Symud i'r prif gynnwys
Cuddio Rhestr Erthyglau

18 erthygl ar y dudalen hon

Our fonbiw Corxcsganbettl


Our fonbiw Corxcsganbettl [We deem it right to state that we do not at all tldCfl identify ourselves with our Correspondent's opinions.^ Nine years ago this summer London received a note- worthy visitor. He was lodged in Buckingham rajace, the Royal Standard waved gaily over the building in token that a reigning sovereign was under its roof; he was entertained with great magnificence at Guildhall—the Lord Mayor and Sheriffs receiving titles of distinction in consequence he dined in digni. fied state with the Q;leen at Windsor a review of the fleet was held in his honour at Spithead; and he was invested by her Majesty in person with the Order of the Garter. Who was this illustrious guest ? Who but the Sultan of Turkey, the thirty-third in male descent from the founder of the dynasty, the absolute ruler of millions both in Europe and in Asia, the veri- table representative of the Prophet, the type of earthly power and grandeur! He hadthenjbeenon the Throne of the Grand Turk six years and although people did not know much about him, it was hoped that contact with the progressive civilization of the West, and the spectacle of the results of energy to be witnessed amid the ever- shifting panorama of life in London and Paris, would have beneficial results upon the mind of the Sultan- that i3, if it were possible for it to receive them. It has since been seen that the Turkish ruler was utterly incapable of learning any lessons of this kind. He went from bad to worse. With a civil list of two millions sterling per annum for his own personal expen. diture, he built one new palace after another at the expense of the nation, and by his extravagance brought his empire to bankruptcy. No wonder that at last even the fatalistic Moslem rose in revolt against such an embodiment of incapacity and mis- rule, and declared that they would no longer have this man to reign over them. And now the news which has been flashed over by the telegraphic wires that Abdul Aziz has committed "suicide gives a tragic end- ing to the historical drama in which he had played so prominent a part. The history of the Turkish Em. pire, now extending over several centuries, has shown that when its rulers were mentally strqpg it grew; when they were weak it decayed, until it has reached its present degradation in that descendant of Othman who has just passed away. Yet it was not always so. Instead of the slothful luxury of the Seraglio, the heirs of Royalty in the heyday of Turkish glory were educated in the council and in the field. From early youth they were entrusted by their fathers with the command of provinces and armies; and this manly discipline must have essentially contributed to the vigour of the monarchy. The custom, which was dropped by the Sultans, was taken up by the rulers of Prussia, and in each case we have seen the results. The King of the Belgians has been making a short visit to London; but his Majesty runs over to see us so frequently, and is so well known in our midst, that we now make no stranger of him. Brussels is really nearer to our shores in point of time, than many parts of our own islands are to the metropolis. You can now easily breakfast in the Belgian capital and dine in the English on the same day. In these days of cheap and rapid continental travel, our people possess more personal knowledge of many parts of Europe than of their own country, either on the idlands or of the main- land. How many, for instance, know by experience any- thing of the wild grandeur of the scenery in the far-off Hebrides, or of Orkney and Shetland ? Are the lovely solitudes of Mayo and Gal way or the unrelieved desolation of Connemara aught but a name to millions of our population? Yet you find immense numbers who can tell you all about the geography of the Place de la Concorde and the Rue Royale in Paris, the antique glories of the Cathedral at St. Dennis, and the splendours of the spacious Palace at Versailles. And as you can now get a return ticket to Brussels for about thirty shillings, no wonder that the independent and compact little Belgian kingdom is such a favourite resort of those who have a few pounds in the autumn to spare. The people are hospitable, more especially in the country districts, and the cost of living is very reasonable-no mean consideration for many who go upon a holiday. The brief holiday which Parliament takes at Whit. suntide is the last to be enjoyed by that assembly before the final break-up, when the cry is Away to the woods, awa.y There are now ten weeks of hard stern work before our legislators and no long time will elapse until the overcrowded order-book must be lightened by the throwing over of some of the measures which now stand there nightly never to be reached. If the House could only agree to conduct its business upon some fairly intelligible principle, so far as opposed Bills are concerned, an enormous amount of valuable time might be saved. For instance, in consequence of the early hour at which the London papers now go to press, it is found impossible to report at length anything which happens after mid- night and many members, therefore, contend that no opposed measure ought to be taken subsequent to the time when Big Ben has struck twelve. This, how- ever, does not meet with general acquiescence, but as a minority possesses an almost incalculable power of stopping the way by incessant divisions, no way is made. An hour and a half. from twelve to half-past one in the morning, is sometimes spent in this way, with the result that the majority 1.1103 to give way at last, and nothing has been done. Meanwhile, public business must necessarily stand still, and this leads to what is calied late in the session, "the massacre of innocents," or the wholesale slaughter of unoffending measures which, owing to want of time it is impossible to pass. Before Sir John Lubbock's Act of 1871 made the first Monday in August a Bank Holiday, Whitsun- tide was the most generally observed holiday of the working classes. More people seemed to be about than at Easter, when the weather, as a rule, is any- thing but settled; yet there have been Whit-Mondays which have proved most disastrous to the enjoyment of those who have sought pleasure and recreation. Such a day was Whit-Monday, 1874, when the morn- ing broke splendidly, and tens of thousands, dressed in light summer attire, went forth rejoicing. By.and. bye vast banks of cloud overspread the sky; the thunder pealed with a terrific crash and rattle; and the rain de- scended for hours literally in pails-full. Utterly unpre- pared for such a visitation, and without any protection f-om the unanticipated tempest, not only were dresses spoiled, but colds were caught, and the health of many a constitution impaired. It is possible that the first Monday in August is now aa thoroughly observed by the working classes as Whitsuntide-for after that has gone there are no more recognised public holidays until Boxing Day, a spell of nearly five months. That is the longest interval of the whole. The "leafy month of June" is one the praises of which have been sung by poets in various ages. Coming when the days are at their longest, and nearly at their hottest, and when the opportunities for out-door enjoyment are full and ample, it generally leaves pleasant memories behind it. If some are inclined to ask What's in a name ?" the answer would be a great deal, so far as the appellations of the months are concerned. June, for instance, is suggestive of long summer days and agreeable excursions; while the very mention of the word December carries the memory back to times of gloom and darkness, when the sun no longer shines upon the land. The name of the month is derived from the goddess Juno, one of the lights of ancient mytho- logy. If the ancients did nothing else for us they gave us lasting names for the months of the year which the vicissitudes of 2,000 years have been unable to change. Only one serious attempt to alter it was made, and that was in the time of the first French Revolu- tion, when the months were called according to the seasons; and for example the 20th of May to the 18th of June was ordared thenceforth to be known as Prairial, which being interpreted signifieth Pasture month. Old things were to pass away, and all was to become new. People, however, never took kindly to the contemplated conversions of the months into mere descriptions of the progress of Nature's works, and the original mode of calculation was restored by Napoleon. It is somewhat remarkable that of the two great ranges of mountains in Western Europe, one should enjoy so mueh larger, a share of popularity than the dther. Every summer are the Alps crowded by throngs of English tourists, who seem almost to outnumber the native population. But in the Pyrenees, which would seem to the impartial critics to offer nearly equal charms, the British tourist is almost unknown For one who starts from this country to explore the great mountain range between France and Spain, at least a hundred rush off to Switzerland. Yet if the scenery of the two districts be compared, an artist might well hesitate to which he should give the palm and if a study, of the inhabitants be at all an object with the travSl er, there is little doubt that the rustic of the south of France is as lively and cheerful as the Swiss. Some parts of the temperate and pleasantly-wooded valleys of the Pyrenees are recom- mended as places of sojourn for those who suffer trom bronchial affections. Both mountain ranges have been the scenes of fierce fighting in times gone by—the Pyrenees more especially in 1813, when a series of engagements took place between the British army under the Duke of Wellington, and the French, under Marshal Soult, the latter being defeated. Exactly a quarter of a cen- tury afterwards these two distinguished men met under very different circumstances. It was at the coronation of Queen Victoria in Westminster Abbey on the 28th of June, 1838. Marshal Soult was then French Ambassador to the Court of St. James's, and formed one of a brilliant company entertained by the Dake of Wellington that evening at Apsley House. It is satisfactory to note that, while the London School Board is attending to the mental improvement of the children of the metropolis, their physical devel- opment ia not forgotten. Some time ago a of ¡ military drill was introduced — a step well calculated to expand the chest, to quicken the eye, and to exercise the muscular power. The more recent agreement to recognise swimming as a branch of public education will do much to encourage an extremely useful and healthy art, and one in which, to pre-eminently Marl- time, people as the English are singularly deficient. Even among sailors, who have been bred near the sea coast, it is by no means uncommon to find complete ignorance of what to them is a vital branch of know- ledge; There can be little question that the decision of the Board was right in principle, however difficult it may be found to give it practical effect, owing to the comparative paucity of swimming- baths in the metropolis. Physical education for girls, too, is commanding more attention, and a simple gymnastic apparatus is now often at- tached to the playground of many a day-schooL From the excess of females aver males, it seems clear that a certain proportion of the former must inevitably earn a living by manual labour more or less severe. Hence the importance of giving thejn when young such an amount of physical education as will render them capable of doing hard work in after years. There is an act of parliament in existence on our statute-book which is unknown to the code of our im- mediate neighbours across the Channel, and it is directed against what in its own language are described as "lotteries, little-goes, and unlawful games." An ex- ception was, however, made in favcur of art-unions, and its expressed object was to promote the encouragement of the fine arts. It was chiefly through the agency of these that the works of Turner, Wilkie, and Maclise, were made known to their countrymen. The skill of the engraver has multiplied them a hundredfold. Take for instance those two grand historical paintings of Maciise in the Houses of Parliament, representing two of the most signal victories ever won by British arms-one upon the sea, and the other upon the land— Trafalgar and Waterloo. Both have been engraved upon steel, thanks to the Art Union principle, and in their neat maple frames may now be seen on the walls of large numbers of British homes. The efflorescence upon the walls of the Palace of Westminster may gradually destroy the magnificent work of Maclise; but the figures have been transferred to enduring steel, which is well calculated to resist the effacing figures of decay.


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