28 SEPTEMBER 1872, Page 2

The agricultural labourer has been the jezoze premier of the

long- vacation meetings, and while sometimes coaxed and sometimes. scolded by the Liberal or Conservative mentor of the occasion, has almost always been exhorted to avoid all connection with that wicked tempter who is plotting against his virtue, the political agitator. Colonel North, at Thame last week, was lost in horror at the labourer's " ingratitude " in listening to such men, and was fain to believe that those who had fallen from virtue in so doing were utterly " ashamed " of their conduct. Even Mr. W. C. Cartwright, from whom we should have looked for different language, spoke of them with compassion as " misguided " men,. who did not grasp the self-evident truth that whatever their differences with their employers, they ought to settle them without admitting any intervening agency. Mr. Cavendish Bentinck, with his usual genius for importing bad passions into a political sub- ject, called the agitators "a parcel of rascals." Even Lord Carnarvon on Wednesday last in an otherwise admirable and, as usual with him,. a sympathetic speech, pointing to some of the true remedies, said that the question could be best settled without the interference of "any intruders." They all desired, he said, to ameliorate the lot of the labourer, but they disliked to have it forced upon them "by foreign agitators." Now, this agitation sprang up amongst the agricultural labourers themselves, by virtue of the urgent need that there was for a comprehensive reconsideration of their ques- tion, and we venture to assert that, however unfortunate the tone. and temper of the agitation may have been in some instances, it has concentrated on the subject the attention of the classes most deeply concerned, in a manner which would have been simply im- possible without that agitation. As Mr. Disraeli, the great educator, found it necessary to call the attention of his great party "with some pressure" to the subject of Reform, so with- out a good deal of pressure, we may be quite certain that the agricul- tural labourer would not have gained the study and attention he has at last drawn-upon his case. And this wholesome pressure is due to the agitation. All this scolding, not at the mischief, but at the agency which makes us distinctly aware of the mischief, is like the petulance of a child with the teacher who, by correcting his exercise, first makes him clearly aware of his own carelessness and ignorance. Mr. Arch has deserved well of his class.