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OUR HOME LETTER., Issue 5236, 28 November 1878
OUR HOME LETTER.
London, October 10th,
Tho Popo has been writing a long lotter to Cardinal Nina, his secretary, which for actual delivery only required to bo put under his Eminence's door, in the same gillery of the Vatican, but which was really intended to be, and has been, published in every journal of importance in Europe. Hiß Holineß3 lays arcoial stress on the negotiations with Germany, which seem to be progressing favourably, deplores the progress of infidelity, exhorts all Catholics to increased •«xertion for, and devotion to, the true Church, and denounces in no measured terms the Italian Government and its unwarrantable interference with spiritual matters. The importance of tho letter lies in the fact that it is generally understood to be the foreshadowing of the future policy of the Holy See, and that it shows no sign of Leo XIII. coming to terms with King Humbert's Govarnmeni, or of endiDg, in his own person, the "Prisonerof the Vatican" fiction.
Apropos of Rome, tho Whitehall Review las been publishing a list of all the em.nent and well-kuown personages iv England who have 'verted from Protestantism to Catholicism in recent years. The names are so many as to fill seveial columns of the paper, and recall all thoße memorable secessions which at different tiuic-s have created quite a sansation — those *'f Dr Newman, Cardinal Manning, the Marquis of Bute, Lord Eipon, the Ducriess «.f Montrose, &c. The iiipjaranca of this list of converts haj excited wide attention, and I snould say his boen the most curiously read piece of literature of the month. Hundreds of eminent poisons figure in it, and it is interesting to notica how many ADglioan clergymen have bee one Catholic priests. It seema that if a parson 5s converted, ho seldom or never bucomt-H a, lay Catholic oidy, Ira* at once almost aswrms the priest a eii-sook, and with it ihe ob',i,';»tion of preaching in direct opposition to, and denunciation of what, hehnsbeen sayicgal' his life in the Protestant Church. A buddan •wrench. I should say.
Mr Gladstone has also been writ;ng a letter—somt hundreds of them—bus in the paiticular on« I mean, he is replying to one of his innumerable q'lestiouists who wish t > mow what he thomjiit on the manifestations of confidence iv tkj G.iverunv nt, aw t-le-grapbed fioiu tho Australian Colonies. The ex-Premier ia evidently but ill-pleased with you all for ajjplnudin,* Lord Beaconstitld as you have dove. But he finds a convenient scapegoat for your siuj in the London Press generally, which, ha says, utterly fails to represent the nation.*! feeling. I was always under the imprenaioii that the London Press led tue pioviiiciai lVi-ss, but the right hon. gentleman says not. I mutt n»y, however, that a3 fur vs I can see Mr Gladstone has fewer friends in the provincial Press lhau m the London. It is not very compiiinei;tary to you to say you bwallow all tho London Press tells you. The papers bava been rhapsodising about Cleopatra's needle, which is now set on iiu pedestal, and looks remarkably ugly and uninteresting thereon. Wehave read ccluinas of cheap sentiment as to the varied sights th» greac monolith must have seen, but I expvet ono of the queerest that ever came undi r its siloat ken was on Satuiday last, when Waterloo Bridge was made free to the ■world,andallilii complicated andtxasperatiag tolls abo'ished. Aloft on its pedestal, near the Adelphi fteps, the .Needle overtops Rennie's renowned structure, and fnm its coign of vaniage beheld at midday a surging and yel in» crowd of the unwashed Bri-isli public at oich end of tha bridge, determined to be tho first to pass over wiihous "forking over a brown," as they elegantly termed it— i c., paying a tialff can}'. With a gord deal of ceremony, and somi of the inevitable speechmakink', tha barriers wtre removed, and immediately there poured over the bridgn a motley assi mblagrt of men and women and children, and 'busses, and cabs, and furniture vans, and co3termongers' carts, and barrows, and stills, and bakers', aid butchers', and grocers' traps, until the whole roadway ovtr the arches was fairly choked, and the cl-piiting tolltakers were ditto with envy at the vanished harvest. I fear the Ueedle must have made invidious comparisons between tho children of Israel iv the land of Gcshcn and British public, and between the chariots of Pharaoh and that execrably hideous ark upon •wheels, the London 'bus. It is not to be denied, however, aa an argument in favour of the nineteenth century scene, that if Waterloo Bridge had been over the Red Sea, the chosen people would not have come off as well as they did. Altogether the Needle was doubtless pleased with the progress of tho ages ; though it must have indeed a colossal mind if it can digest Bradshaw's Railway Guide, which some inhuman wretch placed in the cavity in the pedestal. If, in tho days when the New Zsalander sits on a mossgrown pier of (Waterloo?) L-iudon Bridge, and sketches the fallen Needle, he should light upon that awfnl production, and in an inadvertent moment attempt to decipher it, you may ■well tremble for the sanity of your eminent representative. Cuneiform characters would be mere a b c compared wiih a Bradshaw's guide. Raving madness must infallibly be the lot of the savant who, in the dim future, shall rack his brains fruitlessly over its occult meaning. Its presence is already having a deleterious effect on the Needle, which is beginning to crumble away on one face, so that they will have to silicate or "vaznish it. Erasmus Wilson, the great skin doctor, who brought the monolith over and presented it to tho nation, is forthwith to be knighted for his spirited conception. Mr Dixoo, the engineer, also deserves reward. The ship in which the obelisk was brought from Alexandria, and especially the manner in which the huge mans was raised above and placed on its pedestal, were triumphs of engineering skill. Another of the occentric noblemen oE the day has gone over to the majority. The Earl of Dysart died, as he had long lived, in solitude the other day. The old lord was most peculiar in his views of the whole duty of man, and used to shut himself up in his London house for months and years at a time, never vonturing out, and never allowing a woman servant to come within his sight. Even his fellow creatures of the male sex were distasteful to him, and report says that he used to have his meals handed through a hole in tho door sooner than have the butler iv the room. He has lived this life of an anchorite, so far as seclusion from the outer world goes, for many a long year, and his numerous residences have been allowed to fall into uttor disrepair since the death of the wild young Lord Huntingtower, his heir, who made up in knowledge and love of the world for Ms father's dislike of it. Ham Hall, particularly, one of the sights of England, with its unequalled aveaue of old elm trees, is now in a very dilapidated state. Lord Dysart was immensely rich, his rent roll being, they say, more than £150,000 a year; but he never even saw a square yard of his property of late years, and certainly never spent anything like his income. The family is proverbially one of those in which misers and spendthrifts alternate. Lord DysarS was in the first category, Lord Huntingtower is tho second emphatically. I believe the Hon. Mr Tollemache, long a resident in Wellington, and, tho'igh rather eccentric in his mode of living, like his noble relative, much respected by everybody, is a cousin of the late Lord Dysart's. The will has not yet been made public. It will, I expect, be a very interesting document when it does see the light. The new Earl is quite a young man.
The King of the Netherlands ia another very eccentric old gentleman ; and his last freak has been, at |the age of 61, to affiance himself to a young Princess just out of her tsens, and a scion of the princely house of Waldeok-Pynnont, wherever that may be. The old king ia determined to be married at the New Year, and has already given her conge to Madame Ainbre, tho opera singer of whom he has lately been enamoured so .much as to make her a countess; while she lerself was playing her cards for a morganatic marriage, antl nearly won the odd trick, too. His Majesty's ways and habits are nothing if not queer; in which he is closely resembled by his oldest son, the Prince of Orange, who never goes near Holland, but lives the life of a eon firmed Bohemian in Paris, where he is, under tho name of "Citron," the beat and wildest of fellows, and devoted to Venus and Bacchus. Another son ia an idiot. A lively Koyal Family taken all round.
Lord Chanoellor Cairns has been given an earldom, and in the bestowal of the honour ■the hand of the Premier is very visible. Lord Cairns has been his favourite Chancellor in more than one administration, and •worthily bo, being no mere ornamental law lord, but one of the soundest, ablest, and shrewdest lawyers that ever pleaded a cause or defended a suit. Englishmen generally have had no difficulty in appreciating the fact of the Lord Chancellor's now dignities, but it is with considerable amazement one reads in a French paper the following announcement of the
new creation :—"Lordßeaconsfield, the hero of Cyprus, the subtle and clever diplomatist, has just been raised to the dignity of an earl, hie will take the title of Viscount Garmoyle and Earl Tairns." Both the Premier and the Chancellor may well wonder which of them is the other under these bewildering circumstances. But what can you expect of a nat:on which fondly believes that the Queen has to go personally every quarter day to the Mansion House with the rent for Buckingham Palace in her pocket for the Lord Mayor ; and his Majesty the latter has tho powe.r of ordering any subject of the United Kingdom to instant execution on the stei.s of St. Paul's Cathedral?
Talking of the Queen's money, Her Majesty has just lost a good and faithful servant in General Sir Thomas Biddulpb, keeper of tho Privy Purae, who for mure than 20 years has been one of the most honoured of the Royal Household. He died rather unexpectedly, after a severe attack of bronchitis, to the very great grief of the Queen and the Prince o£ Wales. His Royal Highcess, who was out deer-stalking w.en tho messenger arrived with the sad tidings, threw dowu his gun and returned at once to Balmoral, whence he and the Queen went to condole with poor Lady Biddulph. Everybody at Court liked the old General, and lost a friend iv his death ; and though soms queer storks are told about his manage* mint of the Royal Purse, they are of couise only those extraordinary rumours which will always get abmfc concerning functionaiios like him, without having a shadow of foundation in reality. One of them is that Sir Thomas was under a piomise to Her Majesty to stow away so ma iy hundreds of thousands a year in her private hoard, no matter what happened. Could anything ba more absurd and scandalous ?
Will no'oody kindly put a stopper on Mr Edison, and pi event the world being tumid upside dowu before its time. That'most wonderful of inventive genuises, having givtn to ua the telephone, the phonograph, the, miorotaaiineter, the mrgaphouc, and dozens of other marvels, has lately turned his irresistible attention to the electric light problem, and has solved it. That goes without saying, for he never failed jet in anything he undertook in the way of an invention. In the immediate future, Mr Edison telh us confidently, we shallall have the electriclight iv every place where the gas jet now flamts, and. at oiiC tenth of the cost. Electric cables will bj laid down all the streets, wheoes wires will lead into every room of every holism. The existing g.i&alier may bo used, wi'.hout gas; for by touching a spring, a light of any rtquircri brilliancy will at once burnt forth ; cub's dinner may be cooked, one'a bad warmed, aud one's fire lighted by the fame simple hut. The ouly apparatus, giving the electrical power, is two plates of oarbou. As a proof tbat this is not a Utopiau idua, the shares of the great London Gas Con p.miea have fallen no less thin seven pur cent, bince the announcement of the versatile American's great discovery. Warned, however, by the recent piracies on his telephone, Edison intends thoroughly to protect his patent; before explaining it, so that we :ire still, as to details, in that darkness from which Jio promises so speedily and simply to release us.
The private life and studies of this p'nilo sophicul admirable Crichton are interesting I'Vom his boyhood he has taken out patents by di z ns, and of him it was said that "he madu the path ti the patent office hot with his frequent footsteps. " When he goes in for a new invention, he sits at his desk until he titber sjlvis his problem or falls aaleep from sheer exhaustion. Aa a general rule he succeeds before that, for his mind seema to be capable of phenomenal activity. If he goes on at his present rate the world will be un-ible to stand the wondei'3 solved from his laboratory, abd we shall have t)loan him out to tlio celestial spheres. EUctric tslegraph and gas companies are already I:is foes, and it is plain that Utopia is his proper abiding place. He is now at work on a flying machine, and railway companies tremble at the mention of his name.
OUR HOME LETTER., Issue 5236, 28 November 1878
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