THE AGRICULTURAL LABOURERS.
[TO THE EDITOR OF THE "SPECTATOR.']
SIR,—It may, perhaps, allay the apprehensions of "A Country Parson," and those who share his fears with regard to the Agricultural Labourers' Union, to hear of our experience in this parish. Our population is above the average of country parishes in point of number, and is composed entirely of the elements mentioned by " A Country Parson," viz., the vicar, half-a-dozen farmers, and the labourers,—no resident squire. Three months ago the Union made its first appearance amongst us, much to the disgust of some of the farmers, who began to dismiss those of their labourers who joined. We have found, however, that the sight of the Church taking an uncompromising stand on the labourers' side,—by sermons heartily advocating the cause of the Union, and by the offer of the National School for the Local Branch meetings, has produced the happiest results. Not only have the labourers been strengthened in their attachment to the Church—the local officers of the Union being all members of the choir— but there has been a marked increase of friendly feeling on the part of the farmers themselves. Most of them (unlike the labourers) are hereditary Dissenters ; but nearly all have, within the last few weeks, given us some special token of good-will, by pfferings of corn, &c., for our harvest festival, and such like expressions of kindliness. So far from losing ground, the Church has most decidedly gained, even in the estimation of opponents, by promptly taking the weaker side, while the bitterness which threatened at first to mark the progress of the Union in the parish seems extinct. I trust that the wise and noble words which you quote this week from the parting address of the beloved Bishop who is leaving us may bring about the like happy result in many another country