The Anti-Corn-law meetings rapidly multiply in number. Most of them have been held on requisition to the local authorities. The list now com- prises Kendal, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Chorley, Congleton, Wakefield, (for the West Riding of Yorkshire,) Keighley, Otley, Rochdale, Bradford, Hull, Batley, Yeodon, Wolverhampton, Birmingham, Hanley, Thetford, Rye, Gravesend, &c.
The meeting at Wakefield was very important. It was convened by Sir William Bryan Cooke, the High Sheriff, on a requisition signed by many of the leading landowners and manufacturers of the West Riding; and it was held at noon on Wednesday. The attendance was exceedingly numerous; most of the great flax-spinners of Leeds, Bradford, Hudders- field, and adjoining towns, gave their workpeople a holyday on the occa- sion. Special trains ran during the day from several stations on the Mid- land, Leeds, and Manchester lines. Hustings were erected at the Town- house; and the spacious area in front, and the lanes and avenues commu- nicating with it, were occupied by attentive listeners. On the platform were the High Sheriff, Lord Stourton, Mr. C. Wood, M.P., Mr. Busfeild, M.P., Mr. W. B. Wrightson, M.P., Mr. W. R. C. Stanfield, M.P., Mr. J. Par- ker, M.P., with many landed proprietors and manufacturers from Leeds, Halifax, Sheffield, Bradford, and other places. The resolutions wore of the usual tenour. The first was moved by Mr. Fawkes, of Fernley Hall, a large landed proprietor and a leading Whig in the district. He trusted that the men of the West Riding were shaking off a four-years inglo- rious subserviency to an anti-national policy, and were determined to stand forth in defence of the rights of industry with as bold a front as they had shown in other days in defence of civil and religious liberty. Circumstances were favourable, but the battle was not yet gained—
Though the front presented by them today was a very good beginning—the
acorn to the oak of their resolves—such a demonstration even as that was not " the be-all and the end-all" of their exertions in the cause they advocated. Free trade was a prize of too high worth to be bad for the asking; and though the tide of events had turned most miraculously in their favour during the past week—though they should yet see the vessel of the state officered by the men of their choice—men of unblemished nubile reioutation, of tried fidelity, of dashing enterprise, of consummate tact, and of brilliant eloquence—though they should see them nailing the ensigns of Free Trade to her masts, pricking their coarse by the chart of a Grenville, and shotting their guns with the bolts of a Cobden, a Grey at the prow, and a Russell at the helm—yet, what would all this glorious promise, all this gallant bearing on the quarter-deck avail the country's need or the nation's hopes, unless the Queen's ship could be put in commission by the Commons of England, and obtain the warrant of the triumphant issue of a gene- ral election to " Up anchor, bend to the breeze, and bravo the battle"?
The assertion of the Protectionists that there is plenty of food in the land, was, he thought,' refuted by Dr. Buckland's mangel-wurzel and tur- nip speculations, the Duke of Norfolk's " pinch of curry," and above all by the " sudden death of a mature and strong Government." The resolu- tion with which he was intrusted, and which directed earnest and imme- diate attention to the condition of the country, was alike due to the Queen and Sir Robert Peel- " We owe such a resolution as this to our Sovereign, and to one who, in the hour of his country's need, has made more sacrifices for his country's good than any statesman of modern times. This resolution will furnish Sir Robert Peel, and those who have acted so nobly with him the fullest apology for the inconsistencies in which his public-spirited conduct must inevitably involve him; and it will also enable him with credit to yield the patriotic concession to public opinion of the total, and immediate, and unconditional abandonment of laws which, though his own creation, he has been taught by a power which no mortal can withstand, are of too vicious a character and of too mischievous a tendency for any Minister or statesman, however powerful in Parliament or influential out of it, ts. venture with credit to himself or with safety to the country any longer to support." Mr J. Marshall exhorted the thousands before him to uphold with
stern resolve the principle of Free Trade. Mr. Charles Wood wished to threw 'aside all party feeling under existing circumstances; remarking, that what he called upon them to do was " to tell whatever Government might be formed in the country, that, in the opinion of the inhabitants of the West Riding of Yorkshire, the Corn-laws must be abolished." The other speeches were of the same animated and exultant kind: Mr. Rand of Bradford, exclaimed—" Although a Conservative, I will vote for Lord Morpeth when he next stands for the West Riding."
' At the Hanley meeting, upwards of two thousand persona were present. Mr; Sohn Lewis Ricardo' one of the Members for Stoke-upon-Trent, at- tended; but Alderman Copeland, his colleague, was represented by letter. The Alderman's communication, received with derisive cheers and cries of ". Oh!" was too peculiar to be omitted.
" Stoke-upon-Trent, 16th December 1895.
" Ify,dear Ridgway —I am in receipt of your invitation of the 9th to attend the
Free-trade meeting on the 15th instant. It will not be in my power to do so; but, inasmuch as your invitation is to a Free-trade meeting, I will not disguise from you my opinions on that subject. I have ever been a Free-trader; but I am opposed to a repeal of the Corn-laws, unlears accompanied with such a relaxation of our fiscal regulations, that we may enjoy free trade in all things. This opens the door to a wide discussion. The limits of a letter will not .permit me to state a great deal; but, for example, abolish the Corn-laws; in so doing, put the poor; county, police, and highway-rates, on the Consolidated Fund, the whole nation to bear the expense. Do away with the law of settlement; which would save all the law expenses, little short of a million sterling, expended in contesting the settle- ment of the unfortunate pauper, who, having laboured hard in a manufacturing district, and having been located for years, in his old age is sent to his parish, not knowing a souls but to die in the parish workhouse. Reduce the import-duties upon our own peculiar manufacture of earthenware and upon printed cottons, arlks &c. Levy only an import-duty for statistical purposes ("Hear, hear!" from Mr. Ricardo) on the foregoing and following articles—tea, sugar' ic.; and impose a property-tax, and a modified income-tax: and this done, I have little doubt but faith can be kept with the public creditor; and that the entire classes of the people, whether agriculturist or manufacturer, landed proprietor or opera- tive, will be benefited. But a partial free trade must be conducive to ill, at least in my judgment.
" My remarks are crude; but I feel confident are long there are parties who will put them into a proper shape, and adopt something very like them. " Yon are at perfect liberty to give publicity to this letter.
" Always yours truly, " W. T. COPELAND. " John Ridgway, Esq., Cauldon Place." Mr. Edward Buller, in stating by letter that he could not conveniently
comply with the invitation to attend, remarked that his views were entirely in accordance with the object of the meeting. In Parliament he had al- ways voted for a repeal of the Corn-laws; and, although he supported the fixed-duty proposition of Lord John Russell, he merely did so as a step to total repeal. He considered the time for compromise had passed by, and that total repeal was the only course consistent with the peace and safety of the country. Mr. Ricardo made a set Free-trade speech; reminding his auditors that he was a Repealer when it was less fashionable to be so than at present. Adverting to the Ministerial crisis, he expressed the utmost scepticism as to the good intentions attributed to Sir Robert Peel- " The consequence of distress is a falling-off in the revenue. Sir Robert Peel's
Ministry knew that a falling-off of the revenue would not do for them; and that, in my opinion, is the real reason for their resignation. I do not believe that Sir Robert Peel ever meant to repeal the Corn-laws. Sir Robert is like that descrip- tion of serpent which in a torpid state relaxes its intricate folds only to coil itself into folds still more intricate when restored to animation. • He would have opened the ports for a certain fixed period; then about next April or May he would have come down to the House with a large measure. A large measure, you must un- derstand, is a collection of little measures—some such measure as that proposed by Mr. Alderman Copeland. After the mountain had been some time in labour, it would bring forth a ridiculous mouse. This change in the policy of a ion of the Ministry is not because they consider the Corn-laws the cause of the dis- tress, and that free trade would confer prosperity; but it is because they think you know it So long as they could keep you ignorant, so long would they have remained still."
The Birmingham meeting took place on Monday, at the Town-hall; the attendance numbering, it is said, eight thousand persons. Mr. Muntz and
Mr. Spooner, the Borough Members, Mr. William Scholefield, Mr. Joseph" Sturge, several clergymen, and many other persons of influence were present; and the Mayor presided. The proceedings were diversified by speeches from Chartists and allusions to the currency question, but with an uncommon disposition to unite for once. The first resolution, which expressed sympathy with those who apprehended scarcity, and were anxious for a repeal of the Corn-laws, was moved by Mr. William Schole field, and seconded by the Reverend Mr. Mason. Mr. Joseph Stnrge repudiated a statement which had gone abroad, that the Complete Suffrage party were not desirous to cooperate in the present effort to abolish the Corn-laws; but he still entertained the opinion that the object could be best attained by enlarging the franchise. He moved an amendment pledging the meeting to assist in extending the suffrage in return for the aid to be given by the working men in opening the ports. The amend3 ment, however, was not put. Mr. O'Neil, a Chartist, expressed distrust o both Whigs and Tories; his conviction being that both parties would take care to render the abolition of the Corn-laws productive of as little benefit as possible to the community. Mr. Mason, another Chartist, thought that if the working men were called upon to help the middle classes in the present juncture, they should have something in return. He suggested a compact: for the repeal of the Corn-laws the middle classes should have • the hearty cooperation of the working men; but he thought they should have in return the promise that if the Whig Administration came in for seven years, a change in the franchise should take place in that period. Neither of these speakers moved any amendment. The adhesion of Mr. Attwood to the present agitation was then announced by Mr. George Edmonds; and the importance which the meeting attached to the circum- stance was indicated by the many rounds of cheering with which the announcement was received. Mr. Edmonds remarked, that it was well known to the meeting that Mr. Attwood, as well as Mr. Muntz and Mr. Spooner, had hitherto contended that a reform of the monetary laws should precede a repeal of the Corn-laws; but Mr. Attwood's opinions had under- gone a change, and he hoped that the two other gentlemen whose names he had mentioned were prepared to follow his example. Mr. Edmonds proceeded to read Mr. Attwood's letter.
" Do me the favour of impressing upon those gentlemen who are seeking for a repeal of the Corn-laws, my sincere regret that distance from Birmingham, and other circumstances, should prevent me from taking a part in their proceedings. My sentiments, however, on this great subject continue unchanged. I am of opi- nion that the people of England will never obtain any solid prosperity or safety until"—Now, said Mr. Edmonds, interrupting himself in his reading, you expect- an allusion to the monetary system--(" Yea, yes!")—No, no; there is nothing of the kind. The letter says the people will never obtain prosperity " until the Corn-laws are repealed." (Much cheering.) " These unjust laws were passed for the concealed object of protecting the landed interest against the contemplated effects of the money-laws of 1819; and to a certain extent they have succeeded."
Mr. Muntz stated that he also was prepared to waive his currency opin- ions in so far as precedence was concerned, and make way for Corn-law repeal; but he warned the meeting against expecting " too much" from the change. Mr. Spooner could not follow Mr. Muntz in such a course; 1 eieving that an immediate repeal would inflict intense misery throughout the country. Other resolutions, referring to the deficient produce of the. harvest and the necessity for opening the ports, were agreed to without a , dissentient voice; as also a memorial to the Government, expressing the, views of the meet rigin a connected and formal manner.
The Executive Council of the League held a conference at Manchester on Saturday, with a number of the larger 'subscribers to the fund, in order to decide on a line of action. The meeting was private; but the following particulars have found their way into print. From sixty to seventy gen- tlemen were present, upon whom 100,000 persons are said to depend for employment. The Mayor of Manchester, Mr. Walker, M.P., Mr. Marsland, M.P., and as a matter of course Mr. Cobden and Mr. Bright, took part in the deliberations. Certain suggestions which had been made to the Council by friends in different parts of the country underwent consideration. The suggestions embraced open air meetings, petitions, and a large subscription. The first was not deemed expedient, owing to the season. The second was in opposition to a resolution passed three years ago, not to petition again : but a strong opinion having been expressed by " all the Members of Par- liament present" in favour of that mode of influencing the Legislature, the rather as the Duke of Richmond and his Protectionists were to proceed in that way, the Council agreed to rescind their previous resolution, and give' full play to petitioning. As to a fund, it was at once resolved to raise one to the extent of 250,0001.; several of the gentlemen present promising to increase their former subscriptions fivefold.
The Protectionists have not been inactive; though their activity has not been at all so extensive, or so determined as that of the Free-traders. The threatened repeal of the Corn-laws, and the conduct of the late Premier, have been angrily discussed at Dorchester, Lewes, Maidstone, (for West Kent,) Rugeley, and other places.
At the West Kent meeting, Sir Robert Peel was vehemently accused of apostacy, and other offences against the agricultural interest. Lord Ingestre was the principal speaker at the Rugeley Agricultural Society's dinner; and he avowed himself a stanch Protectionist; not, however, without a qualification-
" I have no hesitation in saying, that, if I am alone in any division in the House of Commons, I shall walk out into the lobby against the repeal of the Corn- laws." But he added—" I will not say that the present Corn-law must be irre- vocably maintained, because no human measure can be said to be perfect; and I think he would be a very unwise man who would pledge himself to stick to any particular measure under any circumstances and to an indefinite period: but to the principle of protection I pledge myself to adhere."
At the dinner which followed the Lewes fat-stock show, on Monday, a vehement ebullition of feeling broke out towards the close of the evening, on political topics. So long as the Earl of Chichester remained in the chair, politics were avoided; but his retirement was the signal for an in- road into the forbidden ground. Mr. John Ellman was called to the vacant seat; and after referring to the " momentous crisis," be gave-a toast which expressed a hope that the Sussex farmers would prove true to their " colours." Mr. Hallett wished to know what the " colours" were to which Mr. Ellman was referring, and where the Sussex farmers were to find them? Did he mean Sir Robert Peel's " colours"? The chairman said, he did not; but he meant the colours under which Sir Robert Peel fought in 1842, when he obtained his majority, but which he had now abandoned; and for doing so, he would brand him as a renegade and a &garter. (Great cheering.) Mr. Hallett, wishing to bring on an argument in order to inculcate Free-trade doctrines, pressed for a more definite de- scription of the " colours "; and the chairman said that they meant the upholding of the present protection. This led to an uproarious, desultory, and resultless squabble, diversified by bumpers to the Duke of Wellington and Mr. Sidney Herbert; the latter gentleman described by the chairman as " a more honest man than Sir Robert Peel.", Lord Alfred Spencer Churchill, the second son of the Duke of Marl- borough, was elected Member for Woodstock, on Thursday, in the room of Lord Loftus, now a Peer. The monotony of the proceedings was relieved by the proposal of " Henry Morgan, Esq-,' a chimney-sweeper, as an oppo- sition candidate; but the burlesque was too gross, and the motion found no seconder. The young Member, in returning thanks for his election, as- sured his constituents that he was a Conservative—" in every sense of the word."
Mr. Halsey, the Conservative candidate for Hertfordshire, met a number of county electors at Hertford on Saturday. The proceedings were bois- terous from the beginning, and terminated in a vote the very reverse of what his friends desired. Sir Minto Farquhar, the chairman of the can- didate's central committee, introduced Mr. Halsey to the meeting; telling them that the times were pregnant with deceit and treachery, but that Mr. Halsey was one upon whose fidelity implicit reliance might be placed. Mr. Halsey was then heard: he declared himself a Protectionist; and ad- vised the meeting to nail their colours to the mast, supporting protection against all assailants. Mr. Ward, M.P. for Sheffield, took part in the pro- ceedings, as a county elector. After jocularly remarking that Mr. Halsey was not likely to abandon his colours, as others had done, yielding to " the force of irresistible facts and convictions," he proceeded to show that the prophecies so confidently uttered about the loss and damage that were to arise to the farmer from the new Corn-law, the Tariff, and the Canadian Corn-bill, had all been falsified; and contended that a similar experience would be felt as regarded the total removal of the existing restrictions.
"There is my honourable friend opposite, Mr. Phelips—a more fierce Ultra-Pro- tectionist at the last election mortal man never saw upon the hustings. Well, he had his will: you swamped as then; you would not hear one word uttered against protection; you chose your own Minister; that Minister took his own line of con- dna, with the responsibility weighing upon him. I saw my friend opposite come out of the House of Commons the night when Sir Robert Peel made his first fi- nancial statement, when he announced the alteration in the Corn-laws, and when he enunciated principles which inevitably led to the conclusion that has followed. I say I saw my friend come out of that assembly convinced that the Premier was the only man that could save this country. I saw him leave the House full of the most natural admiration for the ability which had been displayed in that state- ment, and I believe firmly convinced that the course taken by the Conservative Premier was on the whole a wise and necessary one."
Mr. Phelips--" Certainly." Mr. Ward—" For four years, and up to this time, he has concurred in every step which that Minister has taken."
Mr. Phelips—" Hear, hear !"
Mr. Ward— ' He hasacquiesced in the Canada Corn-bill, the alteration of the Corn-laws, the change of the Tariff, and in everything else. What he has failed to see, was that a Minister who adopted up to this point all the principles of his opponents as the rule of his own conduct, could never stop short of coming to the legitimate conclusion."
Mr. Phelips frankly acknowledged that he had assented to the changes enumerated-by Mr. Ward, because he had faith in Sir Robert Peel, and none in Lord John Russell. He could not believe that Sir Robert had none out of office because his colleagues would not assist him in abolishing the Corn-laws: he was firmly convinced that it arose from his refusal to do the dirty work of the Whigs!
A course of questioning was then entered upon. Mr. Delano, a farmer, asked Mr. Ward how the taxes were to be paid, and so forth, under a Free- trade system; Mr. Ward asked Mr. Halsey, how he accounted for wool bringing a higher price now than it did when "protected " by a duty of 6d. per pound; and Mr. Lattimore, the Free-trade farmer, interrogated Mr. Halsey on matters connected with differential duties, colonial trade, and the means of finding employment for the increasing population. At length the crisis arrived. Mr. Ward submitted a motion affirming that it was for the interest of the farmer, the labourer, and the landlord, that the Corn- law question should be promptly and permanently settled. This was fol- lowed by uproar, and the chairman threatened to dissolve the meeting if order were not kept. Mr. Delano moved as an amendment, that Mr. Halsey was a fit person to represent the county. A division was taken; the Chairman being careful to count only the electors present: even with that limitation, Mr. Ward's motion was carried, by a majority of 2; 38 .electorif voting for it, and 36 for the amendment and Mr. Halsey's fitness.
, The two woollen-mills in Preston are now only working from light to dark. A -cotton-mill in Moor Lane and another in Whittle are also running short time. Notice is given of a redaction of the weavers' wages at Mr. F. Sleddon's late mill. The drapers and other .shopkeepers complain very much of the diminution of pur- chasers.—Preston Guardian.
A labouring man was killed on Monday morning, on the Great Western Rail- way, near West Drayton, by a special train, which was conveying a number of scientific men to Exeter, to test the speed on the broad gauge. Unaware that any special train was expected, he was walking on the down line of rails in the dusk of the morning: he was knocked down, and literally cut in two.
William Garrett, the Rugby letter-carrier, has been committed for trial on the Charge of stealing letters. The previous examinations showed that the in-door business of the office was conducted in a very slovenly manner; and a re- presentation on the subject has been addressed to the Postmaster-General, by a number of the inhabitants.
At the York Assizes, on Monday, James Wheatley, the engineer of the pilot- engine which ran into a train at Roystone on the Midland Railway, on the night of the 20th October, was tried for the consequent manslaughter of Mr. Boteler, the Bankruptcy Commissioner. The trial was long; bat the evidence given was to the same effect as that adduced before the Magistrates and the Coroner, and noticed in our columns at the time. The Jury acquitted the prisoner. A similar charge for causing the death of Stubbs, the police-officer, was not gone into.
A stoker employed on the Manchester and Leeds Railway has been killed at the Miles Platting station. The accident seems to have originated in the man's want of presence of mind. The stoker was directed to get upon an engine and move it with the tender a little backwards: he did so; but when he had proceeded as far as was necessary, he appears to have fully opened the steam-valves; instead of closing them: the engine dashed along, and in a few moments burst through two doors and a brick wall, finally toppling down an embankment. The man fell under the tender, and was so much hurt that he died .a few days after. A boiler-explosion occurred on Monday, at the cotton-mill of Messrs. Bothwell and Kits, in Bolton, which destroyed the boiler-house, and part of the mill. A number of the workpeople were buried under the ruins; nine of whom were taken out dead; and a boy has died since.