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PARLIAMENTARY JOTTINGS. .......-

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PARLIAMENTARY JOTTINGS. As the season advances for the opening of Parliament all manner of speculations are afloat as to the new Reform Bill, the extension of the franchise, &c. Cabinet councils have been frequent, but as yet the Ministers have not dis- closed to the world their policy, therefore, I shall Dot hazard any assertion. It will be time enough when it comes before Parliament for 1n to disclose to you some of the arguments in fatourof one side or the other, and the little diplomatic tricks of office. Setting politics aside for the moment, there- fore, let me take the reader with me to Minster, and show him things as they-exist at the Present moment. On Friday I took a walJr over toe great hall of St. Stephen's. „ Everything looked blank and melancholy. A few lawyers' °lerka and secretaries of railway companies were te only persons who appe*re<* have any Energy about them. These people were rushing We and there to various committee-rooms, to deposit the 8 per cent. of capital on railway bills that Parliament has natie necessary before the pro- moters have complied ith the standing orders." This was the last da-y allowed them; and if not deposited before midnight, the bill would have to stand over for another Session. In each of these offices one clerk only was in attendance, who took the deposits of thousands of pounds with the Utmost indifference, even yawning as if for re- lease from duty. In former days it was the custom for all persons who "humbly petitioned ,-he British House of Commons to be permitted to carry out some important public work, should be compelled to show that they had the power to carry their proposed plan into effect." Parliament required that any body of men, desirous of making a railway or a dock, or buildin g a new market-house, setting up gas or water works, should join together in a subscription contract, by which ;?ey bound themselves and their legal representa- -^es to subscribe towards and to pay up a sum elual to three-fourths of the estimated cost of the depositing 8 per cent. of the neces- Sary capital. Clever men, however, soon found out a taode of evading this prohibitory law against Public improvements; and subscription deeds, Slgned by men of straw, were lodged to give a ;ourable compliance with these standing orders. Government were made aware of this, and in °58 the order relative to subscription contracts Jas repealed; the deposit system, however, has ways been continued the amount so deposited *?as to remain in the hands of the Accountant- capital needed by the has been expended on the works; it is then lVen up to the directors. I remember that dur- last Session a Committee of the House of Commons stated in their report upon standing oders for public works, that a deposit under the Cutnstances which I have described was no test of the lowl-fid.es of the promoters of an un- dertaking, or of their competency to carry it out. hey contended that, a few individuals with suf- JJient credit might obtain a temporary loan under e restrictions named, with no power over the Arrowed money, in order to make a colourable de- ^til they saw whether, during the progress Shffi • foil through Parliament, they could enlist a J number of supporters ot" their scheme. have no doubt this is done to a con- querable extent; and although I would not for a foment set aside the claim of 8 per cent, deposit, f Would have iii addition a select committee to iDquire into the solvency of the projectors of every railway bill, for it is a well-known fact that companies are got up in many instances for the sole purpose of benefiting secretaries and direc- tors. I feel assured that not one-third of the bills to be brought before Parliament will be passed; I jet these would-be" promoters of this, that, or the other ridiculous deviation by which half a can be saved in twenty, harass and annoy ^Bsional gentlemen, tradesmen, and others 0_, ^°tices to quit, &c., to the great detriment r business transactions. v let us turn from lawyers, railway secreta- ries, and committee-rooms to those parts of the Par- ^ament Houses which in a few days will be the gene of so much ceremony, and where Acts of Poliament of the greatest moment will be passed. ave you ever, gentle reader, visited a ballroom i .9 next morning after a large assembly had been during the night? Have you noticed the aoelancholyappearance where everything seemed gay a few hours before ? Such was my when wending my way to the House f Lords. Accompanied only by one friend, our "Otateps echoed in the empty lobbies and halls ) S if we were the only tenants of that vast and l'd)y building-" that banquet-hall deserted." g te and there we found painters at work, Cartelling up the ceiling, which between the *escoes is now being painted light blue, instead *he oaken colour it before had. Newly painted Uidows have been placed in the lobbies, which light in places which before were compara- bly dark during the day. The House of Lords '°°ked as if everything connected with it had put !al>a ^^ding-sheet. The throne, the huge cande- even the seats were all wrapped in canvas j I was glad to take a hasty glance and depart, ajay say much the same about the Commons' °use, except that there was not so much white there being less to preserve; but let me, owever, take the* reader with me to that noble Camber called The Prince's Robing Room. lo?ere'Jv^^ reached the threshold, we heard sharp controversies. Were they re, spirits departed ? We stopped Could it be a rehearsal "Vli the Queen's Speech by the obp, i jVe r and'ili legislators ? We gently P ned the door, we saw, not ladies with ,traiES °r f1., but about a dozen li ters of t0llnaway at a mag- Geri^ new carp was to cover 13 room before My friend was a ogt reverend but jolly' sort of ather O'Flannagan' ^Presence did not the sweet murffl111 **eard, without. were- stitching away ecjtiiJae, and, yet :°^8ive me, ladies, true to their sex, they were scandal as fast as their J^gu<bs could *"8- "I don't think much ot said Oh, I never liked her from the tost t1]Qae J Irae laer," said another. When I Slw her 1,t sr 1(1 a third, she was dressed up to theii1 <fee. e* When Mary had been discussed another ale n ^e was introduced, and her form, featured, nd vOtlduct thoroughly discussed. But though the f women took off my attention for a moment, struck with the beauty of this chamber, gainst the wall which separates the throne-room, ^M just at the back of the Royal seat, her Most ^I'acious Majesty Victoria is represented -in ^^ble, life size-—as Victory, holding her sceptre :ttld wearing a laurel crown, typical of governing ruling, the laurel being considered emblematic J-j* the honour conferred on intellect and valour. A he back of this marble throne is surmounted by expressive of British strength and courage, 11d the footstool is adorned by sea horses, to SIgnify dominion upon the ocean—the horse being 11 emblem of war. On the right of the Sovereign stands Justice, and on the left Cltmjncv„ The former holds a sword and balance. Round her neck is suspended the image of Truth. The Expression of Justice is inflexible, whilst that of -leillency is full of sympathy and sadness, on ac- c of the constant sins brought to her know- I ledge. With lenity she keeps her sword sheathed, and offers the olive branch in token of peace. Upon the front of the pedestal is a basso relievo of Commerce. Upon the right is Science, designated by a youth pondering over a geometrical problem, and upon the left a figure denoting the useful arts. In the background are represented the steam-engine, telegraphic wires, and other evi- dences of the material progress of the period. The walls of this chamber are decorated with portraits of eminent personages of the period of the Reformation. First we notice the bluff King Hal; on his right is his first and ill-used wife, Katharine of Arragon; on his left are his other five wives, Anne Boleyn, Jane Seymour, Anne of Cleves, Katharine Howard, and Katharine Parr. Does this arrangement indicate the opinion, of the committee of taste on the validity, or otherwise, of Henry VIII.'s first marriage ? The other noble personages whose portraits hang on these walls are, Edward VI., Mary, Philip, Elizabeth, Louis XII., Princess Mary, Duke of Suffolk, Marchioness of Dorset, Lady Jane Grey, Lord Gerald Dudley, James IV., Princess Margaret, Earl of Angus, James V., Mary of Guise, Francis II., Lord Darnley, Henry VII., Elizabeth of York, and Arthur Prince of Wales. Besides these, the lower panels are crowded with oak carvings of historic interest, and of merit far beyond that which is usually witnessed. From this room we proceeded through an im- mense hall or chamber which leads to the Queen's robing-room, neither of which is at all near com- pletion, and will, I dare say, occupy artists and decorators for the next twenty years. The only picture finished in the great hall is an immense one of the battle of Waterloo, and opposite to it is one nearly completed of the battle of the Nile. There are about twenty panels yet to fill with paint- ings on subjects connected with the later periods of British history. The Queen's robing-room will be very magnificent when completed; the ceiling and decorations are of the most gaudeous charac ter, and the panels will be decorated with historical pictures, none of which are yet visible. The Queen will use a. temporary room for the coming cere- monial, which is fitted up with every possible con- trivance for comfort. From this we went through miles of corridors, someleadingtomembera' smoking rooms, to dining-rooms, and to refreshment-rooms, where subordinate officials dine at Is. 6d. per head. But I have not space to dwell upon the varied departments connected with the great halls of Westminster. Let me only observe, however, that we ought to have grandeur there, for the votes that are given every year for improvements are something extra- ordinary. I notice that in the estimates to be introduced this Session is a sum of £ 124,200 for improvements in St. Margaret's Church, which is the chapel used by members of Parliament. How many churches would this build? Again, there is an estimate for X563,000 for new approaches to the Houses of Parliament. What an immense sum this appears but I believe it includes the purchase of lands in the vicinity.

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