A meeting of the Shropshire Central Association was held on
Sa- turday, in Shrewsbury; when the same topics that formed the staple of the Yorkshire harangues were discussed. There were many gentle-
. xneti of property and influence present ; the Earl of Darlington, M. P. i in the chair. His Lordship, n the course of a rather long speech, entered into calculations to show that a reduction of rent, to the greatest
extent any one could contemplate, would not bring 'adequate relief to the farmer. As to the county-rate, the reduction of that would be but a drop in the bucket, as it was only 4d. in the pound on rent, taking the country through. He was himself for a silver instead of a gold cur- xeney ; and he believed that the grand desideratum, a rise in the prices of produce, would thereby be obtained.
Mr. Bickerton, a fanner, complained that all parties in Parliament lad thrown the farmers overboard— Sir Robert Peel, who was a Tory, inveighed against the repeal of the Malt- a:, in a speech which had been considered unanswerable. Lord Stanley, who was neither Whig nor Tory, had said they must not look to Parliament at all for relief; but that the landlord and tenant must settle the matter between them, and make the best use of the bounties which Providence had bestowed
upon them. He should very much like to know, however, what he meant by this, and whether he imagined that the farmers would cultivate the land out of
pure patriotism ? (Loud cries of "Hear," and laughter.) Then again, the Government, which was composed of Whigs, said they could do nothing more to them except some paltry reductions of the county-rate.
Mr. Bickerton concluded with bitter complaints of the broken-pro- mises of Members on the subject of the Malt-tax ; "which com- plaints," says the report, "were loudly reechoed by the assembly." Mr. John Bather, a barrister, a landowner, a farmer, and a Tory, delivered a speech, full of sound sense, and which has attracted a good deal of attention. It is riot .often that a meeting of landlords and farmers have the truth put so plainly before them.
They had (he said) heard the opinions of a nobleman who would eventually be one of the largest landholders in the county, and also the opinions of a prac- tical farmer; and they would now allow him, who had an equal interest as landlord and tenant, to state the result of his studies on this vital question. They had often said, " Let us see what relief we can get from Parliament, and try to get the repeal of this tax and that tax, and then see what adjustment ought to take place as regards the relative situation of land!ord and tenant." The time, however, was now come when the bull must he taken by the horns. The time was come when, as honest men, they must alter the relative condi- tion of landlord and tenant. The landlord must understand upon what ground his right to rent rests, and ascertain the broad principles upon which it tuust be adjusted. The landholder was a capitalist of land, and the farmer was a capitalist of money, skill, and labour. It was the object of the former, there- fore, to obtain the latter as an occupier of his land, and why ? Because the lend as well as the man was under the primeval curse ; and, unless there was capital, labour, and skill applied to it, the thorn and the thistle would be the inheritance of our nobility, instead of corn and fruit of a thousand kinds. The landlord must, therefore, give the farmer the occupancy of SO much land as would repay him interest for the outlay of his money, skill, and labour; or Ile would soon have the land to cultivate himself. And he would then speedily find it out. He admitted the tent of land was a matter of private arrangement; but then they must refer to some broad principle by which to make that arrangement. There might be land so poor as not to repay even the cost of cultivation ; and what right had the owner under such circumstances to look for benefit from it ? He was the owner of somethina. of no value, and it was his misfortune. Ile did not mean to say that both landlord and tenant might not go with effect to Parliament, but then let every thing which can be done between them be done first. Let the landlords who are Members of Parliament go with clean and honourable hands ; let them be enabled to say "We come not here, having wrung the last shilling from our tenants, to ask you to give them another shilling that we may wring that from them also "—( Loud cheers)--but let them say" We come here to ask relief after having reduced our establishments and curtailed our luxuries, and after having done eve! y thing, in short, which honourable men can do for the sake of our tenants." Let them do this, and no sneering merchant would then say of them "Look here at these stranded leviathans, who come and ask us to take them in tow," but they wculd look upon them as men of honour and entitled to consideration. There was a courage much superior to that which enabled a man to use a sword or level a pistol, and that was moral courage, which men much lacked. The landed proprietor, who found he could not now live as he used in his mansion, instead of going to a smaller dwelling, and furegoing sonic at least of his luxuries, in order to accommodate himself to altered circum- stances—instead of adopting this rational course of proceeding, he must fly to the Continent, in order to make his income go further than it would here. The same might be said of the farmer, who now seems ashamed to put his hand to the plough; his dau„Ater's fingers are too taper ever to become acquainted with the milk-pail or the cheese-vat, and his son would scarcely be seen leading the horse to the blacksmith to be shod ! Of course they find they cannot do here ; and away they go to Canada, where they soon discover that they have to labour bard in a comparative wilderness. The fact was, both landlord and tenant must make up their minds to return to the habits of their ancestors; one of which, let him remind them, was to keep the labourers in the farm-houses, which custom had now, unhappily, grown into disuse, and produced so many evils. They were blessed by Providence with abundance, and the fault lay in the unequal distribution of it. Let all take what is sufficient, but let none be pampered, and then none would starve. With respect to the currency, he agreed to a certain extent with the noble lord, that the change which took place in 1819 was the proximate cause of the distress; but that was no reason why, after all this lapse of time, when things had adjusted themselves to the new standard, they should go back. As to his Lordship's particular plan of alteration, he might call it "silver standard" or whatever name he pleas.d, hat it was simply and truly depreciating the currency. And was not money, he asked, in great plenty? If it were not so, depend upon it Three per Cent. Consols would never be at 91. He did not agree with the last speaker that the farmers had been thrown overboard. The Members for this county had done their duty like wise, discreet, and honest men. It was much better that a man should listen to argument, and, if convinced of a position, give up his former notions, than that he should persist in holding to his prejudices which were formed in ignorance. He advised them not again to go for a repeal of the Malt-tax, since men of all grades of opinions, Whig and Tory, had thought proper not to grant its repeal. Ile recommended the landed proprietors to ad- just their rents with the tenants, so as to meet the altered circumstances of the times ; and, having done this, if there was not then prosperity for agricul. tore they could go to Parliament a strong and mighty phalanx, and demand relief.