NEWS OF THE WEEK.
IF loud complaining is a prod of distress, the British agricultu- rist is of all men most miserable: if much talking can bring re-
lief to the sufferer, he will soon be prosperous beyond the Cot of mortals. In the North, South, East and West, landowners and tenants muster to take counsel together ; they deplore their miser-
able state over barons of beef and bumpers of' wine. It is at least a consolation to find that they adhere religiously to the good old English custom of feasting while they grumble.
Last week and the week before, we had accounts of several agricultural meetings; and within these few days others have been held in Yorkshire, Shropshire, and Northamptonshire ; of which some particulars are given in subsequent columns. If we are to believe all that is said by the orators at these dinner-parties, there is scarcely an owner or tenant of land in England who is not on the point of starvation. But this is not true: some landlords are very short of cash, and more farmers are in the same predicament ; but that extreme distress, which is pretended to exist almost uni-
versally, is rarely to be found. Its existence is incompatible with the fact that the expenditure indicated by the consumption of excisedole articles is not on the decrease but the reverse. The state of the revenue alone justifies disbelief in the suffering of so large a proportion of our population. to the extent alleged. Then we would ask the landlords, whether, generally speaking, their Lady-day and Midstininaer rents have not been well pad? We have been recently assured . by well-informed and largely em- ployed land-agents, that as regards the Home counties this is the fact. That the tenants have been compelled to labour bard and live frugally, and perhaps to encroach on their capital to enable them to make good their payments, we fully credit ; and they are the parties, not the landlords, whose sufferings excite our compas- sion. We shall begin to put faith in landlords' professions of suf- fering, when we see a reduction in the numbers of dogs, horses, and servants they support—when splendid mansions cease to be built for their residence—and when the funds for the corruption of voters are diminished: when we see these symptoms of economy,. then we shall suspect that the landed gentlemen, as a class, are really tasting what seems "distress" to them. But that the tenants on tillage farms can continue to .pay the rents required,' with wheat at 36s. a quarter, witbout pinching themselves and their families—without what may pro- perly be termed suffering—is impossible. Dependent as tee neatly of them are, they seem to have been telling their landlord-s some home truths lately. They see how they have been deluded. When they pressed for a reduction of rent corresponding with the fall of grain, they were promised a rise of price through theopera- tion of the Corn-laws. Well, they have got their Corn-laws, and saheatsis 4s. 6d. a bushel. So it was found that the Corn-laws would not answer the purpose. Then their Pailiapsentary friends protested that the Malt-tax should be repealed, in Order to make 13arley dear and beer cheap. They ousted Liberal candidates from half the counties in England on the strength of these protesta- tions, and then went to Parliament to vote against the repsal of the Malt-tax. So that juggle has done its worst. The lightening of Local Taxation was next set forth by the landlords as the pa- nacea for the farmers' misery; but Lord DARLINGTON says, with perfect truth, that were the County-rate abolished altogether, it would be "a mere drop in the bucket." So the poor farmers, in despair of all other means of relief, turn restive at last, and cry for a reduction of rent.
But a reduction of rent is the very last thing the landed gentry mean to submit to. We think that in common honesty they might as well say so; but no—theyactually assure the tenantry, that it would be of no sort of use to lower their rents! Why so? Because, says Lord DARLING-cos, heir to one of the finest estates in England, it would take all the rent, and 1501. besides, to place the tenant of 100 acres of tillage-laud in the same prosperity that lie enjoyed in 1819. Granting this to be the case, what'idoes the farmer say ? He ought to tell this large-aered nobleman, that the farmer has no notion of being so well off as he was in 1819; that with him it is a question of the bare comforts, not the luxuries of life ; and that to take 1001. from the rent of his farm of 100 acres, would render his home decent, comfortable, and happy ; and he might add, that the reduction of his Lordship's stable establish- ment by one horse and groom, would more than counterbalance any deficiency of income arising from the diminution of rent. But "my Lord" had rather try another plan before he docks his rental. He very much prefers some " general" measure, to one that threatens an immediate and direct attack upon his pocket : he thinks that Parliament should do something. The poor farmers must nauseate the very word " Parliament," recollecting how they have been duped and disappointed by the profession of their legislating "friends." But what is Parliament to du? The Earl of DARLINGTON thinks that the standard should be altered from gold to silver,—in other words, he would debase the cur- rency. " Any thing for a rise in the price of wheat," says the farmer ; and so a cry for the depreciation of the currency is got up. There are, however, among the landowners, men at least as sagacious as Lord DARLINGTON and Mr. CAYLEY, who see that the remedy proposed, to say nothing of its injustice, would afford very partial and only temporary relief. They see, moreover, that there is not a remote chance of that remedy being applied by the Legislature. Some of them also perceive, that were they to pro- cure the repeal of all the taxes which are said to press with peculiar severity upon the agricultural interest, very little relief would be afforded : again to quote Lord DARLINGTON'S expres- sion, " it would be but a drop in the bucket." These gentlemen honestly confess, with Mr. CARTWRIGHT of Northatnptonshire, that they don't know what to do. Here is comfort for the farmers ! Their " friends " refuse to repeal the Malt-tax; refuse—that is, the majority of them refuse —to debase the currency ; refuse to reduce their rents; and de- clare that there is little to be hoped for from the reduction of local taxation. These men are the farmers' " friends," and this is the way they "back" the farmers ! NAre are Wed to Ace that nearly all the speakers at these agri- cultural meetings have had the grace to own, that from one mea- sure of the farmers' enemies, real, substantial, and permanent
relief has been afforded to the agricultural interest. The Poor- law of the Liberal Governmentis allowed to have been irs a high
degree beneficial. If the farmers are not utter dolts, they must feel grateful to the men who had the nerve and the honesty, in defiance of clamour and at the risk of popularity, to introduce and carry that bill.
These discussions have confirmed our belief in the injury in- flicted on the farmers and the agricultural interest generally by the Corn,laws. They do not keep up the price of corn sufficiently
high to remunerate the grower-' while they check foreign trade; limit. the consumption of other kinds of' produce, which might be sold at, a fair profit, and keep down the demand for land to be
Used for pasturage, building, and ornament. If, however, the Corn-laws are still to be Maintained, we feel confident that rents must fall. In this way only can further effectual relief be admi-
nistered to the cultivators of the soil; for, while we agree with dur 'contemporary the Courier, that improvements might be made
in the mode and a diminution in the expense of' cultivating farms in some parts of England, we think that the principal assistance to the farmer must come from the landlord.