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OUII LONDON CORRESPONDENT. I One perennial topic of interest at West- minster whenever July is reached is the prob- able dute of the prorogation. The public gene- rally cannot be expected to be as keenly in- terested in the matter of our legislators them- selves. for to these latter it indicates the com- mencement of an always welcome holiday. Seldom will it have proved more welcome than this year, for the Session which is now drawing to a close has been unusually dull, and the shadow of a dissolution at no distant date has been hanging over it from the beginning. The spring and energy always to be een at the com- moncmlent of a Parliament have consequently been conspicuously lacking: and, even if another Session of the present House of Commons be held, we may take it for granted that very few fresh features will be seen until a new o ae has been elected. As to the probable date of the dissolution, there has been an abundance of surmise, but much of it from those who by no possibility could know the inner workings of the Ministerial mind on such a subject. There remains an idea in well-informed political quarters that, if a dissolution take place in November, the present Session may be merely adjourned until October, in order that affairs may be wound up as far as possible before a General Election; but the Cabinet's resolve upon this point cannot as yet be considered to have been taken. The Queen has determined to make an effort to brighten the closing days of the London season by giving a garden party next Wednes- day at Buckingham Palace, for which several thousand invitations have been issued by the Lord Chamberlain. Her Majesty will be officially represented by the Prince and Princess of Wales; but it is thought to be possible that she may herself come up from Windsor for an hour or two, while all the members of the Royal family who are in town will be present. As the last garden party at Buckingham Palace took place about three years ago, much interest will attach to the function, the invita- tions for which are from four o'clock until seven. Orly such as have been privileged to attend on an occasion of the kind have any idea of the varied beauty and great extent of the private grounds at Buckingham Palace. They are so large, indeed, that the Queen is able to take a considerable drive in them when she visits London; and there, is only one other residence in town which has any grounds at all comparable with them, that being Devon- shire House, the property of the present Lord President of the Council, these latter for a garden party being well-nigh ideal. In another way, the Queen is just now show- ing her alertness of idea, for, after impressing, as it is said, the Khedive of Egypt during his visit to Windsor last week, with her motherli- ness, her.wonderful memory, and her grasp of Egyptian affairs, she brightened the Court by arranging for a performance at the castle by the Covent Garden Opera Company. This, which consisted of a special selection from Bizet's Carmen" and Mascagni's "Cavalleria Rusticana," with Madame Calve as the prima donna, was held in the Waterloo Chamber. This, as is customary on such occasions, was converted for the nonce into a charming bijou theatre, and was attended by her Majesty with the Royal household and guests, some ninety in number, the Royal dais being at the base of the auditorium, and facing the stage. After the performance, which was obviously enjoyed by all, the orchestra, 6horus, and staff were entertained in the audience and presence chambers, where supper was provided, they then returning by special train to London; but with graceful courtesy, the Queen requested Madame Calve to remain at the Castle for the night as her guest. Representatives of local bodies all over the metropolis have been meeting, under the auspices of the London County Council, to con- sider the burning question of regulations in connection with streets and street traffic. There will be general agreement with the posi- tion taken up that the London street traffic difficulty was becoming of vast importance, as the central portion of the metropolis is abso- lutely congested at certain times in the year. It is easy, of course, to suggest that much may be done to alleviate this by widening the thoroughfares most crowded but how many among us have any clear idea as to the enormous cost of such a work. The widening of Ludgate-hill has been at the rate of two millions sterling per mile, that of Fleet-street three millions, and that of the Strand no less than six millions. As every penny of this has to be paid by the already burdened ratepayer, he may fairly be forgiven for pausing when further gigantic schemes of the kind are proposed for his consideration. Among the most agreeable society functions that take place during the London season are the respective meets of the Coaching Club and the Four-in-Hand Club. The second of the former institution for the present year was held in St. James's-park last Saturday; and although the weather was neither as bright nor as warm as might have been expected on the closing day of June, the threatened rain fortunately held off, and there was a fairly large gathering of spectators on the parade-ground. There waa not, however, anything like the usual number of coaches, for no more than nineteen were mustered, as compared with thirty-three last year and twenty-nine in 1898, though it may be noted that there were three more than at the first meet of the season in Hyde-park five weeks ago. It was specially interest- ing to note on this occasion that the Khedive and his suite witnessed the picturesque procession from the windows of Buckingham Palace, which it passed on the wfty *to Ranelagh; but it is not recorded whether the pleasing spectacle inspired in the breast of Abbas Pasha any wish to himself to become a weilder of "the ribbons." It is understood that before another year, the trustees of the British Museum will make another and even more strenuous endeavour to persuade the authorities of the Treasury to present them with one hundred thousand pounds in order to carry out certain much- needed extensions at Bloomsbury. They already have in hand something like forty-four thousand pounds, the proceeds of a bequest made by Mr. Vincent Stuckey Lean for the special purpose of improving the "accommodation at the Great Central Museum of tlfe Empire and those who realise the im- mense value of the work which is done at Bloomsbury will earnestly hope that, even in these times of war and stress, the Treasury may soften its heart sufficiently to part with the necessary funds. It has lately been thought in various quarters that the sole diffi- culty of the Trustees has been in regard to the accommodation for newspapers and books; but, in point of fact, the question of storage in that particular direction has been only one of their difficulties. Happily, the land for the required extensions is already the property of the nation, having, by an unusually excellent display of official forethought, been secured some years ago and it would be a thousand pities if it were allowed to remain idle and the Museum to continue cramped for want of the necessary funds. There is no more popular institution in London-and assuredly none that more de. serves to be popular—than the Metropolitan Fire Brigade; and its annual review on Clap- ham-common a few days since afforded an excellent opportunity for attesting the fact. Many thousands of people came from all parts of the capital to witness the display, in which a large section of the men attached to the Brigade, with six fire-engines, six horse escapes, ancTfour hose vans participated. The Brigade has now been in existence for some thirty-four years, and it is gratifying to know that, despite the great growth of the metropolis within that period, the number of really serious and sensa- tional fires is only about two-thirds of the old total, a result which may be attributed not only to the perfection of modern fire-fighting appli- ances but to the splendid efficiency of this excellent body of men, who are ready to brave 1 I any danger at the call of duty. R. I



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