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T. CURRENT TOPICS, SUGAR BOUNTIES. There are many ways of looking at the subject of countervailing duties on bounty-fed sugar, but in the main it is only the old question of the interests of the few as against the interests of the many. The one and only interest of the consumer in this country is to obtain sugar as cheaply as possible It is suggested that it would be better for us to pay a little more for our sugar in order to help the West Indies and other Colonies. This of course would be the result of countervailing duties, and it is clear enough that they would benefit the sugar cane growers, and the refiners of Bristol, Liverpool, and Greenock, but they would be disastrous to the jam, confectionery, and other industries that have been built up on cheap sugar. The bounty system is said to have caused the ruin of the West Indies, but long before the invention of beet sugar, and the abolition of slavery, the colonists were always more or less complaining of hard times. In 1735, a Bill was introduced in Parliament for the better encouragement of the trade of the Sugar Colonies in America, and George III. once got into trouble for going to the play instead of to a benefit for West Indian sufferers. The public does not concern itself much with the details of long Parliamentary debates, and to the great majority it is only a question of the cheapness or dearness of the article. The people have become accustomed to cheap sugar, as they have to cheap bread, and they will not willingly surrender either, without knowing the reason why. GERMANY AND THE UNITED STATES. The war of tatiffs between Protectionist countries is very often like the international competition in armaments. After a vast expenditure of energy in the preparation of elaborate schemes, it leaves any balance of advantage between the different countries very much as it was before all the noise and commotion began. Germany finding that the United S'ates shut out her bounty-fed sugar by the imposition of countervailing duties, began to look about for other openings. She hit upon the plan of suspending the home duty in imported raw material when it was exported in a manufactured state. By these means the Germans hoped to be able to compete with American producers. The United States has, however, decided that where the home duty has been saved in that way the amount remitted in Germany is to be added to the American Customs duty in estimating the value of the manufactured article. What the Germans wanted was the benefit of protected industries at nOtUe, and the advantage of free raw material for export manufacture. But she cannot have it both at least not in dealing with the United States. THE DREYFUS DRAMA. J It is quite clear that the last act in the Dreyfus drama will not be accomplished without a violent political agitation in France. The Captain is expected to reach Brest before the end of the month, and already elaborate preparations are being made there and also at Paris, and Reunes, for the preservation of order. The new court- martial is to sit at Rennes, and the inhabitants are protesting against it, as they do not want all the agitators, and high-class loafers, the Chauvinists, and the Royalist rowdies, quartered in the town. There is no saying how long the coming trial of Captain Dreyfus may last, and it is to be feared that he is a long way from out of the wood yet. There is at least one officer appointed on the court- martial who is notoriously prejudiced and violently disposed towards the unfortunate Captain. Hia trial, it seems, is to be anything but a mere formality, such as the decision of the Court of Cassation would point to. On the contrary it is proposed to go into the case all over again, and ex-Ministers, and others, including the ex- President of the Republic—M. Casimir Perier—are to be once more examined. The Anti-Revisionists :are busy manufacturing fresh evidence of the prisoner's guilt, and unless public opinion in 'France absolutely insists upon a fair trial, the Affaire seems likely to drag on for a long and weary time yet. BANK OF ENGLAND NOTES. I One would think that the poaition of a holder of ,8 Bank note which has been stopped would have been made clear long ago. Yet the whole question seems likely to be raised again by the Bank of England's action in "etopping payment of the notes recently stolen from Parr's Bank. The Bank of England notes are legal tender for any sum of X5 and upwards, and it is therefore urged that the note, like gold coin, should be above question, subject only to the condition that it is genuine and not a counterfeit tender. One need not take a note from a person who is in ;fraudulent possession of it, but though there may be reasonable cause for suspicion, that is a suggestion, which, in the ordinary course of business, would often involve considerable risk for defamation of character. There does not seem to be any clear or definite opinion as to what is the position of the Bank of England in similar circumstances. Anyone may take a stolen note in good faith, and the fact that the number has been published counts for nothing, because no one goes about with such information. He may then ,present it for payment, and find himself forthwith handed over to the police. Bank notes go all the world over, and it might not be so easy to prove that it was obtained in a proper and legitimate manner, and consequently the holder might suffer all kinds of inconvenience before the matter could be put right. The question Í3, who is to bear the responsibility for all this ? and the point seems likely to be at last tested and settled in open Court. WEIGHING GOODS IN WRAPPING PAPER. Another point of law which ought to have been finally settled by this time is, whether or not tradesmen are entitled to weigh in the wrapping paper goods sold over the counter. The question has often been raised, but left in doubt, and one of the largest and best known tea dealers, with branches all over the country, has just been fined for selling tea in packets containing less than the stipulated weight, by reason of the practice of weighing in the paper. The case was argued before one of the London magistrates, and it was contended that it was not only the custom of the trade, but that it was the packet and hot the pound, or half-pound, of tea that was sold to the public. The magistrate declined to be satisfied with the argument, and the case will no doubt be taken to the Higher Courts, where, it may be hoped, the question will be finally settled. There was another matter recently decided in the Law Courts which has an important bearing upon the conditions of shop-keeping in rural districts. In many villages where there are few or no shops, the trade in many of the daily necessaries is carried on by tradesmen's carts, which are in fact simply travelling shops. The shop-keeper sends round to regular customers on regular day& in the district he serves, and it was never supposed that a licence was necessary for this system of trading. Such, however, seems to be the case, and it is now declared that a shop-keeper carrying on this business, and selling goods at the door, is, legally, a hawker, and must take out a licence as such. There are certain trades exempted from the Hawkers' Act, such as milk-selling, coal-dealing, and butchering, but the general dealer is not included in these exemptions. THB SINGLE-RAIL ELECTRIC LINE. The idea of a railway to the top of Mont Blanc reminds one of a single-rail mountain line of a novel and curious character which it was proposed some time ago to construct to the summit of Mount Hochstauffen, in Bavaria. Some part of the work was commenced, the rail being carried up the hill side at a short distance from the ground. The car was to grip the rail from below, and the lifting force was to be provided by a large balloon. For the descent, a sufficient quantity (,f water would be taken in at the top of the mountain to overcome the lifting power of the balloon. Experiments were made under the superintendence of Government experts, but the idea was not a success. On the level there is little doubt that the single-rail electric system is a coming development. <It is proposed to construct a lightning express on this plan, between Manchester and Liverpool, which would bring them within twenty minutes of each other. There is a railway of this character already at work in America, and it is proposed to connect St. Louis and Chicago with a single-rail electric line, doing over one hundred miles an hour. I SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT'S CONSTITUENCY. J Siuce Sir William Harcourt has sat for West Monmouthshire, he has been generally regarded as representing a Welsh constituency in the House of Commons. He has described hiniself as "an independent Welsh member," but it is a common mistake to suppose that the County of Monmouth forms any part of Wales. The Principality consists of twelve shires, and there are this number without Monmouthshire, and, besides, England is supposed to have forty shires, but without this county there would only be thirty-nine. Mun- mouth, is, however, on the Welsh side of the Severn, aud was in fact part of Wales up to the time of Henry VIII But in 1535, the English borders were extended so as to include this extra shire. It is one of the unanimous recommenda- tions of the Licensing Commission that the Welsh Sunday Closing Act should be extended to Monmouthshire. The object in view seems to be chiefly to strengthen the Act against Cardiff, in Glamorganshire, but only a short distance across the border, which would relieve Cardiff from the present temptation for short Sunday excursions.

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