18 DECEMBER 1847, Page 7

'be Vro5inces.

A continued improvement has been noted in the state of trade of Man- cheater and the surrounding districts. Within the borough of Manchester,. the number of hands employed in the various mills and other manufacto- ries is, this week, 44,205; last week it was 44,215: number of hands now working full time, 26,496; last week 25,964: hands this week• working' short time, 8,481; last week, 8,622: hands now wholly unemployed, 9,228; last week, 9,629. In the surrounding district several largo establishments have resumed work, and the population are again actively employed. Among these are the extensive mills of Messrs. Fielden, Brothers, of ma- morden, and Mews. Ashton of Hyde. It is expected that other manufac- tories will recommence full work in the ensuing week.

Mr. Charles Buller, the new Poor-law Commissioner, was reelected fba Liskeard on Tuesday, without opposition. For his political views Mr. Buller referred his constituents to his declaration at the recent general election; but his speech of thanks ()ordained a few points for notice. He contradicted a report that he accepted his present office because its salary was double that which he lately enjoyed: he wished it were so, but it was not; he had taken an office of ten times the trouble, responsibility, and anxiety, without any increase of salary. Ile knew that in Liskeard there was a strong feeling on the subject of the Poor-law; but he was a party to making that law, and he still upheld it— "I believe it was made with a thoroughly honest feeling, and with an honest regard to the poor man; above all, to keep him from sinking in the scale of civilized and independent men. There may be, and there are, apparently harsh provisions in that law. That law may hare for a time pressed on the poor; but I assure you from my knowledge of those persons by whom it was passed, that they contemplated anything harsh in that law as a means merely—which they reluctantly used—for bettering the condition of the working people of this coun- try. It may be that in the course of administering that law I. may have to do acts which may appear harsh. I am sure that those who know me will feel that no acts of harshness in any individual case, or for the public good, will ever be done by me without reluctance and pain. I am not going, now that I have accepted this office, to retract the opinion which I expressed in more arduous times; I am not going to betray the law which I am going to administer; but can assure you, that. my first object in administering the law will be to make it the means of bettering the condition of the poor man—te use it so as to deter the dishonest and the idle from throwing themselves on the charity of the country, and so abusing it for the worst of purposes, for their own degradation and the degrada- tion of the honest labourer. My object will be so to use it that the aged and Infirm- may find that the charity of the country is not stinted; and that, in their in • ability to support themselves, they will receive a generous support from the country to which they have devoted the labour of their youth." (Cheers.) Mr. Buller bestowed some pains in defending himself for having op- posed the Irish Coercion Bill of 1842 and supported that of 1847; observ- ing that he shared his inconsistency with all who opposed the former. He had said that coercion ought to be accompanied by protective measures for the poor; and he held that the recent measures of relief satisfied that requirement. Having imposed great burthens on the landed proprietor, the Legislature is at least bound to protect his life- " I do not see how we can carry out any measures against absentees where the motive of their absenteeism is the actual fear of the assassin's blunder- buss if they venture to live on their property and perform the duties which that property imposes on them. And therefore it is, that, although for six- teen years I have voted against every act of coercion, I never voted with a clearer conscience or with more consistency than I now support moderate coercion under circumstances so very different from those in which it was ever proposed before. I only trust that measure which Parliament has adopted—and adopted without any of those terrible consequences held out to us of gentlemen 'dying on the floor of the House,' and adding to the prevailing epidemic by the disagreeable consequences that would ensue—(Laughter)—I say that I trust the law which has received the sanction of Parliament will be efficient"

At Weymouth, on Wednesday, the Honourable Frederick William Childs Villiers was elected Member for that borough, in the room of Mr. D. W. Christie, who had accepted the Chiltern Hundreds.

The nomination of a Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne, in the room of Mr. Christy, took place on Wednesday. The candidates were Mr. Christy and Mr. Thomas Ross, and the show of hands fell to Mr. Ross. At the close of the poll, on Thursday, the numbers were—for Ross, 367; Christy, 546; majority for Christy, 176.

Mr. William Kershaw, a Free-trader, was elected Member for Stockport on Thursday, in the room of Mr. Cobden ; by 545 votes, against 518 for Mr. Thomas Maraland, a Conservative.

Mr. Cobden paid his farewell visit to his late constituents of Stockport on the evening of Friday the 10th; when nearly 2,000 met in the Assembly Room of the Lyceum; Alderman Bootbroyd in the chair. From an ob- servation made by the chairman it would appear that some dissatisfaction had been expected to be manifested against Mr. Cobden for having so long delayed to declare the seat he chose to sit for. Mr. Cobden's appearance, however, was the signal for a very hearty greeting; and his excuses were Very well received.

Finding himself returned by two constituencies, he said, his own inclination was strongly" for continuing to represent Stockport; but he also found that the opinion of his friends, of the electors of Stockport, and public opinion in general, had de- cided the question for him in favour of the West Riding. Diverging to general topics, Mr. Cobden said he would not disguise that they had entered on the "Free-trade experiment" under very trying circumstances It seemed as if they had to go through a sort of martyrdom in order to test the faith of the men who had avowed themselves thoroughgoing Free-traders. He was delighted on his return to England, however, to find so little reaction on the sub- Jett. What were the grounds on which they were told to abandon free trade? nat we had not been prosperous in England during the last year or two. It is true, we have not; but is it owing to free trade, or monopoly ? "Our opponents say we have had he trao'z, and it has failed: I say, we have had thirty years of monopoly, and have not got free. trade yet I Why, we have not had free trade in corn yet we have not yet got through the three years of the fag-end of monopoly. Those who attribute the distress of the hst-twelvemonths to free trade in corn neglect to show how the restriction on the trade would have mended matters." There had been a famine in cotton as well as in potatoes and corn; and if corn bad been ever so cheap, the demand for cotton goods ever an great, the machinery could not have been kept at work for want of cotton. Looking at the diminution of the quantity of raw cotton and its greatly increased price, as well as the high price of corn—with dear cotton, dear corn, and dear money—he was astonished that the suffering had not been more. Free trade had certainly passed through an ordeal that it was not likely to undergo again. There were certain "curiosities" still in the House of Commons —not many, it is true—who told them that Free-traders were out in their pro- phecies and promises. But they seem to have forgotten the fate of their own predictions. Taunts were thrown out that foreigners had not reciprocated free trade. The reason was, that foreigners read in the newspapers of noble Lords, Members of the House of Commons, and mill-owners of Stockport, calling out for protection; and they say, We cannot yet be convinced that free trade is to be the permanent policy of the country. But the distrust abroad would not last long. Though foreigners see great statesmen, great lords, and master-spinners, still ad- vocating protection, they at the same time will see that the intellect of the country is for free trade; and as they know that brains in the end do prevail, they will quickly lose their fear lest we should relapse under the rule of the blockheads.

A taunt had been thrown out that other countries had not followed our ex- aniple. Why, in six weeks after the passing of the bill repealing the Corn-law, the United States remodelled their tariff in our favour. They had just a season to prepare for our famine wants; and had it not been that Sir Robert Peel had changed the rate of duties from 10s. to Is., so that the merchant could calculate on more steady prices, and could therefore venture to import corn, there would have been thousands and tens of thousands of our people starved to death. Un- der the old sliding scale, the Americans never would move their corn from the interior for the English market. It was the same with Russia: but for the re- peal of the Corn-laws we should not have a quarter of the corn that had been obtained: the distance of the corn-growing districts of Russia from St. Peters- burg, the great port of shipment, is so wide, that this year we are eating the crop of 1845, and not that of 1846.

Mr. Cobden spoke very freely of the railways. Of all the mad things ever per- petrated by any body of men, he believed that the House of Commons had done the most insane when they passed the railway bills of the last three years. We are at a dead lock from trying to do too much. Some people had tried to mystify the question by talking of a paper currency; but if you made all the tablecloths in the country into bank-notes, it would not enable you to make all the railways that had been attempted. But the evil is curing itself; we are on a penitential process; and although the remedy proposed by Parliament is not complete, it will prevent a good deal of mischief. Taxation, Mr. Cobden said is too much lost Sight of; and he asked his hearers, how it was that Englishmen did not bring the same common sense to bear upon it as on other questions. They looked closely enough after municipal eco- nomy, and would rebel if the Town-Clerk were to propose a halfpenny extra fcr purposes of public cleanliness: yet they gave no heed to state economy. " The expenditure of this country might be very much curtailed; and I will tell you how—not by cutting down this or that paltry pension, or reducing sala- ries of 5001. or 1,0001. to 3001. or 4001. a year. If any reduction is to take place, let us strike at one great item, Army, Navy, and Ordnance-17,000,0001.a year. And if we cannot curtail that expenditure, why all the rest—such as cutting down some pitiful salary of a man in the Post-office or Customs—may do very well for sham-politicians to make a fight about, but will never reach your pock-

eta. How is this reduction of expenditure to be accomplished ? It is only to be done by the strength of public opinion. If you think in England it is necessary you should manage the affairs of all the world, with your ships of war and your armies, then you cannot reduce the expenditure of the Army, Navy, and Ord- nance. Now, I tell you, you must not expect men in Parliament to reduce their expenditure until a radical change takes place in the opinions of the electors. The people must first become economical; the House of Commons will follow; and last of all, we must expect the contagion to reach the Minister of the day." The following resolution was unanimously adopted-

" That this meeting expresses its great regret at the determination which severs Mr. Cobden's Parliamentary connexion with this borough. It still, however, lays claim to some share of his representative energies, and hopes, in whatever sphere of action he may be placed, to retain a hold on his sympathies, and rely in 60111e. degree upon his public services."

The meeting separated with three cheers for Free Trade.

A fatal collision occurred on the York and North Midland Railway, between Selby and Normanton, on Tuesday morning. A mail-train came into contact with a luggage-train, and the guard's break attached to the latter seems to have been crushed ; for two men, cattle-drovers, who were in it, were killed, and a third was seriously hurt. The people in the mail-train escaped with bruises.

The miscreants who turned a train into a siding on the Taff Vale Railway, by fastening back a switch, have since perpetrated another outrage. As a passen- ger-train emerged from a tunnel, the engine-driver saw that something was maim with the rails where the line passes along a precipitous ridge overhanging a ri- ver; he put on the breaks, but could not stop the train soon enough: the engine was overturned, the driver falling off. Fortunately, the locomotive did not turn over on the river side, or the loss of life might have been great. It was found on inspection, that both the rails had been removed; and as a train bad passed only twenty minutes before, the villains must have acted with speed and skill. [Pro- bably discharged railway labourers seeking to make work, or avenge the want of employment.]