An Anti-Corn-law " festival" was held at Birmingham Town-hall on Monday, to receive a deputation from the League ; consisting of Mr. Cobden, Mr. Laurence Heyworth, Mr. Brookes, and Mr. John Bright. Mr. Seholefield, the Member, took the chair, supported by the gentlemen named, Mr. Muntz, the other Member for Birmingham, the Reverend Hugh Hutton, Mr. Betts, Mr. Boultbee, and the great majority of the Town-Council. About 1,200 or 1,400 were present, including several ladies. In the course of Mr. Cobden's speech, he alluded to the rumoured Ministerial measure for the further modification of the Corn-law- It was said in some of the newspapers that Sir Robert Peel was about to propose a duty of 12s. or 6s. upon the grain of foreign countries, just in pro- portion as those countries might be disposed to reciprocate the feelings of liber- ality which v e evinced towards them. Mr. Cobden cautioned the people of Bir- mingham and the people of England not to allow the Minister to interfere with their affairs on the olea of reciprocity. If they did, they might rely upon it they would find tlo mselv2s in a worse position than they were. in at present. The whole argument amounted to this—that the manufacturers of this country should not be alloy ed to send goods abroad lest they should get nothing in return for them. He believed that the next attempt to settle the Corn ques• tion would be under the idea of reciprocity ; but, he repeated, they might rely upon it, if they suffered the attempt to succeed, there would be no hope for the final and satisfactory settlement of this question for many years to come.
The meeting was addressed by several other speakers, including Mr. Muntz ; who waived his desire for repealing the Corn-laws through an alteration of the currency, in favour of the present movement. At the --close, subscriptions amounting to upwards of 2001. were announced.
be Aylesbury News publishes a letter from Lord Nugent to the Re erend John Harrison on the condition of the agricultural labourers. With a good deal of argument against the Corn-laws, it contains some statements of fact. Referring to a previous letter, Lord Nugent says.— " I showed that even at the present price of provisions, no single man in this neighbourhood can maintain himself in health and strength upon less than -8s. 3 d. weekly; and no married man with an average family of three children and their mother, upou less than 14s. a week, exclusive of harvest-wages. I beg those who think that in this I overstated the both, to give their calcula- tion of the necessaries of life and of the cost of these things to the poor at retail village prices. • • * Some wretched men I fell in with, a few days ago. I questioned them. I heard their statement. I inquired into its truth. It has been confirmed to me. They were from the parish of Waddes- don. In that parish a great portion of the labouring poor are without employ, and, therefore, without means of subsistence. Those who are employed are employed according to the iniquitous and ruinous system of wages apportioned to the extent of families, and received for work, under the name of wages, 8s. a week to men with families, and to single men 4s.; the latter allowance being less than one-half of what I have shown to be necessary for proper subsistence. 1 have lately returned from passing a fortnight in Leicestershire. I find the general rate of agricultural wages there to be 12s. a week; in many instances, 13s. ; in some, higher ; varying according to the quality of the labourer. And there, coals, a large and most necessary item in the expenses of life, are sold at the rate of 12s. the ton, at the labourer's door. Here the labourer can- not buy them at a less rate than 20s. at the wharf, or in his own village, at the retail-dealer's, at a less rate than from 27s. to 30s. the ton; in the one case, with- -ant deducting the expense of carriage, therefore, at 75 per cent dearer, and in the other, with that deduction, and the profits of the retail-dealer, at from 125 to 150 per cent dearer."
The Chartist section of the Conference broke up on Friday night, after resolving that the People's Charter had been adopted by " the -Conference."
On the same day, the Complete Suffrage Conference finally adopted " the People's Bill," and a plan of future agitation ; and then broke up.
Great complaints have been heard in our streets [Aylesbury] this week. The Income-tax Commissi ,ners have been assessing the amount of taxation to be levied on her Majesty's lieges in this neighbourhood, and have given a great deal of unnecessary trouble. Parties from all the villages round about here (some of them labourers, earning but 10s. or 12s, a week) were compelled to attend at the Court-house on Monday, and were kept waiting two or three drys, thus losing their time, and being put to expense and inconvenience. In many cases the costs of the appeal amounted to more than three years' payment of the tax sought to be imposed.—Aylesbury News.
At the Gloucester Quarter-Sessions, on Tuesday, the Chairman, Mr. P. B. Purnell, entered into sonic particulars respecting the recent in- quiry made by order of the Home Office into the case of Beale and the treatment of the prisoners at Northleach House of Correction. The Commission consisted of two Prison-Inspectors, an eminent surgeon, and a Queen's counsel—
The inquiry hated two days, and he could not help expressing his regret tha
it was not conducted in a more public manner. He regretted also that those who brought forward the charges, and who so warmly interested themselves in the cause of humanity, did not, although invited, attend. Had they done so, they certainly would have seen that the inquiry was not only moat ably con- ducted, but conducted also with the most perfect impartiality. They might have seen that the dark, damp, and dismal cellar, was in reality a windowed sort of back-kitchen scullery, or brewhouse, such as is common in Cheltenham ; they might have seen that the potato-" bury" was in fact an inner cellar, in which a bath was placed, and in which a small quantity of potatoes were kept ; they might have heard some of the witnesses who gave evidence before the Coroner's inquisition repeat that testimony, and afterwards one or two of the number, in answer to questions put to them by the Commissioners, frankly ac- knowledge that several of the most important statements they had made were false. They might have gone with the witness who swore that a gallon of water stood in his cell, and they would have seen on accompanying him that he could not point out a part where a teacup-full could have remained.
Mr. Purnell, however, corroborated some of the charges against the arrangements— One thing had struck him whilst attending the investigation into the case of Beale, and a most searching investigation it was,—namely, that the diet watt not too little for the work : it was not very different from the diet of an ordi- nary day-labourer. Neither did the work itself appear to be harder, perhaps not so hard as the labour of an agricultural servant. One circumstance, how-
ever, forced itself strongly upon his notice, and it was, that those who worked
upon the treadmill were within eighteen inches of the roof of the shed, which was covered with blue tiles ; these tiles attracted the heat, and ea intense was it in summer, that at his own residence sealing-wax was found to melt within the same distance from a roof as the men stood who were placed upon the treadmill. In front of the men was a board, also within a short distance
of their faces, so that the air which proceeded from their lungs could not escape
freely. There was a board, moreover, on each side of theprisoner ; so that, to fact, be stood as if in a sentry-box, with the opening at backjinstead of the front. The effect of this was excessive perspiration. if the prisoner happened to be fat, it must be enormous ; if, lean, it would of course be less. It struck him, that the died was sufficient for the work, but that it was not sufficient to sup- port the excessive drain of perspiration. Looking at the heated state in which the bodies of the prisoners were on leaving the treadmill, and considering that up till lately they had only an iron bedstead or a stone bench to sit upon, it could not be otherwise than that those who had a tendency to pulmonary complaints should have their illness aggravated. As to diet, he thought the attention of the surgeon should be called to it with the view of ascertaining whether he considered it sufficient to meet the excessive waste of perspiration. The Chairman did not know any precaution better than that of making the prisoners walk twenty minutes in quick time and ten minutes in ordinary time before going into their cells.
Mr. Purnell adverted to uninvestigated charges of tyranny against the officers of the prison ; and after some discussion, it was resolved that the Visiting Justices be requested to institute an inquiry into the charges—the expense to be borne by the county.
At the Bury Petit Sessions, on Saturday, the Reverend Jonathan Ackroyd was tried on two separate charges—for being a rogue and a vagrant, and for having obtained money under false pretences. He had gone about the country representing himself to be the "incum- bent " of a church at Skircoat, near Halifax, which was in debt up- wards of 2,000/. on a mortgage, and said that he wanted to obtain contri- butions to liquidate the debt ; whereas he had sold the chapel long before. In this manner Mr. Ackroyd obtained large sums. A list of contribu- tors was found in his possession ; and the amount of subscriptions, as there stated, was 2,2491. It appeared from the evidence, that the pri- soner had before been in custody : on one occasion, he was taken up for obtaining goods by means of false bills of exchange, but let off easily by the Magistrates on showing his clerical papers. The counsel for the defence attempted to prove that his client acted under a mis- take, without any intent to deceive ; but he was sentenced to imprison- ment and hard labour for three months on the first charge, and was committed to the Sessions for trial on the second.
A gang of forgers has been defected at Halifax ; and on Monday they underwent a final examination before the Magistrates. Their names are Zachariah, John, James, Thomas, and Betty Holden, William Barret, James Burnes, and Richard Parker. Mr. William Jones, a Superintendent of Police, described the finding, concealed in a barn- loft on premises occupied by the prisoners Holden, two wooden blocks of the Government stamp, a copperplate of five-pound notes of the Wirksworth and Ashbourne Banks; in a tin box were twenty-one forged notes of that bank, and ten forged five-pound notes of the Halifax and Huddersfield Union Bank ; and two forged five-pound Bank of England notes, and two torn pieces of a Yorkshire note, were found in a tin box buried in a field near the house. A principal wit- ness against the,prisoners was one of the gang ; who was brought up in custody, havingleen committed to Nottingham Castle for trial on a charge of uttering forged notes- " About two years ago," he said, " I became acquainted with the Hoidens. I was told I might get from them either ' bulls ' or 'half-balls,' (sovereigns and half-sovereigns,) or 'couters ' or 'half-touters' (crowns or half-crowns). I applied to them for a loan of money. In a short time John went out ; and in about ten or fifteen minutes Thomas went through a door which opened into a barn, and in a few minutes returned and said, 'Now I'll walk with you.' We walked out up the hill about a quarter of a mile ; and, after looking all round, he gave me two five-pound notes, and asked when I should be that way again I said, in about two months; and he said, You can have some more then, if you want any.' We parted, and I passed the notes, and have heard no more about them. In about eight or ten weeks I went again; and one of them asked how business went, and so on. I answered that I had made a few pounds, and would repay them if they wanted it. They answered they did not want it, but if 1 wanted a little more I might have it. I said a little would be of service; and one of them, I think Thomas, asked how much would do? I mentioned 20/., and was told that if I would wait a few days I might have it ; and in the mean time I might get my victuals there, and be at no expense but for my lodg- ings. I slept two or three nights at the Shoulder of Mutton in Hebden Bridge, and ate at Holden's. On the third day I saw the same people, and John se- nior. After they had talked some slang language, which I did not understand, they all went out, except Thomas and Betty. Thomas went through the same door, and after a few minutes returned : and we walked out to somewhere near the same place as before. After looking round, he pulled four five-pound notes out of his pocket, and gave them to me. I asked him if there was any particular time that they wanted the money again : if so, I would send them either all or part. He said, ' No, it is not wanted; and if you send any, take care not to send it by post.' In about six weeks or two months I returned, having passed all the four notes, and had one returned as a bad one, which I had left in my portmanteau at Chesterfield. On this third visit, I first saw Thomas Holden in the court- yard; who asked me, in a cheerful smiling manner, how I had gone on? I I told him I had one of the notes returned as a had one. He laughed aloud, and said,' Why, did you not know they were all over the cross ? ' By which expression he said he meant ' all forged. We then went into the house, and I stayed there from ten till three o clock, and had some refreshment. I then asked Thomas, in the presence of Zechariah and Betty, what I was in debt ? Thomas replied, that as I had Lad one returned I should pay nothing for that then, but for the others I must pay 1/. 108. a piece. I paid Thomas the 71. 10s. in presence of Zechariah. I then said, 'As I have begun, I suppose I must go on : have you any more for me ?' One of them laughed and said, ' You have paid away the 'culls,' (signifying the worst-executed,) such as other parties have had returned to them, and which we have had for two or three years.' In about three or four days I went again, and saw the old man, and Thomas and Betty ; and one of them, I think the old man, told me they had nothing ready for me but three old Dewsbury notes, one of which was shat- tered, and the others very dirty. One of them went into the barn, and re- turned with something wrapped in a cloth or bag, and, opening it in my pre- sence, took out the three notes. I gave 2/. for the decent notes, and 10s. for the shattered one." The witness went on to prove with great minuteness a series of similar dealings with the prisoners; and identified the articles seiz-d at the Hoidens', including the large block, the plate, the metallic letters, (which he said were kept in a little bag.) and some black damask in which the roll of notes was found.
All the prisoners were committed to York for trial ; except Parker, who was remanded for the production of farther evidence.
A serious riot took place at Workington on Monday last, in conse- quence of the master-mariners wishing to reduce the wages of the sailors. About a fortnight ago, the latter had convened a meeting, and had come to the resolution, that if any one should go on board of his vessel until they had obtained the wages they were accustomed to have, he should be sewed up in a sheep-skin, which was provided for the occasion, and car- riedround the town as a mark of disgrace. Unluckily, one of their num- ber had disobeyed the resolution, and the punishment was carried into effect so severely that his life was despaired of. Five of the ringleaders of this affair were taken into custody, and committed to the treadmill at Carlisle; but when they should have been taken off in the coach, the sailors rose up in arms to rescue them, smashed in the coach-windows, and drove it out of the square twice. The Magistrates, iu this trying crisis, read the Riot Act, swore in a number of special constables, and broke up the chairs and tables in the room to arm them with ; and by these resolute means they finally overcame the mob, and the prisoners were taken off to Carlisle Gaol.—Carlisle Paper.
A disgraceful and fatal affray took place at Ashfleld, near Southamp- ton, on the 26th December. There was a shooting-match at a beer- shop in Toothill, near Romsey, at which about thirty people were pre- sent ; and here there was some quarrelling. A few of the party went to another beer-shop at Ashfield, where there was a dance. Shortly after, they were joined by James Savage, a robust old man, and a party of six other persons from Lee, who had been implicated in the quarrel at the shooting-match. While the riotous festivities were going on, one of the men in the room offered to fight any of the Lee men ; and a general fight ensued. Most of the Lee men were driven from the room ; but Savage was knocked down, beaten, and trampled on, and then thrown out of the house. He never spoke afterwards, but died early next morning. At the inquest, there was an attempt to prove that Savage had gone to the Ashfield beer-shop with the intention of finding seven persons to fight seven Lee men ; but the case was not made out. The Jury returned a verdict of " Manslaughter " against fourteen men, and they were committed to Winchester Gaol for trial' Mr. Webb, the employer of Savage and his sons, attributed a lamentable change in the morality of his workpeople to the multiplication of beer-shops.
There has been another bad fire in Liverpool ; which is described in the following abridged account from the Liverpool Mercury-
" It is our melancholy duty again to record a serious destruction of pro- perty by fire; a calamity now of almost daily occurrence, and for which Liver- poi has already obtained a painful notoriety. About a quarter to six o'clock on Thursday evening, shortly after the men had left work, a light was seen in one of the upper rooms of the extensive workshops of Messrs. Forster and Stewart, joiners and builders, situated between Lawton Street and Newington Bridge. In an almost inconceivably short space of time the whole building was one mass of fire. The reflection of the flames brilliantly illuminated Buld Street, Church Street, Lord Street ; and being seen far and near, many thousands of spectators were soon assembled. By five miautes.past six o'clock the fire had penetrated the roof, which soon afterwards fell in. The alarm having been given, a number of persons rushed to the spot, anxious to render all the assist- ance in their power. Information having been conveyed to the fire-police station, a company of firemen were quickly on the spot; and a plentiful supply of water having been obtained, the engines were brought quickly into play ; but the materials on the premises being of a very light and combustible character, the flames spread rapidly, and in a very short time the whole of the extensive workshop, perhaps the largest in the town, was in a complete blaze. There being a strong north-west wind blowing at the time, the fire extended in a direction parallel to the Arcade. Portions of burnt wood were seen flying in all directions ; some of which were carried a con- siderable distance in the air, several persons having their clothes burnt in con- sequence of ignited pieces fulling an them. The fire raged with fearful rapidity upwards of an hour, and shed such a glare over the town and neighbourhood, that we have been informed several persons who were crossing the river at the time in one of the packets were enabled to read distinctly. About twenty- live minutes to seven o'clock, the upper part of the western gable-end of the workshop fell with a tremendous crash upon the roof of the Arcade, and buried six of the shops in the ruins ; and a man who was seen coming out of one of them being missing, a search was immediately made, and by great exertion he was taken out, a beam having providentially fallen above him in such a man- ner as to preserve him from being crashed to death. About nine o'clock the flames were partially subdued ; so much so, that Mr. Whiny, the active Super- intendent of Police, considered there was little danger to be apprehended to the surrounding property. By great exertions the offices and stabling connected with the coucern, the former a handsome range of brick-building, fronting 'Lawton Street, were saved. The engine-house behind was also saved ; but all that was within the workshop was destroy ed—including a large quantity of skirting, joists, doors, and window-framing, &e. The premises, we have been given to understand, were insured in the Liverpool Insurance Company, and the loss is estimated at from 10,0004 to 12,0001. ; the sum insured was, it is said, about 7,0001. The premises of Messrs. Forster and Stewart, on the same site, were totally destroyed by fire on the night of Saturday 20th Decem- ber 1834; and on that occasion the progress of destruction was extremely rapid, the fire having been discovered about half-past eleven o'clock, and the whole place being in ruins shortly after midnight. The fire was then attributed to incendiarism, in consequence of some disputes between 'Messrs. Forster and Stewart and the Trades Unions ; and a reward of 5001. was then offered for in- formation, which, however, was never obtained. There were various rumours current about the origin of the recent fire, which, by some, was supposed to be somehow connected with the presence of steam sawing-mills on the premises ; but nothing certain is known."