11 FEBRUARY 1905, Page 14


Or THE " SrECIATOB..1 Srn,—I have no doubt that Mr. Biddell's account in the Spectator of February 4th of the supplementary aid to agri- cultural labourers in the hungry " thirties " is more eorrectly stated than mine. My object in writing to you was merely to give an object-lesson of the widespread destitution existing in

rich agricultural districts at a time when the price of wheat was high owing to Protection. The farmer, on the one hand, benefited by cheap labour, but paid away more with the other in rates. Mr. Biddell denies that this destitution was caused by Protection, and says you might as well attribute it to the battle of Blenheim. Well, this is a matter entirely of opinion, and all I hope is that neither a battle of Blenheim nor Pro- tection may bring those times back again. One thing, how- ever, is certain, that Mr. Chamberlain has brought about a rift in the Conservative ranks, which threatens to grow wider unless filled up, and must certainly lead to disaster to that party. To think Imperially may be a grand thing, but to do so on an empty stomach will be hard. All the visions of a mighty consolidated Colonial Empire seem an empty dream compared to the well-being of the people of this country.—