10 APRIL 1880, Page 11


THE LIBERALS AND THE SHOPKEEPERS. ('To THE EDITOR OF TRH Spiouron."3 Sin,—You have more than once called attention, in former times, to the unreasonable tone of contempt adopted by Liberals towards the agricultural population in general, and towards the farmers in particular. That can no longer be complained of now; but is the old tone of contempt towards shop-keepers (particularly as distinguished from working-men) equally a thing of the past? If not, then the Liberals of other classes are singularly unworthy of the gallant support which they have received in some cases from that much-despised body. In the chief street of the district in which I live, these shop-keepers, who displayed their colours, were most bold in their support of Mr. Herbert Gladstone. One stationer, who must certainly rely for his custom very largely on the support of Conservative Churchmen, was specially prominent in proclaiming his opinions; nor could Mr. Gladstone's utterances on the Civil-Service Stores have been known at that time to any large extent, if they have been generally known at all, in this district.

Now, the courage of a shop-keeper who ventures to express any decided opinions is infinitely greater probably than that needed by any professional man (except, in some cases, by a clergyman or schoolmaster) ; and to parade Liberal opinions in a district generally believed to be intensely Conservative, and undoubtedly Conservative as regards the richest part of it, must show a genuine enthusiasm, which deserves better recognition than ordinary Liberals are generally disposed to give to this much-abused class.—I am, Sir, &c.,