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hesitate to say, that nothing but invoking the alarms of government would have the slightest effect upon their measures. Surely it became us, who are situated in the centre of this multitude of labourers—who might at any moment be thrown out of employment, and of the consequent means of subsistence—to read the signs of the times before they could be seen in London, and to give warning in time. Why are these incendiaries agitating the district? Why do thousands and tens of thousands muster at torch-light meetings? Think you that men would leave their homes, their firesides, at this season, their tables, with something comfortable upon them : No; they go to these meetings because they are distressed and impoverished, and because surrounding you there is an immense mass of human poverty and suffering. It became, then, our duty, and no less our interest, to represent to the government the impending evils of such a state of things. We were in the midst of these dangers; this would be the theatre of the tragedy whenever it was acted in this country; and that tragedy must be enacted, if those corn laws were not repealed. Therefore were we bound to speak out our fears of the dangers that surround us, and therefore was it deeply our interest to do so. (Hear.) Though of a sanguine temperament, he was not sanguine enough to think that anything we could do or say would have the slightest chance to avail with those who had the power in their hands to legislate for their own exclusive interest, irresponsibly to the people at large. But unless an effort were made by us, commensurate with these impending evils, the responsibility would not be with those who, living in London, or fox-hunting, or running abroad, would have no means of knowing the danger; but that responsibility would rest heavily upon ourselves. (Hear.) He had prepared a petition, which he would read, though he would not move its adoption. Mr Dyer, if he pleased, might withdraw his amendment, and support this petition; but at all events he threw it before this meeting as a petition which (he spoke of the matter only) appeared to him more adapted to the exigencies of our condition than that prepared by the directors. In offering it to the meeting, he threw to the wind all personal considerations, and should despise the man who could not act from public motives for the general welfare, without the slightest, regard to personal feeling. ... By the course which Mr Dyer had taken, it would be seen there was no concert or collusion between them; and he (Mr Cobden) would simply read the petition, and leave it in the hands of the meeting, taking no part in the discussion upon its merits. Mr Cobden then read the following petition —

“Humbly sheweth, “That your petitioners deem it their imperative duty to call the immediate attention of your honourable house to the consideration of the existing laws affecting the free importation of food. “That your petitioners would premise, that your honourable house is already acquainted with the nature and extent of the cotton trade; combining, as it does, a larger amount of capital, with greater enterprise and skill, and giving more extension and better regulated employment than any other branch of manufacturing industry. This source of increasing population and wealth, which is now become essential to our well-being as a nation, owes no sort of allegiance to the soil of England; and if it has grown up with a rapidity unparalleled in the annals of trade, history affords us many examples to shew how speedily it may, by misgovernment, be banished to other shores. “That your petitioners view, with great alarm, the rapid extension of foreign manufactures; and they have, in particular, to deplore the consequent diminution of a profitable trade with the continent of Europe; to which, notwithstanding the great increase in population since the termination of the war, the exports have actually been less in value during the last five years than they were during the first five years after the peace: and whilst the demand for all those articles in which the greatest amount of the labour of our artizans is comprised has been constantly diminishing, the exportation of the raw material has been as rapidly increasing. “That several nations of the continent not only produce sufficient manufactures for their own consumption, but they successfully compete with us in neutral foreign markets. Amongst other instances that might be given to shew the formidable growth of the cotton manufacture abroad, is that of the cotton hosiery of Saxony, of which, owing to its superior cheapness, nearly four times as much is exported as from this country; the Saxons exporting annually to the United States of America alone a quantity equal to the exports from England to all parts of the world; whilst the still more important fact remains to be adduced, that Saxon hose, manufactured from English yarn, after paying a duty of twenty per cent., are beginning to be introduced into this country, and sold for home consumption, at lower prices than they can be produced by our own manufacturers. “That further proof of the rapid progress in manufacturing industry going on upon the continent, is afforded in the fact, that establishments for the making of all kinds of maWOL. II. 13

chinery for spinning and weaving cotton, flax, and wool, have lately been formed in nearly all the large towns of Europe, in which skilled English artizans are at the present moment diligently employed in teaching the native mechanics to make machines, copied from models of the newest inventions of this country; and not a week passes in which individuals of the same valuable class do not quit the work-shops of Manchester, Leeds, and Birmingham, to enter upon similar engagements abroad. “That the superiority we have hitherto possessed in our unrivalled roads and canals is no longer peculiar to this country. Railroads, to a great extent, and at a less cost than in England, are proceeding in all parts of Europe, and the United States of America; whilst from the want of profitable investment at home, capital is constantly seeking employment in foreign countries; and thus supplying the greatest deficiency under which our rivals previously laboured. “That, whilst calling the attention of your honourable house to facts calculated to excite the utmost alarm for the well-being of our manufacturing prosperity, your petitioners cannot too earnestly make known that the evils are occasioned by our impolitic and unjust legislation, which, by preventing the British manufacturer from exchanging the produce of his labour for the corn of other countries, enables our foreign rivals to purchase their food at one half the price at which it was sold in this market; and your petitioners declare it to be their solemn conviction, that this is the commencement only of a state of things which, unless arrested by a timely repeal of all protective duties upon the importation of corn, and all foreign articles of subsistence, must eventually transfer our manufacturing industry into other and rival countries. “That, deeply impressed with such apprehensions, your petitioners cannot look with indifference upon, nor conceal from your honourable house the perilous condition of those surrounding multitudes, whose subsistence from day to day depends upon the prosperity of the cotton trade. Already the million have raised the cry for food. Reason, compassion, and sound policy demand that the excited ions be allayed, otherwise evil consequences may ensue. The continuance of the loyal attachment of the people to the established institutions of the country can never be permanently secured on any other grounds than those of universal justice. Holding one of those eternal principles to be the inalienable right of every man freely to exchange the results of his labour for the productions of other people, and maintaining the practice of protecting one part of the community at the expense of all other classes to be unsound and unjustifiable, your petitioners earnestly implore your honourable house to repeal all laws relating to the importation of foreign articles of subsistence, and to carry out to the fullest extent, both as affects agriculture and manufactures, the true and peaceful principles of free trade, by removing all existing obstacles to the unrestricted employment of industry and capital. “And your petitioners, &c.”

Alderman Cobden continued:—All that he should add with reference to the two petitions was, that he accepted the addition which had been made by the directors to their former petition as a full adoption of the principle of free trade in corn, for which he contended; but he wished it had been rather less ambiguously expressed. Whatever emanated from the chamber now, would be regarded with interest, not only here but in London and elsewhere; and if they wished by their proceedings to influence the cabinet, and particularly their right hon. representative, the petition should be clear, energetic, and precise. He was bound to confess his dissatisfaction with Mr Thomson upon this question. He must confess he thought he had attempted less for free trade whilst representing the free traders of this borough, than Mr Huskisson had done whilst representative of the monopoly interests of the old borough of Liverpool. According as we decided, he would be influenced in his public conduct. He would perceive that whilst we asked for nothing but what was for the interest of the nation at large, he was bound to be the bona side representative of our interests, and not bow himself before a landed aristocracy. (Cheers.) He was led to make these remarks partly from what he had learnt whilst in Berlin upon the subject of the German tariff. He was there told that the Prussian embassy in London had again and again told our cabinet, that our corn law was the sole obstacle to the arrangement of a commercial treaty between the two countries. He would read an extract from a letter he had just received from a gentleman at Berlin, whose intelligence and means of access to the first sources of information disF. him to place implicit confidence in his authority.—“I ave spoken,” says the writer, “to one or two leading men in the finance bureau, and the result of our conversation has been, that in their opinion, if we choose to alter our corn law in England, and to admit the corn of Prussia at a fixed duty, there can be no doubt that Prussia would reduce the duties on British manufactures at least one half; and of course this

would apply to the whole union, and to a population of twentysix millions. This contains an indirect answer to your question, and shews that our corn laws originally led to the legislative enactments of Prussia, and through her influence to a system of retaliation through the whole of the North of Germany. One official man told me, that he knew the Prussian ministers in London had repeatedly told Mr P. Thomson that your corn law was the stumbling-block to a trade between the countries.” (Hear, hear.) Mr Cobden concluded by advising the meeting to shew, from the energy of their proceedings that day, that they had a proper sense of their rights, and thus secure from Mr Thomson the exclusive services of a representative. The Chairman, after stating that he did not understand the adjournment to be made for any such purpose as the preparation of another petition, explained that the present proceedings were not in order, as there had been no motion for the adoption of the amended petition of the directors. Mr Alderman Macvicar moved, that the form of petition prepared by the directors, and presented to the last general meeting, with the alterations now proposed by them, be adopted by this meeting, and be signed by the president on its behalf. Mr Alderman Tootal seconded the motion. Mr J. C. Dyer said, that since he had prematurely made his motion, another entire petition had been offered to the meeting, which, in his opinion, expressed more fully and correctly the opinions which ought to be expressed by this chamber; and, instead of moving the paragraph i. had been read, he would, with the permission of the meeting, withdraw that, and move the adoption of the petition presented by Mr Cobden, in the form of an amendment to Mr Macvicar's motion. He would suggest an additional train of considerations, exhibiting the justice of our claim to the absolute and total repeal of the corn laws. Up to within seventy or eighty years ago, this country produced corn and food enough generally to feed the people. The introduction of labour-saving machinery, and the successful inventions which gave rise to, and so repeatedly pushed on to success, our manufacturing system, tended most rapidly to increase our population, which had been nearly twice doubled within that period; and food for the sustenance of this increased E. had, in a great measure, been drawn from the ome soil. The consequence was, that the people had been short fed—had paid heavily for their food—and had been much damaged in their progress to general prosperity, by

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