THE WALSALL ELECTION.
TILE indignation with which the Whig organs received the first intelligence of the proceedings at Walsall has cooled down con- siderably. They have magnanimously agreed to an amnesty for the ontrectaance of the Anti-Corn-law League, and support its President for the purpose of keeping out the Tory. But though `the Whigs smooth their wrinkled brows, traces of the late storm may still be seen there, indicative that the weather is not yet quite settled. There is almost as much of threatening as of promise in the language in which the Morning Chronicle announces its "armed peace" with the League. " The Anti-Corn-law League is on its trial as well as Mr. Smith "; and "a time will come when, for the sake Of avoiding a repetition of dangerous mistakes, it may be ne- cessary to overhaul the proceedings from the commencement of the 'Walsall election."
Although the Whigs may find it convenient to postpone their review of "proceedings from the commencement" till some time 'has elapsed, and the events are dimly and confusedly remembered, It strikes us that the cause of truth may be better served by putting them on record now, while they are fresh in men's memo- ries.
The announcement of Mr. Frecn's intention to accept the Chil- tern Hundreds brought into the field Mr. GLADSTONE, a Conserva- tive candidate, and Mr. LYTTELTON, brother of Lord Lyyreurost 'and nephew of Earl SPENCER, a Ministerial candidate. There being no declaration in favour of free trade in the address of either, the Council of the Anti-Corn-law League, acting upon the re- solution of the Delegates in London, determined to send a deputa- tion to address the electors of Walsall on the necessity of choosing as representative a decided opponent of the Corn-laws. The deputation arrived in time to be present at Mr. LYTTELTON'S first public meeting with the electors, on 'Monday the 28th Decem- ber. At the close of the proceedings, Mr. ACLAND stated that a .deputation from the League was present, for the purpose of ascer- laining the opinions of the candidates regarding the policy of a .total repeal of the Corn-laws; but added, that the question being one which required deliberation, he would not press Mr. LYTTEL- TON for an immediate answer. The meeting separated without any opinion on the subject of the Corn-laws being expressed 'by Mr. "Lyrrevrost or his supporters. A placard was put up calling upon the electors to withhold their promises until they had heard Mr. ACLAND'S address; and a canvass took place, (in which a deputation 'from Wolverhampton aided,) by which it was ascertained beyond a doubt, that the Corn-law Repealers in the borough were sufficiently numerous to dictate their terms to the Ministerial candidate. On 'Tuesday, Mr. SPENCER Lrrre.Leces intimated to the deputation, by letter—" I would vote for the total repeal of the Corn-laws when "I have ascertained that the interests of the country require it, and -therefore shall not object to the vote for an immediate inquiry into the effects of those laws." The reply was declared unsatisfactory by the deputation; and, about eight o'clock, as Mr. ACLAND was about to enter the Town-hall for the purpose of addressing the electors, Mr. LYTTLETON intimated to him that he could not stand against the feeling in favour of total and immediate repeal of the Corn-laws, and that, being unwilling to divide the Reformers, he would retire. After Mr. ACLAND'S meeting with the electors, a re- quest was forwarded to the Council of the League, to procure an ..Anti-Corn-law candidate ; and after some little delay, Mr. J. B. SMITH, the President of the League, consented to stand. There is no saying what a skilful advocate may or may not make out of these facts when sufficient time has elapsed to allow him to use a little liberty with them in stating his case. At present, however, we see nothing in them to justify the attacks made upon the Anti-Corn-law League by Whig and Tory. Mr. GLAD- STONE says—" I cannot recognize the right of the Anti-Corn-law or any other League to send deputations to catechize candidates, or interfere in the politics of places to which they are strangers." The Whigs are muttering the same thing in private, although they have not yet ventured to say it aloud. The Anti-Corn-law League, consisting of members similarly employed and having similar inte- rests to the electors of Walsall, send a deputation to them when about to be engaged in an election, to remind them of the necessity of insisting upor . one particular qualification in whoever aspires to be their representative. They do this without concealment ; they do it by argument alone, not by intimidation or corruption. In all this there is nothing dishonourable, or calculated to do harm, but the 'reverse. Do the Ministerial and Opposition partisans expect that the various constituencies will act alone without taking counsel with each other ? Do they venture to say that the constituencies would net more wisely by acting each for itself without concert or arrangement ? It is rather cool in these gentlemen to tell the con- .stituencies -to refrain from interfering with each other's elections, when it -is well known that both organized parties (Whig and Tory) interfere, or attempt to interfere, in every election through- out the-kingdom—when it is known that they sometimes do this covertly, and by means not always so irreproachable as those of the Anti:Corn-law league ; as witness the report of the Committee .on the Ludlow Election.
But the main clamour against the League on account of the pro- ceedings at Walsall has been raised by the Ministerialists. The League is accused of embarrassing and endangering the Ministry.
It is sufficiently apparent that the Council of the League have no confidence in the Ministry ; and that they have sent a deputation to Walsall not to strengthen the hands of Ministers, but to strengthen their own party in the House of Commons. But Ministers say that the Corn-law question is an open question in the Cabinet : then if it be so, it was easy for them to evade a col- lision with the League by putting up an Anti-Corn-law candidate for Walsall. When the Ministerial party put up Mr. LYTTELTON- who, if he has ever thought about the Corn-laws at all, is friendly to them—it challenged opposition from the League, knowing that the League had repeatedly declared its intention to support none but Anti-Corn-law candidates—knowing that the return of a Pro- Corn-law candidate for Walsall would weaken the League by en- abling the supporters of the Corn-laws to say, " Why, even the manufacturing boroughs are for us ! " If any overt act of hostility has been committed at Walsall, it is by the Mi- nisterial party, and against the Corn-law Repealers. Nor is this all. Up to the present hour we have not heard of any hostile feeling towards Ministers being expressed by the League or any of its accredited agents, although sufficient provocation has been given by the Ministerialists. Although Mr. LYTTELTON intimated his resolution to withdraw from the contest, with perfect fairness and civility—which was acknowledged by Mr. A CLAM) in the same temper, in his address to the electors—Mr. LYTTELTON'S retiring address was composed in a very different style. And the ingolence of the attack upon the League in the Morning Chronicle of Satur- day last has rarely been surpassed in the annals of political in- vective. The League, however, and Mr. SMITH, have not allowed themselves to be misled by this empty din : they keep quietly per- severing, neither attacking nor courting the Ministerial party, solely intent upon getting a vote against the Corn-laws by the Walsall election. The Whigs have had all the anger and railing to them- selves.
In acting thus, the Council of the League have done wisely as regards the immediate question they have in hand. It is only by showing that they have the power to give and withhold seats in Parliament, that the League can insure attention to their com- plaints. But the good service done by the League in its proceed- ings at Walsall, is far beyond the mere advanoement of the Anti- Corn-law cause : an example has been set which cannot fail sooner
or later to have a healthy influence upon all elections. he Li- berals of Walsall, as usual, instead of looking about them for a man of talent and business—a man whose principles they knew—had invited a young gentleman, a cornet in the Guards—utterly ig- norant of trade and its relations—because he was the nephew of Lord SPENCER and brother of Lord LYTTELTON. The old dull farce of "up with the Whigs" and "up with the Tories" was about to be reenacted. The Anti-Corn-law League broke through the ar- rangements; reminded the electors that it was no holyday game, but serious business, they were about to be engaged in ; and have converted the sham fight between two great factions into a real contest between those who want Government to abolish old abuses and those who wish to support things as they are.