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TOWN TOPICS. !

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TOWN TOPICS. ('From Our London Correspondent.) | Parliamentary work being wound up, our legislators are either scattered or scattering to the four quarters of the earth. Many of them, indeed, had the time officially allotted for their holiday to begin; and during the past few days that the House of Commons has been sitting not half the members were present. That, of course, is largely to be accounted for by the fact that all the most contested ques- tions had been disposed of in advance. The Motor Cars Bill was the last measure to arouse any keen interest, and that was mainly because it touched private interests in a special de- gree. The owners and occupiers of automo- biles felt that they were bound to stand up stoutly for what they considered their rights; and the fervour with which they pleaded would scarcely have been equalled if they had been defending the most cherished among the nation's liberties. But all their labours are now temporarily suspended, and the one haunt- ing question among many of them is as to whether these will ever be resumed. Nobody, of course, can tell; but if a dissolution does happen to take place within the next six months, no observant politician will be very much surprised. Those interested in public affairs from a party point of view are, of course, busily dis- cussing the results of the past session as they affect their own particular position; but Par- liament does much other than merely political work, and one of its minor labours this year has been of special interest not only to house- holders, but to' housekeepers, to the gentler sex, in fact, as well as to the sterner. There has been sanctioned for certain great cities, both in England and Scotland, a system of registration for servants' registry offices—in- stitutions which should be of much use, but which very often prove to both mistresses and servants a mockery, a delusion, and a snare. The entry on the register is to be made subject to cancellation on suspension by a petty ses- sional court, on conviction of a breach of the municipal by-laws; and there can be no ques- tion of the importance of such agencies being conducted by persons of good character and integrity. As far as the capital is concerned, we have still to wait for such regulations to be put into force; but the London County Council can be depended upon to follow promptly the examples of Glasgow and Man- I chester if their well-meaning experiment prove successful. London, both in regard to the City and the West End, is in important thoroughfares being so steadily, and even rapidly, transformed that those who have not visited the metropolis for some years can scarcely realise how much in this direction is continually being done. In the City, the demolition of .the old prison of Newgate is making a very considerable dif- ference to the whole quarter of the Old Bailey and close by the destruction of the well-known buildings of Christ's Hospital-so long the home of the "blue-coat boys"—is effecting a great change. But, of course, it is the con- struction of the new thoroughfare from the Strand to Holborn-Alderwych and Kingsway, as its two portions are to be called-which is effecting the most striking change. The buildings that are already completed, or are approaching completion at each end of the horn which forms Aldwych, afford sufficient promise of the handsome and solid character of the new thoroughfare when it is completed; and the further developments will be watched with very close interest. Not before the decision needed to be taken, the trustees of the British Museum have re- solved upon undertaking the necessary work for the enlargement of the great national series of buildings at Bloomsbury. Three-fourths of the sum required, or £ 150,000, which will be spent on the work, comes out of the Parlia- mentary funds voted in the Public Buildings Extension Bill, and the remaining one-fourth will be taken from funds bequeathed to the Museum trustees. Up to now only sketch plans for the extensions have been prepared but it is to be noted that the principal architect of the office of works is employed on the task, and that his designs harmonise with the existing buildings. This is what might have been anticipated, and it is a decision to which no one who knows the Museum is likely to take exception. The style is heavy, but it seems fitting to the purpose, and it is certainly com- modious, while the one departure from it— the immense circular reading room-hnr- monises with the rest, and is a trulv majestic anartment. It will seem to many to be curious that according to the official figures which hav3 just been made available, a less number of students visited that favourite haunt of theirs last year than in some previous years but otip may be assured that is only a temporary decrease which will speedily be made good. The West Indian banana, having become a most frequent spectacle in our London shops and streets, a stremwrrs effort is now nromi^pd to be made to bring the West Indian lime-fruit to our very doors. It is being llrp'pd that no onnorfiinitv -Tiolild be lost for supplying t,, th" British public the green lime of the West Indies, in orrfr-r to compete with lemons from the south of Furope, it being claimed to have- a morf refreshing odour and a fuller and yet more delicate flavour. Tn th^ form of limp- jniC'P we have, of course, been long accustomed to it but the ide* now is that we should he enabled to handle the f-nit for outlives, and make our "souash" from it to our No one will doubt the refreshing and health- giving minifies of the lime. which hopn attested by the experience of ageS and. if we can heln our own colonies by encouraging it sale, two excellent works may be simul- taneously accomplished. Much good work has been offerted at the various volunteer camps, which 'nve been— and. indeed, are being—held in different parts of the country: and the zeal and energy dis- placed 1w those taking part in them deserve 1, prrn'se. The War Office, in a worthv desire for efficiency, does not always seem +o recognise to full all the difficulties in the way of our citizen soldiers attending these annual camps and it does not always make suffi cient allowance for the trouble and expense to which both officers and men are put. But the trouble and expense, in the vast majority of instances, are borne as cheerfully as the; many discomforts which are inherent to cam-r- ing out. The regular soldier is usei to that. kind of thing but the volunteer from the hank and the office, the shop counter and the cor- nenter's bench, feels it keenly, and, there- fore, it is all the more honour to him that h« does the wnrk of camp at once so cheerfullv nnd so well. No one can dispute the value of the training thus received and the good snirit at the back of it all speaks volumes for the volunteer forces as a whole. It is only a very few years since complaint was to be heard that the upper reaches of the Thames, lovely though they will always con- tinue to he, were becoming comparatively deserted because of the competition of the highly-popular bicycle. But this summer the tale is being told that cycling is not a.s popular as it was, and that owing to the increasingly fashionable vogue of the motor-car. It is not that those who were accustomed to ride on cycles now journey in automobiles; it is that I many cycles find their nerves too sorely shaken hv the speed of their mechanical rivals to allow them to remain on the road. The whirligig of I time brings, indeed, its revenges, when the cyclist, who was once very widely regarded as the terror of the highway, has to succumb to the greater terror of the automobilist; but, though the fear of the former may be exaggerated, there appears no doubt that it exists. R.

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