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T O W 1ST TALK. BY OUR SPECIAL CO BBESPONDSTNT. --+- afhtf readers will understand that ce do not now. ourselves respon- sible/or our able Correspondent's opinions. AT this pre-parliamentary period, politics are at a stand-still; so, seeing that Government seem to have satisfied even their critics by giving the lucrative appointment of a seat in the General Council of India, vacated by able Sir C. Trevelyan, to Mr. Massey, M.P. for Salford-whose talents have been manifested quadruply as lawyer, his- torical writer, Chairman of Ways and Means, and Under-Secretary for the Horne Department-but little is to be said on that score. True, the chiefs of the party in esse and those of the Opposition have issued invitations to their respective supporters to rally around their dinner- tables—to listen, perhaps, to soft, political talk-on the 6th inst., and much speculation is afloat as to what will be said touching their se- parate programmes for the ensuing session; but then, you see, it is, after all, only speculation, and so scarcely worth talking about. The other day it was positively affirmed at a certain important club, and on sup- posed good authority too, that the great oc- togenarian was hors de combat in fact, you know, "breaking up consequently it was very doubtful whether his lordship would put in an appearance at the opening of Parliament. But alas! for poor quidnunc, the following day brought the news that the hale old veteran had ridden with the Hursley hounds, with all the vigour and freshness of a man some twenty years his junior- say, for instance, sixty. A terrible example for the c n dit makers in general, wasn't it ? In commercial parlance, political talk has been at a discount; social chat has been at a pre- mium: notably, the Queen's circular letter to railway directors, touching the safety or otherwise of her lieges while on the iron roads, has caused almost as much discussion in certain circles as the Pope's late famous 11 encyclical"—about which, by the way, having a wholesome fear of excit- ing the odium. theologicum, I remain judiciously silent. Now certain persons, who enter- tain the mediaeval notion that sovereigns are born with crowns upon their heads, as cocks with combs, and that Royalty is as inseparable from the crown and sceptre, and other regalia, as a Lord Mayor from his gingerbread coach and men in armour, are trembling in their shoes for fear that her Majesty's letter has given a blow that will, at least, slightly crack our Constitution. "For," say they, such a letter has the force of a State document; therefore, instead of being issued by irresponsible Privy Purse-keeper Sir C. Phipps, it should have been signed, or at least counter- signed, by Secretary Sir George Grey. Poor old ladies.! what a pother! what a storm in a tea- cup moreover, what ingratitude! But then, you observe, they could not foresee that English people would regard it but as another contradiction direct to those who will have it that her Majesty is keeping herself hidden in selfish sorrow from her people. The truth is, that the Queen's most womanly letter, though not a State paper, is an historical document—a reflex, in fact, of the un- uttered thoughts of thousands, from the peer to the plough-boy; and how logically worded! "You directors," says her Majesty, virtually, through Sir C. Phipps, "have monopolised the whole of the roads, and upon them accidental homicide is of common occurrence; yet these mis- fortunes are not at all the necessary accompaniments of railway travelling. As a proof of this, when I travel, the extraordinary precautions you take render all concern for my own safety unnecessary. Such being the case, and inasmuch as the lives of so many of my subjects are in your hands, I hope you will take the same precautions for them meaning, of course, that "if you can ensure my safety you can ensure theirs." Is this or is it not reasonable? and, to judge by the immense amount of flunkeyism shown by railway authorities when Royalty travels, I think that, in this case, "a queen's name will prove a tower of strength" more mighty than any Act of Parliament, through which, the proverb runs, any clever person "may drive a coach' and six." How timely, too, this letter comes we may judge, when we know that London may speedily become a huge gridiron, for the parliamentary deposits this year on account of new railway projects alone have amounted to 14,275,010, of which Y,189,235 was in cash, X258,500 in exchequer-bills, and 13,824,275 in stock. Speaking of her Majesty, reminds me that a leading feature in the Exhibition of the Royal Academy this year will be Mr. Frith's great pic- ture (commissioned by the Queen) of the Wedding of their Royal Highnesses the Prince and Princess of Wales; and from what I can judge of it on the easel, it will not only prove one of the greatest attractions of the art season, but one of this great artist's happiest efforts; indeed, in grouping, colour, and portraiture, it is excellent. En passant of art-the ladies have this year taken precedence. The Exhibition of the Society of Female Artists," in Pall-mall, has just been opened, and keeping in mind the lines of the dramatist— 'Tis not in mortals to command success, But we'll do more, Sempronius—we'll deserve it," the fair artists, as a rule, have eschewed high art," and, by wisely keeping within the scope of their' powers or opportunities, have—at least the majority- topped mere mediocrity. For gallantry's sake, I regret t cannot' say more; but I can't, and that is the truth. "By Jove!" exclaimed a young nobleman tô,. me, one evening; "we idle men-aristocrats you call us-must bestir ourselves and get our houses in order, or, like the old French noblesse, we shall come to grief, for the middle and working classes are taking the shine out of us." Now, this is verbatim et literatim-not' that I see any parallel in the case my friend introduced, but I only men- tion the fact to show the present feeling of the upper -ten," as the Yankees would say. A more correct indication of this feeling was iiie peculiar interest illustrious members of the same order took in the late Working Classes' Exhibition at Is- lington also in the Operative Coachmakers' Ex- hibition, which has been opened in their grand old City Hall, under the auspices of the Marquis of Lansdowne, Viscount Torrington, &c., sup- ported by several leading members of the trade; and again, in the establishment of the London Dressmakers' Company (Limited)," which has just been inaugurated, at the head of which is the Earl of Shaftesbury, the Bishops of London and Oxford, several countesses and other ladies of rank, with the glorious author of" Tom Browne," Mr. Thomas Hughes, as their honorary secretary. As you may imagine from the foregoing names, the object of the latter company is to improve the condition of working dressmakers generally, with whom there has been so much sympathy since the days when Tom Hood wrote the Song of the Shirt." Literary quidnuncs—who, by the way, suggest opposition to every scheme they don't themselves suggest chiefly men who are en- gaged upon a portion of the daily press, snarl at the movement as impracticable, and, begging the question, say that Lord Shaftes- bury has headed this movement as a kind of "sop in the pan," instead of in- troducing a bill into the House of Lords which would extend to overworked, ill- treated, under-paid needlewomen the provisions of that Factory Act which his lordship took such pains to carry through. Now, according to the strict law of political economy, it is wrong to legislate for the management and working of any especial trade, inasmuch as the rate of pay is governed by the laws of supply and demand. But then, even political economy is not infal- lible and without touching the question of legis- lation on this subject-which, by the way, you may depend the earl will not forget-the very fact of noble lords and ladies (themselves con- sumers and leaders of, fashion) interesting them- selves in the welfare of the workers, must tend to the ultimate benefit of the young women, or "young ladies," as, obviously to their own detriment, they are foolishly called. Another topic which has been current in town during the past week is, that three comets are now visible in the heavens. •This, perhaps, may account for the very changeable weather and the dense fogs—which again, perhaps, accounts for the lack of illustrious visitors in town. I am informed, on pretty good authority, that the rumour of the betrothal of her Royal High- ness the Princess Helena of England to the Hereditary Grand Duke of Saxe-Weimar is alto- gether unfounded. It originated in some remarks made by a German paper, which, when quoted into English papers, became exaggerated into facts, and generally believed, whereas there is not one word of truth in the statement. Z.


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Capture of Fort Fisher.


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