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TOWN TOPICS.I

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TOWN TOPICS. (From Our London Correspondent.) Town topics are very scanty at this holiday season. There are no happenings," and everybody who is anybody is at the seaside or on the Continent or the moors. It is a busy time, however, with Bill Sykes and his con- freres, who seem to be daily increasing in audacity. As nine-tenths of the West-end houses are at present shut up or left in charge of feeble caretakers, there is plenty of scope for the operations of the enterprising burglar, who has recently made some big hauls. Shops enjoy no greater immunity than dwelling- houses from the attentions of these gentry, and a few days ago no fewer than five shops and offices in the busiest part of the Strand were raided. In one of the shops—a jeweller's-the show case in the window was stripped of its contents, although there was no window shutter and the case was in full view of the passers-by. Several newspapers have given prominence during the last few days to exaggerated reports of the lawlessness in Epping Forest. The fact is, however, that there is comparatively no more hooliganism in the forest than in any other open space at this season of the year. It does exist to a considerable extent, of course, seeing that it is an excellent rendezvous for the East-, end of London; but the authorities take ample measures for its suppression. In addition to the ordinary policing of the forest, there are the keepers, whilst the corporation also employ several detectives. The greatest difficulty is experienced by the authorities in getting the public to come forward with evidence in cases, and hooliganism will certainly continue to exist, if not to increase, until some salutary examples are made with the assistance of the public in the witness box. A paper of much interest to Londoners was read at the recent meeting of the British Asso- ciation by Mr. Sydney Low, of the London Council Council. The town problem, he said, had become to a great extent a suburban problem, and this, he thought, should mitigate to some extent our alarm at the exodus from the country. A comparison between the suburban dweller and the country man was not entirely disadvantageous to the former. The wealthier section of the middle- clas;i, which twenty or thirty years ago used to go into the suburbs, was inclined now to remain in the town, exchanging a villa for a flat. On the other hand, the working man tended more and more to go to the new suburbs on the wing of the cheap tram and the electric tram. He was able to do so not so much because he had more wages than he used to have, but because he had more time. He regarded it as a great mistake for municipalities to build blocks of dwellings in central districts and so anchor the artisans in the heart of the City. He looked forward to a time when the City populations would re- side twenty or thirty miles outside the City. This suggested some difficulties in regard to local government which were already beginning to be felt. Municipalities certainly could not be extended to include a sufficient area, and his notion was some kind of joint boards or aggregation of provincial councils. The great fall there has been in the value of gilt-edged stocks may be judged from the (experience of the several local authorities that have made issues within the last few years. West Ham may be quoted as an example. In the year 1899 its Corporation was able to issue its 3 per cent. stock at the price of 103. A year or two later the price fell to 92, whil for the last issue the sum obtainable was only 84, the underwriters even then being left with the bulk of the stock. Yet, for all practical purposes, the security is in every respect as good to-day as it was in the year 1899. The question of default does not, of course, call for consideration at all. Archdeacon Biggie, of Birmingham, has been contrasting the Metropolis unfavourably with Brummagem. He declares that London is a frivolous place, containing a vast number of peopl/f who exist only for pleasure, and who do no work at all. "London," he says, "is indif- ferent, and the indifference is largely the indif- ference of the wealthy and the idle, who have no interest in religious truths and ideals. This indifference is largely filtering down through every class of the community. London, in short, is becoming very frivolous and light-minded; it has lost its ideajs, its convictions, and is given up to the blankest materialism." It may cheerfully be admitted that Birming- hani is a. much more serious place than London, but it must be remembered that the capital attracts a large number of pleasure-seekers from every part of the Kingdom, whereas no one would think of going to Birmingham for pleasure. When a Birmingham man wants to nave a day or two's enjoyment he generally comes up to London, and helps to swell the crowd of frivolous people of whom the worthy Archdeacon complains. A correspondence has been going on in one of the morning newspapers on the manners of London shop assistants, and one or two corre- oespondents have compared them unfavourably with the manners prevailing in Continental establishments. The general concensus of opinion, however, is that our London assistants ihave little io learn in the way of polite- ness, and that, considering the many petty rudenesses and even insults which they have to endure daily, they preserve their good temper and serenity in a wonderful manner. In order to gain a practical insight into the matter, one of the staff of the newspaper in question obtained employment for a day as enopwalker in a well-known West-end estab- lishment. He put in an arduous day's work, and came to the conclusion that a shopwalker's life is by no means a sinecure. His conclud- ing remarks are as follows —" When closing time came I felt more tired than I had done iter years. Walking about on the carpet is, I think, one great cause of fatigue, combined with the incessant bustle and rush. I wound up my day as a shopwalker with a great respect for the hardworking assistant behind, the counter, and I am afraid not the highest opinion of the customer before it." Personally speaking, from an experience of tooth sides of the Channel, I must say that, for god3 manners, courtesy, and attention to cus- tmers, the London shop-girl, or shop-man, is quite equal to the average Continental assistant. To say that yotmg ladies engaged in London shops are discourteous and bad-mannered is as absurd as to say that Continental shop-girls are perfect models of good breeding. The famous old church of St. Giles's, Cripple- fate, in which the body of John Milton lies uried, has just been enriched with a statue of the poet. The unveiling ceremony was per- formed by Lady Alice Egerton, who belongs to a family descended from John, Earl of Bridgewater, an early patron of the budding genius. As President of Wales,, the Earl resided at Ludlow Castle, and there it was, in 1634, that "Comus" was first presented. The chief characters of the mask were impersonated by Lord Brackley, the President's heir; Thomas Egerton, a younger son; and Lady Affice Egerton, a daughter. It will be noticed that the lady who lei,led the statue is the namesake of ,-I- who first enacted the heroine of" Com and gave the first public utterance to these noble words — A thousand fantasies ilegin to throng within my memory, Of calling shapes, and beckoning shadows dire, And airy tongues that syllable men's names ft sands, and shores, and desert wilderwses. These thoughts may startle well, but not astound, The virtuous mind, that ever walks attended By a strong siding champion, conscience. A Knight Commandership of the Order of the Rising Sun has been conferred by the i. Emperor of Japan, through Viscount Hayashi, tfee Japanese Ambassador, upon Sir Marcus Samuel, late Lord Mayor of London, in recog- nition of his many services to our Far Eastern any. Long before the Anglo-Japanese alliance was. concluded, or, thought, of, the firm of which Sir Marcus is the head had been intimately associated with Japan, and was, as it still is, in close relation with the Japanese Government. That firm issued the first Japanese Gold Loan in Europe, and later, with the consent of the Government, issued the municipal loans for the Yokohama Waterworks and the Osaka. Harbour works. The develop- ment of trade in Formosa has also been materially assisted by the present recipient of the Knight Commandership of the Rising Sun -an honour which he shares,, among civic notables, with Sir Joseph Dimsdale, M.P., another ex-Lord Mayor, who encouraged exceptionally cordial relations between the Mansion House and the Japanese Legation. T.

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