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OU it I.uN DUN

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OU it I.uN DUN The half-yearly meetings of the creat rail way companies have shown that the consider abie reductions made by several of the lint-s u. the second-class fares have quickly effect. their object. Some years ao it looked i- the middle class was doomed, so regularly p", the receipts and number of passengers dimi nishing, and many were the prophecies tb-.i the action of the Midland Company in abolish- ing it would in course of time be universal adopted, and that one superior deuominat was quite sufficient for the limited poni," the travelling public, which was willing t<> i for a better accommodation. Such, however. not proved the case the recent decrease in t cost of second-class tickets has everywhere hi — followed hv satisfactory results and the & I >- holders of the Great Western, the London u North Western, the South Western, Brighton and South Coast, and other e"f" panies have just been informed that t I revenue from this branch of the traffic CM I bited a substantial rise during the first halt the year. In latter years the second-c!a.->. though much dearer, was little, if any, bet" •: than the third; and the public very nature. ■ declined to pay the extra amount. But ti.. more liberal policy now pursued gives a >> senger fair value for his money: and ttnw T. whom the slightly higher cost is a small mar therefore prefer to travel second instend < third, particularly on long journeys, the more room at their disposal makes greater comfort and convenience. It is in such glorious weather as we J, been experiencing lately that the popularity ■ ■■ the London parks and open spaces with th. masses of the people is most noticeable. Thuv who never know the delights of a whole wc-i, in the country or by the sea, and whose o i- trips away from the metropolis have nece^sa. to be taken on a Bank Holiday, tind the ? of London" one of their simplest pleasure*, inexpensive and at the same time healthful, and if they are all this to the adults, how much greater a boom do they seem to the children, whose playground would otherwise have to be the hot and dusty streets The much- abused London County Council has numerous enemies, but there are few people who are dis- posed to quarrel with its open-space policy, which during the past few years has been the means of converting into a patch of bright green any bit of graveyard no longer available for its original purpose, as well as of adding numerous good-sized parks and open spaces to the enor- mous inhabited area under its charge. A decade ago the northern half of the metropolis, thanks to the great West-end parks, was very much better off in this respect than the south but the inequality has been to a great extent removed, though in the matter of acreage the Middlesex side of the Thames still holds the first place. And the north is again going to be favoured, for a project is on the point of accom- plishment which will give to the public for ever another fifty-two acres of open ground. The land in question is situated at Highgate and is known as Churchyard Bottom Wood. As regards its rustic and wooded character, it is one of the finest bits that could be found in London, being, by repute, a portion of the primaeval forest of Middlesex, and affording a charming variety of dingle and dell, interspersed with pleasant footpaths, which has made it for a long time a welcome spot to all lovers of natural beauty. The wood belongs to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, and for building purposes would realise a substantial price per acre, but the Commissioners are willing to part with it as an open space for twenty-five thousand pounds, a sum that cannot be considered anything but remarkably mode- rate. As the adjacent Gravel-pit Wood —another old-world tract-was a recent gift from the Commissioners, it was felt locally that every effort should be made to take advan- tage of their latest offer, and thus preserve both woods from the tender mercies of the specula- tive builder, who of bte years has been remark- ably busy in the Hornsey and Crouch-hill dis- tricts. By private subscriptions and grants from the local authorities practically the entire amount has now been raised, and though a certain amount of draining and fencing will be required before it can be handed over to the Hornsey Council, which body has expressed its willingness to maintain the wood, the greatest care will be taken to see that the primitive charms of the place are in no wav interfered with. Though the Jubilee is now only a remem- brance, many of the funds intended to com- memorate it have not yet been closed. Among these is the Queen's Agricultural Benevolent Fund which is being promoted by the Central and Associated Chambers of Agriculture with the assistance of the various affiliated Chambers throughout the country, and which, according to the latest information, now amounts to three thousand pounds. The total sum so collected will be invested, and the interest devoted to increasing the number of small annuities granted by the Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution to distressed agriculturists. Such an object deserves the widest support, the need for more pensions for aged members of the farming class being the most paintul feature of the prevailing depression. The saddening stories unfolded in connection with the allot- ment of these annuities are, of course, only known to a limited circle, but the present writer the other day was shown a letter from an old East Anglian farmer asking his correspondent to support an application he intended making somewhere for either a pension or a grant, and was assured that the appeal was but a type of many others constantly being received, and dis- closed circumstances* which unhappily were only too common among men who had lived on the land all their lives. The Parliament of the working classes, the Trades Union Congress, which meets in Bir- mingham next month, will be the thirtieth annual assembly in the history of the move- ment, the first having been held at Manchester in 1868, at a time when the Unions were regarded with suspicion, and even with hatred. Since then public opinion has undergone a change, and Trades Unionism is now accepted almost as a matter of course. Last year's meeting took place in Edinburgh, and for the first time for many Congresses the whole of the agenda was disposed of, this being a direct re- sult of the re-modelling of the standing orders which produced such noisy scenes at the Cardiff gathering in 1895. So far as can be seen at present, the approaching Bir- mingham meeting will be a full one, the Midland city being well accessible and con- veniently situated for the bulk of the delegates. It will in all probability prove a quiet yet use- ful Conference, as no burning question looms ahead, though the annual resolution in favour of a general eight hours day, which occupies the foremost place on the agenda, will on this occasion have a greater significance in view of the stern struggle now being waged between the Engineers' Federation and their men over the very same principle. Mr. Sam Woods, M.P., who won the recent bye-election in the Walthamstow division, has again been the only one nominated for the post of Secretary to the Parliamentary Committee, and will accordingly fill the office for the fourth year in succes- sion. A glance over the list of societies represented at the Congress shows that the largest membership is possessed by the Miners' Federation of Great Britain (154,000); the Amalgamated Society of Engineers and the Northern Counties Amalgamated Society of Weavers coming next with nearly eighty-four thousand members each; while the Miners' National Union, with seventy-six thousand members, makes a good fourth. A very long programme is to be submitted to the meeting neverthslcss, the social side has not been neg- lected, and among the arrangements already made is a garden-party and reception at the -historic Warwick Custte. R.

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