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OUR LONDON LETTER.

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OUR LONDON LETTER. [BT OUR ARTIST COBRMPONDBNT. ] The meeting of Parliament this week was unique in several respects. Sir Courtenay Ilbert, the Clerk of the House, had an un- usually difficult task in hand owing to an abnormally early rush of Members to secure seats, and the great overcrowding of the Ministerial benches. The days required for the swearing in are always a busy time for the clerks, and the extensive changes in the personnel of the House of Commons ren- dered the task more difficult than on previous occasions. An M.P. sometimes feels that his dignity is offended when he has to. prove his identity to the officer at the barrier, and one of the qualifications of a policeman or official of the House is an ability to "spot faces," so as not to make it necessary for the same individual to go through this ordeal re- peatedly. After the re-election of the Speaker the swearing-in proceeds apace. The oath is THE ITEETINO OF PARLIAMENT. administered to the Members in batches of five, and any would-be legislator who votes or proceeds beyond the bar of the House with- out having first performed this ceremony is liable to a fine of E500, and if he is a Member of the Lower House he automatically loses his seat. On Monday next the King opens Par- liament in state, when the House of Lords, which will have been renovated for the occa- sion, is expected to wear an even more stately appearance than usual. Unfortunately, his Majesty will not be accompanied by Queen Alexandra, who is absent in Denmark at her father's funeral. Everyone will regret her absence and the sad event which necessitates it. Notwithstanding the fact that a great deal of the picturesque ceremonial which under happier circumstances would have accom- panied the launching of a great man-of-war by the King was precluded by the death of King Christian of Denmark, the launching of the Dreadnought at Portsmouth was an impressive affair. The Bishop of Winchester gave his Benediction. For some minutes after the service the workmen were busy re- moving the vessel's supports, while the King, in company with Lord Tweedmouth, Prince Louis of Battenberg, Rear-Admiral Barry, Sir Ian Hamilton, and other gentlemen, waited on the launching platform. His Majesty expressed a desire to see the men at frork battering down the supporting poles, and, accompanied by Rear-Admiral Barry, he walked down the staircase to a point where THB KING LAUNCHING THI DREADNOUGHT. a good view could be obtained. At length all was readyt and the KiJllS returned to th* platform. raKing Tne Dottie or Austranah wine which hung from the bows, his Majesty swung it against the ship's side. The first time the bottle did not break owing to the cushion of flowers which surrounded it. On the second attempt the King took it in both hands and crashed it against the vessel's iron side, at the same time giving her the name of Dreadnought. Nothing now re- mained but the actual launching. The huge ship was only held by one rope, which was within reach of the Royal hand. A chisel was held across it, and with a few taps of a hammer his Majesty severed the last cord which kept the leviathan from the deep. In- stantly she was on the move, and with a graceful motion she glided intb the water, and floated lightly in the harbour. A ring- ing cheer arose from the multitudes which thronged the shore, and from the craft with which the waters were literally alive. Miss Roosevelt's marriage to Mr. Long- worth, of the National Congress, is exciting at least as much interest in America as an average Royal marriage does in Europe. Thousands of wedding presents have been .re- ceived, and the library of the White House at Washington is "crowded", with them like any store. Some of them have come from abroad, and the foreign representatives at Washington have all presented something, but the bulk of the gifts are from admiring Americans. The ceremony will be a quiet affair, although official and diplomatic circles I MARRIAGE OF AMERICA'S "PRINCESS." will be weu represented. The White House, however, is very small, not much bigger than a country gentleman's villa, and this fact has necessitated a ruthless revision of the list of guests. Many friends whom both the bride and bridegroom would have liked to see pre- sent have not been invited. The newspapers are publishing daily reports of the doings of the young couple, who are as much worried by the reporter and the camera fiend as were the King of Spain and his prospective Queen. The "Americarj Princess" is receiving shoals of begging letters, asking for the superfluous presents," which include a large number of watches, travelling-bags, and necklaces, together with some unusual presents such as biscuits, kitchen utensils, groceries, and even wash-tubs. One of the interesting events connected with the opening of Parliament was the meet- ing of the Independent Labour group, at which the twenty-nine successful candidates of the Labour Representation Committee chose their leader and decided upon their policy. Of course, the most prominent per- sonality at the meeting was that of the new leader himself, Mr. J. Keir Hardie. He has had a longer experience of the House of Commons than any of his colleagues, and it is to his initiative and industry that the very existence of the party is. to a large extent, due. The other candidate for the leadership, Mr. David Shackleton, is a Lancashire man, whose special business in the House is to voice the opinions of cotton operatives. His unopposed return for the Clitheroe Division was one of the by-election sensations of 1902. Other prominent figures were Mr. Will THE INDEPENDENT Lkabiw HjutTrvo- I ■jrooks. v L, ose genialitv ana gouu nt. rencier mm popunir m «jU«»n.er» «n«i« .» political opinions are anathema; Mr. Will Thorne, the Member for Mr. Keir Hardie's old constituency of West Ham; Mr. Hodge, of the steel smelters; and Mr. Hender-on, who was at one time considered a likely candidate for the leadership. The party's whip, Mr. J. Ramsey Macdonald, was responsible for calling the meeting, which will be a memor- able one in annals of the political Labour movement. The proceedings were private, but it is known that amongst other im- portant decisions the group has resolved to co-operate with other trade-union repre- sentatives upon purely Labour bins, but laere will be no joint party. The Labour group will, of course, sit on the Opposition benches. The interest of Mr. Balfour's speech in the City lay, of course, in the fact that the ex- Premier repeated his previous views, and shewed that he was not disposed in any sense, at the present time, to take any for- ward move in the direction of Tariff Reform. That is the significant circumstance in the situation as far as the Conservative party is concerned. This at once points us to the meeting of the party on Thursday. Mr. Bal- four, in the City, almost gave one the im- pression that he dealt with the Fiscal con- troversy with a certain note of weariness, and that he would rather have spoken on sub- jects which were much nearer his heart at Illt. BALFOUR IN THE CITY. the present moment. His position has been a very trying one all through, and is still not altogether enviable. The charge of vagueness continues to be brought against him by members of his party, some of whom even attribute the party's severe defeat at Lue polls to his vacillation. On the other hand, Mr. Balfour, no doubt, feels that any more definite declaration at the present juncture would indefinitely postpone the recovery of political power by his party, even if he him- self could conscientiously subscribe to the larger policy. Mr. Balfour's health is not y^t fully restored, the fatigue of the election having had a great effect on him. The Cathedral of Roskilde, the burial-place of King Christian of Denmark, is a venerable edifice, which represents to the Danish people pretty much what Westminster Abbey represents to a native of Britain. It stands in the old-world town which was for centuries the capital of Denmark. Ever since the tenth century the Danish Royal Family have made it their sepulchre, and there the father of our Queen will sleep the sleep of centuries amongst the remains of his forefathers. On this ancient site stood the wooden church of Harold Blataand, son of Gorm the Old. That was tea centuries ago, and since then churches on this spot haw* been burnt and broken and rebuilt time after time. The pre- sent cathedral was rebuilt in 1881, but many

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