THE FARMERS AND LIBERALISM. [To THE EDITOR OF THE "SPECTATOR. "]
SIR,—You seem rather vexed at the Farmers' indifference to. Liberalism. The son of a farmer and country hotel-keeper, in
an agricultural district, I will give you the reason. The " Repeal of the Malt Duty Bill," or "Malt Bill," as it is generally called' here, instead of being a blessing, has proved a curse to the farmers,—" the last straw." Brewers are at liberty to use what- ever they think fit iu brewing ; in consequence, they use Indian corn, molasses, &c., instead of barley. The price of barley has fallen—low ; that of Indian corn has risen—to the delight of the Yankee grower. This cuts the farmer both ways,—he has to pay more for the Indian corn he gives his stock, and obtains less for his own barley than he did before the Bill passed. The- remedy ? Insertion of a clause stating that the beverage sold as ale shall be (as it ought to be) brewed from barley, malt, and.
hops, the brewer being at liberty to brew with Indian corn, but • having to sell the drink so brewed under another name,—ale, it certainly would not be. Under the present system, the large (Indian corn) brewers are at a great advantage compared with the small (barley) brewers—like ourselves, who brew only for- our own consumption—and amongst these latter, an idea pre- vails that it is Mr. Gladstone's wish and intention to crush them out, leaving only the large brewers, and thus, needing fewer Excise officers, to practise economy at their expense. Where- fore the small brewers vote Tory, almost man for man, not from conviction, but interest; and, though a Liberal, under existing circumstances, I do not blame them. One must live.—I am,.
Sir, &c., H. C. P.S.—Most people not directly connected with farming seem to think " reduction of rent " the grand remedy for all the farmer's ills. To use my brother's expression, who is a large- and most careful farmer, "Rent isn't in it." Of the total out- lay upon his farm, rent forms the fifteenth part, so that if his rent was reduced fifty per cent., he would but benefit to the- extent of a thirtieth part of his outlay.