15 SEPTEMBER 1855, Page 14


Manchester, 11th September 1855.

Slit—I am not at all surprised to find 'A Free-trading M.P." rather dis- satisfied at the way in which I have exposed the tactics of the Russian Bri- gade. He thinks that' have done gross injustioe to the Free-trade party in the House of Commons "in imputing to them that they dare not act up to their convictions' with regard to the war.' He ought to have remembered, that in bringing that charge against them I was only repeating what Mr. Cobden said a few months ago. In the speech he delivered on the 6th of July, when he tboug4it the time had come for a demonstration in favour of his own Russian views, he adjured his friends to speak out in the House in the same way as he had heard them speak out in the lobby. "Why should the public have any faith in public men," said Mr. Cobden, "except it be because those public men have certain opinions, that they are swayed by cer- tain principles, and that they may be reckoned upon to act up to their con- victions." Those Members to whom he thus alludes are the men who could whisper against the war or against Lord Palmerston in the lobby, but who were dumb when they entered the House. As "A Free-trading M.P." has many friends favourable to the war among that class of Free-traders, per- haps he will be kind enough to let us know what evidence they have given of their devotion to the cause ? When a Member of Parliament is greatly in earnest upon any question, he generally takes the first opportunity of speaking in favour of it, either in the House or at some meeting of his constituents. This is all the more necessary at the present moment, seeing that Messrs. Cobden, Bright, Ricardo, Gibson, and Laing, all Free-traders, have taken so prominent a part in thwarting the policy of Ministers. If a majority of the Free-trade party in the House of Commons are_ so "favourable to a vigorous prosecution of the war" as your cor- respondent represents them to be, he is bound to explain how it happens that they have never said a word en the subject, except "in the lobby' ? When the Corn-law question was under discussion, the Free-traders acted very differently. They did not shirk their constituents then as they are tieing at present, but spent the autumn recess in attending public meetings, dinnera, sad soirees, at which they delivered their sentiments on the great question of the day. Why are they so backward now ? "Out of the full- ness of the heart the mouth speaketh." If the Free-traders who profess to be "favourable to a vigorous prosecution of the war" choose to remain silent, I think 1 have a good right to charge them with want of heartiness, ,and want of heartiness in such a cause as we are now engaged in is akin to treachery. In the conclusion of your article, in last week's Spectator, on " the per- eanial inaction in the Baltic," after some remarks on the apparent want of mumestaess in Downing Street, you say, "It is desirable to settle this funda- mental question of government, even more than the mortar question, before am open the season of 1856." I entirely agree with you on that point. But is this question of the representation not one which ought to be settled be- fore we say much about Ministers ? If the Free-trading party in the House are so very careless- about the management of the war that they do not think it worth their while to talk the matter over with their constituencies, the sooner they are brought to book the better, unless we wish the war to be- come chronic.

If there is one class of men more interested than another in having the NKr carried on in a businesslike way,—that is with such a degree of energy and wise adaptation of means to obtain a given result as may secure an )ionourable peace,--it is the manufacturers and merchants, of whom this large town is the head-quarters. Nothing is more calculated to paralyze trade and damp the spirit of enterprise than. that uncertain, vacillating con- elitien in which the Government of this country has been placed for the last Imo years.. Whatever may be said about the origin of the war, all persona now admit that we must conquer a secure and honourable peace, or we shall lame ourselves in a worse condition than we were when the war began. ill the declaration of war was made, Russia was the secret enemy of Eng- land and of civilization ; but she cannot wear that mask any longer. Even if peace were concluded at the present moment, we should have to meet Russian diplomacy and intrigue in every court in Europe; and who can tell how soon we might be forced to meet a far more formidable combination against England than this country has ever yet encountered ? It is impos- sible that a struggle with Russia, the chief disturber of Europe, could have taken place under more favourable circumstances for this country ; and Therefore it is all the more incumbent on men of business to see that those advantages are not frittered away or lost from want of vigour on the part of Government.

Had Manchester and the West Riding been disfranchised at the commence- ment of the war, we should have been in a much better way than we are at present. In. that case, these two leading constituencies, which give the tone the whole country, would only have been without representatives in Par- As the matter stands, Messrs. Cobden and Bright have been allowed

act there as the agents of Russia, doing all in their power to persuade our enemies that the people of this oountry are acting under a mere tem- porary impulse, and that if Russia will persist a little longer, and Austria cagy an the same juggling game as she has played hitherto, we shallaom grow tired of fighting for the Turks. Now I quite agree with the remark I heard made by en active Free-trader a few days ago, that, for every speech of thin nature which Mr. Bright or Ear."Cobden has made during the last two years, this country has been forced to expend so many more millions towards, the war. Any one of those speeches, translated, as it speedily is, into all the languages of despotism on the Continent, is worth ever so many battalions to the Emperor of Russia. Total disfranchisement would certainly have been better than sending men to Parliament whose views of foreign policy lead them thus to assist our enemies.

--If we are to have a dissolution of Parliament next spring, as is commonly rumoured, it is high time for the electors of this town to be organizing themselves for the struggle. Manchester is more to blame than any other borough in the kingdom for our not having a strong Government, and con- sequently for that want of vigour and definite purpose in the management of the war of which everybody complains. This being the case, we are bound to atone for the apathy we have displayed hitherto by our promptitude and zeal. It is useless to sit still and grumble about Ministers not doing their duty. The only way in which we can bring our influence to bear upott Government is through our representatives; only we must first be sure that we have men to represent us who are anxious that Ministers should do their duty, and not men who have predicted all manner of evils as certain to ra- suit from the war, and who have shpwn by the whole of their conduct that they would much rather see the Allies soundly beaten than see them victorious. Whenever Manchester proclaims her determination to emancipate herself from the thraldom of the Peace Society, which means friendship with St. Petersburg, her example will be followed by every other borough represented by members of the Russian Brigade. There can be no doubt that this bo- rough is the key of the position. So long as the Russian section of the Free- trade party, however small its numbers, can keep Manchester quiet, it prey vents the formation or paralyzes the notion of an independent party in Pars liament, and infl i uences Government accordingly. This is one of the mevitas ble evils resulting.from the formation of the League. Power and influence were placed in the hands of a few men, leaving them to think and act for all who agreed with them on a single question. Now that the current of events has thrown that question far into the background, we find the men who hold power and influence unable to lead, and using that power and influence to thwart the wishes of a large majority of their constituents, and defy public opinion with impunity, trusting to personal influence, the want of organizes ton among those opposed to them, and the chapter of accidents.

The friends of Mr. Bright complain of the want of political gratitude on the part of the multitude. After all the services he rendered to the nation during the Anti-Corn-law struggle, the people turn round now and abuse him because he will not give up the opinions he always held with relation to war. I should be the last man to ask our talented representative to ours render his conscientious opinions. All I would ask is, that he should adhere to his political principles, by surrendering his seat, When he knows that he does not represent the people of Manchester on what he must admit to be the most important question of the day. Political gratitude must be a very costly feeling, if the indulgence of it for the last two years has required tie to keep an agent of Russia in Parliament, making speeches for the Invalids _Busse and the Journal de St. Petersboury. If we must pay Mr. Bright for his services to the cause of Free-trade, why not subscribe at once and clear off the debt ? Manchester men are said to be matchless at making a bargain. In this ease they have been penny wise and pound foolish. Had they voted 100,0001. to Mr. Bright at the beginning of the war, with a request that he would retire into private life till it was over, they would have saved many millions to the country, and left him with untarnishedpolitioal oharacter, and undiminished political influence when the time had oome for him to resume his seat.

It is too late to talk of doing anything of that kind now ; but it is not too late to take steps for making the representation of Manchester what it was during the palmy days of the League, when its voice was heard in Parlia- ment in unison with thatof its Members. Until we have done so, it is use- less to fancy that any chopping and changing of the men in Downing Street can give us a strong Government.

I am, Sir, your most obedient servant, AN OLD Le.setrnit.