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CUR LONDON LETTER. [From Our Special Correspondent.] There is plenty of excitement Westminster way just now. Every day-almvst every hour of the day--brings fresh rumours, and nobody seems to know what is likely to hap- pen next. According to some people, the Government cannot last out the debate on the Address, and we are told that there must be another General Election in April or May, but certainly not later than June. A complete Session is the estimate of others. Mr. Keir Hardie giv" this Parliament two years, and others see no reason why it should not last out three or four. No doubt the next few weeks will make many thin«rs clear. We shall leal'n' what exactly is the Irish attitude, what Labour wants, and whether these two sections of the Ministerialist majority can be counted upon to support Mr. Asquith's Ad- ministration or not. The opposition of either might rCflult in the defeat of the Gov- ernment, and another appeal to the country woald follow. The House of Commons is not 80 fastidious in the days as it used to be in the matter of dress. There wa« a time when the appear- ance of a member in any other style of coat and hat than the regulation frock and top- per caused quite a sensation, and I remem- ber well how the foundations of the Consti- tution were endangered when Mr. Keir Hardie turned up in a tweed suit and a deer- stalker cap. Even Mr. John Burns's bowler was regarded with much misgiving. Recent years have witnessed a more serious falling away, and it is consoling to know that in the matter of dress the new Parliament is con- sidered by those who ought to know to be an improvement upon Its pre- decessor. Labour members in the last House of Commons, one paper seems to think, paid less attention to than to their Parlia- mentary duties, and their lamentable ex- ample was followed by others who ought to have known better. Reading such stuff, one might almost imagine that the Labour mem- bers went down to the House in corduroys or dungaree overalls. As a matter of fact, most members of the party have been very careful not to make themselves in any way peculiar, and certainly cannot be distinguished by their drera from members of the two great parties. There must be a lot of new members of Parliament just now who are troubled in mind about their maiden speeches: After all, the House of Commons is a "talking shop," and though there is generally a great deal more talking than real business, yet without the talking there would be no business done at alL There is no doubt that constituents thint a greatal more of their member if he makes an occasional speech in the House than if he site throughout the Session and never opens his mouth. There are many gentlemen -who have been in the House of Commons for yarswho qualification for membership in Our Dumb, Friends' League is undeniable. All new members, however, have serious thoughts about inaking a speech. They think they will never be easy until they have made it, and it im only when they come to realise- that they will be much more uneasy if they do, that they give up the idea, consoling themselves with the reflectwo that they also serve who only sit and vote. The question of lunches for women has. been receiving a good deal of attention lately, and it is regarded by some people of being of at least is much importance as that :other question of votes for women. The sub- ject came up at the meeting of members of the Association of Shorthand Writefs and Typists, who heartily condemned the habit of making a midday meal off a bun and a cup of tea, or something equally nourishing and in- digestible. There can be no doubt that the matter is an important one for many young women engaged in business houses. On 18111all salaries, they are compelled to econo- t miee somewhere, and would rather deny I themselves a satisfying meal than a new hiifc- leather. It probably does nobody any, liarøa to go without a meal once in a while, but to go on day after day with nothing but a sand- wich and a glass of milk between the morn- ing and evening meals,as^ifi&any young women do,„is simple foolishness; and must result I sooner Or later in to health. Om6 speaker declaredj«< tJf4t the dèpJØÍsi froua i which she suffered in former days was dee to a lorip course of fourpemnv lunches, sad she liiW' probably right. It is true that many peopM1 suffer depression from eating too mtidh, but them, its, happly,, mkediuni, and tfcafc Jwbat the bjuwness girl should aim at. There are still three months before the opening of the great Festival of Empire at the Crystal Palace, but Already some of the best seats for witnessing what seems likely to be the most wonderful pageant seen in thie country during the present revival have bee* taken. A notable feature will be the Pageaift of London, for which thousands of actors Or* being trained. The Festival of Empire it, however, to be much more than a pageant. All parts of the Empire are co-operating in it, and the general result will be sometlaiikg in the nature of a great Imperial exhibition. In the Palace ittfelf will fee set apart special courts for each Dominion, with sections for the display of industries, inventions, ^pd • works of art. The festival will begin op 23, and though July 16 has been Mlg- tested for its termination, it is .likely to Oda- tinue into September. Mr, Thomas Beeeham'n season of grand opera at Coven t Garden has had a magniii- cent start, and rarely has there been such a scene of enthusiasm in the great theatre as that which followed the fall of the-curtain an that much-discussed opera, "Elektra" on Saturday night. The columns of print which have appeared about Herr Richard Straum a raMMrkable work served ae "all sx«elle«t *#» vertiseincjit, and every .scat was taken days villi the exception cf those in the gal- lery, to secure which musical enthusiasts and poonle attracted wholly by curiosity waited patiently for hours until the doors were opened. Herr S.trauss's music is not of a kmd to be. easily understood, of the multi- tude, and even tlu critics disagree about it with much hr-:i v'.incss. Not long ago a work of -.is was played at a concert hall in London, and the "notices" of it which appeared in the papers next day made interesting read- ing. To one critic it had appealed as some- thing hardly less than divine, while another was supremely disgusted, and declared that it was not music at all. There is no doubt that Strauss is something of a shock to ears which have been accustomed to the simplicity and melodiousness of Gluck, Handel, and Mozart. Many stories are told of this most modern of composers. It is said that one day during a rehearsal at Berlin of one of his operas he left his tseat and commanded the conductor to make the orchestra play louder as he had two or three times distinctly heard the singers! There is no doubt, however, that the first performance in London of "Elektra' was an enormous success. A. E. M.





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