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TOWN TOPICS. (From our London Correspondent.) Considerable excitement was caused in apolitical circles on Friday-the day of the Prorogation of Parliament—by the hasty sum- moning of a Cabinet Council. The proceedings lasted until two o'clock, when an adjournment for an hour was made. The Council was re- sumed at three o'clock, and was not over until five. All sorts of rumours were flying about, as it was obvious that such an unusual event as the holding of a Cabinet Council immediately after the Prorogation could only have been rendered necessary by business of the highest importance. I have the best authority for stating that a long despatch in cypher was re- ceived from the British Ambassador at Wash- ington in the early hours of Friday morning, presumably with reference to the peace negotiations, and that the Cabinet was called together in order to consider it. A long message was also received from Lord Curzon, in reply to a request for further particulars respecting the proposed partition of Bengal, and this like- wise engaged the attention of the Ministers. The presentation of the honorary freedom of the City, enclosed in a gold box, to Viscount Selby, the late Speaker of the House of Commons, has been definitely fixed for Tuesday, October 10, when it is expected that both sides of the House of Commons will be strongly represented at I Y the Guildhall. When Viscount Peel received the freedom in similar circumstances the presentation was made in the Council Chamber, but on the next occasion it is probable that Sir Vezey Strong's idea of making use of the Great Hall, so as to permit of a larger attendance of representative people, will be revived and acted upon. A curious religious ceremony, which is said to be performed every year by the Mohamedans, took place a few days ago in the house of an East Indian sailor living in the West India Dock-road. A full-grown he-goat was smeared with red ochre, and then decapitated at one blow, amid the prayers of the congregation. The flesh was then cooked with rice, and eaten by those present. If this be true Mohamedans have stronger stomachs than most Christians. This ceremony marks the end of the Moslem fast, corresponding to our Lent. It is stated that among the congregation were two European gentlemen, converts to the faith of the Prophet. These gentlemen are now acquainted with the flavour of billy-goat pilau, an experience which few persons will envy them. If this is a necessary part of the Moslem ritual it is not surprising that there are so fev. converts to that faith in this country. The Echo," which suddenly suspended pub- lication last Monday, was founded in December, 1868, by Messrs. Cassell, the publishers, of Belle Sauvage Yard, and its first editor was Mr. (afterwards Sir) Arthur Arnold. After a few years it passed into the hands of Baron Grant, the Lombard-street financier, then in the heyday of his success. A little later it left City hands7 After owning and editing it for many years Mr. J. Passmore Edwards sold his pet to the Storey-Carnegie Syndicate, but bought it back at a premium. For the next twelve years he carried it on himpelf at a profit of L- 8000, or f;9000ayear. Some eight years ago he sold it to a syndicate, in which Alderman Sir Alfred Newton, Mr. Harry K. Newton, and Mr. Thomas Lough, M.P., were understood to have an interest, and in March, 1900, the publishing and editorial offices were transferred from Catherine-street, Strand, to St. Bride-street. After various changes Mr. Pethick Lawrence, a relative of two former Lord Mayors, the late Sir William and Sir James Lawrence, acquired a controlling interest, and the paper was run latterly on 11 Young Oxford Liberal" lines, presumably not with financial success. In its time the Echo cultivated many fads, but was throughout all its vicissitudes a clean sheet, and people of all shades of political opinion view with a tinge of regret the disappearance of London's oldest halfpenny evening paper. No one objects to promotion in the Army by merit, but the new method of promotion from the rank of major-general to that of lieutenant- general which is now being carried out by the Army Council is arousing much criticism in military circles. Many very distinguished officers who have served their country well are sufferers by it. Major-General Pole-Carew, of the Eighth Division (Cork), has been practically shelved. Another victim is Major-General Sir Hugh McCalmont, who is also connected with the Cork command. Sir Hugh is senior on the list of major-generals. He will be sixty years of age this year. He has served with distinction in six or seven campaigns, including the Red River expedition (1871), the Ashanti expedition of 1873, Egypt. 1882, and the Nile expedition of 1884-5. He took part in the battles of Kassassin and Tel-el-Kebir, and in the Nile expedition was commander of the Light Camel Corps. ,The great railway companies are having bad times at present. What with rapidly rising rates, and the competition of electric tramways with their suburban traffic, they find it a very difficult matter to earn a respectable dividend. The motor-car traffic, too, is having its effect upon the number of first-class passengers. "The present craze of motoring," said the chairman at the half-yearly meeting of the Great Western Railway, has something to do with the loss on first-class fares." On the Thursday in Henley week, he was told, four hundred motors had been housed at Henley, and under ordinary circumstances the motorists would have been first-class passengers from Paddington. The rail-motorr of the company had carried two and .« quarter million passengers, and in tb, direction they might regain some of the traffic diverted from the trains. It is a popular error to suppose that Novem- ber is the favourite month for suicides. Mr. G. R. Sims points out that there has always been an increase of suicides in the summer months. The period of the year which has the greatest influence on emotionalinstability is that between June and September. This year the month of July was distinguished by quite an epidemic of suicide. Crime statistics show that the greatest number of arrests for violent deeds, assaults, stabbings, and murderous attacks take place in the summer months. Prison discipline is harder to maintain in summer than in winter. Midsummer mad- 140FAs is not a poetic phrase; it is a grim fact. The culminating point of the magnificent reception given to the French Fleet was reached on Friday, when Admiral Cailliard and a hundred and thirty of his officers were enter- tained at luncheon in Westminster Hall by members of both Houses of Parliament- No greater honour could have been offered our guests than an entertainment in a hall hallowed ^sfc°v'? ^associations, and in which I ^onarch down to the time £ ™n^n^w1<5 > Coronation Banquet. In, proposing the toast of the French Navy, tho Prime Minister struck a lofty note He did sot hesitate to recall the quarrels of'the past, h& declare<* that, after all, what the two nations forpefc IB the cause of their differences, and what thev remember are the great deeds of heroism which have rendered both of them illustrious And he went on to point out that the signficanceof that gathering lay not, as it might have done in times past, in its hidden menace to other communities, but in its assur- ance of warm and lasting friendship between two Powers who, often divided in the past, had come to realise that their world interests are identical and that they can be best, served in peaceful conditions. On Sunday the French officers had a delight- ful motor-car trip to Maidenhead by way of Richmond-park and Windsor Forest. They then embarked on board electric launches for a cruise up the river. They were afterwards entertained at tea by the Guards' Club at Maidenhead, and left at seven p.m. for London. I T.


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