20 FEBRUARY 1836, Page 13


THE petition which the Reformers of Birmingham adopted at their late meeting in the Town-hall, waa presented to the House of Commons on Tuesday, by Mr. Arrwoon; who stated that it had received 20,000 unsolicited signatures : he and his colleague Mr. SCHOLEFIELD bore testimony to the undeniable fact, that its prayer was in accordance with the wishes of the vast majority of the inhabitants of Birmingham. How was this petition received by the Tory Opposition ? It is right that the Birmingham Re- formers should know, that it was treated with undisguised scorn ; that Mr. DUGDALE'S attempt to sneer it down, as the production of " pothouse" people, was rapturously cheered ; and that Mr. SCARLETT had the sympathy of his own side of the House when he declared, that the men who asked for the organic changes for which the petition prayed were " traitors to the State." " Pot- house" people, and "traitors !" In various parts of the country—in the North of England more especially—exertions have been made by some of the cun- ning Tories to delude the labouring classes into their ranks. They have established what they are pleased to call Conservative Operative Associations. We believe that, generally speaking, these Political Unions have been "death failures "—the " pot- house " people do not join the Tory force by the ten thousand. But, at any rate, the endeavour to establish them is indicative of a prudent desire to gain over the masses, founded on the know- ledge or the suspicion that "tile people by and by will be the stronger "—that to their physical superiority a degree of political sagacity has been added, which threatens danger to aristocrats, unless their hostility can be assuaged and their confidence be se- cured.

These attempts of the Tories, however unsuccessful, to conciliate the people, and to form a union, though it can only be a sham one, between them and the aristocratic portion of their party, are symptomatic of an inkling at their real position in the country. But what shall we say of the conduct of Mr. DUGDALE and his applauding friends on Tuesday? Instead of adopting the system of conciliatory amalgamation, the Member for Warwickshire was eager to inform the House and the country how distinct his party, the gentlemen of Birmingham, were from the Liberal canaille. The Tories dared not face their antagonists at a public meeting; they could only obtain 2000 signatures to their protest—forgeries and all ; but then, among these were the names of 40 physicians, 60 attornies, and 135 "gentlemen"! And Mr. DUGDALE said, he would confidently leave it to the House to decide, to which docu- ment—the protest or the petition—most weight should be at- tached. The " considerable humour," with the display of which the Morning Post complimented Mr. DUGDALE, elicited applause sufficient to show, that though it was all very well to talk in a canvass about " respectable operatives," the gentlemen in the House have sympathy only with gentlemen out of it. Fortunate :t is for these high-born sneerers, that the People are not the rabble they are described to be ; that the men of Birming- ham are changed from what they were in the days of Church and King riots ; that now an assembly of 100,000 does not increase the duty of the Police Magistrates by one additional case. If it were not sj,—if the masses were as ignorant and as violent as in Anti-Catliolic and Tory times, and if their leaders were animated by the atrocious party-spirit which allowed even Magistrates to sanction the plunder of PRIESTLEY'S library, and drove some of the most virtuous men in the land across the Atlantic,—there would not be a " gentleman " in Birmingham secure of his life and property for a week together. Vast has been the increase in the power of the people for evil as for good : it is owing to the persevering struggle of the friends of improvement and of educa- tion against the obstinate advocates and patrons of popular igno- rance, that the most bitter revileis of their fellow-countrymen- the men who sneer at their " pothouses and calumniate them as "traitors "—are as safe from personal insult and outrage in Bir- mingham as Mr. Atrwoon or Mr. SCHOLEFIELD. The people will take their revenge by consummating thepolitical destruction of the Tories, peaceably and firmly.