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THE PEACE CRUSADE. THE NATIONAL CONVENTION. AN HISTORIC GATHERING. BY W. T. STEAD. Snow was falling outside. London looked its worst. The bad luck in the matter of weather which has pursued the Crusade in the metropolis from the first clung to it to the last. The cold and the snow, however, were left without St. Martin's Town Hall, and in that building all was glowing warmth and enthusiasm. The Convention was a fitting close to the series of meetings in connection with the Crusade of Peace which have been held in the fine building at Charing Cross. There, early in the London campaign, one of the more crowded and enthusiastic of the metropolitan meetings was held. There, at a later date, assembled that great gathering of Labour delegates which sent to their co-workers throughout Europe the striking appeal to lend their energies to the international move- ment promoted by the Aurocrat of All the Russias. Last of all comes the National Convention, a meet ng historic in its importance—an importance infinitely greater than that suggested by its numbe s. Never in the history of this country has there been such an assembly as that which gathered in St. Martin's Town Hall on March 21st. From time almost immemorial the people of England have been accustomed to assemble in their town's meeting, with the Mayor in the chair and the officers of the Corporat;on present. That. is the oldest, form of expressing public opinion which exists. No nearer approach to a 'plebiscite is po-sible in Great Britain. Yet never since there first were municipalities have so many great meetings been held to promote one object as have been failed in connection with the approval of the Czar's lit,ser-pt.. In every case opposition has Levn invited, and in no single instance has any attempt to carry an amendment to the resolution supporting tho action of the Czar met with any- thing but ignominious failure. From first, to last Kit! nuttings have been unanimous, sympathetic, :nd enthusiastic. Each gathering has appointed its delegates to the National Convention, which repre- sents the quintessence of the opinion of the otiiitrv. Comparntive'y small in their nuirbers,the delegates spoke v.i;h the voice of a people. 0 it was good to gaze from the platform upon the six hundred delegates. Strom, earnest faces were even wh* re. The men and the women who looked towards the speakers were the cream of the whole (o-intry. In th-ir own districts they are the lenders of municipal, religious, social, and political life. Busy men with many duties,thev had left a'l to hurry to the metropolis at their own exnense, in order to give expression to the national conscience on the si bject of the Czar's Rescript. The vast n p jorit v were men and womcn past. the meridian of ife, who have won their hard way to the posi- hn of leaders. Yet their heartiness was undinllned and they lau.hed, cheered, and uppblldcd wit, the utmost enthusiasm. The attention given to every was intensely close. The gathering vcs. in fact, heart and soul with the wising of the Cz;!r for i,eitee. It tne meeting was striKing, the platform was none the, so. In the chair was the Earl of Aberdeen, taking his first active part in public affairs since his return from Canada, and in putting himself in the front on such an occasion well upholding the traditions of his family and of his own public career. On his left were Lady Frederick Cavendish, Sir Henry Bemrose, M.P., Captain Pirie, M. P., Archdetcon Sinclair, Mr. Robert Cameron, M.P., and Sir Lewis Morris. To the right, were Sir Wilfrid Lawson, the veteran temperance advocate and upholder of peace, Mr. Herbert Whiteley, who came as a delegate from the great Lancashire constituency which he represents in Parliament, Mr. W. R. Cremer, who for so many years fought the battle y 11 of International Atbitration almost single-handed in Parliament, and Mr. Fred Maddison, who stands for Labour. In almost every case these leaders of thought had a character outside their own public positions as leaders of men. They came as the delegates of vast communities. At first the Convention required rousing. The Earl of Aberdeen was earnest, cultured, telling, but he spoke briefly, merely introducing the subject of the Convention. The earliest note of warmth and p:<ssicn came from the Mayor of Wolverhampton, appointed delegate at the finest town's meeting held in the town which he represents in the memory of living men. lie moved the first resolu- tion in these terms: "That the memorials to the Emperor of Russia and the British Government, which have been so extensively signed in connection with the National Movement of the Crusade of Peace, in support of the objects of his Majesty's Rescript, be hereby approved by this Convention." A seconder for this was found in Sir Henry Bemrose, who defeated Sir William Harcourt at Derby at the General Election. One was bound to remember, listening to his strong, heartfelt support of the motion, that, from the beginning of the Crusade to the end, ail efforts to extract ona word of sympathy or even approval from Sir William Harcourt have proved unavailing. From Lady Frederick Cavendish came the first thrill which went through the meeting. Standing by the side of Lord Aberdeen, this lady, pathetic in her widow's weeds, spoke with a simple earnest- ness, directness, and humour which brought an imnv diate response from the meeting. When the resolution wa3 put to the meeting, the hand of every delegate went up in its support, and a burst of upplaufo confirmed the demonstration. The second work of the Convention was even more important. The meeting was asked to pass a resolution in the following words: "That the following persons be nominated for the presenta- tion or the memorials to her Majesty's Government and the Emperor of Kussia: The Right Hon. the Earl of Aberdeen, the Right Rev. the Lord Bishop of London, the Right Rev. the Lord Bishop of Rochester, the Right Hon. Earl Grey, Sir Joseph Pease, Bart., M. P., Sir James Kitson, M. P., the Right lion. John Morley, M.P., the Right Hon. Leonard H. Courtney, M. P., the Right Hon. Herbert Gladstone, 11.P., the Right Hon. Lord Farrar, the Right Hon. Shaw-Lefevre, S. Woods, Esq., M. P., the Right Hon. James Bryce, M. P., Thomas Burt, Esq. M. P., the Rev. Dr. Clifford, J. A. Bright, Esq., W. T. Stead, Esq., Councillor Martineau (Birmingham), W. Randal Cremer, Esq., John Battersby, Esq. (Glasgow), J. G. IFolyoake, Esq., Lady Frederick Cavendish, and that the General Committee be entrusted with the necessary arrangements and the mode of presen- tation." Briefly and earnestly moved by the Arch- deacon of Loudon, the resolution was seconded by Mr. Herbert Whiteley, M.P. I spoke in support of the motion. This second resolution having been carried, a third, which was not on the programme, was intro- duced by Canon Rawnsley and passed. It pledged the Conference to the opinion that the work which has been so gloriously begun should not cease. What wo hope is that from the nucleus of the brief Crusade will spring a great central organisation working for Peace'and human brotherhood, forming a centre round which the frequently warring Peace societies can gather in unity of purpose. Last of all came the vote of thanks to the chairman. With this broke up a meeting such as has never previously been held in this country. I am writing this column in the brief interval between the Convention and the great meeting in the Queen's Hall. Mr. John Morley, who was to be the principal speaker at this, is ill, but his place will be taken by Mr. Leonard Courtney, than whom no better substitute could be found. A word about the Crusade in Scotland must suffice. I have hurried back to the metropolis from the far North with the echoes of the great meetings still ringing in my ears. Scotchsmen we not usually demonstrative, but they have given their opinion of the Czar's Rescript with no uncertain sound. At Aberdeen the meeting was kept going until eleven o'clock at night, and the audience scarcely dwindled. The whole nation it enthusiastic for an arrest of armaments.




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