13 MARCH 1852, Page 10

letters to tit thitor.

LORD DERBY'S "FAIR TRIAL."

North Brixton, 8th March 1862. - Sm—If, by an immediate appeal to the country on the question of Free- trade, Lord Derby were precluded from having a "fair trial," the propriety .and justice of the proceeding would be open to grave doubt even by thorough- ...goiog Free-traders. It does not appear, however, that any result of the kind . would be the consequence of such a step. The "fair trial" solicited by _Lord Derby stands independently of the questions of Free-trade and of Pro- tection, and should be granted on separate grounds. No doubt, Lord Derby and his colleagues are honest and sincere in their opinion of Free-trade being a mistake, and would not shrink from the responsibility of reversing the system if it were in their power; but they have repeatedly and formally declared that the decision of the country at the next general election on the subject shall be accepted by them as final. This declaration I understand to mean, that in the event of the country pronouncing in favour of Free- trade, they will be prepared to conform to and adopt the-new circumstances as the basis of legislation in regard to commercial and fiscal regulations,— in fact, to do just what the late Sir Robert Peel did on the occasion of the Reform Bill passing into a law. Revolutionary as that measure was in its effects, and strenuously opposed as that eminent statesman was to its pass_ ing—doing lie best even to the verge of civil war to defeat it—he accepted it without equivocation or reserve when it became a law, as the will of the country, and never attempted to disturb that settlement of the question. Lord Derby and his party are not satisfied that the present Parliament cor- rectly represents the country at the present time on the question of Free. trade : they say that its operation has opened the eyes of many in regard to what they call its fallacies who were-previously its disciples, and that there- fore the question should again go 'to the country Tor reconsideration, and whatever its decision they would bend to it. If the above is a correct interpretation of Lord Derby's declaration, it ap- pears clear that the sooner the question is brought to an issue the better ; for until Lord Derby, or rather Mr. Disraeli, knows whether or not he is to have Protection, how can he frame his Budget ? This document, with Mr. Disraeli for its author, would be a very different thing with Protection for its basis from the one with Free-trade as its regulating principle. Until, therefore, it is ascertained which is to govern, Protection or Free-trade, it is impossible to legislate on commercial or financial subjects. And to allow Lord Derby six months' grace to curry favour with the country by offering legislative baits Of a -popular tendency in other branches of legislation, would not be giving that kind of "fair trial" to which alone he is entitled, and which, I conceive, should not be granted till after the result of the appeal to the country is ascertained. Mr. Cobden, then, in my opinion, is right in the I resuscitation of the League ; as also is Mr. Villiers in the terms of his motion which he proposes immediately to press on the Commons for their acceptance. In the event of Mr. Villiers carrying his motion, an appeal forthwith to the constituency should be made, after providing, of course, for the exigencies of public business and the renewal of the Income-tax for six months. On the people, then, would fall the responsibility of determining which shall rule, 1 the claims of Free-trade or of Protection ; and Lord -Derby would be in a ' position fairly to try his hand as a Premier legislator unshackled by the one