6 JANUARY 1906, Page 11

Mr. Chamberlain addressed two crowded meetings in West Birmingham on

Tuesday night. It was true, he said, that the Nationalists were harmless as long as the Unionist policy prevailed, but with Sir H. Campbell-Bannerman in power there was every possibility of Ireland becoming a "jumping- off place" for every enemy of this country. Mr. Chamberlain then turned to Tariff Reform, and, rashly repenting of his recent abstention from figures, relapsed into statistics, with disastrous results, as any one will see who reads the West- minster Gazette of Wednesday. We may note, however, his declaration that he would not put a duty on raw materials, and his strange argument in defence of a 2s. duty on foreign corn,—viz., that the remission of the is. Corn-duty did not make the slightest difference in the price of the loaf. If that be so, why stop at a 2s. duty ? Perhaps the most striking feature of the speeches was the unmistakable evidence of the presence of a hostile minority, interruptions and questions being frequent. Three years ago Mr. Chamberlain could play upon a Birming- ham audience like an old fiddle. Much of the wizard's spell remains, but it is clear that his speeches no longer carry the same conviction as before May, 1903.