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t o w isr talk;, BT OUR s.pECIAL OOaaSSPONI>ai<T« Out readers wilZwnderstand that we do not hold ourselves fwpoft- for our able CoTrespo?uleiit,& opivsiouit* "THE state of the streets" was the all-absorbing topic of denunciation the first week of the new year. First of all, there came a heavy fall of snow, which, in accordance with metropolitan custom, was allowed to remain ia the streets instead of being swept away; then came a hard frost, which glued the snow to the roadways and pavements, making progression on foot a task of infinite difficulty, and nearly, if not entirely, putting a atop to wheeled traffic. Omnibuses might be seen at rare intervals going to certain places,- fo&s still less frequently were theyseen on the return journey; cabs were an almost unattainable luxury, costing, when caught, pounds in place of shillings; and, iu short, while the frost lasted, the condition of affairs in London was a thorough relapse into a state of barbarous chaos. Then came rain and a thiw, which brought about a s.Siite of things to be appreciated only by tih036 who suffered from it—a state of things which could not be equalled by any town in the civilised world. An this, while nothing or next to notning was done to sweep away the accumulated slush and fiitn. There were con- tractors whose duty it was to keep the streets clean, but it was cheaper for them to submit to a fine than do their work; there were upwards of 21,000 adult, able-bodied paupers, who might have been ordered to lead a helping hand to- wards the service of the people who pay for their relief, and tuere were besides thousands of men whom a heavy fall of snow deprived of work. All these mens of getting rid of the nuisance were at hand, but local self government had its own way, and nothing was done. As the Times traly remarked, It was a gigantic collapse of a rotten organisation, with the additional aggravation that the occasion was more or less inevitable. The necessity is of annual occurrence, and to provide against it is the sole duty of people aad institutions who are thus help- less and senseless in the face of it." There is another argument for the Municipal Reform Association for promoting the better government of the metropolis, which I hope will not be lost sight of when it commences its work in Parliament next Session. NEXT to the condition of London streets, I fancy the attention of most dwellers in town has been given to tie disastrous lire at the Crystal Palace. Universal astonishment was expressed by the general public at the occorreaca of a fire at such a place, it being regarded as the least liable of all our public buildings to such a calamity; but architects, who were acquainted with the structure, the mode adopted of heating the Tropical Department, and the like, were not in the least astonished. Buc that which astonishes both professional and non-professional persons is the absence of proper supervision which the fire betrayed, and the state of unpreparedness in which it found everybody.- First of ail, a sufficient supply of water eould noo be obtained, although there was enough to drown. the Palace close at hand; then the leatherh hose was missing, and the common canvas garden hose had to be used instead; at last, when the water vaa turned Gn, it came in such I. force that'it burst this rotten hose, and so nothing was done to check the fhmes till fire-engines irom Croydon and London arrived on the spot. Then, of coarip-, tute mischief had been done; property valued ac hundreds of thousands of pounds had been destroyed, some of which can never be replaced, and other portions of it only at the cost of much trouble, time, and money. After such a breakdown, of course all neces- sary precautions will be taken in future. Meantime the damage sustained is to be repaired as fast as possible, and as far as it can be, and as this will cost a great deal of money, it has been suggested thas life season tickets, at five guineas a member, should be issued, entitling the holders to all the pri.vileges of the present guinea ticket. IT has been stated that the Inns of Court Volunteer?, since the death of their late colonel (Brewster), have been declining both in strength and efficiency, and I he-ir that there is some foundation for the first part of this statement, though none for the latter. The regiment is as efficient ai ever it was, but many of the old members are dropping away now that the novelty of the thing- has worn off, and their places are not being filled up by recruits. As regards this particular regiment, the falling off in numbers might be prevented by some alteration In its uniform, or in that of the University Volun- teers, great numbers of whom become members of one or other of the Inns of Court, and who, if the trouble and expense of a new uniform were unnecessary, would probably join the Devirs Own." By thus miking the uniforms of these corps alike, except, perhaps, as regards "facinga," the strength of she Inns of Court Volunteers might be maintained. But the whole volunteer question wants looking into, and cer- tain alterations made in the system before the force c i,-t become what we all wish it to There is no lack of seal and of hard work ia the ranks; pri- vates go to Hythe, and there undergo weeks of drudgery in order to improve themselves in their rifle practice, as well as regularly attending their battalion drills. The weakness of the force is in the commissioned ranks. Under the present system, officers may or may not be qualified for their positions, for nothing is done to enforce fitness. A great number are unqualified for command because they have aot undergone the necessary training; and in proportion as men are badly commanded, so do they lose heart and become disgusted with the service. Of course, it would be untrue to. say that all volunteer officers are unfit for command, but it ia quite within the truth to say that the number of volunteer officers qualified for command is not large.. The remedy for this defect is not far to seek, and is easy of applica- tion. Let Government require all officers above' the rank of ensign to be thoroughly acquainted with their duties; and let this be shown either by passing an examination, or by proving that they have passed some specified time in the regular service, or at one of the great military damps. It is only the incompetent who will raise any objec- tions to these tests of fifeaeaa. i POSSIBLY your readers may remember that the I Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals J intimated their intention of proceeding against the' rider of the horse at the recent Croydon I steeplechases, which broke its back in making the "sensation water jump." The case was brought before the Croydon magistrates the other day, and the facts as they were reported at the time were fully proved: that is to say, it was proved that the unfortunate horse was whipped and spurred to the utmost, and that the fence with the water beyond it were exactly calculated to produce what actually happened—a broken- p backed horse. These facts being proved, the magistrates dismissed the case. A day or two after this astounding decision, a London magis- trate fined-and very properly fined-a cabman twenty shillings for kicking a: horse and breaking his whip over it. So here we have the instructive lesson that sporting men may be guilty of any amount of cruelty to animals, provided it be done in the name of sport and at Croydon, while at the same time the law punishes cruelty of an infinitely milder kind when the offender is a poor man. Let us have one law for both rich and poor, and let both be punished alike; to do which, it will be necessary to raise the fine from £5 to an amount which will really punish the wealthy offender. IT is reported that thsposirion of that badly- paid and badly-treated class of public servants- medical officers in the navy-is to be improved, a scheme for that purpose having been approved of by the Admiralty. That scheme now awaits the further approval of the Treasury, so that any delay which may now take place will be attribut- able to that department. I ALSO hear that the Poor-law Board contem- plates establishing three fever hospitals for the reception of pauper patients suffering from fevers and other contagious diseases. For this purpose it is said that the existing Fever Hospital in the north of London will be purchased, and that others will be erected in the south and east of London. This is the first we have heard of Mr. Gathorne Hardy's Poor-law reform?, from which so much was expected when he first took office, and, small as the instalment is, let us be thankful, on behalf of the poor, that one step, at any rate, is about to be made in the right direction. Z.



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