Hide Articles List

11 articles on this Page









THE POLITICAL EVICTIONS IN WALES. PUBLIC MEETING IN LONDON. (From our Special Correspondent.) The London committee, which has been formed for the purpose of eliciting an expression of sympathy with tenant farmers and others in the Principality, who have been evicted on account of their votes at the last election, con- vened a public meeting for Monday evening at the Hanover-square Rooms; Mr Samuel Morley, M.P., pre- siding. There was a large attendance. In opening the proceedings, the CHAIRMAN expressed deep sympathy with the object of the meeting which, he said, was to take the opportunity of publicly and empha- tically denouncing the infamous treatment of certain ex- cellent men in Wales, simply because they chose to exer- cise their own conscientious convictions, in giving their vote at the last elections and he, for one, had no hesita- tion whatever to volunteer his personal and pecuniary sympathy with the sufferers. (Cheers). He had before him a broad sheet covered with the names of landowners, whose conduct that meeting had come together to con- demn so that every opportunity was given for refutation. On this broad sheet were set forth the cases of many excellent persons who had suffered at the hands of their landlords all these sufferers were nonconformists, and it was a remarkable fact, that no tory tenant was recorded to have been evicted, and that wherever liberal tenants voted, and evictions took place, their landlords were all tories-a singular coincidence. (A laugh.) It was clear that these men were turned out of their holdings because they exercised the conscience which God had given them, and not man. Having suffered in the exercise of what was undoubtedly their right, they deserved, not only the offer of sympathy, but practical assistance, in order that their sufferings might be lessened, and that they might not in the future be exposed to a repetition of the infamous treatment they had suffered at the hands of their land- lords. In conclusion he strongly advocated the ballot, which would put a stop to this horrible system of oppres- sion. (Loud cheers.) Mr E. M. RICHARDS, M.P., who was received warmly, rose to move the first resolution, which was as follows- That this meeting considers it to be a subject of sincere con- gratulation, and a strong proof of the development of political principles in Wales that so many of the electors should have voted at the last general election in accordance with their con- victions, notwithstanding the great pressure many of them were subjected to by landlords and others. He said if there was one man more than another who was indirectly answerable for what had occurred in Wales that man was Samuel Morley. (A laugh, and cheers.) Those who knew the Principality well were aware, that for many years Mr Morley had exhibited a warm sympathy with the Welsh- man, endeavouring to infuse a spirit of liberality and a spirit of independence among that people; and though these efforts had been in connection chiefly with religious matters, they had indirectly tended to give to Welshmen in late years perfect confidence in doing what was right. (Cheers.) Some three or four years ago, when he met Mr Morley with a few Welshmen in London, a determination was come to by the meeting that, inasmuch as there was such a large amount of liberal feeling upon most questions in Wales, Welshmen should, if possible, be induced to give practical expression to the liberal principles they professed. In the opinion of that meeting their first duty was to do in the agricultural counties what had been done in one or two manufacturing counties in the Prin- cipalityâviz., have the people put upon the register and encourage them to vote according to their consciences. (Applause.) Some eighteen months ago, as everybody knew, the last Reform Bill was passed, and at that time it was felt that if any part of Great Britain ought to send liberal members to Parliament, that part was undoubtedly the Principality of Wales, for it was a well-known fact that that nation consisted almost entirely of Noncon- formists (applause) that if the voters dared to exer- cise their right the vast majority of Welshmen would vote on the liberal side. The last election afforded them the opportunity of showing whether they were made of real stuff or whether their professions were empty dross and fringe. Mr Bright, Mr Morley, and himself, with others, took occasion to encourage his countrymen in embracing that opportunity of exercising their right. In Carmar- thenshire and Cardiganshire when a liberal candidate was talked of, the idea was no sooner made public than the laugh was turned upon the proposers, but thanks to the preparations that had been made through the registra- tion of the voters, Mr Sartoris was confidently brought forward as a liberal candidate for Carmarthenshire, and returned; and subsequently he himself was elected for Cardiganshire. (Cheers.) He believed he was correct in saying that the contest was the first that had taken place ,,ayi for 300 years between a liberal and a conservative in that county. (Hear, hear.) It had been said in relation to the evictions that the cases of alleged suffering were imaginary and not real at all. Those who said so knew nothing about the matter. Mr Stephen Evans (the hon. secretary of the London committee), who had personally inquired into the circumstances, had proved the cases of suffering to be real and not imaginary. In calling atten- tion to several illustrative cases of suffering through evictions, both in Caermarthenshire and Cardiganshire, he went on to say that nobody under the sun that he ever heard of had the moral courage to do what the Car- diganshire farmers did, unless they felt strong and deep religious convictions. (Loud cheers.) He mentioned, amongst others, the case of Richards, who occupied land owned by Mr Longcroft. which excited the indignation of the meeting, and he concluded with an earnest appeal for aid in behalf of the sufferers. Colonel STEPNEY, M.P. in seconding the resolution, fervently expressed the hope that the ballot would be speedily obtained as the necessary and only remedy for these oppressions. Mr Serjeant PARRY also strongly contended for the ballot; and in the course of a very able speech, read a copy of what he described as "a very humble" memorial, sent to C. R. Longcroft, Esq., who addressed his reply to one of the memorialists. The reply was addressed to J. Jones" simply, and the learned Serjeant suggested that it would have been more courteous, and gentlemanly, and polite, if Mr Longcroft has addressed it to "Mr J. Jones," or why didn't he say Dear Jones?" (Laughter.) The spirit contained in that letter was antediluvianâa fossil, forsooth-and even now it might be well if they stuffed him and sent him to the British Museum. (Roars of laughter.) The ballot should not be called secret voting âits opponents had imposed that term-but it should be regarded as free voting. (Cheers.) He seconded the reso- lution, which was carried unanimously. Mr H. RICHARD, M.P., moved the next resolution:- That this meeting deeply sympathizes with the anxieties and sufferings of those who have been evicted from their holdings, or otherwise injured in their circumstances in consequence of the conscientious exercise of the franchise at the late elections, and pledges itself to aid the fund that is now being raised with the view of compensating them so far as possible for the losses they have sustained. He referred to the liberal victories won at the last elec- tion, in spite of the numberless resorts used by the con- servative party to gain votes, such as writing the names of the conservative candidates on the back of the receipts for rent for the last half-year previous to the election. He read a letter from Mr Edward Miall, M.P., who deeply sympathized in the object of the meeting, and one also from Mr Wm. Pollard enclosing a cheque for j350. (Applause.) The CHAIRMAN also announced that he had that morn- ing received from Sir Titus Salt, of Bradford, a cheque for 2100. (Applause.) Mr SARTORIS, M.P., seconded the resolution moved by Mr H. Richard; it was supported by Mr CARVELL WILLIAMS, and carried unanimously. Mr OSBORNE MORGAN, M.P., who was cordially re- ceived, said, as he was making his way to that meeting, he met an, acquaintance of his, a Welsh landlord, who en- quired, When is this agitation about Welsh evictions going to-end His reply was, The agitation about the Welsh; evictions will never end, so long as the causes which, ltd to. that agitation continue to exist; you put down your intimidation, and then we shall be very happy to follow smt with our agitation." In fact, he felt very much like a certain Frenchman, who, when asked whether he was in favour of the abolition of the punishment of death, said, Certainly, by all means, provided the murderers will set the example." (Laughter and applause.) That was the answer he should like to give to the ques- tion, When will the agitation about the Welsh landlords come to an end ?" But that was not the form in which the question was put some six or eight- months- ago. The question then asked was this, What good do you expect will come out of the agitation ?"âa question which was not put now. If that meeting desired to know what had taken place in Merionethshire, he should be glad to say something about it, for he took a sorb- of personal interest in that county. They were told that the spring tide which had carried them into. Parliament had past, and that the conservative re-action was coming. Certainly the conservatives were fortunate in their candidate; they had a respectable, and to a certain extent, a popular gen- tleman, who was backed up by all the squires and parsons in the county. Indeed he never saw such a committee in his life. It was composed of honourables, colonels, M.P.'s, andQ.C.'s. (Laughter.) But who was on the other side? Plain John Jones," and he won by a majority of 647. This result proved two things first of all it proved what some of his English friends might, perhaps, not know, that when John Jones had made up his mind about a thing, he was quite as determined a fellow as John Bull; that result also proved that the power of the screw was gone. (Cheers.) He was told that there were some instances of landlord coercion at the last Merionethshire election, and he was sorry to hear that, for if the report was true, depend upon it, the conduct of those landlords would not pass away unnoticed. (Hear, hear.) While speaking on this subject he must say that he was pained to see in the papers a week or two ago a notice or declara- tion," as it was called, from the tenants of his colleague (Sir Watkin Wynn). The declaration stated that they voted of their own free wilL There was an old proverb, "that he who excuses himself accuses himself. ("Hear, hear," and laughter.) Was it not obvious to anyone, not born an idiot, that if an agent had sufficient power to com- Eel a tenant to vote as his landlord pleased, he would also ave sufficient power over the tenant to compel him to say that he did not vote under coercion. (Applause.) All this simply proved what was enjoined in the resolu- tion he had to propose, namely, the necessity of the ballot. The resolution was to the following effect;â That this meeting considers that the recent events in Wales furnish additional illustration of urgent necessity for the ballot, and is of opinion that strenuous efforts should be made to press upon Parliament and the Government the duty of adopting such measures during the ensuing session. (Cheers.) He had carefully read all the reasons which had been alleged from time to time against dealing immediately with the question of the ballot, and they seemed to him to be singularly insufficient reasons. It was said that the ballot could wait, but that was not so, for the ballot was just the one measure of the coming session which could not wait. They knew very well that the lives of Parlia- ments were like the lives of men they were necessarily uncertain; and if, through some unforeseen circumstance, the life of the present Parliament should be cut short, and members were sent back to their constituents, it would be a very poor consolation for the member for Cardiganshire to be told that if only another session could have been tided over, the ballot might have been obtained. Then again, the ballot was not a new question. Mr Bright had made a remark about the impossibility of driving six omnibuses abreast through Temple Bar. Mr Forster had since given a satisfactory answer to that by simply saying that if they could not be driven abreast, they could follow one after another. Now, if that skilful driver Mr Glad- stone, would only mount upon the ballot-box for his box- seat, they would take him through Temple Bar in such a style as to overcome any difficulty that might be in the way. (Loud and continued cheering.) They were told that they had got a strong Government. He was thank- ful for that. (Hear.) Formerly it was the fashion for liberals to wish for a weik Government, believing that they could get more out of a weak Government than out of any other. For his own part he would never believe in that, for he could not reasonably expect any good, strong measure from a weak Government. If, however, the Government was a strong one, they had a right to expect strong measures from it. Some twenty years ago, when a very wicked old nobleman died, he remembered hearing somebody say that if the devil did not take him, the devil was not worth having at all." (Loud laughter.) He should be sorry to draw invidious parallels, but still he was entitled to ask if this strong Government was not strong enough to take away this wicked old system of voting, which was a disgrace and scandal to our country, what was the use of having a strong Government ? Con- sidering all this, and feeling convinced that there were men in the Government thoroughly earnest about this question of the ballot, he might say with certainty, that the Government would take up the question indeed he knew as a fact-and he did not think he was committing any breach of confidence in stating it-that the Government Ballot Bill had actually been drawn. He believed, how- ever, there were some members of the Government who were still inclined to shrink from this subject. To those members he would give a piece of advice he had given often before, if you must take the cold plunge it is much better to take it at once, and not stand shivering on the bank. For depend upon it, that Bill must pass into law; the sooner you make up your minds the better." (Ap- plause.) Not only did he believe, but he had strong con- fidence in saying that before the expiration of twenty-four hours the speech from the Throne would be found to con- tain an authoritative announcement to the effect that the Government intend to take up the ballot as a Government measure. (Loud and renewed cheering.) If the announce- ment should give him any pleasureâas it certainly would -it would be through the conviction that this movement had powerfully contributed to bring about the remedy for oppression by landlords upon their tenants as voters. (Applause.) Therefore, whether his own political career was long or whether it was short he should not be conscious of one single act in it that he should look back upon with greater satisfaction than the partâa humble and subor- dinate part-which he had taken in this noble struggle of the weak against the strong. (Loud cheers.) When the food time to which he alluded should come, when the allot should be the law of the land, and when the poor Tirin.»i would be able to walk up to the polling, without having fear of ruin staring him in the face, let them not forget the poor tenant farmers of Cardiganshire who, by the suffering and sacrifices they had endured, had forced upon a reluctant Parliament that measure of justice for which orators and statesmen had pleaded in vain hitherto-let them not forget those poor Cardiganshire tenant farmers, who by their efforts and their sufferings aroused among their fellow countrymen a spirit of manly, honest self-reliance, without which political liberty itself was but the baseless fabric of a vision. (Loud cheers.) Mr MORGAN LLOYD, treasurer to the committee, seconded the motion, observing that since the experiences of 1868 he had relinquished any objection he might have held against the ballot in favour of its adoption. He denied that the promoters of this movement were revolutionists, as they desired to upset tyranny only and to maintain everything that was good. A vote of thanks to the chairman for presiding, and to Mr Stephen Evans, as hon. secretary of the London Committee, concluded the proceedings, which did not finish until a late hour.




[No title]