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OUIR LONDON CORRPONDENT.

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OUIR LONDON CORRPONDENT. Even so historic a ceremony as the opening -of a new Parliament, partakes in these days so little df the picturesque that no great crowd assembles on the occasion and, therefore, it is not *tx) be expected that the forthcoming function of this kind will, in this respect, diR'er from the rest. The first duty of the members, of course, is to elect a Speaker, and this is done by them before the House is formally 'const1tlted. or the members have been swor'K. Th:t fact is the more curious seeing that the 'vote thus taken has often had a most impori&nt po!itic:d effect, and has even menaced the existence of Ministers. It takes two or three days to get a new House fully into working order: and on the present occasion, though the opening day is Monday, there will b& no real work done until Thursday. Natu- rally there is much talk of both among members and politicians generally as to the possible length of time that the execution of that work will occupy and there have even been dismat prophets who have asserted that it may take until after Christmas. That, however, is very far from widely believed, and the prevailtng impression is that no more than a full fortnight will be required to vote the necessary nnancia.1 resolutions and to pass the Appropriation Bill required to give legal affect to them. It has been noted that the nrst duty of a new House of Commons is to elect its Speaker or mouth," as the old phrase ran, and it is in- teresting to know what perquisites, as well as what duties, attach to that high ofBce. Ancient custom ordains that the occupant of the Chair is entitled to two hogsheads of claret at every election from the national funds; but there is more generosity displayed by the CIo!:hworkers' Company and the Master of the Buckhounds, for their girt is a- yearly one; that of the former taking the form of a large quantity of broadcloth, and the tatter's being a buck and a doe from Windsor Forest. The incoming Speaker has further the fight to ;ei000 for equipment, and he takes over the pictures and the plate with which the omcial residence in the Palace of Westminster is beautined. The country, therefore, cannot be considered to deal ungenerously with the great oSicer who takes precedence as the nrst Commoner in the realm and it is very largely because of this that Parliament has had the proud satisfaction of seeing such a succes- sion of impartial and unswerving occupants of the Chair. One consequence of the assembling of a new House of Commons is the trial of a certain number of election petitions, and of these this time there will be about half-a-dozen—a. smaller total than usual, but sufficient to indicate that our electoral workings continue to be carefully watched. The trials will not be proceeded with before the middle of January, and there is a rumour to be heard at the Palace of Justice in the Strand that two Courts may be formed in order that the petitions can be disposed of without delay. Two judges in these times are necessary to form a Court, though the number originally was one; and despite the fact that the new system was devised to prevent anomalies, the greatest anomaly of all remains, and that is that, if one judge con- siders a member ought to be unseated, and the other takes the opposite view, it is the latter that prevails without appeal, with the consequence that a man whom a judge has publicly declared to have been unduly elected, remains in the House of Commons during the whole of the Parliament. The special honour shown to the taAe Sir Arthur Sullivan by the Queen in signifying her express desire that the nrst part of the funeral service this week should take place at the Chapel Royal, St. James's, has been much appreciated not only by professional musi- cians, but by the public generally, who have sincerely mourned for the great composer. Some sort of academic argument has been pro- ceeding as to whether he would not have done better to devote himself to a diSerent style of music to that by which he won so much of his fame; but the main point assuredly is that he furnished such a full opportunity to his generation to thoroughly enjoy healthy harmony. His compositions have been known and loved in tens of thousands of homes all the world over and it will be very long before there will be willingly let die the memory of one who composed not only so many joyous songs, but such touching airs as those of "The Lost Chord" and Thou art passing hence, my brother." One of the latest fruits of the prolonged campaign in South Africa is that Boer tactics have been formally tested at Aldershot, an idea which, before the war broke out, would have been laughed at as impossible, a blindness of idea for which the nation has had very heavily to pay. It appears that the supposed enemy were split into small commandos of nfty each, and these took up positions all over the country round Alderahot. Nothing was seen of them as the home troops advanced, but when the retirement commenced, these com- mandos came promptly into evidence. One of the four infantry brigades engaged was at- tacked on its flank, and, when it moved towards the enemy, these climbed into their saddles and went off, only to reappear and harass the column at other unexpected points., with the result that, as in the actual warfare of the Boer territories, several small parties of our scouts were cut off. The idea seems, indeed, to have proved a very practical one, and it is certain to be repeated elsewhere. Winter does not seem to be a specially appropriate period for starting-or, as in this case, resuming-a railway race; but it is announced that, after the decision of Lord Balfour of Burleigh in favour of the accelera- tion of the service of trains by the East Coast route from London to Edinburgh, the London and North-Western and Caledonian Companies, which work the West Coast service, regard the agreement of 1896 against racing as at an end. They, therefore, from this week will reduce the running time of their Scotch expresses by a quarter of an hour, as the East Coast com- panies-the Great Northern, North-Eastern, and North British are doing and the process of accelers.tion, of course, may not stop there. This will furnish some answer to those critics of railway management who have lately been complaining that British railway companies are in certain respects behind their Continental and American com- petitors, and notably in point of speed. But, even if this be so, our all-round train service is a far better one than that to be experienced on the Continent, if cleanliness, comfort, and punctuality, and notably on the northern lines, are taken into account as well as speed. The two great cycle shows of the year are once more open in London, and it may be noted as a very striking fact that neither is as large as it was a twelvemonth ago. There are, however, some interesting points about each which ira well worthy of attention, and these especially in the direction of developments of the now very popular free wheel and the special braking arrangements auxiliary and, indeed, indispensable to its use. The lessened number of exhibits may be accounted for in various ways, but it is certainly not explained by any diminution in the popu- larity of cycling of which more and more proofs are yearly to be found. The latest concession, by the way, which metropolitan cyclists have obtained for themselves is permission from the London County Council to wheel their machines through the new subway under the Thames at Greenwich when completed, while the way has been maJe easier for them in the Blackwall Tunnel already open—a" concession that appears certain to be valued. R.

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THE RETIREMENT OF LORD WOLSELEY.

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