5 AUGUST 1843, Page 8

Zbe 113robincts.

In accordance with a challenge given in the Lobby of the House of Commons, by Sir John Tyrrell, to meet him at Chelmsford, the county- town of Essex, Mr. Cobden named the 28th July, and repaired thither on Friday. Sir John did not make his appearance ; but Mr. Holt White, a county Magistrate, had been induced to come forward as the champion of the Corn-laws. The meeting was held in a large field at the back of the Bell Inn : there were present several gentlemen of the neighbourhood, a large number of practical farmers from all parts of the county, and upwards of 2,000 persons in all. Mr. White wished Mr. Cobden and himself to be limited to a certain time and to one ad- dress each. Mr. Cobden agreed to take only an hour apiece, but would not waive his right of reply. He then made his speech ; using to good purpose the paragraphs which appear in the papers at this season, an- nouncing that this or that landlord has generously deducted 10 per cent from the rents of his tenants at the last payment. What did that amount to, but that the tenant had made a bargain which he could not fulfil ? Mr. Cobden moved a resolution in favour of free trade in com- merce, manufactures, and agriculture. Mr. Holt White replied. He sneered at the popular promise of " cheap bread "—as old as the time of Jack Cade. It was strange that Mr. Cobden, unconnected with Essex, should be the first to discover that the "white-waistcoated gentry," whose total incapacity for business he had descanted upon, found no difficulty in getting the upper hand of the farmers in a bargain. The question which Mr. Cobden put to farmers, as to whether their busi- ness was more profitable than any other, was one which he could never expect to get fairly answered : no man would readily lay open the state of his affairs to everybody. (Marks of dissent.) Besides, they did not desire to die millionaires. (Laughter.) He denied that the Corn-laws were intended to keep up the price of corn : legislation only attempted to prevent the price from falling too low : the avowed object of the Corn-laws was to prevent the war-prices from coming to a sudden termination. He admitted that wages did not rise and fall with bread because it was bread, but contended that they had a tendency to follow the demand for labour ; and admitting that rule, it would be new to him to find that the farm-labourer would be no better off under a high price of wheat than when corn sold at a low rate. Such were the principal points in Mr. White's speech ; which he concluded by moving an amendment, 'That the repeal of the Corn-laws is opposed to the in- terests of the tenant-farmer and the farm-labourer." Mr. Cobden declared that in point of temper, talent, and fairness, in all his adven- tures he had never found so good an opponent. He then replied to the points raised by Mr. Holt ; observing, that he had not made the discovery imputed to him, but many long-headed farmers had found it out long ago ; and asking, was it not the same thing to raise the price of corn aud to prevent its falling inconveniently low ? The question being put, the original motion was carried by at least two to one. Thanks having been voted to the Chairman, the meeting, at the sug- gestion of Mr. Moore, gave three cheers for the electors of Durham.

The prisoners charged with the destruction of the Belgoed gate were finally examined before the Magistrates at Swansea, on Thursday, and committed for trial. The only witness against them was John Jones, a rioter turned informer ; who was declared unworthy of credit by witnesses adduced for the defence ; his own brother contradicting part of his evidence. Among the committed prisoners, is Mr. G. Vaughan, of Pontardulais ; to whom a package, containing twelve fowling-pieces, a brace of pistols, bullet-mould, and percussion-caps, had been addressed, but intercepted at Swansea. A letter, written after Mr. Vaugban's arrest, countermanding the order for the arms, had also been intercepted.

At a meeting of the Kidwelly Road Trust, on Tuesday, it was deter- mined to abandon thirteen out of fifteen tolls within the trust.

The correspondent of the Times, continuing his researches into the cause of the Rebecca riots, rather inculpates certain Dissenting ministers- " I was rather surprised to learn during my inquiries, that the text I sent to you some time ago, the 24th chapter of Genesis and 60th verse, on which the Rebeccaites are said to found their proceedings, has frequently been preached from in the Baptist, Independent, and Dissenting chapels, and that the preachers have advised the people to their outrageous proceedings. The Wes- ley= Methodist preachers, on the contrary, have pursued an opposite course, and have urged the people not to break the law. This sect, however, in Wales, is not by fa: so numerous as the various sects of Dissenters. I have been in- formed that Mr. Chambers, a Magistrate of Llanelly, and a gentleman of con- siderable influence, sent an address round to all the Dissenting Ministers, in Welsh and in English, urging them to read it to their congregations, and exhort them to refrain from these outrages ; but these Dissenting ministers of peace, as I have heard, without an exception, refused to do this, stating as their ex- cuse that they durst not do it. 'This fact exhibits in strong colours one of the worst features of a voluntary system of religion."

He has "wormed out what is at the root of the toll-bar grievances ": every fresh inquiry shows the abuses to be worse— "it happens that in this county the genus of pettifogging and jobbing attornies is pretty numerous. Wales, as everybody conversant with a London attorney's office, or with the business which passes through a barrister's or pleader s chambers, well knows, is notorious for its spirit of litigation ; which is, no doubt, chiefly owing to the chevaliers d'industrie who live by the law. These 'gentlemen,' when lawsuits were scarce, often found it a splendid 'spec' to get up a new road. There were travelling-expenses, the costs' of getting a prIvate act pegged through both Houses of Parliament, and the prospect of getting the appointment of 'clerk to the trust' in futuro : and accordingly, there are, as 1 informed you in a former letter, no less than fourteen distinct trusts in this county ; and, of course, fourteen 'clerks' and fourteen surveyors of the roads, all receiving heavy salaries—in fact, fourteen different manage- ments to be paid out of the toll.. And now for the way in which this system works. When a new road is beat up in the way I have described, a few gentry By the accidental breaking of some machinery at the Battelovr Colliery, Fenton, in the Potteries, on Wednesday, four men were thrown down a shaft and killed on the spot. The bodies were terribly' mutilated; parts being broken of and dispersed to a considerable dia- 1 tance. in the neighbourhood subscribe a few hundred pounds ; then the private act of Parliament is obtained, including a certain district, and giving power to the trustees to take under their management such roads as exist, and which have been already made by the farmers. So far all goes on swimmingly. The new road is begun, and the trustees are short of cash. Toll-gates are put on these farmers' roads, where they never before existed; but still money must be borrowed to go on with. Then comes another little bit of jobbery—the quid pro quo. The trustees have money to lend, are gentlemen of the neighbour- hood—magistrates : who so fitting to lend money to the trusts as these gentle- men ? They accordingly advance money, taking securities called tallies,' which are, in fact, bonds for securing the repayment to them of their principal out of the tolls, and interest at 5 per cent. But the new road, often not being much needed, is not a very paying road: there is not much traffic upon it ; and it ia found, that though the toll-bars on the trust are as numerous as the trustees dare make them, yet the tolls taken will do little more than pay the 5 per cent interest secured by the tallies, and the salaries of the 'clerk ' and 'surveyor '; and then these gentlemen trustees come 'down upon' the farmers under the provisions of the General Turnpike Act, and by indictment compel them to repair in many cases their own roads, which they themselves originally made, and also every day extract from them a grievous toll, nominally to repair the roads, in reality to pay 5 per cent to a neighbouring magistrate on an investment of his money. But this is not all: from being so numerous, these trusts intersect one another perpetually throughout the country; and though all the tolls taken on the roads of one trust may not be by themselves very oppressive, (though quite enough, it continually happens that you cannot go nine or ten miles without crossing two or three separate trusts, each of course demanding separate tolls. If, on arriving at a turnpike-gate scarcely a mile from one you have paid toll at, you again have toll demanded, and naturally enough ask, How is this ? I paid toll not a mile from here ? ' you are answered, 'Oh, we have nothing to do with that ; this is another trust —' No connexion with the people next door.' And now comes perhaps the worst feature in the case. The tolls are farmed, and let out to the highest bidder ; and it is quite common for these toll-col- lectors.to charge a higher toll in the country places than they are entitled to. If the farmers, exasperated at this and at the way in which toll is demanded of them, refuse to pay, or pay and summon the toll-collector before the Magis- trate of the district, what is their remedy ? The Magistrate who adjudicates upon the case is also a trustee of the road : but he is more—he is a tally-holder and a cestui que trust; he has merged his fiduciary character, and become bona fide an owner of the road and its tolls ; and is in reality adjudicating in his own case, where his own interest is concerned in the charge, and is opposed to that of the farmers. The result may be easily imagined. The farmers get no redress ; and the clerk to the trust,' in defending the case, pockets some fees out of the poor oppressed farmers' pockets. Is not this monstrous ? "It is to be hoped that the Government Commissioner will inquire into this, the very root of the evil; and that the Government will pass a general act to consolidate all these trusts, and thus insure a moderate and uniform rate of toll throughout the county, and at the same time still enable the keeping up good roads by knocking off the salaries of thirteen clerks' and thirteen sur- veyors,' and (if possible) gradually abolishing the tallies and lessening the rate of interest paid. If this be done, we shall not hear much more of the war against the turnpike-gates." Mr. Hall, the Magistrate, who was sent down by Government to in- quire, began the investigation at Cardigan on Saturday. He has had such of the farmers as wish to say any thing before him separately ; thinking that they would make a more full statement of their grievances than if influenced by the presence of their neighbours.

Several of the farmers afterwards repaired to the reporter of the Times, who was at the same inn. They fully confirmed statements made by that writer. We select a few points in this more formal evi- dence. The payment of toll at a turpike does not free the vehicle for the rest of the day ; it is free to return, but it must pay on repassing another time; and so on, paying every alternate time. A man who had contracted to carry building-stone from a quarry to a gentleman's house for 4s. 6d. a day, threw up the contract, because the tolls on the first day came to 5s. The new Poor-law is unpopular, for many of the usual reasons ; but there are two especial reasons in those districts: under the old plan the paupers were employed by the inhabitants, so that rates were not needed or paid; and as the people of each village are almost all related, it causes them shame when any are declared paupers. An increasing demand on the score of tithes is another grievance.

The state of the mining districts does not improve. While works are successively thrown out of employment in South Staffordshire, poor-rates increase enormously : one colliery is mentioned on which the rate is 400!.; on a single pit it is 251.! There is an extensive miners as- sociation, which was originally established at Wakefield; Newcastle- upon-Tyne is now its head-quarters ; and it is said to number between thirty and forty thousand enrolled members, and to extend to Scotland and Ireland. Meetings have this week been held at Westbromwich, Walsall, and Manchester. A general strike for wages is contemplated.

On Tuesday, the Mayor and Corporation of Folkestone, and the Di- rectors of the Dover and South-eastern Railway Company, celebrated the opening of the communication by regular steam-packets be- tween the ports of Folkestone and Boulogne, by a public breakfast and other festivities, at the South-eastern Pavilion Tavern at Folkestone. At half-past twelve o'clock, the City of Boulogne steamer came into the harbour, and landed M. Adam, the Mayor, the authorities of Boulogne, and the gentlemen of that place invited to be present at the festivaL They were received, with salutes of artillery, by the Mayor and authori- ties of Folkestone. The railroad and its works were inspected; and at four o'clock, the hosts, their French visiters, and about two hundred gentlemen, sat down to breakfast. The Mayor of Folkestone took the chair : on his right was Mr. Blaxendale, a Director ; on hit left, M. Adam ; with several other French gentlemen ; Mr. Mar- joribaults, the Member for Folkestone, Mr. Cardwell, &c. The Mayor of Boulogne gave the first toast, the health of Queen Victoria ; the Mayor of Folkestone the next, the health of King Louis Philippe ; the third toast was "the Royal Families of England and France." It was near midnight before the steamer departed with the French guests. [By the route thus opened, we received, about six o'clock on Tuesday evening, the Paris papers of Monday ; by the Calais road they do not usually reach London till Wednesday morning.]