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OUR AMERICAN LETTER.

W ' NEW YORK, March 6. : OF PRESIDENT TAFT. ::- The "reign" of Roosevelt, which a leading Parisian editor described as '"a record of picturesque incoherence/ came to a close on Thursday during a heavy snow storm, which so marred the inauguration ceremonies of President Taft.that many thousands of people who had journeyed to Washington to participate in the gaieties were sadly disappointed. The weather, which had been exceptionally mild and springlike almost'throughout February, changed on. Wednesday to ar western" blizzard which, although of a comparatively mild variety, was sufficient to plunge the eastern seaboard into the icy grasp of winter again for several days. Ex-President Roosevelt, who did not remain in the capital for the inauguration ball, br.t started Thursday afternoon by special train for his home at Oyster Bay, Long Island,.was snowed up, so he did not reach New York until late in the evening, and the brilliant reception which had been planned for him in his home village was cancelled. The new President took the oath of office in the Senate Chamber, which was the first time since 3533 that the oath had not been administered on.au open-air platform in sight of a vast assemblage. Washington was so overcrowded with excursionists that many were unable to obtain accommodation under roofs, .and a gale of wind added to the" discomforts of the snow and the slippery streets. Mr Taft's first presidential message is not conspicuous for anything 5n particular except his adherence to the programme of steady work on a lock canal at Panama and the maintainenee of a first-class navy. His Cabinet is notable for the elderly character of its members, only one of whom is younger than himself, and he was 51 last September. The next matter of curiosity is as to the changes that will be made in the principal government offices, for the tenure of any of the old officials is uncertain.

President Taft's salary is to be 75,000 dollars (£15.000) per annum, with an additional 25,000 dollars for travelling expenses. He also has the use of the White House, with all its furniture, carriages, horses, servants, and clerks, free during his term of office. His predecessors only received 50.000 dollars a year. It had been proposed in Congress last month to doubh- that amount, but the .vote was lost by 163 to 141.

It has been suggested by some members of the "Down and Out Club," a New York organisation composed of former political office-holders, that j\lr Roosevelt be elected to their presidency, but no action has yet been taken. Mr Roosevelt will leave on March 23 for an extended hunting trip in Africa.

: CRIME IK;;2v T EW.YOEK. _ : An interesting pronouncement "in" regard to the difficulty of curbing crime in New York has . lately . been made by Police Commissioner Bingham, who lays the whole blame upon the system of " elected magistrates krrvrng power in the lower courts. "There is no police problem in New York; if. is a question of honesty,'' said he, adding- '"When ail is said, the poice court is tbe one branch of the city's machinery upon which the citizens must depend for protection against the lawless. It is the province of the police to maintain order in the streets; to run down criminals- and to arraign them at the proper courts. The work i>f the police ends there, and there the magistrate takes bold. With honest magistrates—men who Jiave honourable reputations to live up to; rhefi who have the welfare of the city at heart; men who have nothing to fear from, political leaders; men who are not under obligations to •'constituents' of tbe ward heeler or any other type—given men such as these, and the whole complexion of criminal affairs in this much-abused town "would be changed quickly and , INDECENCY ON THE STAGE. ■ Much discussion 4ias lately been made of the alleged tendency to indecency ou the..American stage. It is a notable .act that this winter there are being produced in several theatres in New York plays, which, if offered to the public, a Jew years ago, would have called

down on their" authors and managers r ■the most violent denunciations from a large and influential fraction of the peor pie of the town. In the winter of 1905, Wairen's Profession*' -was stopped [ by the polieej and, though _the Courts afterwards decided that It might- be played, the--action- of Commissioner-Mc- . Adoo was loudly applauded. But "Mrs. yWarren's Profession" is mild and re--strained in comparison with certain dra- x Vma tie offerings which pass to-day un- s Vrebuked and almost unnoticed by the pro- i Ifessional guardians of popular morals. c b£>n the variety stage also dances which ] "would have been prohibited .in public ten £ years ago are witnessed nightly by large ' numbers of enthusiastic spectators, and 1 without a word of objection from the authorities. It is likewise notable, how- ] ever, that at the same -time these dar- { ing, and in some cases indecent, pro- ] Auctions are proving profitable, a number ' of thoroughly clean plays are enjoying ' prosperity, showing that appeals to the :ewd and carnal are not essential to sue- n vess in the theatre. The proprietor of ; one of the greatest amusement enter- . prises on Coney Island has given hi 3 : pronouncement that "it pays to be de- ■ cent," and of this there is abundant evidence in the Jong runs of such really ' ■wholesome dramas as Barries ''Little [Minister." and ''What Every Woman Knows," "The Music Master," "The Old Homestead," and the standard operas. It is in such -productions that the greatest theatrical profits have been made, for even to-day the plays of that character on the boards are to full houses at top prices constantly, with seats sold many -weeks in advance. THE POISONING OE HORSES. } One of the most despicable systems Of money-getting has recently been I brought to light in this city in the poisoning of horses. It appears that the system is one of deliberate "graft." The j manager of a business using a number 01" | valuable horses and having its owa j stable may be approached by an u.n- ; known man with a demand for the em- j ployment of some other equally unknown • man at an extravagant salary. If the demand is refused, the horses begin to 'suddenly and suspiciously die. It is said xhat no means have yet been found of breaking up the ring of criminals responsible for these outrages, and horseowners are in daily dread of being black-mailed or suffering most serious loss. NEWS, NOTES AND JOTTINGS. 'A city church -with an eye for sensational attractions recently held a public auction of men out of work as a means of getting jobs for them. The men wore masks as they were "put up" „ 3>y the auctioneer,: and permitted themselves to be examined by prospective jjarehssers, much" on th'eplan of the old

slaves sales. Twelve on one evening were "knocked down" at ten dollars a

week, and a number of others were turned over to a committee to be looked after. ,

The estimated population of the city of New York is 4,442,685, according to Health' Commissioner Thomas Darlington, in his annual report just issued. The total number of deaths during 190S was 73,072. There were 4,140 more births reported in 190S than the year before, but there -was a drop of 13,556 in the number of marriages.

The. practice common throughout North America of exempting churches and religious institutions from taxation received a rude jolt the other day in the news from Vancouver, 8.C., that it had been decided to tax all churches there on 25 per cent of their assessment. Sometimes a bright editorial scintillation wins world-wide approval, and this is likely to be the case with the new word "Skibosh," recently produced in the "New York Sun." It is an adaptation, of course, of the name of Mr. Andrew Carnegie's Scottish home, Skibo Castle, and concluded an article in regard to Mr. Carnegie's views on tariff reform, as follows: "Mr. Carnegie's further views on the tariff seem to be ■more of that peculiar kind of bosh, which is known as Skibosh."

Following the incorporation of "Mark Twain" for the benefit of his heirs, executors, administrators, and assigns, it is announced that Mr. Luther Burbank, the famous California naturalist, has also been incorporated. It . appears that, working alone, Mr. Burbank has not had time to give the results of all of his experiments to the public, but now a systematic effort will be made to distribute both his past and future products to the world. One of the first things undertaken by the new company will be the fuller development of the spine less cactus, which promises to transform the desert wastes into grazing lands for cattle. In this connection it is announced that Mr. Burbank has developed a cactus capable of producing saccharine matter which will yield both sugar and alcohol. A proposition to drain the forest bog lands of Canada in order to develop greater timber resources is receiving considerable attention. It is stated by a reputable surveyor that between Hudson's Bay and the MacKenzie River there are as many acres of bog land as of green-growing timber. He had noticed that where even slight drainage was effected, the timber commenced to grow. In one instance, where a branch of the Canadian Northern Railway had been constructed through bog land, he noticed that all along the line new timber growth sprang up, while west of Winnipeg, where the CLF.R. had been in existence for many years, the timber was larger close to the track, on land really drained by its construction, than a short distance away.

A curious fraud practised on loca\ authorities in a number of Canadian communities-has recently been brought to light. It appears that bounties were offered for the destruction of nests of

"brown-tail moths," which have in the last few years been seriously destructive ±0 fruit trees. Evidence was discovered that unscrupulous persons would deliberately breed these pests for the sole object of secutfag the bounties. The result has in some places been the abolition of the bounty system, just as the bounties upon wild cats were stopped in certain counties when it was learned that such animals were being bred in I captivity for the purpose of getting I bounty money.

A curiosity in the way of a jointstock company for thdse days was g_U}n_l up last month at Wipdsor, Jf&va Scotia. | It was the Avon Marine Insurance Co., organised in 1851 with 400 shares, which cost the original owners 2odol each. For a number of years the stock paid 65d0l per share per annum in dividends, and not less than 40dol in quite recent years. With the decline of wooden shipping, however, the vessel-owning interests of the place decreased, so that it was de- ; cided to put the company out of business. I The final dividend distributed 112dol upon each share, and the record of a concern that never watered its stock, no matter

how great its earnings, was made a matter of history.

New'"'! 'l'k's spring costumes for ladies seem to !>" running more to fruit colours. It is said that skirts-will be a little wider than has been the fashion. A revival of the large hat appears to be probable.

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OUR AMERICAN LETTER. Auckland Star, Volume XL, Issue 87, 13 April 1909

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