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LONDON LETTER. i

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LONDON LETTER. i • jsrKCiAX.LV WIRKD.J f" V ou QAllKKV COKRESPONDBITT.] LOXDOX, Wednesday Night. Thu news telegraphed from Cairo that l-Jonenil Stewart was to remain at Metamnoh rill General Earlc reaches him by the round- about river route has checked the eager expectation with which Stewart's movements were watched. According to Lord Wolseley's calculation, he is to be at Metamneii on Friday. There seems good reason to believe that Gordon is still master of the river between Metamnieh and Khar- toum, and it was believed that Stewart's men would immediately proceed down the river. If they are to wait for Earle's forces, at least another month .must elapse—a contingency not only undesirable, as length- ening the period of Gordon's beleaguring, but as dangerously limiting the season of the year during which the British troops might complete their task. This is nominally the cool season in the Soudan but nobody shivering under the wintry skies that overspread England just now, will imagine the temperature approaches that which prevails in tho Soudan. Except through the night, the weather, amid which the relief column now works, is what we should call here a roar- ing hot day." This will increase in degree with every week that passes, and to lose a month waiting for General Earle would be a course to be taken only under extreme pressure of responsibility. It would be well to await confirmation of the report before accepting it. A telegram from Paris, received to- night, announces that the understanding between France and Germany is now com-* plete. France, we are told. engages to pro- tect German commerce in all French colonies, whilst Germany undertakes to support France in her colonial enterprises as well as in the settlement of questions re- lating to Egypt, China, and the Congo. This is, of course, pure nonsense. According to ancient international law France is already engaged to protect German com- merce in all her colonies, whilst Prince Bismarck is not likely to engage himself to back up France all over the world. Beyond these details there is the unassailable fact that France and Germany will have at least one more fight before they become allies. The death of Lord Aylcsford in a foreign country is a melancholy end to a miserable life. Lord Aylesford early came into possession 'of aa ancient title, an historic house, and a large fortune. He ran through them in the quickest possible manner, be- sides making his name familiar in the public ear in other ways. What finally broke him was the entertainment he gave some years ago to the Prince of Walea ai his Warwick- shire home. Before Mr Yates's appeal case came on the general opinion was that he would win. To-night the impression of his friends who have sat through the arguments, and 0 9 watched the judges, is not so sanguine. What might, under slightly varied circum- stances, have proved a memorable calamity befel in Victoria-street, Westminster, this afternoon. About two o'clock flames were discovered issuing from the roof of the Members' Mansions, one of those colossal buildings now so popular in London, which have the residential capacity of a moderate- sized street, thirty or forty families living in them, each with their separate suites of apartments as isolated as if their front doors opened on a thoroughfare instead of on to a staircase. The alarm was raised, and in a commendably brief period a strong muster of fire engines drew up. Very soon the startling discovery was made that the hose would not carry as high as the locality of the fire, and it seemed for a few desperate moments as if there was nothing to be done but to let it burn down. Extra steam force pumps were brought into play, and a nearer point of access being dis- covered, the water fell full upon the raging fire, and in about a couple of hours it was put out, having been successfully kept within the limits of a wing of the building where it broke out. There was no difficulty in trac- ing the origin of the fire. It had occurred to one of the numerous tribe of "Buttons," or as they are now called, "Page Boys," who pervade the building that as the weather was cold he would have a fire in his room. Some people would have been deterred from carrying out the design by the fact that there was no fireplace in the room. But- tons," scorning little obstacles of that kind, lit his fire and, incidentally, the whole build- ing. A fire more or less in London is scarcely worthy of special note, but there was an incident in connection with this tire in the Members' Mansions, which is of widest pub- lic interest. Down Victoria-street, passing the door of Members' Mansions are the mains of the Hydraulic Power Company. These without more trouble than turning a tap, would provide a force of water that would probably rise double the height of the sixth storey, at which the firemen's hose at first played in vain. It was only the other day I adverted to the fact that in a Yorkshire town the advantages of these mains, at high pressure, running through the principal thoroughfares, was perceived by local authorities, and arrangements were made for using them in case of fire. London, like all big communities, is slow to adopt so simple an expedient as is here provided. If the fire at Members' Mansions prove instru- mental in calling attention to the public boon provided, "Buttons" will not have lit his grateless fire in vain. Meanwhile, it is not pleasant to think what might have happened in this crowded community sup- pose the fire had broken out at midnight.

SWANSEA SCHOOL BOARD. I

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