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TOPICS OF THE DAY.

. Q?» ■{JraCIAt.CoBBESFONDENT.J „.- f, KV- London, September 17. ihough the smart sectiori of West End London is still disserted; thef middle classes are hurrying baoK'totown /from the Contithe. seaside,-and with the reassemthe Jchools to-day the summer holidays may be said to be over. Noone, limagine, feels very-sorry.-The weather throughout August was wet, cold, and tempestuous, and though things are better now as regards Bunshine the north-eaßt wind feels chilly and autumnal. Everything, indeed, points to a; long -and bitter winter. I confess"l' cordially envy our Australasian visitors who can paok their boxes and sail merrily away Southward ho ! . . .

, And how to proceed to the topics of Itfie g^vaWhat, let us consider, are they? borne would nn doubt say " the wonderful cures of snake bite," others " Forbes Robertson s Hamlet," and others again " the boom in bloomers." 1 fancy I feel strongest about the bloomers. Have our girls lost all pride in their personal appearance? *rom the indignant letters of the cycle syrens, who are howling in the papers for the privilege of wearing breeches, one might really suppose so. Yet even without this crowning sin''the bike " has cost our women folk dear. They used (some of them) to possess figures and to look nice on horseback. Now they are fat-legged, slackwaisted, slab - chested, muscular - armed Amazons. A girl is no longer content to be merely beautiful and intellectual. She must be a biking belle, a she scorcher, a -nightmare of fearsome bloomers and inelegant bulge. women can, I admit, cyole gracefully m short skirts, yet how grotesque even they look when they step off their' machines. But " bloomers " are altogether intolerable, and no sister or cousin or aunt of mine shall, on any consideration, disfigure herself with such unmitigated abominations.

BOGUS SYNDICATES. The appearance of Sir George Lewis in propria persona, at Bow street invariably presages a scandal of considerable Bocial dimensions, and great was the flutter in the reporters' box last Monday morning when this stormy petrel was observed within the preomcta of the court. It turned out preaently that the chief of Messrs Lewis Ind Lewis had come to conduct the prosecution of Laptain Cruickshank, a fashionablydressed, , good-looking man, of between forty and fifty, who was charged with defrauding Lady Randolph Churchill, Mrs Moreton Frewen, Mrs Leslie, and a number of other smart ladies who possess large Bums of money. The story disclosed has no very new features. Cruickshank was something in the City," and apparently wealthy. He had horses and carriages t "& house in Sussex, and troops of friends and hangers-on. Amongst the friends was a scion of the Cadogan family—a young fellow to whom Cruickshank gave many useful "pointers." . The Captain desired, he let it be known, to get into "society,?' and he was quite willing to pay handsomely those who helped him. In due course Cadogan introduced him to various ladies. The Captain gave them "information," and they utilised it—generally fortunately. Presently Cruickßhank began to talk of his own business and the enormous profits of this company and that syndicate. There was, ( for example, the "Railway Syndicate. He could guarantee to return money invested therein three, times over within six weeke. Cadogan told Mrs Frewen of this marvellous investment, and in conuequence she, Lady Randolph, and Mrs Leslie handed over at different times £1,550 to Cruiokshank. Receipts were given by the prisoner for each amount, of which one was read m court as a sample. This referred to a sum of £4OO, £l5O of which was contributed by Mrs Frewen, £SO by Mrs Leslie, and £2OO by Lady Randolph Churchill. It was as follows :

London February 15,1896,-Railway Syndicate. —lJear Madam,—ln consideration of having received from you the sum of £4OO in the above syndicate, I h«reby agree and undertake to hand to you upon the completion of the above business the sum of £1,600. including the return of your principal sum, and to pay the same to you as and H Cruicksha 0 same -- Y °urs faithfully,

The contention of' the prosecution was (Sir George Lewis explained) that there was no such railway syndicate, and the prisoner obtained thiß money by fraudulent misrepresentation. As no money was returned an action was brought by Mrs Frewen against him in November last, the writ being endorsed " For money obtained by fraud." When charged, in reply to interrogatories, he admitted that he had nover paid the money into any bank, but stated that he had used it in travelling between England, Paris, Vienna, and America in the endeavor to establish this railway syndicate. When the case came on for hearing he withdrew his defence and allowed judgment to go against him.

Another case was that of Colonel and Mrs Brockman. In 1893 the prisoner represented to Mrs Brockman that he had a very good investment in an American railway syndicate, and though he' said he did not usually go out of his way to do a good turn, especially to ladies—(laughter)—he recommended her to invest all the money she could in it. As a consequence she handed him a cheque for £SOO, the receipt of which he duly acknowledged, but neither money nor profit was ever returned. In February, 1897, Mrs Brockman brought an action against him for the recovery of the money, and the prisoner consented to judgment, but paid no part of the money, and it was believed that he had absconded. By similar representations the prisoner defrauded other ladies: Mrs Dashwood of £3,600, Mrs Melville of £IOO, Mrs Sheriff of £2OO, Mrs Drew of £250, Mrs Master of £2OO, and Miss Onslow of £3,000. It appeared also that under the title of the Havana Cigar Syndicate the prisoner had obtained sums of £6OO and £2OO from a Mr Wolton, and of £SO from Mrs Wolton; and that under the title of the Sultana Mining Syndicate he had obtained large sums from a client of Messrs Druce and Co., whose name up to the present had not been- disclosed ; sums of £2,000 and '£6oo from another gentleman and other amounts which could not at present be specified. The prisoner, said Sir George Lewis, turned out to be an undischarged bankrupt. At the present hearing it was proposed only to offer evidence of arrest and to ask that the information should be read over, as the matter would be laid in the hands of the Public Prosecutor before, the next hearing. Chief-inspector Leach then said that he received a warrant ! for the prisoner's arrest on June 19, but he was. unable to effect an arrest, as the prisoner had left the country, and was believed to be in France. Last week he communicated with Deteotive-sergeant Williamson, of Sootland Yard, who was at Donoaster, and the prisoner was arrested. On Saturday. evening the witness received the prisoner from Sergeant Williamson at King's Cross railway station. On the way to the police station the prisoner said: "I am glad I have oome up to fight the whole matter out." Sir George Lewis said that the prisoner formerly oooupied a large house at Bye, in Sussex, keeping up a large establishment, with horses and oarriages. Mr Humphreys asked that Deteotive-ser. geant Williamson should be called, as he wished to cross-examine him as to the arrest. Detective-sergeant Williamson deposed that in consequence of a communication he received from Inspector Leach on Friday last he arrested the accused as he was leaving one of the enclosures on Doncaster raceoourse. He told him that a warrant was out for his arrest for obtaining two valuable securities by fraud—namely, a banker's cheque for £1,500 from- Mrs Frewen and another cheque for £SOO from Mrs Brockman. The accused replied: ''Those two items you have mentioned have already been fought out in the law courts some months ago. Do they intend to prosecute me for these matters ? Take me to London as soon as you can, and let me fight out the matter before a magistrate." The accused was remanded, and bail was refused.

EOSE POMPON. Amongst the gay Bohemian notorieties- of the second Empire in Paris few rejoiced in ; greater disrepute than Rose Pompon, the/ lithe-limbed, golden-haired goddess of the ■CSoserie des Lilas and the Mabille. Rose was; a hold, bad lot, but—but—Bhe could .Oftnoe.,. In the days of my youth I used to ; thrill from head to foot at the speotacle of her voluptuous fury in the delirious can-can gallop from «Orphee aux Enters,' Not that

the famous courtesan was then the least attractive to look at. Her hey-dey had already passed, and neither rouge, bißmutb, nor false hair could conceal the terrißje ravages of she" t&jjjw her petticoats over her Bjni,fftnd openecljpe ball with a " hoop-la," ..igr. skip, tremendous high kick, we forgot all bn.fc?h;er incomparable twenty years of prosperity and tan'Vof degnngolade. When vice failed she tried virtue, and let lodgings. But they didn't answer either. In 1894 she became bankrupt, and after a futile effort to raise money by fortune-telling she was turned into the streets in winter, homelesss, friendless, and utterly destitute..; In this plight nbme:good nuns found her. Rose" was penitent, of course. Who would not be in such circumstances 1 So they succored her and found ner-a refugeamongst tbe'sistera of charity at Nantes. Here she, became,; ?tis said, really contrite,,and now her death-In-the.odor of sanctity is announced. A Paris paper says that, though penitent, Rose Pompon to the last insisted on blackening her eyelashes with the burnt ends of matches.

A RADICAL MAEQDIS. Lord Compton, who by the death of his father becomes Marquis of Northampton and a great territorial magnate, is one of the most progressive members of the London County Council, and holds strong views anent landlords'duties. For three years his lordship was ohairman of the Housing Committee, and it was he who took the lead in getting the Housing of the Working Classes Act amended, and in piloting thiongh the Council its chief rehousing schemes, including the great clearance in Bethoal Green. In his capacity of chairman of this Committee he was also,the promoter of the municipal lodging.- house. He was, in fact, a steady.advocate for a forward policy in all matters where public health was concerned. He opposed the making of a new street between Holborn and the Strand until a scheme had been adopted for rehousing the poor people who would be displaced by the' improvement. It is interesting to recall, now that he has become a great ground landlord, that Earl Compton advocated betterment, and pleaded the cause of the over-burdened Occupier as against the owner. '« The owner," he said on one occasion. " has alwavs the whip hand over the occupier." He urged the Council to take up technical education when the majority were not in favor of that policy. The theories which Lord Compton has bo strenuously advocated he will now be able to put into force on his own properties, and his future/will be Bhrewdly watched.

OKLV-TEN; MILLIONS AT STAKE. . Ten million pounds is the trifling amount in lauded!estate and accumulated'gold' to which Mr' Joseph Thomas, a Gloucester coachbuilder, is making claim. Thomas avers that he ia the lawful heir to the famous Whaddon Hall estates, Bituated at Stony- Stratford, Buckinghamshire, and comprising also large acreage in several English counties and considerable territory in Jamaica, where rum" comes from. The total value of these eligible plots ia estimated to be approximate to four million pounds, and there is in the hands of the Treasury an accumulated sum of £6,000,000 awaiting the coming of the rightful heir. The latter has been out of his rights for many generations, the present holders of the estates having been in possession over a hundred years. Mr Thomas himself has been trying to prove hia claims for over twenty years, and if he be the right man he now seems to have a 10 to 1 chance of fingering some of those accumulated millions before the dawn of the next century. At a conference held in Gloucester it has been decided to petition the Government for a commission to investigate the coachbuilder'B claim.

Meanwhile Thomas is telling the story of the Whaddon Hall estates and his claim thereto in the Gloucester 'Citizen.' His tale is a long one, but is sufficiently romantic to warrant its reduction for these columns. He begins by showing that he is the son of his father, and bo on, back to the seventh generation. The head of this generation was. one James Thomas, of Nevern, Pembrokeshire, who had three sons —Mote?, Jamea,. and John. With James, the son| the vast properties of the family originated. Three men, of whom James was one and Brown Willis and John Selby the others, jointly purchased the original estates, on the understanding that the one who lived longest should become the absolute possessor. James Thomas was the survivor. He got the property, and at the dying request of hia co-partner, John Selby, adopted the name of Selby. The property descended to Thomas James Selby, who died without issue, and without knowing who was his rightful heir. The estate devolved upon one William Lowndes, as trustee, who by the will was to act in that capacity till the heir was forthcoming. He was to be advertised for and sought after. The estate is still in the hands of the Lowndes family. Mr Thomas submits a pedigree setting out that he is the direct male descendant of the original James Thomas, of Nevern, whose second son was the first Thomas, of Whaddon Hall. In 1875, while poring through the family archives, he discovered a document stating that a certain gentleman of Bedfordshire " has got the privet ritins and the name of the ayr at law, where he cums from, and the advertisement left to the nearest ayrof Mossia Thomas." MrThomas wrote to thedescendant of that gentleman, who replied that, if he was prepared to pay £2O and promise to pay £2,000 on taking possession of the estates, the papers would be produced. The conditions were observed, a formal agreement drawn up, and the £2O forwarded. The gentleman, however, repented his offer, returned the money, and said he had decided that it would bo best not to show the papers. Having hia hopes raised by this admission of the existence of papers, Mr Thomas strove desperately to secure an inspection of them. Their possessor was not to be moved, even by the threat of an action in the High Court, which was actually begun, but felt through for want of funds. The next incident has a humorous side, and shall be told in the claimant's own words, the name of the gentleman being omitted. In one of his letters this gentleman spoke-of a certain offer on condition that all proceedings were withdrawn. Mr Thomas went to see him. It was on Christmas Eve. The gentlemen invited him into the hall and wrote out an agreement binding him nob to further molest the holder of the estates in consideration of the sum of £6,000. "Now," he said, "sign it!" " I begged," says Mr Thomas, "to be excused for ten minutes while I ran out to consult my friends. He flew into a pet and said that I had no friends with me. Neither had I, bub I was bound to make him believe so, and that I bad lefb them up the lane. I might add thab the room into which he had asked me was decorated ell round the walls with blunderbusseß, pistols, swords, spears, and daggers, and I should think every weapon of war that could be made, so that I did not quite feel comfortable in his company sof ar away from home and friendr. However I insisted upon going ont to my friends. No sooner was I out into the road than I took to my heels and ran for, I ohould think, quite half a mile, when I heard ooming after me in the dlatance a horae at full gallop. I at once groped my way into .the hedge on the aide of the road and found a Btile, where I gob over and waited until the horse flew past, when I came out from my hiding-place and walked on very carefully until I reached Wellingborough. The night was fearfully dark, the date being Christmas Eve, 1875 However, I did not sign the agreement, nor did I receive the £6,000, but I thought a good deal about this incident at the time, and how easily I might have been accidentally ridden down in the dark night." Later" the gentleman wrote that he had not the papers, had never had them, and had not even seen them. They were once in the possession of a relative, dead for many years, and that was all he knew about it. inere for the present the Btory of the mysterious papers ends. But not Mr Thomas's claim. He is "more than confident of success." The great question now is : Will the Government grant the commission,, or will they leave the rival claimants to fight out the battle in the ordinary manner?

"■;_- BIFXZYEABS SILENCE. Have any of my readere met the tale now going the Press round concerning Miss Experience Guildford, of—well, somewhere in America? The story runs that this ladv swore in 1847 that as she conld not marrv her best young.man. she would not speak a .word for fifty years. We are told that when the fifty years were up she summoned her friends together with the intention of indnlg-

ing in a jubilee or record talk/"foe narrator of the story continues thus'*-> When, however she tried she KLa* 11 ? rodnoe ? * ;«ound. ; V. Disuse had ™dered the and doctors offer no hope of reWverV.'? If a Sblt- d ayam of this JS y yL the wSeoSle W' ;lt WS*? lttn ostensibly i^olife' =^rf

m. ~ ' APOPOLAB HEEO. There died on Friday lost in the Roval Infirmary at Liverpool a sailor who fd? I lar hero, .feted and'medalled in all directions His name Joseph Rodgers, and at the wreck of theßoyal.Ckarte/he saved- many lives by managing at a fearful risk to convov a rope ashore through the boiling surf and raging tempest. Pew Australians of the younger generation seem to have even heard of the loss of-this great ship. And-yet it must be the most frightful catastrophe in tne annals of colonial trade. The Ixdyal Charter-was an auxiliary screw emigrant liner belonging to a private company -managed by Gibbs, Bright, and Co. She was homeward bound from Melbourne, crowded 1 with jubilant diggers and laden with lhe ship had experienced good weather all the way and was within twelve hours of Liverpool when she struck. It was on the night of the 25th October, 1859, a tremenfciPK St t rly g . ale broke and drove the Koyal Charter ashore on the Anglesey ooast, near Moelfra, a small filing village. Ido not propose to tell the story. You will find it thrillingly related* by a su". v ! vor ' n .?? e of the early volumes " of the 'Cornhill Magazine.' Suffice it to say here that, despite the desperate swim of Rodgers, ,446 souls perished. The little churchyard at Moelfra still.bears 1 eloquent testimony to the magnitude'of the disaster. I was a lad of six at the time, yet I remember, as though it were yesterday, the face and voiee of horror with which my tatner came home next evening and told ua the dread news. • In 18711 went out toMeK bourne in the Great Britain, and aboard found Mr Joseph Rodgers, "the hero of the wreck: of the Royal Charter," fulfilling the dutieß of • lamp cleaner. He took a just pride in'tiiS J great achievement of twelve years before, and was never averse to rehearsing the story, over a quartern of rum. Joseph's devotion to this stimulant was, indeed, so perseveri? g V a / nd J?? *» such excesses when ashore, that Captain Gray predated-for him but a brief further span of life. Alas I 'twas*' Captain Gray himself who was taken soon, whilst Rodgers lived to see seventy.-, How' he fared in later life I don't know myself.'I should imagine, however, there would ?u ?l S^ e ? lent y of men in Liverpool to seethat he he had at least a decent dinner and a' noggin or so of " old Jamaica."

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https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/ESD18971106.2.38.32

Bibliographic details

TOPICS OF THE DAY., Issue 10464, 6 November 1897, Supplement

Word Count
3,384

TOPICS OF THE DAY. Issue 10464, 6 November 1897, Supplement

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