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TOWN TOPICS. I

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TOWN TOPICS. I (From Our London Correspondent The attention which has been paid in London this year to the celebration on April 23 of Shakespeare's birthday was so decidedly more marked than usual that it would seem as if that particular date is more and more to be made an English festival. Even the authori- ties of the British Museum unbent for the occasion, and arranged for a small but effective special exhibition of Shakespearian relics to be shown to visitors. These, of course, had the distinguishing merit of being genuine, which is a very strong point, seeing how many fictitious "relics" have been sought to be palmed off upon the public from time to time. The most colossal of these were, of course, the historic forgeries of the youthful William Henry Ireland —the William Henry Erin of the late James Payn's story, The Heir of the Seas," founded upon this curious chapter in the history of human credulity; and these culminated in the pre- sentation even of a play, "Vortigern" being declared to be a long-lost tragedy by our greatest dramatist. But there have been many lesser impostures; and those Shakespearian students who went to the national collection at Bloomsbury while it was to be seen there were well rewarded for their pains by seeing some genuine and very interesting memories of Shakespeare. Close upon half a century has elapsed since the late Queen Victoria, who was accompanied by her husband, Prince Albert, went to Syden- ham to open the Crystal Palace; and the interesting event of June 10, 1854, is to be fittingly celebrated under the patron- age of the King and Queen Alexandra on the coming June 11. The generation which remembers the enthusiasm which had been aroused by the erection of the Palace of Glass in Hyde-park for the first World's Fair, in 1851, is now almost passed away; and it is difficult, when one looks back at the newspapers and pamphlets and periodicals of that time, to realise quite why it was that the enthusiasm ran so high. But it begot very high hopes when the wonderful architectural erection of Sir Joseph Paxton was removed from South Ken- sington to the Sydenham hills and, although these have not in full degree been realised, millions have spent a pleasant time because of that removal, and innocent amusement is still, and long ought to be, a very potent factor in the welfare of mankind. The promise of May and brighter weather with which the capital has lately been visited, lends an especial interest to the topic of the fashions that are being adopted by ladies in preparation for the coming summer. Those of observant eye who walk in Bond-street, or Piccadilly, or Hyde-park just now will note that the most striking feature of these is their mixture of the styles which were prevalent in days long gone by. It has been seen, for in- stance, that fashionable ladies have been wearing Medici collars, with Elizabethan sleeves and embroideries, Marie Stuart coifs, and every style peculiar to the days of the latest Louis of France, in colour, texture, and design alike. More than this, Pompadour muslins are proving the rage of the hour, with seventeenth and eighteenth century brocades and taffetas, as well as Marie Antoinette skirts and bands and Josephine or Empire frocks; and, while the pelerine of the Josephine period is reproduced to-day in velvet and silk, early Victorian fichu effects are in much request. As it has been observed, nothing is too gorgeous and nothing too simple for present-day use, and subdued quaker tones are seen side by side with brilliant shades, so that the taste oc every section ought assuredly to be satisfied. Congresses of all kinds and affecting almost eVery profession, calling, and human interest, will be a special feature of the International Exhibition at St. Louis, U.S.A., which is about to be opened, and they will be taking place right through the summer. But there are others than those which will assemble in America that will receive special attention at the hands of Englishmen, and one of these is the International Congress for the Protection of Industrial Property, which is to be held in Berlin at the end of May. An influential committee repre- senting this country has been formed in con- nection therewith; and the desirability for such a step is sufficiently indicated by what the Congress proposes to discuss. Its principal object will be to make preparations for the re- vision of the Paris Convention relating to patents, while other questions will include the protection of international exhibitions, the right of priority, formalities and dating of patents, designs and models, with the formu- lating of their international protection, the protection of trade-marks, especially in the country of origin, and the confiscation of unlaw- fully-marked goods. Those visitors to London who have watched the dilatory travelling of some of our omnibuses at certain points, and have been both wearied and worried by the delay, will be especially inte- rested in the idea embodied in a proposed new bye-law of the London County Council dealing with a phase of the subject. This would pro- vide that all slow-going traffic should be kept to the kerb on the near side, this action being taken in response to pressure from the Roads Improvement Association. It may be said at once that the suggested innovation is viewed with strong disapproval among the proprietors of vehicles plying for hire and owners of omni- buses, it being declared that it would tend greatly to interfere with passenger traffic, besides proving inconvenient to the public. They contend that the present keeping to the kerb side of omnibuses and unhired cabs is a boon to the wayfarer, who would not rush through a maze of slow, heavy traffic to get on a 'bus or into a cab and it is obvious that there will be much discussion before the new idea is generally accepted. Although the medical Press is apt to find deadly dangers in what most of us have been accustomed to consider the most innocuous quarters, many a Londoner will be inclined to agree with the protest which is just now being raised against the wanton and persistent shaking of the domestic doormat in the face of the passer-by. Those who have to catch trains in the morning on their way to business in the City have their nostrils frequently offended by this practice, which is carried out regardless of the inconvenience and annoyance it is bound to causa; and when they are told, upon distinct I medical authority that it dispenses bacterio- logical flora in high degree, they will not at all relish its continuance. It is roundly described as an "offence against decency and hygiene," I and the attention of the local authorities is urgently called to the practice but, upon a dispassionate consideration, it will be seen that it is easier to denounce the custom than to < suggest a remedy. Doormats are necessities of our domestic environment, and they are bound I to to shaken; but, of course, the question is as I to where is the best place for this process to be j indulged in. One can scarcely imagine the strip of pavement outside the front door to be the most eligible or desirable position; and it might very fairly be urged that, where there is garden at the back, or even the strip of yard possessed by most metropolitan dwellings, it t feul better be done there. Now that the decision of the Association "Cup-tie Final" is always accustomed to be held at the Crystal Palace, London annually in April knows what it is to be given over for a day to an invasion of tens of thousands of foot- ball enthusiasts from divers parts of the pro- vinces. It may be, as has been asserted in the case of the last match so played, that it is something of an anomaly that two Lancashire teams, coming from towns within a few miles of one another, should have to travel as far as London to decide which is the better; but, of course, when the arrangement was originally made, there was far from being a certainty that this would be so, and it was quite possible, as has been the case in one or two previous instances, that a South of England team would have to play off the tie with one from the North. In any case, the one-day visitors evidently enjoy the hurried trip to town, and this naturally counts for much in the consideration of the whole question. R.

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