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State of the Reform Bill
From Tait's Edinburgh Magazine (1859)


In last December a few lines were published in a newspaper of the East of Scotland, recording the death of a ploughman, apparently at a good old age, in no extraordinary manner, but probably from the exhaustion of life spent in hard labour, until the fine machine was worn out and could go no longer. This announcement was copied by nearly all the papers, yet the ploughman had been guilty of no great crime, was descended from no marked family, had been involved in no noted transaction, had exhibited no genius beyond being perhaps a little pawkie and shrewd, and of no grievous iniquity had he been the victim. His path through life was distinguished only by his capacity for keeping money. He was heir to nobody who could increase his riches, and no person, in any caprice, had included him in a last “will” All his means had been produced by his own strength, and he was less remarkable for earning than for keeping, Economy was the secret of Ms little fortune and the man died worth six or seven hundred pounds.

Agricultural labourers in any part of the country have only limited wages, but in the eastern counties of Scotland they are better paid than in many other districts and they do harder work. This man may therefore have drawn eighteen or twenty pounds yearly during his active life, in addition to his board and lodging. His fare would be abundant, although not of the most costly kind, and to his lodgings great objections could probably be raised,

He was a man of milk, oats and potatoes, and an acquisition to the arguments of the vegetarians. The peasantry of Scotland possess immense personal strength, especially among the agricultural and out of-door labourers. It is often dormant power and an untrained strength, in the Sessession of good natured persons; but doubtless it exists along with practical sobriety and vegetarianism. For the former or the sobriety, unhappy exceptions exist, at half-yearly feeing markets, and a few holidays, in the depth of winter. To the latter there may also be occasional exceptions, but they are not so numerous now, as they were sixty or eighty or a hundred years since, when we have distinct evidence that on the banks of the larger salmon streams apprentices had stipulations in their indentures against salmon, for more than two meals in each day ; and when all the individuals on one farm, excepting the cottiers who lived in their own houses —had meals at the same table, and all had an interest in the marts killed and salted for winter.

The particular ploughman whose fortunes attracted the attention of the journalists had subsisted chiefly on meal and milk, and had earned in 30 years the sum of money which at his death was his property. he had accumulated a fatege part of the fund by interests. The moss would grow if it were “let alone,” and a central sum of sayings once established^ Is its own nurse. The proceeds of the ploughman’s capital had for some years equalled or exceeded his wages; and his money had created more new money for him than his work. Even with this additional source of income he must have been a careful and economical personage who indulged in no benevolent freaks; and probably never read the journals that celebrate the achievement of his life. The current literature of his time would not occupy his hours, if it cost him money. According to the advice of able magistrates and accomplished political economists he avoided “the crime” of indiscriminate alms, and omitted any giving to the poor. A man in his situation could not be expected to dispense charity in any large amount, but he must have clung even to the mite, and experienced the gnawings of a griping spirit. It is almost certain that he obeyed the letter of the law, and was a citizen of estimable negations. He had not been a poacher, from a healthy dread of fines and imprisonment; and so in the opinion of the magistrates in his parishes he was a good member of the ploughing and the reaping society. The six or seven hundred pounds are so many certificates of his sobriety; and appear good proofs that if he did not actually adopt the practice of the Total Abstinence Society he did not afford any encouragement to the distillers, from his own means.

The second ploughman like the first is not named, but we almost assume that he also belongs to the eastern counties of Scotland. It is more than probable that he is not rich; almost certain that he is a sober man, and is not a poacher even, or in any manner disobedient to the civil law. Dr. Guthrie, of Edinburgh, at a recent meeting in behalf of the ragged schools there, read a letter of apology from this ploughman. The apology consisted in the statement that he is the only son of his mother and she is a widow, to whose support he contributes, therefore, so far as his means permit. He made this apology to Dr. Guthrie because he had read the volume of sermons entitled “The City, its sins and its sorrows,” and inclosed in his note ten shillings to be applied for the benefit of these schools. The ploughman deemed an apology necessary for the remittance because it was so small. Many peepons of more riches give less or nothing to such objects, and make little or no apology even to their own consciences on the subject. This ploughman reads books of considerable standing in literature. He names a volume that is appreciated chiefly by persons with enlightened minds. Certainly it might arouse the latent sympathies of the rude and unlettered but they are not in the habit of reading Dr. Guthrie’s works. For that reason we presume that the author had, in this instance, for a correspondent, a superior ploughman, who may have twenty-five or thirty pounds even, in addition to board and lodging, as the price of his superiority by the year. The guess is, however, very liberal, and the probability is strong, that all his earnings come under the smaller sum. As he assists to support his mother out of these earnings, any sensible person will readily see how long an apology should accompany often a hundred pounds towards a good, great object, if any apology was requisite with these ten shillings.

We hope that the second ploughman may pass through a noon of strength to an afternoon of comfort, and an evening of repose; but unless something occur to him out of the ordinary course, he will never save six or seven hundred pounds by ploughing. He perhaps,—indeed, the qualification may be withdrawn—he relies upon a promise—he thinks his bread and his water sure; or at any rate, he feels that all his wants will be supplied from the most abundant storehouse, so long as it is deemed necessary for him to have any wants. He labours, probably, under the doubts that trouble many, though he may not be able to put them in words, concerning the difficulty of individual Christians, not making a great amount of money—there is little difficulty in supposing that—but dying rich. It must be a difficult thing to do. Now, however, our concern is with life, and the cause of the living.

The two agricultural labourers are representative men. Both may stand out as examples of good citizenship in a negative sense. Both obeyed the law, doubtless, and that is no small virtue. Immediately, however, at this point, their lives run on diverging roads. One of them sought to make provision for himself—to become rich, and feel his importance in the world. In a limited measure, this course was not only consistent with virtue, but in itself virtuous. The second, more thoughtful for others than himself, follows a more generous course. His virtue is of a higher order than that of the rich ploughman, and he is actuated by a nobler wisdom. Many persons who will not hearken to the “Go thou and do likewise,” will admire the generosity of this ploughman’s self-denial, and acknowledge that he is a representative man of a high type. He inquires after the intellectual education that the other needed not; in the sense that although he needed it, yet he did not feel the want. He is fellow-man to the miserable, the untaught, and the wicked; not as a participator either in guilt or ignorance, but as sympathising for their consequences, here and ever. We cannot doubt that he is a merciful man, and his horses will pull stronger for his kindness and prudence. All men are less or more in the nature of leaven, affecting the lump around them; but this man affects it for good, and not imperceptibly, but strongly. If he live in a bothy, all in the bothy are the better or signally the worse for his company. Some men are so neutral, that there is difficulty in discerning their current; but this is a decided man we suppose—very decided, and one who makes his example felt. Neither a preacher nor a teacher in one sense, he is effectually both preaching and teaching by example. Such men are invaluable among others, and especially among the young but particularly so on these large farms where generally a sufficient number of labourers congregate for mischief, and yet experience disadvantages in seeking after intellectual and moral or religious improvement.

The constitution of these kingdoms had certain dealings with these two men. One may have been an integral part of the constitution, or he may not, but he was able for a long period to have claimed that  position. The other, under the existing law, may never be able to exercise a direct influence on the legislature. Both men had the privilege of asking, and one of the two might have had the right of doing. Nothing prevented the ploughman who died worth six or seven hundred pounds, for the last twenty years I probably, from investing capital in house property, and becoming one of the million;—the three kingdoms have a million of electors or thereoy. The same lime and stone might have enfranchised two persons—the occupant and the owner of the premises—although a human body and a human soul could not accomplish that object, in accordance with our constitutional principles. The citizen of negative virtue, therefore, in his position, could have enjoyed the full rights of an emancipated subject. The citizen of both negative and positive virtues could only enjoy the limited rights of protection bestowed on a tolerated subject. Even this distinction against the better, and in favour of the inferior person, is aggravated by its being consequential upon the superior qualities of the one, over those of the other. It is the necessary result of the man’s being better than his contemporary at the plough ; and not better in ploughing, but better in all the duties of life, and a better member of our society; also a better “man of the world,” for the best men of this world have their being and their hopes linked to that enduring and nobler world. The conditions of the present franchise are impracticable to a ploughman whose only inheritance is his mother, and she is a widow, with no other son to aid in her support—except he neglect certain duties. For him there is, and can be, no hope of attaining this right, unless he will decline all other purposes and coil himself up into a selfish ball of porcupine prickles to every good feeling and kind sympathy. No man should be admitted within the pale of a civil constitution on account of his religion, for that should never be a political test, neither should it be a test of exclusion; yet it is transformed to that base use. The second ploughman had a duty to discharge, as a Christian, but if ou discharge it, the Constitution says no open remains of entering within my circle of a million; take your chance, neglect our mind; do not read Dr. Guthrie’s books, for you can neither afford the fee for them nor similar works; contract your mind within the stables or the stilts; thousands of boys and girls grow up festering in crime and ignorance—heed them not, they are not yours—let them grow to misery or perish—your ten shillings will not reform these evils; but they will help to raise your cairn and let you step from it, among my million of specimen men,—you live in Scotland, and will need five hundred of these half-sovereigns to make you an elector. It is a pity, if you lived in England, one hundred of them would answer for that object. You do not know any reason for the difference. No, of course you do not, being only a ploughman and uninitiated in political mysteries; hut it’s all right—the Edinburgh Whigs, you may remember, shook Arthur’s Seat and Salisbury Crags (the constitution is absolutely becoming figurative,) because a proposal was made to confine the votes of forty shilling freeholders in England within the constituency in whose division their ground was situated; yet, your Edinburgh leaders said that the qualification of forty shillings was not suitable to you, but two hundred shillings were very good. So you cannot help yourself unless by crossing the Tweed, but perseverance will overcome all difficulties in time. Keep every shilling—let ragged schools alone—grudge your mother even a little assistance—true, she gave you life, and supported and trained you from infancy to youth,—very true, you have been her hope for years that otherwise would have been lonely— but be scrimping and careful in your assistance to her—and you may rise within the circle of one million.”

The ploughman might deem it better to be out of the ring at that price. That is his affair. This is the price exacted by the constitution, not for its honours, but for its rights.

We know the answer; for it will be said that the object is to keep from the registry persons who have no stake in the country. The ploughman would be considered a qualified elector if any rule could be made for his admission; but not the spendthrift, poorer than him by doing evil instead of good. All this argument implies only that we have the same punishment in respect to one matter, and that a deeply important matter, whether a man does ill or well.

Our ploughman’s stake in the country would be deemed probably very sufficient, but he could not be admitted on the registry and the drunken idle and ignorant be excluded; but let us quite comprehend the cause of this exclusion. Nobody will be more drunken, more idle, and more ignorant than certain voters of Gloucester and Wakefield were last year. A man is not excluded from the franchise because he is drunken, idle or ignorant. A moral franchise has not been establisheded. Perhaps it might be good and useful ut it does not exist, and the Legislature should not attempt indirectly to do what it will not effect u straight forwardly.” Farther still this argument goes on the supposition that the enfranchised classes are more industrious, more learned and even more sober than the unenfranchised. Perhaps no person acquainted with society is prepared to allege this opinion as his property, and something quite consistent with truth. Many men of excellent notions and principles, who have not studied this subject, really believe that in consenting to a six pound rating or renting qualification in boroughs, and declining to go lower, they secure a constituency greatly superior for industry, intellect and sobriety to those who would be enrolled under manhood suffrage, with all the restrictions to which the societies formed to promote that object, cheerfully consented, or even with Lord Teignmouth’s suggestion superadded, of an intellectual qualification extending to reading and writing.

They are blind men, rushing over a career of which they do not believe the consequences; necessary and unavoidable consequences. In London they propose to qualify every huckster possible—almost every stall keeper; and to refuse qualifications to two or three hundred thousand of the most intellectual men in the metro-rolls. An immense number of families ve in lodgings there, who are in every manner respectable—even in riches. Their lodgings are not always or often furnished. In some towns the phrase “lodgings” applicable to them would be misunderstood. Houses are let to one person almost invariably there, who sublets them as apartments, furnished or unfurnished; but generally in the latter condition, and who often has his own room or two rooms free of rent and taxes for his risk and trouble. This middleman who absolutely pays neither rent nor taxes, is the only franchised person in a house, rented at forty, fifty or sixty pounds. Nobody will deny that the lodgers may be equals in intelligence and worth tp the tenant, yet as they cannot be registered from the parochial books they are exposed to difficulties in proving their claim, amounting almost to parochial disfranchisement.

Without some inquiry into the operation of these franchises nearly all men suppose that a six pound or an eight pound qualification is a little safer than personal voting. It goes, they think, scarcely so far, or not nearly so far; and that the additions it makes to the electoral role are more intelligent and respectable persons then those whom it excludes. This is the blunder of all parties, yet in huge cities six pounds householders are less likely to be independent and intelligent men then the multitude of married lodgers, and of young men, residing with their families, or in lodgings, whom that line excludes, not because they pay less for house-room, or are unable to pay more but because they pay it in a different manner. The common supposition that every extension of the franchise is a descent into more impracticable soil is a mistake. The five to six millions of persons whom even a franchise of six pounds in boroughs, and ten pounds in counties would not reach, are not all incapable of paying these rents. The majority of them could pay the money with ease, but the arrangement does not suit their circumstances until they can pay a higher sum.

The million and a-half who will be enfranchised by the scheme may not be the best or the wisest fifth in the three kingdoms. Mr. Bright said at Birmingham that the qualifications would certainly include all the middle and higher classes; but it certainly will exclude one half of the educated middle classes.

Hie Cabinet name measures of reform in their programme, and they do no more. In the Commons intimation has been given that Lord John Russell will introduce their bill on the 20th February current, but no official informamation of its nature has been afforded except what may be collected out of Mr. Bright’s speeches. At Birmingham he apologised slightly for the advocacy of anything so small. At Manchester he advocated it, without apology. In both places he avoided the rating of last year as dangerous ground. He came forward when the agitation for a manhood suffrage had acquired some force and split its strength by the proposal of a rating qualification. Next a bill was drawn by him or his Mends and published. Then some idea was expressed of moving its provisions formally in the Commons.. All these things have passed away and “left not a wreck behind.” Now we are urged to take the best measure that may be offered. For Hobson’s choice therefore one Ministry was put out and another was put in, while twelvemonths were lost. As if to clear away any doubt concerning the propriety of that course the late war is lugged into the business; from which Louis Napoleon is made to hint that the Whigs delivered us. At present one party seem to have got over familiar with an Emperor of Napoleon’s antecedents, for persons who wish to keep a good character as reformers. Mind, they say, we do not refer to his politics in France, Better not we should think, for on them the less said the sooner mended. But why have much to do with friends for whose character in parts they need to make this meagre apology? The pretence is that the country might have been drawn into war except for the change of Government, caused on a speculative vote on reform; or anything larger than might have been had twelvemonths since; without the celebrated meeting in Willis’s rooms, and the resolution moved by a nobleman; wholikea comet shook the world for dread, and like a comet never having been seen before, may never be seen more in the existing generation.

Even if the new Reform bill shall give a rental qualification of six in the boroughs and ten in counties—pounds in each case, according to Mr. Bright it will add only one third to the existing voters, raising them from a million to a million and a half. According to the same authority the number of males in the community over twenty one years of age is eleven and a half millions. Now, therefore, we have a franchise of two in fifteen, hereafter we are to have one of three in fifteen. The new measure will give us twenty per cent, of the reality. We shall be one-fifth represented and four-fifths not represented, x et already some excellent members of Parliament, and even independent members too, talk of this as a final measure, for these expressions have been used by Mr. Edwin James and Mr. Horsman. Among publications the Times more consistently says it or anything will do for twenty-five years. A better apprehension of the facts was expressed by Mr. Henley of Oxfordshire, when he told the Commons last year that they need not squabble very bitterly for a pound either way, as no franchise they could carry would last twenty-five years.

Reformers are entitled surely, in spite of all their apathy, to have the lodger qualification proposed by Mr. Disraeli, enlarged and incorporated in the measure. It cannot be considered revolutionary. In all boroughs and cities it would qualify men of a higher order of mind, and a higher position than many already within the circle, or who will get into it by the new third to be added to its width. The refusal of this qualification could not be justified by any arguments or any facts.

Fifty pounds capital in a savings’ bank, was once suggested by Lord John Russell as a fair balance to forty shilling freeholding, and Mr. Disraeli proposed sixty pounds for no apparent reason except to diner ten pounds on the exclusion side. This qualification need not be dropped and become only a memory or a name, a matter of “fancy” once propounded like a dream of the Arabian nights, heard and forgotten. It can do no harm, perhaps it may do good. All the persons who will qualify upon it must have at least sixty pounds in the national funds.

Mr. Disraeli proposed to give any person a vote who had an income of ten pounds from national stock or any other stock associated with imperial credit or interests. This franchise was only ridiculous from its magnitude in comparison with the sixty pounds qualification; for surely it were better that the elector had his claim from investments, made regularly, than from deposits that may, on a week’s notice, be withdrawn. The stock certainly may be sold—but while the depositor risks nothing, the purchaser of securities risks their fell in prices:—of course he had the hope of u a rise,”—and from both events he has an interest in. national prosperity, that the depositor wants. Instead of an income of ten pounds one of two pounds, or forty shillings free-holding, should answer the same purpose. Nobody will fail to see that this might be a diminishing franchise for as the nation became prosperous and reduced the number of its creditors, it would also reduce the number of its electors, but it will be long before this operation Min be troublesome. We are not dealing with a final measure, and Mr. Henley is wiser than Mr. Horsman or Mr. James.

Direct taxation is a favorite subject with one class of reformers,. and they should throw a new charm around it in making all income tax receipts documents to vote with. This would give persons of a certain income, residing in lodgings, a reason for not evading payment, or forgetting to be taxed; and while it consists strictly with constitutional opinions it might help a little the national revenue.

We have never heard a valid objection to enfranchisement in or by policies of Life Assurance held in companies whose directors might be willing to submit their affairs to a Government audit. These documents acquire value by time, and they are of their nominal value at once in certain contingencies. No other documents in the possession of persons not otherwise enfranchised, could better show their desire for independence. Among the labouring and operative classes the practice! deserves encouragement. Its extension would elevate their monetary circumstances ; and with them their educational and moral condition. If indeed the object of statesmen was to include on the electoral registry, the hale hearted and well-intentioned men of the working classes, this scheme would have been adopted as first of the franchises, styled by Mr. Bright “fancy qualifications,” with rather more sarcasm than truth. By this plan our ploughman of the higher grades might become an elector; and even if no better results arose from the adoption of this system than the increase of life assurance policies among artisans and labourers, its merits should commend it to public use.

All these additional qualifications except the last have been proposed by leading men in one of the two Cabinets between which we oscillate; and have not therefore any of the objections thatare attached to novelty. In the coming bill we might expect their incorporation, if the independent liberals were anxious to extend its limits. Lord John Russell may even include them in his plan; and it is erroneous to suppose that they would not produce a considerable number of voters. No measure founded on limited principles can be final; and with that opinion we are not interested in rendering an interim project satisfactory; but on the other hand all parties are interested in obtaining even for a time the best measure possible; and all these subsidiary qualifications would be houses

The occupying franchises may be fixed at six pounds in boroughs, and ten pounds in counties; but more doubt exists, even still, respecting the ownership qualifications. At present, in England the forty shilling franchise brings ownership almost to its lowest limit. In Scotland, the corresponding franchise is ten pounds. Accrtding to one report it will be reduced to five pounds. The friends of these figures say that they cannot be smaller because few houses are built worth less than five pounds per annum, and we have no freeholders. They forget that in rural districts, in small towns and villages, a necessity exists for multiplying the number of cottages with a quantity of land attached. The forty shilling feu-hold, differing from the freehold, would accomplish this object. A purchaser of a forty shilling freehold may accomplish his purpose without doing any good to himself or to the locality; but the forty shilling feuholder must have placed property worth at least fifty to sixty pounds upon the land, before he could claim a vote. A feuholder is absolute owner of the land while he pays the stipulated rent. The fee cannot be raised, and die land cannot be resumed for ever, or while, in the words of some old agreement, a grass grows and water runs.” This disposition of land is more calculated to accomplish local improvements than an out and out sale of patches, for it conveys the use of the ground without infringing on the feuholder7 s money, if or that cause, it should be recognised and respected by the state; yet, it is despised, almost forgotten, and driven into a comer. It has been said that the British Parliament cannot recede from any position once taken, however it may appear by experience, unprofitable. The accusation seems to be comet, and the practice serves prejudice, if he does not provide for prudence. Forty shilling freeholds are of old institution in England, and must be supported there, not only in their natural, but in their non-natural meaning. So, when one party suggested the confinement of freeholders, qualified by land within boroughs, to their borough, instead of the county, registry; Scotland was called on for support against peat disfranchisement; yet, when we do an extension of this franchise, with bare franchises by its geographical and natural application, the request is refused upon the plea of its being new in Scotland. No other facts more dearly illustrate the prevalence of factious feeling, and the want of broad and consistent principle, among the leaders of a party, than the transactions regarding this franchise in the two countries. If it be advisable in England, it should be adopted in Scotland; and if it be right that the forty shilling freeholders of some English boroughs should vote, not in their boroughs, but in their counties, it must be right to allow those of all the boroughs, in like manner, to overstep their boundary line and go to the poll out of town. Custom is the only argument against truth in this case, and the custom of the Medea and Persians changeth not. For them legislation should be closed; yet, if they would be reformers in one particular, they ought to be reformers in all its kindred subjects.

We have for nearly two years given a large space to the consideration of various arguments respecting the suffrage; animated partly by the hope of its become a more pressing subject than judging it from any apparent circumstances it has grown. Lord John Russell received only a few days ago a deputation from the electors of London. They came with a petition entrusted to him as one of their four members, for presentation. It sought in general language a large extension of the suffrage, equal representation, vote by ballot, and triennial Parliaments. Mr. Morley, a member of the deputation, assured the noble Lord who is to propose the Government measure, that the anxiety for reform was prevalent among the constituencies. Lord John Russell, who remembers the agitation for the last Reform bill and the political unions, did not deny that statement, but he informed the deputation that this anxiety was unknown in the House of Commons. He apparently believed that its expression there might be followed by some good. Neither to the noble Lord nor to Mr. Morley did the causes occur for the absence qf any deep feeling on the subject, or they did not state these reasons, if they had an opinion concerning than; but Mr. Morley referring to Mr. Bright’s calculation mentioned the six to seven unrepresented millions as so many reasons for representing a twelfth part of the number. Either that twelfth forms all the proportion of there who should be represented, or any great interest in the bill cannot be expected from the remaining eleven-twelfths. Mr. Morley should have said that there are half a million of men without the franchise in the country, for whom we seek and there is an agitation in the country, for the benefit of this half million corresponding to their importance; or there are six millions wanting franchises; and in the meantime give us an instalment of half a million; for the demand is supported by an agitation equal to that proportion. Even the Foreign Secretary would have comprehended in the maximum of Is. 8d. per£ that no great petitioning or remonstrating could be expected.

The existing mil on this subject is moreover a vote of confidence in public men by the public. A Reform bill has been promised for many years. It has experienced no opposition, except in the course of events and want of tune. The old Ministry were put out by the present Ministry because the new had no confidence in the designs of the old on the question. Its friends, said, therefore, the new party are pledged to as much as we have been offered, and something more. The inference is strictly correct, and the public place upon it perfect reliance. If hereafter they find themselves deceived, perhaps there may be no want of excitement; and Lord John Russell will require to offer no farther hint on the subject. We do not suppose that he seeks to deceive his supporters, but is anxious to fulfil his promise, although he may require support even in the Cabinet, not upon the nature of the measure, but its necessity, at the present time. There are several reasons for postponing the bill from 1860 to 1861, or even into the subsequent year.

The middle classes are supposed by the unenfranchised to entertain no keen feeling in their favour. If the supposition be correct, the classes in question are consistent and have no strong feeling in favour of themselves. Even if no extension of the franchise were desirable or necessary, a re-distribution of members is desirable; yet, the electors of large boroughs and populous counties exhibit no anxiety to redress the insulting arrangements which now disfigure the representation and prevent it from reflecting the opinion of the million. Family influence is paramount over many small constituencies, and the influence of wealth in others. A number of seats have their prices ticketed like stalls in an opera-house; and a number more are heir looms of a family, not to be parted with at any price. Even when small constituencies discharge their duty with a distinct purpose of benefiting themselves they manage occasionally to accomplish their object at the public expense. From this cause public money is expended often in quartern that bring little or no return, because a few treasury boroughs are convenient. A division of the three kingdoms into districts by the employment of 658 to obtain a result that would be wrought by a boy, pretty well through with simple division at school on his slate, is not sought by any party. For the old “nomenclature” of constituencies and their members, in their official state, every person holds all the necessary respect—of course that is not much—but there is no necessity for keeping Harwich always at the present limits of Harwich. A member could be taken from it, and a dozen of parishes added to it; so that if the member for Harwich be necessary to the constitution, the constitution could always have the member for Harwich. Arundel might still answer the purpose assigned to it by Mr. Disraeli, of representing all the Roman Catholics in England, although the arrangement were made a little more decent by an extension of its borders, and some guarantee for the non-conversion of its owner. The particulars respecting equal representation do not, however, require repetition, for they are so dear and notorious that the forbearance of those who suffer under them, and the patience of their representatives, are either illustrious exhibitions of the virtue, or ludicrous exhibitions of something else. The charges of apathy to the interests of the unenfranchised classes is not applicable, however, to men who are equally apathetic to their own interests, in any class or sectional sense. Equal representation is not to form parts of the government bill, yet those electors and their representatives who could compel the adoption of common honesty as the rule, allow common honesty to be suspended in the case. Perhaps nothing more clearly shows the necessity for political teaching—not elementary quite, ot practical—than these facts; yet, an immense quantity of theorising would be necessary to make an impression on them. Men are taught by calamities to discharge duties, and something in that nature may be schools in this matter.

The same remarks are applicable to the Ballot. No possible objection can be made to its use that even requires scrutiny. It could not prevent bribery by contract mi a large scale. It might not prevent efforts to screw promises out of dependents when canvassed by superiors in something for their votes. It would not cure any or every evil entirely, but it would greatly reduce them; and the annoyances of the present system would not be so generally practicable or practised with, as they are without the ballot. Still there is not a great agitation on this subject among tradesmen. If they are apathetic, they certainly are not selfish.

Triennial Parliaments will be considered a retrogressive article in our creed soon, and we need say little of them. For some time past, Parliaments have been shorter than three years. We had a new Parliament in 1857, a repetition in 1859, and we may expect another dissolution in 1860 or certainly in 1861. The time may again come when triennial Parliaments will be necessary; at present, they would deprive many constituencies of an excitement, frequently more profitable to the beer shops than to the community in general. The ministerial plan will be a six pound rental in boroughs, a ten pound rental in counties, a five pound ownership in Scotland, and from the existence of forty shilling freeholds, no change may be proposed in the proprietary qualifications of England, while an Irish bill will not be carried in the present session. The omission will cause some confusion, but it may be considered necessary, and the franchises of Ireland are considerably lower now than those of Scotland.

The ballot is certainly not to be found in the government scheme, and although it may cause a division in the present session, yet we regret to believe that it cannot be successful. A re-distribution of seats on a large scale will not be attempted. The subject according to one report was to be dropped entirely; but this is improbable because a dissolution of Parliament must follow immediately any large disfranchisement of some boroughs, and enfranchisement of others, and no ministry would pass a measure to extend the franchise without attempting to carry a more equitable representation, if only to prevent the success of a proposal in the first session of a new Parliament on that subject, that must be followed immediately by another dissolution, and another new Parliament.

A few weeks will bring out the particulars of the Government measure m an official shape; unless some accident intervene, but the present session is exposed peculiarly to accidents, audit seems highly probable that the bill will be intercepted y one of them. Even this result although apparently favourable to our principles is not one to be sought. Eight years have now come and gone under the promise of some change in the spring of power; and although final measures, a twenty five years bill or any lease of legislation are absurd expectations; yet, if at present the unenfranchised do not in great numbers require a larger franchise than the late Cabinet would have given last session, and another Cabinet will propose this year, it is desirable that the discussions should be concluded for a time, and the attention of the legislature and of the public be turned to these practical measures which colonial and domestic interests require. The government, and the electors cannot be blamed if they decline to concede electoral privileges to men of whom a majority may desire them, yet do not express their wish; although both the government and the present voters, by a little inquiry in the different localities, would have found that the narrow scheme is not so safe as the wider measure of complete suffrage, or of complete suffrage with a residential qualification to all who can read and write —a franchise which we believe would have been final, while any dangers averted by the exception are imperceptible to the naked eye from their minuteness, and only under a misroscopic prejudice become visible.


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