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* TOWN TOPICS.

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TOWN TOPICS. (From Our London Corrwponclent,) I It was with some laughter that members of the House of Commons greeted the original an- nouncement of the Prime Minister that he in- tended to propose measures for so accelerating the progress of the Education Bill as to enable Parliament to rise before Christmas. But, when they came to think out the matter, they found that, whatever means were proposed to this end, not much margin of time would be left if they were to get away from Westminster by the festive season. Probably not oven the most ardent lover of his legislative labours desires to be then sitting at work on the banks of the Thames, although there are few among them who can remember as a personal experi- ence when last the House sat on Christmas Eve, though that was no more than fourteen years ago, the prorogation then taking place on that date. Five years later Parliament was sitting up to within two or three days of Christmas, and then adjourned for a very brief period; but a strong hope is enter- tained by those who work at Westminster that, at the worst, it will be the former and not the latter precedent that is followed on the coming occasion. Much, of course, is heard from time to time of the great personal sacrifice made by our legislators in coming to Parliament at all in the winter season: but that kind tf talk is much exaggerated, for, in point of fact, the average member finds many and various means for enjoying himself while in town. If London had not been well-nigh surfeited with pageants during the present year, the Lord Mayor's Show would have stood a far better chance of being popularly appreciated, for it contained several features calculated to attract public attention and approval. The two things do not always go together on these occasions, as was evidenced several years ago when an emblematical car bearing a representation of Lord Mayor Walworth slaying Wat Tyler decidedly attracted the most attention, and as decidedly secured the most disapproval right along the route, the scene being generally felt to be lacking in taste upon such an occasion. In some respects, an endeavour is put forth to make the Lord Mayor's Show in some sort an abstract and brief chronicle of the time by including in it representations of the most striking recent national events; and this year the Anglo- Japanese alliance was celebrated in this fashion. But the English nature does not quite lend itself to personal pageantry-if the term may be used. Englishmen are too self-conscious to be able to dress up" without awkward- ness and hence they fail to display them- selves to as great advantage at these times as Frenchmen, Italians, and notably Hungarians. As far as the real importance of the day is concerned, the Show is over and the crowds have dispersed before the most significant busi- ness-the banquet in Guildhall-taxes place. It was not always thus, for in the olden time the banquet had precedence of the Show upon certain occasions, but the general rule is as at present. The original idea of the feast was that the judges to whom the new Lord Mayir had been formally presented should be his guests at a collation; and occasionally, in Eiizabethian times, the invitation was not always received with the best grace. It was the same. indeed, with the leading members of the Privy Council, and more than once the invitation was bluntly declined with an intimation to the Lord Mayor and his brother aldermen that they would be well advised to put their money to some better use, such as the relief of the poor. Nowadays, something more of courtesy* is observed in our public life; and we can cer- tainly not imagine Mr. Balfour or the Lord Chief Justice replying to an invitation from Sir Marcus Samuel in any like torms. But only close students of history are aware of how extremely blunt was the language accustomed to be used by our ancestors to each other. Suggestions have been made to the Govern- ment in the House of Commons this week that, having regard to the increasing congestion of traffic in the streets of London, and to the need for more rapid mn.Je3 of transit between distant parts, there shoald be insti- tuted an enquiry, by Royal commission or otherwise, into the means of locomotion and transportation in the metropolis both on and beneath the surface including the better regula- tion of vehicular traffic, the possibility of appropriating certain thoroughfares to given kinds of traffic, the means of facilitating the construction of electric tramways along or immediately beneath the streets, and the steps to be taken for creating a properly- arranged and conveniently inter connected system of deep-level electric railways. What- ever may be thought of this particular idea, there can be little doubt that the matter is one which will have to be taken up in some authoritative fashion. One can travel out of London for fifty miles in the same time as it takes to go five miles within its boundaries; and the loss of time and temper is, as a mental consequence, extremely great. A steady stream of peers is just now setting towards the east; for our House of Lords will be somewhat extensively represented at the coming Coronation Durbar, which is to be held at Delhi on New Year's Day. A large number of other personages, well known in the official world and in society, are also proceeding to India on the same errand, with the result that the regular passenger services with all Indian ports are now fully engaged until the first week of December, which is the latest date that will enable departures from Mediterranean ports to reach Bombay in time. The foreign mail services are being utilised to the fullest extent, and it is reported that some travellers are pro- ceeding by Australian and China steame s tc Colombo with the intention of proceeding to Calcutta by coasting boats, or even by train, from the nearest port on the peninsula. Those who can be present on the great occasion will oertainly witness a spectacle almost unparalleled in its imposing dimensions, and one that will takd" its place in the history of impressive pageants which India has furnished from timo unmemorial. There is some sadness in finding that, just as we are rapidly approaching the close of another volunteer year, a spirit of unrest appears to be abroad among some portions of our civilian force which may do something to lessen its usefulness. This is especially marked in London, where some of the best known and most popular commanding officers have re- signed their commissions; and much discus- sion is going on in both military and social circles as to the reasons for this step. This is not the place to argue the rights or the wrongs of the dispute between these gentlemen and the War Office; but the hope may be fervently ex- pressed that no mere Question of amourpmpre either on the one side or the other will be allowed to deepen the difficulty which has arisen. It is in these times clearly recognised on all hands that only a well-trained and thoroughly disciplined volunteer force stands between this country and conscription and it, therefore, behoves all those who have no wish to see compulsory service introduced in Great Britain to do their utmost to assist in solving the difficulty which has now presented itself. It is certainly not a time for recrimina- tion of a too stiff standing upon punctilio. We are all proud of our civilian soldiers, and it would be ten thousand pities if anything occurred I either to lessen our pride or their efficiency. Prime Ministers in these days are evidently expected to be of the "Admirable Crichton order, and authorities upon everything; and thus it is that Mr; Balfour has been called upon within the past few days to deliver, a solemn judgment upon the merits of a particular form of golf ball, while the fact that he has just joined the Automobile Club is being quoted as {>roof that he favours legislation in regard to essening the present statutory restriction upon the speed of motor cars. Perhaps, before long, the First Lord of the Treasury will be asked to decide upon the rival merits of Vigoro, the newly-attempted combination of cricket and lawn-tennis recently seen at Lord's and the Crystal Palace, and" Table Cricket," as in vented by Dr. W. G. Grace. While waiting for this, it may be noted that aught concerning cricket in any form to which the veteran W. G." attaches his name is bound to attract a widespread public interest. Various endeavours have been made to adapt cricket to indoor play; and in this one, by means of a spring and a slide, the bowler, after a little practice, can vary his pace and length with considerable accuracy, which puts the batsman to work with a will in order to keep the ball from his wicket. R.

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