A conference of "delegates from the Branch Societies of the National Reform Association, and also from other political Reform Associations," was opened by a meeting in St. Martin's Hall, on Tuesday. On the plat- form, were Mr. Hume, Mr. George Thompson, Mr. Geach, Mr. W. J. Fox, Mr. T. M'Cullagh, Mr. Hey-worth, Mr. J. B. Smith, all Members of Parliament; Sir Charles Napier, Mr. Edward Miall, the Reverend J. Burnet, and Mr. Ernest Jones, of London ; Mr. Heywood, Mr. Haugh- ton, and Mr. Lattimore, from the provinces. Sir Joshua Walmsley claimed, as President of the National Reform Association, the Council of which had convened the meeting, to address it before the election of a chairman.
The Council proposed that the meeting should consider--1. The means for securing -" to the utmost possible extent" the constitutional rights of the people ; 2. How far the bill before Parliament [Lord John Russell's .J is calculated towards gaining that object ; 3. The best future course for securing to the voter the independent exercise of the franchise. He dismissed the bill before Parliament "with a very few words," as a measure which, denying the ballot, and restricting the vote to about half a million, or one in eight of those he deems entitled to it, besides other defects, "has the ap- pearance of an instal rather than a boon." No one can regret its fate, but '
all should rather rejoice that it no longer exists to impede efforts to obtain a measure more consistent with the just demands of the people and the inte. rests of the country. He then touched on the demands of the National Re.
fain Association, not to oxtail& them over again fully, but to clear away the only misapprehension that exists in reference to them—a misapprehen. sion -Which has arisen out of a misinterpretation of the first clause in the de- claration of their objects, euriset forth on the card of membership. " That clause was a definition of the qualification for the franchise. Now it had been most erroneously supposed, that by the claiming to be rated to the re- lief of the poor,' was meant the actual payment of rates, as a condition of voting. Such was not the case; the exact contrary was the fact. An that the Association meant was, that the existing parochial machinery should be retained, as the best adapted for the purpose of local registration, under local supervision and self-government ; but the right to be upon the register, and to vote, should be wholly independent and irrespective of the payment
of rates. This simple statement would, be hoped, set the question at rest,
and give assurance to the friends of reform everywhere, that the association would most strenuously oppose all attempts to insert a ratepaying clause in any future Reform Bill ; believing that such clause would be the fruitful source of oppression, chicanery, and fraud, and little better than a penal en- actment—visiting upon honest men the penalty of disfranchisement for the non-prepayment of a due, which the parochial authorities have ample power to enforce. Proceeding to expatiate on the successful operations of the Association—. its six hundred and upwards of public meetings throughout the country—he
admitted, in the midst of his general statement, that the Association has had to contend with difficulty and opposition, "arising partly from the antipathy to the society, open or concealed, of mereparty politicians, but more from the apathy and inertness of the unenfranchised classes." But while admit-
ting and explaining the principal reason why their progress has not been so rapid and great as could have been desired, he acknowledged gratefully the readiness with which large numbers of the producing classes had united
with them, and made concessions for the sake of coOperation, while at the same time holding more advanced opinions ; and he particularly acknow- ledged, with sincere and deep-felt gratitude, the sanen'on and valuable aid
they had received in various places from Christian ministers, who perceived the intimate eonnexion between the improvement of the social and civil
condition of the people and their own success in the discharge of the sacred
duties which devolve upon them. Recurring to the principles of the Asso- ciation and the course it advocates, he said—" for himself, he would not unite in a general agitation upon exclusively Free-trade principles, and would
counsel his countrymen who want not only cheap bread bit cheap govern- ment, and a constant and effectual control over the national purse, to em-
brace the present favourable opportunity of securing the perpetual blessings of free trade, and a general amelioration of existing burdens by means of a radical change in the representation." Having made these preliminary explanations Sir Joshua Walmsley pro- posed that the chair should be taken by Mr. flume,—"a gentleman whose name must be well known to them all, but whose exertions in behalf of the people would be better known when he had passed away from them." The formal business of the meeting was then opened by the proposal that certain gentlemen should be chosen as a committee to frame proposi-
tions for submission to the Conference, and to regulate the order of pro-
ceedings. A. step or two had been made in these formalities,—Mr. Ro- bert Heywood and Mr. Ralph Walter, had been nominated Vice-Presi- dents, and Mr. George Thompson Secretary of the Conference,—when a compact body of Chartists challenged further advance ; seeming to fear that means would be taken to prevent them from putting forward resolutions
embodying their principles, or even from speaking on the resolutions offi- cially presented. Mr. Ernest Jones and Mr. Shaw objected to the nomi- nation of the Committee : subsequently, Mr. Bronterre O'Brien was no- minated as one, but his name found no seconder. At last the Committee were allowed to retire and prepare a programme.
While they were absent, speeches were made by the Chairman and the Reverend J. Burnet. Mr. Hume earnestly besought Mr. Jones and the other Chartists not to repeat the error they fell into twelve years since, and again, by their conduct, stay the progress of Reform : he assured them that, in accepting the present compromise, for it was nothing more he did not himself, as a Chartist, abate one jot of his own opinions ; and that he considers the question of Reform more important than any ques- tion of 'Free-trade, because if the same efforts had been made to carry Reform that had been made for Free-trade, they would have carried every necessary reform long since. Therefore he urged on them, that reform should, for the future, be number one in their list of grievances ; and that once obtained, all monopolies in trade mast soon disappear.
The Coatmittee of procedure brought up their programme, and the meeting adopted it unanimously. The speechmaking then set in form- ally ; each orator being limited to ten minutes. Mr. W. J. Fox M.P., Mr. George Dawson, Mr. Torrens 114Cullagh M.P., some provincial speakers, the Reverend Mr. Parsons of Glimeester, Mr. Ernest Jones, Mr. Ingram -Lockhart, and Mr. George Thompson, successively delivered
their sentiments. Mr. M'Cullagh, following soon after the Reverend I. Burnet and Mr. George Dawson, was so struck with their generous sense and jocose tact of speech, and with the good-humour with which their
admonitions were received by the meeting, that he felt sure they would escape the only real danger in their path—disagreement and 'distraction
in their own camp. But soon afterwards, Mr. Dick, a London Chartist
of Protectionist views, awakened so much ill-feeling by his speech, that Mr. Le Blond, for the Chartists of Bradford, repudiated sympathy both with Mr. Dick and his sentiments ; and Mr. Holyoake confessed that "it would not be in the power of tyranny to say anything against the en- franchisement of the people so bitter as to quote what had been seen that day, if that was to be taken as an example of the temper and intelligence of the people." -After a speech from Mr. G. Thompson praising Mr. Ernest Jones, and "lashing" Mr. Dick, there arose an uproar -which "almost changed into a fight," end a resolution was moved to limit the right of speaking and voting at the Conference : hut Mr. Hume and the more in- fluential speakers expressing their confidenoe that the scenes of that day would not be repeated, the Conference adjourned, in comparative tran- quillity.
The Conference sat again an Wednesday morning. After speeches by many delegates, in the course of some of which a little of the dissentient feeling shown on the .first day again broke out, an address to the country, embodying the programme of the National Reform Association, as a real extension of popular rights that will render those still withheld easier of attainment, was unanimously adopted. In the evening of Wednesday, an aggregate meeting of the Reformers present at the Conference, and of the general public, assembled again, heard speeches, and passed resehrtions. -At a meeting of the trades of London, summoned by the Amalgamated Society of Engineers, and held in St. Martin's Hall on Thursday, it was stated by Mr. Newton, that the funds of the Society have been diminish- ed from 25,000/. to 17,0001.; and it is therefore necessary to determine speedily the steps to be taken for establishing cooperative workshops. A committee was appointed to convene a conference of the Metropiliten trades to carry out the plan.
The new Lard Chancellor took the oaths of office in the Court of Chancery, Lincoln's Inn Hall, on Monday, as Sir Edward Sugden ; the patent of his Peerage as Baron St. Leonard's not having been then perfected. The at- tendance of the bar and the public was greater than on any similar occasion since the swearing in of Lord Brougham.
Mr. Simon, the author of the reports of the decisions in the Court of the late Vice-Chancellor of England, has been made Chief Secretary to the Lord chancellor; an appointment equally praised by the friends of Sir Edward Sugden and of Mr. Simon himself.
At the Thames Police Office, on Saturday, Mr. Hetherington and Mr. Foster, masters of coal-ships, were summoned for infringing the act of Par- liament for regulating the coalwhippers. The men have recently struck for an advance of wages,—that is, instead of working the coals at 7d. per ton, they ask 9d. • the former price, they say, not enabling them to support their families. The operation of the law is this. A shipmaster applies at the office of the Registrar of Coalwhippers for a gangof men, tendering the price he deems sufficient ; if that prioe is rejected by the registered men, the master is at liberty to employ other labourers provided he does not give them any " advantage " over the terms he offered to the coalwhippers. In the present cases the masters, for a gang of nine men, offered 7d. a ton ; the registered men rejecLed the offer. The masters got other men, through a publican "middle- man," still paying only 7d. a ton ; but there were ten men in one gang and twelve in the other. This gave a "greater advantage" than the registered men—a gang of nine—would have possessed. It was contended for the de- fendants that no "greater advantage' had been made out. But the Magis- trate held that the charge was substantiated ; he fined one of the defendants twenty shillings, and the other forty shillings.
Three young women applied to the Bow Street Magistrate, an Tuesday, under the following circumstances. They were hired by Mr. Butler, a then- hical agent living near Covent Garden, to go to Paris to perform ; the agent having been instructed by a Mr. Mavis' an Englishman living at Paris, who assumes various names, and pretends at times that he is a Greek. No money was paid them at Paris ; they fell into the most abject state of poverty, and were eventually, sent home by the British Consul, at the expense of the Eng- lish Charitable Fund. Mr. Butler stated that he was not aware of the cha- racter of Mavis when he acted as his agent. Mr. Jardine thought the case a fit one for relief, and ordered a sum of money to be given from the poor-box. A servant of Dr. Bushman of Nottingham Place, during his masters ab- sence from town last week, decamped with property, chiefly plate, to the value of nearly 160/. He has hitherto escaped detection, though the Police have traced sixty-three pieces of the plate to one pawnbroker.
Messrs. Wilson, omnibus-proprietors on a very large wale, have for some time suspected that their conductors have robbed them. They hired a man to ride in certain omnibuses and count the number of passengers on a jour- nay: this led to the detection of embezzlement; some of the conductors not accounting at the end of the journey for the full number of passengers. Three delinquents have been convicted at the Middlesex Sessions, and sea to prison for a year. It was stated that since the commencement of the proceedings against the culprits Messrs. Wilson's receipts had increased 4304 a week.
An alarming accident occurred at the Euston Square station of the North- western Railway, on Wednesday. A train was coming down the Camden in- cline moved by its own weight, when the break gave way, and the carriages rushed into the station at a high speed. There was a severe shock, and a number of the passengers were cut and bruised.
A large amount of property was destroyed by a fire at Whiteehapel on Tuesday night The tire broke out on the premises of Memoirs. Thorpe and Co., Osborne Street, paper-stainers,—a large building, formerly a double sugar-house, which it gutted; and it damaged neighbouring premises.