The Reformers who follow the lead of Mr. Bright have
made their demonstration, and a very quiet and business-like affair it was. Mr. Bright in the provinces is quite different from Mr. Bright in the House of Commons or the Guildhall Coffee-house. He keeps his stinging and exaggerated rhetoric for the country folks, and brings his business talent to bear when he meets legis- lators or business men. Therefore, we are not surprised that Mr. Bright should propose, and that the meeting should consent, to give Ministers a fair trial, and not prejudge their reform mea- sure. The Bright party still adheres to the "comprehensive" scheme which the leader has in his pocket, but the temper and moderation of that leader's speech, and the speeches of others, show that they are willing to take an instalment providing it be honestly offered, on the basis laid down by Lord John Russell. Even if the ballot be not a part of the Government Bill, Mr. Bright will not reject it for that reason. This is a very different tone from that in the famous letter on taxation. The diffieulties of the party are not inconsiderable, hardly less than the diffi- culties of the Government. They do not stand, with regard to the working classes, in a better position than the Government, perhaps not so well ; for the Government at all events is not a purely capitalist Government, whereas; the Conference gentle- men are nearly all of the order of employers of labour. Mr. Bright's theory, that strikes occur because the working men have not the franchise, will not hold water, while the fact that he expounded it on the occasion shows that he is nervous on the subject. The only thing to mar the good sense of the meeting was the foolish remark about the Volunteer movement by Mr. Hargreaves. Up to that moment the movement had not been spoken of by any one as a political movement. Mr. Hargeaves, however, suspects it because Tories support it. We have watched it from the beginning, and are sure that it has no party political character whatever, and that only preternatural sus- picion could see in it an attempt to throw the people off the right scent. Volunteering and reform are essentially distinct ques- tions; as distinct as sound sense is from the remarks made by Hargreaves.
The chief characteristic of the meetings in the rural districts, both agricultural and political, is the steady support extended by the speakers to the measures which promise to place the country in a state of inherent defence—the strengthening of the fleet, and the development of our land forces, regular and ir- regular. Of mere political demonstrations, beyond that in Lon- don, there are none.