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Mr Chamberrlain at Birmingham.


Mr Chamberrlain at Birmingham. BRILLIANT SPEECH ON POLITI- CAL TOPICS. The German Annexation Scare Ridiculed. The New Liberal Platform. BIRMINGHAM, Monday. — This evening Mr Chamberlain was entertained at dinner at the Birmingham Town-hall by the newly-formed Birmingham Artisans Association. About six hundred artisans sat down to dinner, under the presidency of Mr F. C. Barnes, the secretary of the Glassworkers' Association. Mr Chamberlain's appearance on the platform was made the signal for an enthusiastic ovation. The company present, both in the body of the hall and on the platform, were confinedjto artisans. After dinner, when the public were admitted to the side galleries, the chairman proposed the health of Mr Chamberlain. Mr Chamberlain having replied, Mr J. H. WIGGETT proposed The Associa- tion, after which the following resolution was moved by Mr T. C. BARNES, and seconded by Mr J. CHATTAWAY :— That this meeting of working men tenders to the 7?i<;hfc Hon. J. Chamberlain, M.P., its deep sympathy with him in the unwarrantable attacks that have been made upon his personal character, and wiiile assuring him of their strong and unabated confidence, congra- tulate him on the passing of the Franchise Bill, and on the prospects of tile great measure for the redistribu- tion of seats which has been introduced by the Govern- ment of which lie is a member. The resolution having been carried amid long- eontinueu cheering, Mr CHAMBERLAIN, who was again cheered very loudly on rising, spoke as follows :-Ladies and gentlemen,—I thank you for the resolution which you have just passed with so much cordiality and enthusiasm. It is a gieat satisfaction and a great encouragement to me to know that I still retain your confidence. (Hear, hear.) I have been your member now for nearly nine years, and during the greater part of that time I have had the honour of a seat in the Government. I have had to make great claims upon your patience and indulgence, and you have never failed to respond with a generosity which in one of the most striking charac- teristics of great popular constituencies. In the course of that time you will easily understand I have sometimes found it difficult, as the Radical member of a Liberal Government—(laughter and cheers)—to conciliate the loyalty which I owe to my colleagues and to the party at large, with the strenuous and constant promotion of the princi- ples which I am supposed especially to represent. I have had at times to reserve, and sometimes even to sacrifice my opinion. (Hear.) Perhaps I may have disappointed my constituents—(cries of "No" and "Never")—but it has been in my opinion necessary, in order not to bring about a division which might injure our common cause— (hnar, hear)—or which might embarass the leader whose unsurpassed ability—(loud cheers)-andlon,- tried devotion to the people's service—(hear, hear) —have earned for him their undying regard and En eern. (Cheers.) ENLARGEMENT OF THE LIBERAL PROGRAMME. The organisation of the party and the programme of the party must be alike enlarged to meet the necessities of the situation which will have been created. I se3 that in some quarters the Tories are consoling themselves for the changes which they fear. They hope that at all events they will put an end to the power and the influence of the dreaded caucus. (Laughter.) They never were more mistaken in their life. (Cheers.) The caucus is like the fabled hydra. You may strike off its head, and half a dozen new ones-- (laughter)—spring from the dismembered trunk. (Laughter.) There will be more need than ever for organisation-(hear, hear.)-rif you are to Praia the full advantage from the new conditions. Vested interests, special crotchets, personal claims —they have a natural tendency to combine; they are on their defence. They are bound together by common ties, and by common fears and if the public good, if the interest. of the great majority is without discipline and without recognised leaders, it will be like a mob, and disperse before the steady tread of a few policemen or before the charge of a handful of cavalry. (Cheers.) I desire to impress upon you that our free and open representative Liberal associations are the essential condition of success in the future as they have mainly contributed to our sue ess in the past. I (Hear, hear.) But, although the principle re- mains, the form may very likely have to be changed. THE OBJECTS OF THE PARTY. I In the big towns we have two objects in view. In the first place I hope to express your opinion when I say that we all de-ire that the unity of the comtituenc es should be preserved—(hear, hear)—that the initiative and the momentum which have been the prerogatives of these great com- munities should be continued. We should all be be sorry if the places which have been occupied with so much honour- Manchester, and Leeds, and Birmingham, and other large towns—should in the future be empty if these potent voices should be silenced, and if all the traditions of the past, and their bright examples, should be so much ancient history, carrying with them no practical lesson for the future. But on the other hand, in our reverence for the past, do not let us omit to salute the rising stars-the new constituencies into which our borough is to be divided. They should be encouraged, and invited, and stimulated to dis- charge with honour and dignity the responsi- bilities to which they are called. (Hear, near.) What the exact form and details of the new ¡ organisation should be may well be left to the constituencies themselves. (Hear, hear.) THE NEW CONSTITJENCIES. It seems to me, however, that it will almost be a necessity of future union and future success that in each of these districts there should be created a powerful and representative district council of the Liberal association—(hear, hear)—and that to this district council should be wholly left the duty of selecting the candidates for each of the localities. (Cheers.) But then these district councils winch unite to form the United Liberal Association of Birmingham would be no longer an Eight Hundred it would be more likely a "Two Thousand"—(hear, hear, and a laugh)— which would alone have the power of collecting and expressing the opinion of the whole town and so under this system you would have the federated association defining—formulating the policy and the programme of the Liberal party as a whole, while the district councils would select their spokesmen and representatives in Parlia- ment, on the school board, and in the town council, to carry this policy without interference, control or dictation from any other body whatso- ever. (Cheers.) When your organisation is per. fected, when in due proportion to their numbers every class and every district sends up its member to the great council of the nation, which, for the first time, will be truiy representative, what will this assembly do with the powers entrusted to it ? What eifect will the change we have been considering have upon THE FUTURE POLICY OF THE COUNTRY ? What will be the direetion of the new legislation in which we shall all be engaged ? I hope at some future time to have an opportunity of deal- ing more in detail than I can do to-night with the programme of the Liberal party. (Cheers.) But tbe: are two important branches of the subject on which, with your permission, I wish to make a few general observations. (Hear, hear.) In the first place, then, I think that on the whole, the extension of popular authority will make for peace. The late Mr Carlyle, in one of his books, says that the common people desire war, because in wartime there is a demand for common people to be shot. I do not believe in the truth of this cynical ob- servation. (Hear, hear.) I do not think that democracy will have any love for a policy of intervention and aggression, nor any ambition for conquest and universal dominion. These things lead straight to conscription, and you will not be eager or even willing to pay the blood tax which is levied on your brethren in continental countries. (Cheers.) EGYPT. I I anticipate, then, that you will give no assist- ance to the party which is clamouring for what they call a strong foreign policy, and which at this moment, in the interest chiefly of the bondholders and financial specula- tors, are calling upon us to take possession of Egypt without regard to the wishes of the popula- tion, or the just susceptibilities of other nations. We are in Egypt at this time in pursuance of an unselfish object. Our task has proved of greater magnitude than we had anticipated it is one, indeed, of almost unexampled difficulty. We have met with hostility and opposition in quar- ters where we had reason to hope for assistance ;uid co-operation, but we will not be driven from o\u- intentions. (Cheers.) We will not yield one jot, either to the perfidious suggestions of dubious friends abroad or to the interested clamour of financial greed at home-(cheers)- and we will not destroy the independence which we are solemnly pledged to Europe and to Parlia- ment to respect. (Cheers). I hope and believe that in this course we shall have your approval— (hear, hear)—and that you will kaow bow to ] distinguish between a policy of justice and a Eolicy of weakness. (Hear, hear). It is not the ravest man who blusters most. (Hear, hear). And the universal bully at a time of pinch is very likely to be found a universal coward. (Cheers). DEMOCRATS NOT AFRAID OF WAR. But if the occasion should come to assert the authority of England, a democratic Government resting on the confidence and support of the whole nation, and not on the favour of any limited class, would be very strong. It would know how to make itself respected, and how to maintain the obligations and the honour of the country. I think that foreign rulers would be very ill-advised if they were to assume, because we are anxious to avoid all cause of quarrel with our neighbours, that, therefore, we are wanting in the old spirit of Englishmen, or that we should be found very tolerant of insult or long-suffering under injury. But, then, I hope that the conscious- ness of strength will bring with it the calmness and the confidence which are the characteristics of asense of power and the possession of true courage. Suspicion, irritation, and nervousness, which seem to characterise a certain school of politicians among us, are to my mind altogether inconsistent with the dignity of a great nation, whose resolution never to suffer wrong should make it slow either to give or to take offence. A NECESSITY OF MAINTAINING ENGLAND'S DIGNITY. If we are to be thrown into an agony of appre- hension every time any other nation shows signs of restlessness, our power of effective interven- tion will be lessened when there is real occasion to put it forth. It would be humiliating indeed if England, the mistress of half the world, were to be driven to imitate the conduct of an angry scold, and indulge in a fit of hysterical passion because Germany had snapped up some unconsidered trifle of territory which we have hitherto not thought it worth our while to acquire. If it be necessary, as I think it may be, to re- view our foreign and colonial policy in the light of recent events, let us face the altered cireum- stances of the problem in the spirit of full grown men, and not with the pettish outcry of frightened children. I regret the action, how- ever natural it may be deemed on some grounds, which the German Government has thought it necessary to take. I see that it is stated that Prince Bismarck, the veteran statesman whose great ability, high courage, and force of character have given him an extraordinary position in European politics, has been influenced in his recent acquisitions by a personal dislike to Mr Gladstone, and a desire to embarrass his Government. I do not believe it. BISMARCK AND MR GLADSTONE. Prince Bismarck is much too large-minded a man to allow a private prejudice to affect his great designs, and he is much too wise to affront a friendly nation in the person of its chief in order to gratify a feeling of momentary irritation. (Hear, hear.) I have no doubt that he has very different and much more worthy motives for the policy he has pursued but not the less on that account I am sorry that he should have thought it his duty to imitate a course which has already created widespread feelings of uneasiness, and which has produced feelings of the deepest irrita- tion and alarm in those dependencies of the Crown whose prosperity and welfare are regarded with the liveliest satisfaction by every Englishman. (Cheers.) It does not need a prophet to predict that in the course of the next half century the Australian colonies will have attained a position in which no power will be strong enough to ignore them, and that they will have a supreme authority in the Pacific seas, and for my part I cannot look with any confidence on any settlement which may be made in those regions in defiance of their united opposition. OUR OBLIGATIONS TO THE COLONIES. Meanwhile, we are not unmindful of our obliga- tions. If foreign nations are determined to pursue distant colonial enterprises, we have no right to prevent them. We cannot anticipate them in every case by proclaiming a universal protectorate in every unoccupied portion of the globe's surface which English enterprise has hitherto neglected, but our fellow-subjects may rest assured that their liberties, their rights, and their interests are as dear to us as our own, and if ever they are seriously menaced the whole power of the country will be exerted for their defence—(cheers)— and that the English democracy will stand shoul- der to shoulder throughout the world to maintain the honourand integrity of the empire. (Cheers.) And now I turn to the last point upon which I propose to address you. What is to be the nature of THE DOMESTIC LEGISLATION OF THE FUTURE? (Hear, hear.) I cannot help thinking that; it will be more directed to what are called social subjects than has hitherto been the case. How to promote the greater happiness of the people--(hear, hear)— how to increase their enjoyment of life. (Cheers.) That is the problem of the future—and just as there are politicians who would occupy all the world and leave nothing for the ambition of anybody else, so we have the counter part at home in the men who, having already annexed everything that is worth having, expect every- body else to be content with the crumbs that fall from their table. Now if you will go back to the origin of things, you will find that when our social arrangements first began to shape them- selves, every man was born into the world with natural rights, with a right to share in the great inheritance of the community, with a right to a part of the land of his birth, (Loud cheers.) Well, but all these rights have passed away The common rights of ownership have disappeared. Some of them have been sold. Some of them have been given away by people who had no right todis- pose of them; some of them havebeaolost through apathy and ignorance some have been qtolen by fraud—(cheers)—and some have been acquired by violence. Private ownership has taken the place of these communal rights, and this system has become so interwoven with onr habits and usages, it has been so sanctioned by law and protected by custom that it might be very diffi- cult, and, perhaps, impossible to reverse it. THE CURE FOR DEPRESSED TRADE. You must look for the cure in legislation, laying the heaviest burdens on the shoulders best able to bear them. (Cheers.) Legislation will, in some degree, at any rate, replace rthe labourer on the soil, and find employment for him without forcing him into competition with the citizens of the towns. (Hear, hear). Legislation which will give a free education to every child in the land- (cheers)—and which will thus enable everyone, even the poorest, to make the best; use of the faculties with which he ntay be gifted. (Hear, hear). Gentlemen, I congratulate you on the fair prospect which is opening' up for the class to ¡ which you belong. In the era which is now commencing we shall see many experiments intended to lessen the evils which poverty brings in its train, to increase the x-ewards of labour, to bring hope to the miserable, to give courage to the weak, and in this way to advance the aim and end of all our Liberal policy—the greatest happiness to the greatest number. (Loud and continued cheers.) The toast of Our Governing Bodies" was afterward& honoured, and the proceedings ter- minated.





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