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I DIARY OF COMING ENGAGEMENTS.

- PRACTICAL CHURCHMEN.

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PRACTICAL CHURCHMEN. The Chester Diocesan Conference once more has vindicated its existence as a practical, businesslike assembly. The Bishop delivered one of his characteristic addresses, passing in brief review all the leading topics of the day so far as the Church is affected, and giving clergy and laity alike some sound counsel upon difficult problems. The evils of intemperance and juvenile smoking were dis- cussed without intemperance, which is more than can be said for many Temperance debates. The juvenile smoking difficulty is of modern growth, contemporaneous practically with the popularity ot the cigarette, within the present generation. It cannot be denied, of course, that boys smoked in the days of our grandfathers, but they could not smoke then with the same impunity as they puff the mild cigarette of to-day, and the vengeance which outraged Nature exacted often served as a sufficient deterrent for the future. The cigarette habit, as it exists among the youth of to-day, is a serious evil and danger to the health of the community. The consumption of tobacco in moderation by adults is a matter of taste, and need cause no alarm, but for smoking by mere boys there can be no justification, and any repressive legislation on the lines indicated at the Conference doubtless would meet with general approval and practically, no opposition in Parliament. The only con- ceivable objection to the prohibition of the sale of tobacco to children is the child-messenger grievance, which obtruded itself in the case of the liquor trade. Here, however, the objection would be less real, because tobacco is a luxury, not an article of diet like the workingman's dinner or supper ale. The subjects opened up by Colonel Cotton- Jodrell'a resolution upon the rural labour problem would have sufficed for a conference of themselves. It will be remembered that at I last year's Conference at Birkenbead, the wholesale migration of the rustic youth to the I towns was under consideration in its bearing upon agriculture and the national physique and character. A committee representative of county landowners and parochial clergy) appointed then, now reported in favour of exempting country boys from school attendance over the age of twelve years, conditional to their attendance at a continua- tion school three nights a week during the winter, until sixteen years of age. It was further recc amended that the syllabus in country schoo should have special reference to country life and work, and should be made to include gardening, nature study, &e. With regard to the housing question, the committee urged the necessity for more labourers' cottages in many parts of the county and the provision of gardens and small holdings attached, where possible Village clubs were also recommended, the members being encouraged to take an active part in their management. Upon these recommendations Colonel Cotton-Jodrell delivered a highly sensible speech, shewing his long experience and intimate knowledge of the subject in all its branches. The Colonel undoubtedly indicated a very crucial point, when he laid stress on the week-end holiday granted to urban workers as a strong, determining factor in the drifting of our rural population citywards. The knowledge that practically all town operatives cease work at noon on Saturday and have not to resume until Monday morning presents an irresistible attraction to the young man in the choice of his life's calling, when he reflects that, should he elect to remain on the land, he will be obliged, whether master or servant, to toil more or less seven days a week all his life. Such are the incessant demands of farm life that it is an impossibility to give all the hands a free Sunday even, and as Colonel Cotton-Jodrell jocularly put it, "animals must still be fed and cared for, and we had not yet, with all our science and civilisation, arrived at that point when we could induce the dairy cow to with-hold her milk for thirty-six hours." It is true that the open-air life of the country is more healthful, and, thanks to the infinite variety of Nature, is more attractive than a town existence for all who have eyes to see and intelligence to appreciate. At the same time, the glamour of town gaieties nearly always prevails in enticing the youth of the nation, who are overcome by the shallow and tawdry allurements, and vote for a short life and a merry one, although it is not always merry by any means. On this question of shorter hours and greater oppor- tunities for recreation in the town it is impossible to make any feasible suggestion. Something, of course, has been done and can be done in greater measure by village institutes and clubs, but they touch only the fringe of the matter. Better cottages tor the rustic labourer,and the provision of convenient gardens and allotments have been advocated from time immemorial, but still the obstacle of making these things pay their -\ay obtrudes itself. The fabulously cheap cottages, reckoned at £150 each, at the Garden City exhibition, have proved a delusion and a snare, as we suspected trom the outset. The deputations of practical men who have inspected the erections are not enamoured of them, while the boasted cheapness is some- what illusory, seeing that it does not represent by any means the entire cost. Of the Garden City movement itself we entertain better hopes, so far as the extension of gardening is affected. Still Garden Cities will not entirely solve the agricultural problem. The crux of the matter, most farmers will say, is money. When farmers can make their business lucra- tive, and can afford to pay good wages, there will be no dearth of labourers on the land.

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A FORGIVING WIFE. ------

THE LATE MR. C. EDWARDS. --...-.--