozen trains a day would take litigants up to London in forty minutes. Kingston has long been threatened, but local influence diligently exerted I has hitherto saved it. I understand that its next assize will be its last. There are such constant changes in the British soldier's dress that an army tailor seems to be as much governed by fashion as if war were under the control of M. Worth. Headquarters have decided that the Scotch regiments are not any morefto wear feathers in their caps. ".Structural alterations "in a soldier's dress are intelligible enough when there is a good reason for the alteration. But what can possibly be said against the feathers ? I see that a great deal can be said in their favour, and that it is going to be said. Civilians and military men seem agreed on this point. The conduct of some of the Scotch regiments in action has been a feather in our cap, and the feather should certainly not be removed from theirs with- out sufficient reason.)i LONDON, Wednesday Night. The manufacture of "scares" having been a-little less active than usual of late, it has apparently been thought necessary to revive it. Yesterday London was startled with a marvellous tale of the discovery of various packages of dynamite in the Primrose-hill Tunnel, immediately in front of the Prince of Wales's train; and no sooner had it been found that the basis for this story was exceedingly unsubstantial than another fabje was started, it being "this time asserted that the Scotland Yard detectives were busily engaged in hunting after a trifling sum of three or four thousand dollars which Patrick Ford and his outrage- making friends had sent across to England, apparently in one easily recognisable packet. This tale has this evening been found to rest upon an event of more shadowy foundation than the other, and it may be hoped that after f.hn prompt 0'(1'1)'11"'0 "of tlitwo canards, no more of the sort will, for some time at least, be forthcoming. A good many sympathisers with disestab- lishment are to be met with this evening who commend the attitude taken to-day by the leading speaker at the annual meeting of the Scottish Liberation Society. Mr Peddie, of whose devotion to disestablish- ment no one can entertain a doubt, ex- plained that as it was probable the next dissolution might turn upon the extension of the franchise, it was not thought desirable to divide the Liberal party by unduly pressing the question of the Church. This is held to be sound wisdom, and to be a policy which will materially aid in the movement which the Scottish Liberation Society is trying to pro- mote. English Liberals might be repelled from it if, at the next election, Scotland was lost to the cause by reason of dissensions in the party concerning disestablishment,and if the meantime is used by Scottish Libera- tionists to educate the people on both sides of the border, they may expect such an In- crease of strength in the new Parliament as will enable them to carry their point. Even the most determined opponent of Mr Henry George could not deny him the virtue of courage, and that virtue has again been strikingly displayed in his new work "Social Problems," early copies of which were to be obtained to-day. It may be doubted whether, clever as the book un- doubtedly is, and brilliantly as in some parts it is written, it will have anything like the vogue obtained by Poverty and Progress." Like the St. James's Hall lecture, the new book goes much further than advocating the application of a policy of confiscation to the owners of land, and this should be noted by Mr Hyndman and his friends of the Demo- cratic Federation, who had been making ready to denounce Mr George because he was not apparently prepared to plunder all who possessed means. As far as London is concerned, it seems doubtful if Mr George's influence is as great as it was. A good many who had no objection to join in a crusade against the ownership of land, hesitate very considerably before under- taking a similar campaign against all kinds of property. The Cabinet Council summoned for to- morrow is one of the series which usually precedes the opening of the session when the date is so near as we are approaching it now. The informal meeting of the Minis- ters this afternoon, which was attended by the Premier, the Home, War, and Indian Secretaries, and the President of the Local Government Board, was one of those consul- tations which are so frequently held in Mr Gladstone's private room in the House of Commons during the session. It waJ long a reproach to London that it had no chamber of commerce, thereby being placed at a great disadvantage as compared with the great trading provincial centres. From the second annual meeting jheld this afternoon, it is clear enough that more especially in the candid manner in which Mr Magniac placed before M. de Lesseps the views of the commercial community in November, it has done very efficient service. This of itself quite entitled Mr Magniac to the honour which was accorded to him, that of an unanimous re-election as president. It is clear that whatever statues are des- tined to fill the vacant pedestals on Black- friars Bridge, they will need to be of con- siderable size, as well as expressive in charac- ter. The equestrian figure of Francis I., cost from the original in the Crystal Palace, in order that the public might have an oppor- tunity of studying its effects, as now erected on the north west pier. In size it looks in- significant, though not sufficiently so to prevent an artistic eye from appreciating the architectural improvement that will be effected by a similar group. It only shows what might be done in the way of embel- lishing our city, if there were as much taste shown there as in some of the continental towns abroad, [where the works of the most talented sculptors are constantly employed in beautifying streets, squares, bridges, and parks, while the best English talent is hidden away in museums and galleries. However, it will be some advance if even one of our many bridges is adorned with monuments of artistic labour, provided that the subjects are appropriately chosen. We have had so much amateur inspection of East-end London, and so many 'prentice hands have been tried on the improvement of the condition of poor men's houses that matters seemed almost hopeless. In Red- cross-street, Soutliwark, matters have come to a climax. The houses there are delapi- dated, so that they are very likely to tumble down, and, what is more, they are in such a state of filth that fever may be ex- pected at any moment. The magistrate was consulted, so was the medical officer, and so was the sanitary inspector. The houses are condemned, and the poor tenants will practically be turned out in as short a time as can be possibly managed. This is the state of things that must be faced in all parts of London, and it wants very practical advice to know how to deal with such diffi- culties. The mildness of the weather, which has been so beneficial to pulmonary patients, has made fever more prevalent, and when fever gets an innings in a London rookery, it is nearly impossible to run it out. An effort, I am told, is going to be made this spring to create or revive an Irish in- dustry. We all know the fame of Balbrig- gan hosiery. But all the north of Ireland is more or less famous for this kind of work. The name, especially when it is derived from a locality, often throws very little light upon the character of an industry or a commodity. I believe, for instance, no cheeses are or ever were made at that Stilton which has given its name to them. The York coach stopped at the little village of Stilton on its way up to town, and there was loaded with Leicestershire cheeses that were sold in town by the name of Stilton cheeses. It is so probably with Balbriggan hosiery. The scheme now in contemplation is to bring the Donegal peasantry into direct communication with the Regent-street and Bond-street hosiers, and thus secure to the former the full profits of their industry. For this purpose the agency of the parish priests throughout the country will be re- sorted to. The knickerbocker conflict seems likely to be revived. Several of the papers have taken it up as a topic, finding their text in the Philadelphia convention to be held next month, when the leading tailors are to meet in solemn conclave and settle the important matter finally. The Americans will probably influence us, while in the meantime there is a bitter cry of outcast Parisian trousers-cutters who can get no work to do in their own city. The masher trousers has come in on the boulevards in all its lanky narrowness. French gommeux are even learning the English refinement of hav- ing the trousers band very high, and then, in the case of evening dress, dispensing entirely with a waistcoat. It seems this masterpiece of man millinery can only be contrived and executed by an English- man. Ordinary readers may think the mat- ter a very small one. The syndicate of French tailors.thought it important enough to hold a meeting on. The most discourag- ing statistics were announced to that assem- bly. In less than ten years the number of English tailors doing big businesses in Parisian centres has trebled itself, and things are going from bad to worse. In the days of the Emperor dandies ordered London coats. In the days of the Republic London firms have opened Parisian maisons-succur- sales. The trade is in despair.

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