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halfpence when they were scarce. And the dealer he did come-oh, yes, he did come in a two-wheeled cart twice a week, every week of his life, and weigh and pay-no trouble about that, but money in hand paid.
But the privet berries, now, for the dyer, they must wait until after the frost, when they would pinch soft between finger and thumb, and leave a deep purple stain. And they must be carried to the factory in the town. But then—there was many a good sort about in the village or on the road to give an old woman a lift.
And sloes must wait for the winter too, and some years they were on the blackthorn bushes so thick as ever they could stick. Really and truly until it was washed off by the rain they were sometimes blue with bloom-most beautiful. But they went to the gentry, mostly to make sloe gin. She had quite a private connection for the sloes, and the same people bought them year after year.
Why, you must get quite rich,' said I, ‘at this time of the year.'
'I can knock along,' she boasted, 'wold as I be, an' put away a shillen, too. I've a-bin poor all my life. But I've a-bin happy an' picked up bread day by day. There is that in the open vields is more company to I, 'an a street o' volk I don't know. Zunshine or rain, an' all but the hard vrostes, I do enjoy life. I do. But the young mus' all run away now-a-days.'
She paused to think. Then suddenly raised her arms above her head.
God-A’mighty, master!' she cried. What mus' it be to be poor in thik girt place ?'
Appalled at the thought she turned away and bent over her applepicking. Yet presently she stood up and was merry again.
I positively suspected that wrinkled old eyelid of a wink.
THE UNIONIST FREE TRADERS
THE aims and objects of the Unionist Free Traders are the subject of the following article, and by Unionist Free Traders I mean Conservatives and Liberal Unionists who mean to remain Unionists as well as Free Traders, notwithstanding the fact that for the moment the great bulk of the Unionist party has, under the fascination exercised by Mr. Chamberlain, given a temporary adhesion to the policy of Tariff Reform. The public has been puzzled by the spectacle of seeing certain Unionist Free Traders in the House of Commons and in the country joining the Liberals, and imagine from this that the Unionist Free Trade movement is nothing more than a secession from the Unionist party to their opponents. Though it is easy to see how such a view has arisen, no greater mistake can possibly be made than to imagine that the Unionist Free Traders, in creating a separate organisation, are merely making a halfway house for themselves in their road to Liberalism. But I shall be asked, if this is so, what is the meaning of the Unionist Free Traders leaving the Unionist party, and organising themselves for the political battle. My answer is that the Unionist Free Traders are organising themselves, not because they mean to join the Liberals, but because they mean to do nothing of the kind. If they meant to join the Liberals there would be no necessity for a separate organisation. Their aims and objects, their intentions and their policy can be best expressed by stating what they mean to do. In the first place they mean to maintain both the Union and Free Trade. Secondly, they mean to remain Unionists, and to withstand all attempts on the part of the Protectionists to force them to give up their Unionism and become Liberals. Thirdly, they are determined to organise themselves on a strictly Unionist basis ; that is, they mean to keep themselves separate from the party of their late opponents, the Liberals, in order that when Mr. Chamberlain's policy has been defeated, as it inevitably will be, at the next General Election, they may be ready to help reconstitute the Unionist party on a Free Trade basis. In a word, the Unionist Free Traders mean to make their Free Trade views effective, by defeating Protection and by reconstructing the Unionist
party after that defeat on a Free Trade basis. These aspirations will no doubt be declared ridiculous by our opponents, but at any rate that is what they are determined to do, and history shows that parties quite as small in number as they are have accomplished equally important results.
· II If these are the aims and objects of the Free Trade Unionist party, how are they to be carried out? The essential point at the present moment is, as I have said, for Unionist Free Traders to make their Free Trade views effective. Though they are equally determined to make their Unionist views effective, there is at the present moment little necessity to take special action in regard to the Union, for in fact the Union is not in danger. Save for a few exceptional men and a few exceptional constituencies, it is admitted by all who think clearly and speak onestly that Home Rule is not before the country. The Liberal party, as a whole, is utterly tired of the issue, and though the Liberal leaders cannot be expected to stand in a white sheet and openly abandon Home Rule, it is clear that they have no wish whatever to put it before the cause of Free Trade, or to force any one to choose between the Union and Free Trade. No Liberal Home Ruler, that is, dreams of declaring that a man cannot be a co-worker with Liberals for the cause of Free Trade at the next General Election unless he will proclaim himself a Home Ruler as well as a Free Trader. Such a coupling of Free Trade and Home Rule is never suggested even by the most vehement of Liberals. This willingness on the part of the Liberal party to sink Home Rule at the next election is intensified by the disillusionment of the Liberals in regard to the Irish party, which has been proceeding during the last four or five years, and may be said to have become complete during the present Session. The Irish Nationalists have proved themselves the remorseless enemies of almost everything that the Liberals care for. Again, Liberals well understand that, though not openly expressed, the Irish Nationalists are Protectionists almost to a man, and would be quite willing, 'when the proper time comes,' to do a deal with Mr. Chamberlain in order to secure special Protectionist privileges for Ireland. Therefore the Unionist Free Traders, while remaining as strong in their support of the Union as ever, can feel that the essential thing before them at the present time is the making of their Free Trade views effective. Now this cannot be accomplished except by opposing Protection under all its many aliases; whether in the crude and open form supported by Mr. Chamberlain, Mr. Henry Chaplin, and the Tariff Reform League or in the apparently milder but in reality equally dangerous form advocated by Mr. Balfour. But under a system of Parliamentary Government there is only one effective way of opposing Protection, and that is to vote for Free Trade. Therefore Unionist Free Traders,
Voz, LVI-No. 330
though they are determined to remain Unionists, mean to make their Free Trade views effective by voting for Free Trade candidates irrespective of party. They mean, that is, to give the coup de grâce to Protection. In doing this, however, they need not and do not feel that they are putting off that reunion and reconstruction of the Unionist party which is one of their essential aims. On the contrary, they feel that they can best obtain that object by making the defeat of the Protectionist Unionists at the polls at the next General Election as complete as possible. It is as certain as anything can be in human affairs that if the overthrow of both Chamberlainism and Balfourism is as overwhelming as the Unionist Free Traders can, and I believe will, render it, an immense number of Conservatives and Liberal Unionists who are now under the glamour of Mr. Chamberlain's policy will be thoroughly disillusioned. Many of them will be found to have supported Mr. Chamberlain because they thought he was going to sweep the country, and because they liked the idea of being contributories to a great party victory. When they find that he has done no such thing, but instead has led them to utter ruin, and when they see that what two years ago was the strongest and most united political party in the country has been smashed to atoms, and reduced to a state of impotence as complete as that which marked the Liberal party from 1895 till last year, what are likely to be their sentiments in regard to the men who have led them into a position so deplorable ? Will not they begin to ask whether Mr. Chamberlain was a wise guide, and whether they had not better have kept in the old ways, and maintained the old safe policy which Lord Salisbury represented, and which the Duke of Devonshire, Mr. Ritchie, Lord Balfour of Burleigh, and Lord George Hamilton were ready and willing to carry on? It was not, they will reflect, to ruin and destroy their party that they followed Mr. Chamberlain, and in the stress of the reaction that will follow thousands of voices are certain to be raised in favour of the reconstruction of the party on its old basis, which included Free Trade. Then will come the opportunity of the Unionist Free Traders of those, that is, who, while Free Traders and determined to make their Free Trade views effective, have refused to join the Liberal party, but have maintained their Unionism and created a Unionist though a Free Trade organisation. Unionist Free Traders will be able to point out that reunion can always be effected by the abandonment of Protection. They will not, it is needless to say, ask for the sacrifice of particular individuals, but as long as Protection is abandoned once and for all they will be ready to reunite with their old friends and colleagues. .
III I am perfectly prepared to hear it said that this is a dream, and that the bulk of the Unionist party will never be able to abandon Protection or to free themselves from the heavy burden of Mr. Chamber
lain's policy. To this I would reply that a policy adopted so quickly as the Protectionist policy was adopted may be abandoned with equal promptitude. When the glamour of a promised victory has departed from the Chamberlain policy men will find it by no means difficult to throw over, and will long to return to saner and safer ways. No doubt the process of reconversion and reconstruction will not be carried out in a day, and will require time and patience; but remember that what the Unionist Free Traders will have to offer will be by no means insignificant. When the Unionist Free Traders are properly organised in each constituency, as they will be if the Unionist Free Traders do their duty, and constitute a firm and compact body outside the party, but ready to return to it, the temptation to the party managers to get them once more into the party fold will be immense. When then the Unionist party managers recognise that they cannot regain power unless they satisfy the Unionist Free Traders, they will in the end give the pledges which the Unionist Free Traders are determined to obtain. It will be said, perhaps, that this is a delusion, and I shall be told that Mr. Chamberlain and Mr. Balfour counted the cost of secession before they abandoned the policy of Free Trade and took up Protection. They knew that they must lose a great many Free Trade votes, and they will not change their policy because they have obtained practical proof of the fact. This argument, however, ignores a very important consideration, Mr. Chamberlain and Mr. Balfour no doubt knew perfectly well that they would lose the Unionist Free Trade votes, but they calculated on obtaining for Protection a wide support from the non-party portion of the nation, and even from a good number of those who call themselves Liberals or Radicals. These new adherents they fully believed would outweigh the Free Trade Unionists. Their calculation has already turned out ridiculously wrong, and will be still further falsified at the General Election. Protection has found no adherence among Liberals, and instead of attracting the non-party men has sent them in thousands, as the figures of the bye-elections show, to vote for Free Trade candidates. I hold then that, if the defeat of Mr. Chamberlain is as complete at the polls as I believe it will be, the shrewder minds among the Unionist party managers will realise that reunion with the Unionist Free Traders is essential unless the party is to wander in the wilderness, as did the Liberal party after its adoption of Home Rule. In any case the ideal of forming a body whose special aim and object it shall be to reunite in the future the Unionist party, scattered and broken by Mr. Chamberlain, is one well worth working for. If we fail in this part of our policy we shall have done no harm, while if we succeed we shall have killed Protection for the next fifty years. Personally I believe we shall succeed in both our aims, i.e. in maintaining Free Trade and in reuniting the Unionist party on a Free Trade basis. At any rate it will be far easier for us to succeed in our aim of reuniting